The Hoosiers appear to be rounding back into health, but a key veteran will be missing when Indiana opens their 2019-20 season on Tuesday night.
Senior co-captain Devonte Green will miss the season opener against Western Illinois with a hamstring injury.
“Devonte is still out (for a) time to be determined with that hamstring,” head coach Archie Miller said at a Monday press conference. “He’s going to take it day by day. There’s no rush. And the biggest thing with him is to make sure that when he does come back he’s able to fully engage and we don’t have any setbacks.”
Miller declined to put a specific timetable on Green’s return.
Green has not participated in most of the team’s activities over the last month including Hoosier Hysteria, the closed scrimmage against Marquette, and last week’s exhibition against Gannon. The 6-foot-3 guard has been widely expected to be one of, if not the team’s leading scorer as he moves off the ball into more of a shooting guard role.
Miller did share some good news on Monday as it relates to the Hoosier backcourt.
After a month that he described backcourt health as the biggest concern, it appears that two key IU guards should be ready to go.
Sophomore point guard Rob Phinisee played in his first five-on-five action of the month during Indiana’s preseason exhibition against Gannon last week after struggling with an undisclosed abdominal condition.
“Post-game, we evaluated him again,” Miller said on Monday of Phinisee referring to the Gannon exhibition. He’s taken some time and our medical team has done some other things to try to make him more comfortable, and I think he’s as comfortable as he’s been.
“As we enter today he is a part of our plan in terms of practice which is good to see.”
Miller characterized Phinisee’s availability for Tuesday’s season opener as contingent on how he responds to Monday’s practice.
Also back engaged in practice is junior guard Al Durham who suffered a knee contusion in the Marquette scrimmage.
Durham described himself as 100 percent and he is expected to play on Tuesday.
The availability of Phinisee and Durham is critical, not only because of their experience, but also because Indiana only has four scholarship guards on their roster.
While the early backcourt injuries have presented challenges in preparing for the season, Miller put a positive spin on the situation.
“It’s definitely been a challenge,” Miller said. “But it has given Armaan (Franklin), it’s given Damezi (Anderson), and it’s given Jerome (Hunter), and Justin (Smith) to some extent, on the perimeter a lot more opportunities and repetitions. So hopefully there’s a silver lining that those guys have gotten a lot more work.”
Miller is particularly pleased with Franklin, who has taken full advantage of the injuries to elevate his role with the team.
“As we enter our first game I couldn’t be per more pleased with Armaan in terms of what he’s been able to handle and what we’ve asked him to do,” Miller said.
Both because of the injuries and the increased confidence that Miller has in the 6-foot-4 guard from Indianapolis, Franklin appears to be on track for plenty of playing time early in the season.
“Armaan will obviously play a heavy role early in November,” Miller said.
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