The 2020-21 Indiana University men’s basketball season is right around the corner. To help get you ready, The Daily Hoosier is profiling every scholarship player on the IU roster. Indiana’s season is expected to begin on Nov. 25.
We’ve yet to see point guard Rob Phinisee put it all together.
While that is generally true of any player coming into their junior season, Phinisee’s case has been unique. A seemingly never ending run of bad luck with physical ailments have made his magical 2018 game-winner against Butler seem like a lifetime ago.
But Phinisee always projected as someone that would be a much higher impact player as an upperclassman, and here we are.
It’s all still in front of him.
- Height: 6-foot-1
- Weight: 187
- Position: Guard
- Class: Junior
- Hometown: Lafayette, Ind.
- High School: McCutcheon
- Minutes per game: 23.2
- Points per game: 7.3
- Rebounds per game: 2.5
- Assists per game: 3.4
- Blocks per game: .2
- Steals per game: 1
- FG%: 37.4%
- 3FG%: 33.3%
- FT%: 72.5%
WHAT THEY ARE SAYING
Phinisee on his health —
“I feel so much better,” Phinisee said. “Honestly this wasn’t how we wanted to end the season but it really helped having my body just have the time off. I feel like this is the best I’ve felt in a while.”
On how his injuries impacted his play —
“Obviously, I feel like injuries affected that more than anything,” Phinisee said of his inconsistency. “I feel like I’ve been on top of my body, and just being in the gym more.”
On his growth now as an upperclassman —
“I would say my leadership and my confidence, too,” Phinisee said. “I know a lot more things than I did coming in. I know what to expect. I know what coach expects out of everybody. I feel like that experience will really help me.”
WHAT 2020-21 SUCCESS LOOKS LIKE
The biggest question mark with Phinisee as he enters his junior season is whether he can make significant strides with his offensive efficiency. He shot 36.1 and 37.4 percent overall from the field for his first two seasons, rates that aren’t nearly good enough for a point guard.
How much did a serious 2018 concussion and a 2019 abdominal injury play a role in Phinisee’s shooting woes? It is hard to say for sure, but as he said himself, they have no doubt factored into Phinisee never really getting into a rhythm.
Each season as Phinisee finally seemed to get healthy we saw the flashes of brilliance. He finished his sophomore season with 32 assists against just 9 turnovers over his last 8 games, including 14 assists and just one turnover in the final two contests of the season. And he was masterful with a 17 point, 5 assist and no turnover effort at Illinois late in his freshman season.
Phinisee is better than the shooting percentages we have seen thus far, and he no doubt has suffered from limited driving lanes as teams have packed the paint as a result of Indiana’s lack of three-point shooting. If his teammates start making more shots, Phinisee’s opportunities off the bounce will improve.
As a primary ball handler it was a mixed bag in 2019-20. Phinisee’s 28.3 percent assist rate was good for No. 107 in the country, but his 22.8 percent turnover rate was the worst on the team. Indiana will need both numbers to improve as Phinisee looks to become one of the top point guards in the Big Ten.
Much has been made of the impact of freshman Khristian Lander on Phinisee’s role and minutes, but we think that has been overdone. The two will play a lot together plenty, and Phinisee will claim the lion’s share of the minutes at the point guard with Lander more off the ball.
What is reasonable to expect from Phinisee as a junior? A season along the lines of 27 mpg, 9 ppg, 4 apg, 3.5 rpg, 2 tpg, 1.2 spg, 44 fg% 35 3fg% seems about right.
Of course what makes Phinisee really special is his ability to move laterally and guard the ball on the defensive end. The pack-line defense is much more effective with high impact play on the ball, and Phinisee has shown the ability to be elite in that regard when healthy.
Indiana will need Phinisee to make it hard for opposing offenses to initiate their attack, fight hard through ball screens, effectively trap and dig the post, and become an overall even higher impact defender as a junior.
MORE 2020-21 PREVIEWS
- Khristian Lander
- Trey Galloway
- Anthony Leal
- Jordan Geronimo
- Armaan Franklin
- Trayce Jackson-Davis
- Jerome Hunter
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