Make that six in a row.
This 2018-19 Indiana season has tanked so far and so fast that it is beyond comprehension at this point. Visions of Phinisee buzzer beaters and a seven game winning streak now seem so distant — it’s like it never happened.
How did we get here? Quite simply, this Indiana team has regressed — and regressed significantly. There is no confidence outside of Juwan Morgan. Not in the ability to make shots, not in the ability to run the offense, and not in the ability to get key defensive stops.
In the end, Indiana suffered its second worst loss in the history of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. That’s nearly 50 years of history, including the complete demise of the program in 2008.
It’s that bad right now. But the show will go on.
Indiana (12-8, 3-6) returns to action on Wednesday night at Rutgers.
Perhaps the dead shot clock on the south end of Assembly Hall was an ominous sign of things to come, pausing the game just seconds after the opening tip. It was certainly odd to hear Chuck Crabb’s voice interrupt play as he announced the time remaining on the shot clock during play for the rest of the game.
While Crabb was the workaround, suspending the game until Saturday might have been a better option in retrospect, because Indiana wasn’t ready — again.
Michigan head coach John Beilein thought the situation gave the Wolverines a bit of an edge with IU looking at the dead clock while on both offense and defense in the first half.
But whatever the case, a 17-0 start doomed this one from the outset. Indiana did not score their first field goal until 10 minutes remained in the first half, with a raucous crowd just waiting for something to get enthusiastic about.
Instead, the crowd was largely gone with five minutes left in the contest.
Archie Miller didn’t parse words after the game:
“Our team in general right now is soft, and we’re also for whatever reason right now scared, and you can just tell by the way that we played.
The fight isn’t there right now, and the confidence isn’t there on either end of the floor to be able to capitalize on any type of opportunity that we have, to be honest with you. There’s nothing we’re doing well.
You know, there’s nowhere to go. You just move on to the next step, try to figure it out, and you’ve got to find a way to get some confidence in yourself, which for us is a preparation to go on the road and play Rutgers, so that’s what we’re worried about right now.”
There is just no way around it. That was as bad as it gets. Hopefully anyway.
Miller referred to the offense as inept. That is probably sugarcoating it. Indiana had just four assists in the game. That’s awful and illustrates how little the Hoosier offensive scheme is producing.
Indiana is getting absolutely nothing out of anyone beyond their top five scorers right now. Obviously that is not helped by the Devonte Green situation or De’Ron Davis’ lingering injury.
But ultimately, as Archie Miller indicated, it comes down to just making shots, and IU is in a funk of epic proportions.
“When you can’t make shots, the game is hard. And that’s been a common theme here in the last two to three weeks, just being able to hit an open one, being able to get a couple guys to be able to make a couple, step up, make the open lay-up, finish on a two-on-one. We’re just not capitalizing on offense just in terms of being able to make the perimeter shot, and we have better shooters than we shot tonight. I’d be hard pressed to see if you could shoot worse than that, to be honest with you.”
The surprising thing about this game was that Michigan didn’t really shoot the ball all that well. Some of it was just them missing open shots. Some of it was good defense in stretches from IU. But the Wolverines also seemed to hit the key shots at moments where it felt like IU might make a run.
Miller didn’t seem to want to give the defense credit — and how could you give anything credit in this one. But he did say that at least on paper it wasn’t an awful night on that end of the floor.
“If you look at our defensive numbers it wasn’t a terribly statistically poorly played defensive game.”
Indiana forced nine Michigan turnovers. That number is still way too low but a big improvement over the three that they forced in Ann Arbor a few weeks ago.
OTHER GAME COVERAGE
- Final box score and specialty stats
- Archie Miller and IU players post-game
- John Beilein post-game
(players with meaningful minutes)
- Juwan Morgan* (B-) Another double/double for Morgan who at times feels like the only thing going for this team, especially with Langford on the bench in foul trouble. The senior co-captain seems to be running out of gas in games as he tries to carry the load. Dealing with a player of Jon Teske’s size just made things more challenging from a stamina perspective.
- Justin Smith* (C-) Smith reverted some in this one with a lack of an overall presence rebounding the basketball. He did show a nice spin move with a left handed finish that showed development in his skills around the basket.
- Romeo Langford* (C-) Yet another game where an IU scoring leader gets in early foul trouble. Langford suffered a rash of three questionable calls in the first half and could never get in a groove. He struggled on both ends with Charles Matthews.
- Zach McRoberts* (D) IU just isn’t getting significant production from McRoberts right now. His defense continues to be good, but not good enough to balance out the other end of the floor.
- Rob Phinisee* (C) It was a tough shooting night and a tough matchup for Phinisee against a veteran point guard. He did produce 7 rebounds and 3 steals. The Hoosiers will need much more down the stretch from Phinisee.
- Al Durham* (C) Durham was hustling. You have to give him that. He was routinely on the floor and looking to attack when nothing else was working on offense. But 1 for 7 from the field with 1 assist and 2 turnovers in 32 minutes won’t cut it in the Big Ten.
- Evan Fitzner (D) The graduate transfer big man continues to be unable to knock down shots which severely hampers his ability to bring a positive impact to the game right now.
- Damezi Anderson (D) It’s a similar story for Anderson, who is either making shots or not a net positive on the floor. It’s a tough spot for a guy who will ultimately get there but may not be quite ready.
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