BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 17, 2021 - forward Miller Kopp #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers during the game between the St. Johns Red Storm and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Xavier Daniels/Indiana Athletics

IU basketball: Amidst career-low shooting volume, Miller Kopp is just playing his role

With Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson out, Indiana’s needed a little bit more from everyone else.

And during this stretch, Miller Kopp is shooting at the lowest volume of his career.

He’s attempted 10 total field goals in the last four games. Even dating back to his days at Northwestern, he’s never recorded that few field-goal attempts over a four-game span.

There are several reasons for that low number. He’s not the type of player who, on the ball, can create his own shot with regularity. And defenses are sticking with him to prevent the wide-open looks, even as they devote extra attention to Trayce Jackson-Davis and Jalen-Hood-Schifino.

Kopp said he regularly watches film with IU’s coaches to look at ways to get more shots, whether it’s spacing, off-ball movement, or something else.

“I feel like I’m trying to do everything I can,” Kopp said. “At the end of the day, the offense revolves around Trayce and Fino now with the ball screens and stuff, too. But I’m really doing everything I can to try to get open looks, and be able to shoot the ball, because that’s what I do best.”

On the season, Kopp is averaging 5.8 field goal attempts per game. The senior has posted 8.5 points, 2.4 rebounds, and one assist per game. He’s played in all 17 contests for the Hoosiers this year.

Kopp has finished with a positive plus/minus in three of the four games, so he’s still finding ways to impact the game. And those other areas, specifically team defense, are what keep him locked in the games even when he isn’t finding open shots.

“Just focusing on defense and being a great team defender,” Kopp said. “You can get lost in the game on the defensive end, and it may not show up in the box score, but just being vocal, being a leader out there, in terms of what we’re trying to do defensively, and talking the whole possession, and leading guys and making sure everybody’s where they’re at and where I’m supposed to be. That’s kind of how I stay really into the game.”

IU head coach Woodson attributed Kopp’s lower volume more to opposing defensive attention than anything else. He said Kopp may need to start taking a couple dribbles to set up his own looks more often instead of relying on his usual catch-and-shoot methods.

Woodson has run some plays for Kopp, but not a particularly high amount. He said more focused on the offense as a whole, rather than Kopp specifically.

“Everybody’s got to play a role. When you’ve got shots, you’ve got to be ready to knock them down,” Woodson said. “I’m just not here to create a lot of shots for just Miller. I think our offense flows where everybody touches the basketball and getting an opportunity to shoot the ball.”

Even if Kopp continues to have trouble finding open shots, he’s at peace with his role on the team.

He knows, especially with Thompson and Johnson sidelined, that his on-court leadership is important. And he knows he can’t control how opponents defend him, but he can control his mentality about the game at large. He entered this season — his last as a college basketball player — wanting to play freely, without any weight on his shoulders.

That’s how he’s approached this season, and it’s how he’s approaching this offensive lull.

“After the game against Wisconsin, I was walking down the bench, the horn went off, and one of the GAs said, ‘Way to play your role.’ And that was it. It put it into perspective,” Kopp said. “Shoot, my role’s not to come off and shoot 20 times a game. My role is to help the team win. I got a shot when we needed it and I made it, and that’s my role. That’s my job. It’s about accepting what’s in front of me and making the most of it.”

The Daily Hoosier –“Where Indiana fans assemble when they’re not at Assembly”