Minnesota at Indiana: The Report Card

Devonte Green came into the season surrounded by a lot of anticipation for a breakout year.  For the most part, up until a couple weeks ago, it looked like those expectations would not be realized.  Since then he’s been flashing a breakout and tonight it came in all its glory in the first half against Minnesota.  Green was electric with four 3-pointers and four assists in the half.  Led by the sophomore guard, the Hoosiers had one of their best offensive performances of the season against a reeling Minnesota team that is a shell of its former self.  Indiana will get some more much needed rest before it hosts Illinois on Wednesday.  The Hoosiers win this one, 80-56.

Overall:  A  Indiana started out strong in this game, running out to 24-13 lead.  Minnesota was able to pull back to within three briefly, but the Hoosiers responded to close out the half.  It was much the same in the second half, as IU reeled off six straight points to open the half and ran out to a 16 point lead and forced a Minnesota timeout.  IU never looked back.  Indiana was in control on both ends for most of the game, as this may have been their most complete game of the year.  It wasn’t perfect on offense or defense, but for a change neither was lacking.

Coaching:  A  We’ve given Archie Miller the benefit of the doubt for months here as he implemented his system and changed a culture.  As we’ve documented, there has been clear improvement and buy-in from the players.  Today was somewhat of a culmination of that change, with crisp offense that led to more shots at the rim than 3-pointers, a solid assist to turnover ratio, and a defense that held Minnesota to 33.3% shooting after holding Rutgers to 24%.  This is what Archie Miller basketball looks like, and it is working right now.

Offense:  A   This was this team’s best offensive performances of the season.  The Hoosiers shot 57% for the game and had 21 assists on 12 turnovers.  That is winning basketball.  The Hoosiers limited their 3-point attempts and instead patiently waited for openings around the rim.  There really isn’t much sense in shooting a bunch of 3-pointers if it isn’t your thing anyway.  IU was 6-16 from behind the arc, which for them, is going to have to do.  The Hoosiers had a masterful start to the second half with 3 straight baskets, all at the rim, and and that point the game was over.  Once again the free throws were bad at 14-23, but this time IU was too dominant for it to cost them the game.

Defense:  A    As we mentioned, IU held Rutgers to 24% from the field and now Minnesota to 33%.  Sure those aren’t the best teams in the league, but they are better than Fort Wayne and Indiana State.  My, my, how far this team has come.  Minnesota came into the game averaging 78 points per game, so this is yet another game where the Hoosiers held their opponent well under their average.  In fact that is 3 games in a row that they have held their opponent to 20 points under their scoring average.  The Hoosiers had 9 steals on the night and limited the Gophers to under 30% from distance.  As reported earlier in the week, IU’s issues with 3-point defense appear to be a thing of the past.

Players with meaningful minutes:

  • Al Durham, Jr.:  B+  He had a couple turnovers, but Durham appears to be getting his early season mojo back.  He looks more confident shooting the ball and went 2-4 on the night.  He added 2 rebounds and an assist in 16 minutes and he continues to play good defense.
  • Josh Newkirk:  B  It was good to see Josh knock down a shot and somewhat break out of his shooting slump.  He was out shooting more than 90 minutes before the game, so perhaps that helped.  He can be a really valuable player coming off the bench going forward if he can get his shot back.  He added 2 assists.
  • Justin Smith:  B+  We’ve been clamoring for Smith to finish stronger at the rim and he delivered tonight, with four buckets from close range including a crowd energizing alley-oop dunk on a pass from Newkirk.  He added 4 rebounds in 17 minutes.
  • Robert Johnson:  A   A really complete effort from Johnson, and Archie Miller was effusive in praising the senior guard during the post-game.  As Miller said, Johnson always draws the toughest defensive assignments, which gain really sap a lot of energy.  But he still delivered with 5-9 shooting for 11 points to go with 5 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals, and 1 block — all with no turnovers.
  • Devonte Green:  A   We mentioned Green’s first half but he was really special the entire game.  He ended up shooting 5-7 for 19 points.  Just as important were his 7 assists.  He did have 3 turnovers but canceled them out with 3 steals.  He also added 4 rebounds on the night.  As he said in post-game, he appears to have simplified some aspects of his game — and it’s paying off.
  • Juwan Morgan:  A  It’s to the point that we are getting spoiled, because Morgan is delivering big games every night.  19 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals and a block.  He did have 3 turnovers.  The assists were a career high.
  • Zach McRoberts:  B+  Just another solid game for the red-shirt.  For the ninth time this year McRoberts had multiple steals in a game.  He faced some tough matchups when asked to hang with Minnesota’s smaller guards, but he was effective.
  • Freddie McSwain, Jr.:  A-  It has really been a joy to watch this kid improve over the course of the year.  It seems like you see some incremental growth in each game.  Tonight it was 3 blocked shots to go with 8 points and 7 rebounds.
  • Collin Hartman:  He really didn’t play long enough to register a grade as he appeared to injure his wrist and was unable to return.  We won’t speculate on the injury but can only hope that this isn’t the way his career ends.

(Oh, and yes, Tim Priller got into the game, and yes, that was the loudest the crowd cheered all night).

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Photo credit – AJ Mast, AP

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