Make that 16 in a row at the Kohl Center, where Indiana has not won a game since 1998. This was clearly not your typical Wisconsin team. Beyond All-American Ethan Happ, the Badgers put a lineup of unknown and unrated players on the floor. Indiana appeared to be the more talented team athletically and on paper. But raw talent doesn’t always win games at this level, not even against depleted teams like Wisconsin. Final score: Wisconsin 71, Indiana 61.
Overall: D A couple weeks ago we said that this team needed to develop an identity. Well, it turns out they do have an identity. Seeing IU play with so little energy in a game it should have been fired up to win led us to an epiphany — this team has no leaders, no heart and no soul. Sure it has seniors, but it is a lineup full of passive followers. No one is willing to be a vocal leader, no one is going to get in another teammate’s face, no one is going to play with fire, no one is going to play with pride, no one is going to refuse to lose. We said they needed to find their identity. We didn’t say that it would be something that you would like.
Giving them a D is almost cruel, because this is who they are. If you doubt us, listen to a former IU player:
The IU Hoops Hoosiers have some soul searching to do. They are plenty talented but poorly self motivated. This really isn’t on Miller, it’s about the heart in the players. Time is running short to walk away with pride and be relevant in the History! Common guys! Give a Damn! pic.twitter.com/KUYaiCbYOt
— Steve Risley (@srisley34) January 3, 2018
Coaching: C We continue to grade the coach better than the team because it really isn’t fair to Archie Miller that he inherited these players. They are almost the polar opposite of Miller, who is a fiery, intense leader. You could say that he needs to change them, but these are personalities, not X’s and O’s. They are who they are. All that being said, there needed to be a better game plan to force someone other than Happ to beat you. Moreover, at this point you would expect drastic measures regarding who sees the floor going forward. This was wholly unacceptable.
Offense: C If we had told you that IU would shoot 48% from the field and commit 12 turnovers you’d probably have taken that. But how does that only translate to 61 points? Indiana only had 50 shots on the game, it only got 10 free throw attempts, and it only got 7 offensive rebounds. Once again IU was bad from 3-point range, and it only had 9 assists on the night.
Defense: D Indiana literally had to stop one person – Ethan Happ. He finished with 28 points and 9 rebounds. When IU doubled he found open shooters. When they let him go one on one he scored. When they occasionally stopped him, he got offensive rebounds. Less talented teams have had more success slowing down Happ, but this team doesn’t have the fire, focus or purpose to get it done.
Players with meaningful minutes
- Al Durham, Jr.: C+ He lost his starting role but that was more about McRoberts than him. He has been very quiet lately. Other than a big bucket to stem a minor Wisconsin run in the first half, we didn’t hear much from the freshman guard.
- Josh Newkirk: C Only one assist in 25 minutes on 2 turnovers. 0-2 from distance. He is one of the senior guards that you’d like to see passionately leading this team, but it isn’t happening.
- Robert Johnson: C+ He’s the other senior guard that appears outwardly to be doing nothing to lead this team. Beyond that, his 3 point shot is the elephant in the room. His slump is now a year long. He did what he could in the second half to try to stem the tide attacking the basket but it wasn’t enough. He had 5 of the team’s 9 assists.
- Devonte Green: C He really looks like he’s in a rut, not just with his shot but his overall swagger on the floor, or lack thereof. Our impression is that he doesn’t really know what is acceptable in Archie Miller’s system in terms of a green light.
- Juwan Morgan: C+ He had another very efficient offensive game, going 7 of 9 from the field. He had a quiet night on the glass with 4 rebounds, and he committed 4 turnovers. He’s another guy that you’d like to see leading this team but it just doesn’t seem like his personality.
- Zach McRoberts: C+ His “winning play” finally culminated in his first career start. Congratulations to Zach. Unfortunately Wisconsin was on to his tricks and he only had 2 rebounds in 28 minutes and it was overall just not a noteworthy game for him.
- De’Ron Davis: C- With 2 fouls in the first two minutes, the script for Davis’ night was written. He was better off on the bench because when he was out there he was outplayed by Happ. And outplayed means outworked. 2 points and 3 rebounds on the night in 10 minutes, and a big reality check for where the sophomore big man really is in his development.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: C One rebound in 12 minutes and he fouled out.
- Collin Hartman: B Indiana actually would have been blown out in this game if it wasn’t for Hartman. He had the scoring night that we’ve been waiting for. It was really good to see for him and all that he has been through. His career high 18 points included a huge 3 at the end of a shot clock to give IU a 7 point first half lead. At that point it felt like IU might be able to pull away, but the reality was that would be their biggest lead on the night. Aside from the scoring Hartman is the final player that is noticeably not leading this team on the floor – and in his case it is surprising.
Photo credit – AP