By Dustin Dopirak —
Indiana practiced in between Archie Miller’s Zoom press conference with reporters Tuesday afternoon and his radio show on Tuesday evening, and in that period there was a change in the status of two of its injured guards.
Freshman Trey Galloway missed the two games before the Hoosiers’ nine-day layoff with a back injury and didn’t practice at all for the next week. However, Miller said Galloway got his first action Monday and that Indiana would monitor him to see if he would be available for Tuesday’s 9 p.m. home game against No. 12 Illinois.
“Trey has started to move back in to being able to do a little bit more,” Miller said. “He did the most today that he’s done since the Purdue game when he got injured. We’ll see how he feels tomorrow. But if he has a decent feel tomorrow and he goes through shootaround, he could play.”
Getting Galloway back would obviously be significant. The freshman wing was averaging 4.9 points per game in 23.4 minutes per contest, shooting 45.9 percent from the field with over 2.0 assists per game before his injury. However, the Hoosiers also might be without sophomore guard Armaan Franklin, who has been dealing with a sprained left ankle since Jan. 4.
Franklin missed two games and has appeared in three since, but clearly aggravated the injury during the Hoosiers’ Jan. 24 loss to Rutgers and looked severely limited in the second half of that game. He is still hobbled, Miller said, which is an issue because he’s second on the roster with 12.8 points per game. Franklin scored 23 points in the Hoosiers’ first meeting with Illinois on Dec. 26, keeping them in that game before they eventually lost 69-60.
Miller didn’t declare whether Franklin would play or not, but made it clear he’s still in pain.
“Armaan is really not healthy,” Miller said. “He’s aggravated his ankle multiple times since he turned it against Maryland after missing three games. He’s come back. That second half against Rutgers, he was really operating, it looked like, on one leg. We’ve tried to give him as many games as we could to get him back.”
Other notes from Miller’s radio appearance follow:
— The bright spot in Indiana’s 74-70 loss at home to Rutgers on Jan. 24 was that the Hoosiers actually made 3-point shots, hitting 10 of their 16 attempts. Four players hit at least two 3-pointers and five hit at least one. The Hoosiers are still last in the Big Ten in made 3-pointers with 6.4 per game, but they have hit at least eight 3s in four of their last five games.
It’s not evidence of a problem solved, but it is improvement.
“We have a lot of different guys contributing, not just one,” Miller said. “We have more guys with confidence. I think we continue to take quality shots when guys sort of know what we want them to take, and they’re more ready. And we’re spending a lot of time on it. We take a significant portion of every day just working on that one thing. You have to be able to shoot the ball.”
The Hoosiers have been able to rely on at least some outside shooting throughout the year from Franklin and senior guard Aljami Durham, who account for 45 of Indiana’s 103 3-pointers on the season. Recently, however, junior guard Rob Phinisee and wing Jerome Hunter have been more effective from outside. Of Phinisee’s 19 3-pointers this season, 10 have come in the last five games. Meanwhile nine of Hunter’s 16 3-pointers came in the month of January. Freshman guard Anthony Leal also got more playing time in January and hit five of his six 3-pointers on the season in that month.
“We have more than one or two guys,” Miller said. “And our bench has done that as well. … I think everyone has a confidence level that if they’re open, they can make it.”
Still a problem, though, is free throw shooting. The Hoosiers are 12th in the Big Ten, shooting 66.1 percent at the line. It’s an issue because Indiana makes a point to get there, ranking third in the Big Ten in attempts with 357.
“From start to finish, free throw shooting has been one of the real, real downers about our team,” Miller said. “… It holds us back about 3-5 points a game on average.”
What bothers Miller is that the problem goes across the board. Just two players on the roster are shooting better than 75 percent — freshmen Galloway and Khristian Lander — and they have 15 free throw attempts combined. Forwards Jerome Hunter and Jordan Geronimo are trying to get more playing time, but they’re a combined 3 of 16 at the line. Guards Franklin (28 of 38), Durham (35 of 50) and Phinisee (20 of 31) have each left double figure points at the line. Forwards Trayce Jackson Davis (67.6 percent) and Race Thompson (61.9 percent) both get fouled a lot and their numbers aren’t terrible for big men, but they have missed 70 free throws between them.
“Our best free throw shooters have struggled at times,” Miller said. “Our guards are going to the line and going 0 for 2 on a pair, or front ends of one-and-ones, things like that. We need our perimeter guys who are good free throw shooters every day in practice to step up and make some.”
— Without mentioning his name, Miller challenged Jackson-Davis to step up against Illinois.
The 6-foot-9, 245-pounder ranks third in the Big Ten with 20.1 points per game and fourth with 8.7 rebounds, but he’s struggled to do much against Illinois because the Fighting Illini have a 7-foot, 285-pounder in the middle to challenge him. He scored just 11 points on 3 of 13 shooting against the Illini on Dec. 26 when Kofi Cockburn had 15 points and 15 rebounds. He posted 12 points and 12 rebounds in their first meeting last season when Cockburn had 15 points and six blocks.
The Hoosiers hung in there in December thanks to a special performance by Franklin, who was 8 of 12 from the field including 5 of 6 from 3, but Miller said their bigs need to be better which especially means Jackson-Davis. He was 5 of 5 at the line, but that’s a low figure for him in attempts, and the Hoosiers shot just nine free throws as a team.
“In Game 1, we could not get to the foul line,” Miller said. “… We couldn’t get fouled and we really struggled from two-point range and around the basket with the big fella in there. We’re gonna have to do a better job of running our offense stronger and we’re going to have to play through the post regardless of how big they are. We have to find a way to attack the paint in different ways and it can’t just be off of ball screens. We have to be able to post the ball and we have to be able to draw some fouls.”
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