Michigan State at Indiana: The Report Card

Some how, some way, Indiana found themselves with the ball down three with a chance to tie.  Devonte Green missed a 55 footer off the back of the rim as time expired.  The shot was close, but ultimately not close enough.  That’s a familiar story for the 2017-18 Indiana Hoosiers.  Three games on their home floor against top 5 competition, all three were tight wire to wire, and in all three Indiana comes up short.  There are plenty of positives to draw from these games but there is no time to reflect on those or anything else for that matter.  IU will pack up and travel to Rutgers tomorrow for a game on Monday night.  Michigan State wins this one, 63-60.

Overall:  B   How do even grade an effort like this?  Take away the poor shooting and it’s an A.  The shooting was an F.  By this time in the year, expecting different shooting results is foolish.  OK, the Hoosiers shot the ball even worse than normal, but still, this is not a good shooting team by any measure.  Michigan State had better length, better athletes, better shooters, and better just about anything else you can think of.  The effort this Hoosier team brings is unreal.  We’ll get into some of the particulars below, but there are some statistics in this game that are just stunning, and they all point to the same thing:  Indiana is doing everything it can to win — except making shots.

Coaching:  A-  It’s becoming a broken record at this point but Archie Miller cannot go out there and knock down the shots.  That’s unfortunate because he was a pretty good shooter at NC State.  He’s got this team doing just about everything else right.  Of course it isn’t perfect.  It never is.  But come on.  IU had only 8 turnovers on the night.  It dominated and we mean DOMINATED the top rebounding team in the country on the boards.  The effort is there on defense.  Everything is right, with a roster that is sorely lacking in depth and length.  Guys just need to hit shots, and we refuse to put that on the coach.

Offense:  C+   Again, how do you grade this?  Michigan State came into this game leading the country with a 12.1 rebounding margin.  IU won the offensive rebounding battle 25-3.  Let that sink in.  There is absolutely no reason why they should have been even close to MSU in rebounding, even with Nick Ward in some foul trouble.  Heart goes a long way.  What doesn’t go a long way is 29% shooting from the field including 21% from distance.  That will effectively wipe out every hustle play you make.  It also wipes out an impressive 8 turnovers against what was a stout Spartan defense.

Defense:  A-  Michigan State came into this game averaging 84 points a night, so the Hoosiers held them well under their normal output.  IU limited the Spartans to just 3 offensive rebounds and outrebounded MSU in total for the game by 24.  That’s against the best rebounding team in the country.  We can’t say that enough.  The Spartans average 20 assists a game and IU held them to 15, although MSU was also under the their turnover average.  The bottom line is that the defense was plenty good enough to win this game against a national champion caliber opponent.

Players with meaningful minutes:

  • Al Durham, Jr.:  B  Durham played 8 minutes on the night and looked good.  He’s lost minutes in the rotation to Green and that just appears to be the right answer right now.  He looked good knocking down a jumper but he has to finish strong at the rim rather than anticipating contact.
  • Josh Newkirk:  C+  This senior year is not ending well for Newkirk.  He was 0-6 from the field and only had 1 assist in 26 minutes.  He did play good defense against good point guards, and he did pull down 5 rebounds.  If you put any value at all into the stat, his +/- was +6.
  • Justin Smith:  B-  He attacked the offensive glass with 3 in only 7 minutes, but he continues to be tentative, miss around the rim, and miss assignments on defense.
  • Robert Johnson:  B-  He personified the rough shooting night, going 2-15.  That kind of night just makes it nearly impossible for this team to win.  He did deliver another 5 rebounds and played solid defense.
  • Devonte Green:  B+  Green had zero turnovers, and that makes two games in a row.  After the game Archie Miller praised his floor game, which was evidenced by 6 assists.  Like every other guard, his shot wasn’t falling.  He added 3 rebounds and a steal.  We’d be stunned if he doesn’t start on Monday.
  • Juwan Morgan:  A  He wasn’t his normal efficient self but that was more about going up against a great shot blocking team.  He still contributed 23 points on 8 of 17 shooting.  The real story was his rebounding, where he had 11 on the night including 4 on the offensive end.
  • Zach McRoberts:  A-  McRoberts struggled with foul trouble all game and was limited to 18 minutes.  He still somehow managed to get 4 steals and 4 rebounds during that time.  He also showed off a killer crossover in the open floor.  He had an offensive rebound and assist to Morgan on a free throw that was reminiscent of the Notre Dame game winner.  He also had a great steal late in the game that gave the Hoosiers a chance.
  • Freddie McSwain, Jr.:  A  The only reason it wasn’t an A+ is the free throws.  Otherwise he was that good.  He got the start due to matchups, and wow did he deliver.  We’ve seen evidence of some freakish rebounding ability early in the season.  We even compared him to Ben Wallace at one point.  But this was something else.  16 total rebounds including 7 on the offensive end against the best rebounding team in the country.  He also had some really nice finishes at the rim, including a great left hand finish for an and one.  By far his best game of the year.
  • Collin Hartman:  A-  Coming back from yet another injury, he managed to come up with 3 assists in 9 minutes including a great pass to Johnson to cut the lead to 5.  Hopefully that is the end of the injuries and he can finish out strong.

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Photo credit – Aaron Doster/USA TODAY Sports