Credit - IU Athletics

Indiana Basketball 2019-20 Player Previews: Rob Phinisee

The 2019-20 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner.  To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every player on the 2019-20 IU roster.  You can see all of our player profiles in one place here.  If you are looking for the 2019-20 IU basketball schedule, you can find that here.

Indiana has their point guard for the next three years.

Rob Phinisee appeared in 32 out of Indiana’s 35 games as a freshman, starting 29 times.  The Lafayette native missed three games due to a concussion.

Unlike most freshmen, Phinisee proved to be steady and dependable in his first season at IU.  His 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio was the third highest single-season mark for IU since the 1996-97 season.

Phinisee earned a reputation as a big shot maker, including an unforgettable game winner at the horn against Butler.  He had several other big moments including lock-down defense on Cassius Winston in the final minute of a home win over Michigan State, and an incredible performance on the road against Illinois.

Those moments were the signs of an immense talent just waiting to break through — and that’s the next step for Phinisee.  The Butler moment was once-in-a-lifetime, but the Illinois game wasn’t.  Phinisee dominated that contest from start to finish, and the 6-foot-1 point guard will now look to make those kind of games more of the norm.

The starting point guard job is his.  The next step is to take things to the point where Phinisee’s presence is a topic of discussion after each and every game.


Rob Phinisee
Credit – IU Athletics
  • Height:  6-foot-1
  • Weight:  190
  • Position:  Guard
  • Class:  Sophomore
  • Hometown:  Lafayette, Indiana
  • High School:  McCutcheon


  • Minutes per game:  27.3
  • Points per game:  6.8
  • Rebounds per game:  3.3
  • Assists per game:  2.9
  • Turnovers per game:  1.3
  • Steals per game:  1.1
  • FG%:  36.1%
  • 3FG%:  31.0%
  • FT%:  66%


Archie Miller on Phinisee gaining a year of experience —

“Robert plays a big role. I think you saw a team last year at times when Rob was playing effectively, was healthy. He’s a gamer. But with that gamer, as you get another older it’s not about — there is no surprises anymore. You’re expected to do it. I think he knows from my standpoint as he looks at me what I expect of him.”

Miller on Phinisee becoming more vocal —

“The younger guys who’ve got a year under their belt have changed. Robert has done a really nice job in our workouts. He’s taken a concerted effort to communicate better, talk better, not be quiet.”

“He’s no longer that silent assassin that takes care of himself and doesn’t worry about anything else.  Now it’s bigger than that….To me an added skill to his game is not only just the basketball but it’s the leadership capabilities.”

Phinisee on his on the ball defense —

“I feel like you can always improve in whatever you’re really good at.  I feel like it’s a mindset, defense is, so like you said, I take pride in it a lot.  I always want to be the best player I can be.  If I’m the best on-ball defender in the league, country, whatever it is, I’m going to try to be it.”


A moment that Rob Phinisee will always be remembered for.


You may not know it, but Indiana head coach Archie Miller likes to use an up-tempo transition offense.  It can be difficult to implement in the physical and athletic Big Ten, but it all starts with the mindset of the point guard.

At times as a freshman Phinisee seemed content to slow things down and set up in the half court.  Instead, he has to be constantly on the attack, pushing the ball up the floor and probing for cracks in the defense before they can get back and get set up.

That’s who Miller wants to be as an offense, and it will be up to a sophomore Phinisee to develop more of an attack mindset and erase the memories of a stagnant half court offense.

With a strong assist to turnover ratio and great on the ball defense, Phinisee already plays like a veteran point guard in many respects.  The long term potential here seems to be towards the upper echelon of the all-time IU point guards, and Phinisee seems to have the work ethic and mindset to make that happen.

With Indiana losing its top two scorers, multiple players are going to have to step in and fill the void.  Phinisee averaged nearly 30 points a game during his senior year of high school.  He has the ability to play effectively with a scorer’s mentality.  Moreover, Phinisee has the ability to score at all three levels.  The offense can largely run through him and his ability to read and react to ball screen coverages.

As a sophomore, it will be a major step forward if Phinisee can push his numbers towards the 10 to 12 points per game mark with four to five assists while maintaining a 2-to-1 assist turnover ratio.  Those are high expectations, but the potential is clearly there.

Of course in order to get there, Phinisee is going to have to shoot the ball at a higher percentage.  Something along the lines of 44 percent overall from the field and 35 percent from behind the 3-point line would again be major signs of progress.

As a defender, Phinisee can start to put his name into the conversation for the best in the league.  He may not make the Big Ten’s all-defensive team, but that drumbeat could certainly start to grow during his sophomore season as his on the ball defense makes life increasingly difficult for the opposition.


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