There were distinct moments in the first half of Indiana’s game against Seton Hall on Wednesday night when Hoosier fans likely first thought “Here we go again”, and then later “Hey, what’s this”. The here we go again moments were when Indiana fell behind 10-2 at the outset, and then 27-18 at just under the 7:00 mark. IU responded to both of those moments, perhaps to the surprise of Hoosier Nation, narrowing the early lead to 12-11, and then actually taking a momentary lead right before halftime. It was those moments where people just might have seen a glimmer of hope. The Hoosiers showed more fight on defense and were able to create open looks on offense and finish. And with apologies to Indiana State, this was by far the most talented team Indiana has faced thus far.
Alas, it was just a glimmer, and the “here we go again” moments won out in the second half. But we saw something. Was it Coach Archie Miller starting to get through to this team? We don’t know. With 3 presumably winnable home games upcoming to prepare for Duke, we’ll find out soon enough.
Overall: C+ The bottom line is that they lost by 16. Good teams will go to Seton Hall and lose by double digits. It’s cliché but there are no moral victories, and it was just a glimmer of hope, nowhere near a complete effort.
Coaching: B The assumption here is that we are right — that there were visible signs of change, and that the coaches are starting to get through. There were certainly visible signs of more of the same too, like 18 turnovers and giving up 9 more 3 pointers on only 17 attempts. So whether we saw a sign of things to come or a flash in the pan remains to be seen.
Offense: B- We know, we know — the 18 turnovers. Many of them were at a critical juncture in the 2nd half when Indiana was clearly in the game too. But the Hoosiers did shoot nearly 50% against a good defense. They effectively used high screens to get dribble drives to the basket. If IU can clean up the turnovers and get Collin Hartman back, we can see this being a pretty good offense.
Defense: C- We want to grade higher here, but Seton Hall shot 57% overall and 52% from the 3-point line. This team has now given up 90, 77 and now 84 points in the first 3 games for an average of 84 a game. You aren’t going to win many games at that rate. The Hoosiers did have 6 steals and forced 15 turnovers, and we did see an increased tenacity, but it needs to get much better.
- Curtis Jones: C+ As with the others games, where’s CuJo? He just needs to be more of a presence. One moment we really did like though was his aggressive close-out on a 3 pointer that resulted in a blocked shot. Man does this team need more of that.
- Al Durham, Jr.: A- This guy just continues to impress. His game attacking the basket is very good. He took another charge at a key juncture. The moment just doesn’t seem too big for him.
- Josh Newkirk: C+ Remember Good Troy/Bad Troy? Yep. Newkirk found his stroke, and was effective at times driving the ball. But the 4 turnovers. Compare that to Durham who played 9 more minutes and had zero turnovers.
- Justin Smith: B- He had 4 turnovers also. His main challenge continues to be recognizing defenders around the rim, both shot blockers and players knocking the ball away. But this kid has a ton of potential and could be really tough to deal with by January.
- Robert Johnson: C+ Mixed bag. If only he could find his shooting stroke. Until then, he looks great attacking the rim. Turnovers continue to haunt him. Johnson in particular stood out as someone who was giving more on defense, aggressively getting into passing lanes and up into his man.
- Devonte Green: A- Ok, we admit it, we are inflating his grade because of the “Shoe Steal”. That was literally laugh out loud funny. But seriously, Green was the primary reason IU kept this close in the first half. He looked worthy of that #11 jersey for a while. He started the game 3 of 3 on 3-pointers, but ultimately he lost his touch in the 2nd half. He led the team with 16 points.
- Juwan Morgan: B We’re really just glad he didn’t miss any time with the ankle injury. He really didn’t show any lingering effects from it. He had some nice action around the rim and had 7 rebounds. Indiana is going to need him to crash the boards all year. The 3 turnovers and missed free throws were the main negatives.
- De’Ron Davis: C This is exactly what cannot happen. 15 minutes, 4 points, 1 rebound, fouled out. Indiana won’t win many games with that stat line from Davis. We inflated his grade because some of the fouls were questionable at best.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: D This performance was discouraging to see. It looked like 2016-17 McSwain with the bad hands. With only 6 minutes and Davis in foul trouble, we can only conclude that Archie Miller was not comfortable keeping him out there.
Photos – Julio Cortez, AP