IU Basketball Exit Interviews: Four Things For Rob Phinisee’s 2019-20 Season

Only seven players that saw the floor from the 2018-19 Indiana basketball team will be back for the 2019-20 campaign as of this writing. 

While formal practices have concluded, the work never stops for high major college basketball players.  Growth and development happens in the offseason, in individual workouts and permitted organized team activities.

If you could talk to each of the seven returning players about their 2018-19 season and what they need to improve going forward, what would you say? 

We play Archie for a day and give it a shot with “Exit Interviews.”


Quick 2018-19 Recap:

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.

The 6-foot-1 point guard averaged 6.8 points, 3.3 rebounds and just over one steal per game.  Phinisee shot 36 percent from the field overall and 31 percent from 3-point range.

Phinisee had a team high 94 assists (2.9 per game).  His 2.29 assist-to-turnover ratio was the third highest single-season mark for IU since the 1996-97 season.

Primary Developmental Needs:

1. Push the pace.  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 Phinisee is probably a better offensive player in the open court right now.  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.

2. From big shot Bob to every day Bob.  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 that needs to become the norm.

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

Mike Schumann/The Daily Hoosier

3. Look to score.  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.

While Phinisee’s percentages from the field look bad, those numbers were much better prior to a December concussion that derailed his season and took more than a month to fully recover from.  As with most freshmen, Phinisee has the ability to be a much more efficient scorer than what we saw in year one.

4. Don’t rest on your defensive laurels.  Phinisee surprised a lot of folks with his ability to defend on the ball from day one.  Miller was effusive in his praise, often referring to Phinisee’s defense as that of an upperclassman.

The good news is that Phinisee looked that good as a freshman.  Now the question is — how can he build on that early success?  The better Phinisee gets, the better IU’s defense will become as he disrupts the offense on the ball.

Phinisee has the potential to be a first-team all Big Ten defender as an upperclassman that leads the league in steals.  He’ll have to continue to place an emphasis on growth on both ends of the floor to get there.

What Success Looks Like in 2019-20

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.

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.

Previous Exit Interviews:

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