It hasn’t totally clicked yet for Miller Kopp three games into his Hoosier career, but there were signs on Wednesday night against St. John’s.
The Northwestern transfer was set to offer IU a sharpshooter who can nail three-pointers at will, but with a 25 percent start from deep, that has not yet fully come to fruition.
But Kopp has been around long enough to know better than to dwell on the highs or the lows. And irrespective of whether he is 0-for-4 over his first two games, or 2-for-4 in the third, he plans to keep true to his “shooters shoot,” mentality.
“If I make three in a row, miss three in a row, I’m still gonna shoot the fourth one with the same confidence and the same rhythm,” Kopp said on Thursday of how he approaches shooting slumps.
The senior forward left Evanston, Ill. shooting 36 percent from three-point range over his three seasons with the Wildcats. But he shot just 15-for-70 from behind the arc over the final 16 games of last season, and started his time at IU 0-for-5 after an early miss against St. John’s. And then on Wednesday night, in a high profile game against the Red Storm, Kopp seemed to find something.
The first three-pointer Kopp made was off a dish from Trayce Jackson-Davis in the post late in the first half, and it gave IU a 35-23 lead. After a double team arose, the big man kicked it out to Kopp, who nailed the shot from the left wing. On a play that the two should be expected to execute many more times this season, the Houston native felt some relief.
“It felt good to make one and kind of just see it go in,” Kopp said of the moment. “It felt good to help the team out.”
With 124 career threes to his credit, Kopp knows that repetition is the key to rediscovering his rhythm and confidence. Kopp can be seen in the gym after practice working on his daily shooting routine. He starts with stationary jumpers, then shots on the move.
“I just keep doing the same thing,” Kopp replied when asked if he has changed his routine.
“Sometimes they go in, sometimes they don’t, but at the end of the day, you just keep being consistent and I keep doing the same thing. Because I know I put the work in and they’re going to fall.”
The former four-star recruit emulates the same routine on game days as well. It helps him not to overthink and get in his head while shooting.
“I can just go in. I don’t have to mentally think about anything, I just shoot. My body just does the same thing over, and over, and that’s what shooting is,” said the swingman.
“So, at the end of the day when you get in the game, your brain’s out of it, and your body’s in it.”
The slow start can be attributed to many things. During the trip to the Bahamas, Kopp sustained an ankle injury that kept him sidelined for a while. Even though he still is working his way back from the injury, he doesn’t think it was the reason for his slump.
“Coming back from the injury it did set me back,” Kopp said. “But, I don’t think it was the case for the first two games. I think it’s just me getting in the flow and a rhythm with the team and the guys.”
Collectively, Indiana has several new additions to the roster, and of course a new coaching staff and new offense. For any transfer, it takes time to learn a new system and to mesh with new teammates. Kopp is no exception, especially since he missed time. However, it is something he believes will continue to improve as the season progresses.
“It’s a learning curve for everyone,” Kopp said. “Through the three games, we’re watching a lot of film and learning and I think after every game we’ve gotten a lot better. And I think that’s going to continue to be the case.”
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