The expectations were sky high coming in.
Romeo Langford has been good from day one, but there were legitimate concerns, especially in light of those expectations.
The perimeter shots weren’t falling. Neither were the free throws. Perhaps Langford was just an uber-talented player that would put the finishing touches on his game in the NBA.
If you blinked you might have missed it, but now Langford is firmly on the first team All-Big Ten radar, and he is doing it by continuously expanding his game.
Each night out you can pick up something new that the McDonald’s All-American has added to his repertoire. Or at least it feels that way. First he started putting up big rebounding numbers for a guard, then his willingness to pass became more apparent as his assist numbers grew. The defense is better too, and the turnovers have been falling to a more reasonable level.
After Langford scored a career high 28 points in a win over Illinois, IU head coach Archie Miller spoke about his improvement on defense and overall evolution as a player during his brief time with the Hoosiers.
Yeah, I think once you saw him sort of as a guy early on be a little bit more cautious defensively; now, I think you see a guy that’s very confident in knowing what to do.
He’s got great talent and length so he’s going to be an excellent defender, and he’s got so much more experience to keep gaining but his size and his length and some of the things that he can do on the ball and challenging shots and whatnot cause him some problems; and he can guard one, two, or three for the most part if we want him to guard any perimeter guy.
So he’s evolving. He’s continue to go do what we ask him to do in terms of getting better. Like I’ve said before, he’s as coachable of a guy as we have on the team, so it’s a credit to him and his work ethic.
Ah, but what about that perimeter shot and the free throws?
We are only halfway through the regular season, but with the way the 6-foot-6 guard’s game is evolving, he might just be able to make a run at the league’s player of the year if the Hoosiers can stay towards the top of the standings.
And it is the very things that appeared to be weaknesses in his game that have lifted Langford into that conversation.
Take a look at how IU’s freshman sensation has differentiated his game in Big Ten play as compared to the season as a whole:
If you have been paying attention, you know of course that the strength of Langford’s game is attacking the rim off the dribble. It isn’t just a strength, the New Albany native is an elite finisher.
Like best in the country, elite.
Among the 388 players in Division I to take at least 50 shots at the basket in half-court settings, Romeo Langford ranks No. 1 in finishing efficiency at 78%. (per Synergy)
So no, I don’t think this is an exaggeration. There legit has not been a better finisher than Romeo. https://t.co/5Qztundb5n
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) January 12, 2019
What’s particularly interesting about that statistic is that Langford is not taking a lot of layups at the rim. He isn’t a post player that is getting a lot of routine looks either. When Langford attacks the rim, it is heavily guarded, heavily helped, and usually over someone’s outstretched arms — at what for most players is an awkward angle.
And it just goes in. And now, everything is going in during Big Ten games.
In conference games, Langford’s scoring average is the second best in the league after matching his career high with another 28 points against Maryland. His free throw percentage is also second best in the Big Ten. In fact, Langford has made 16 free throws in a row going back to the Illinois game.
He is 9th in effective field goal percentage (60.9%), 12th in field goal percentage, and 13th in three-point shots made (8) and three-point percentage.
There are likely only two more months of Romeo Langford’s playing career remaining in Bloomington.
We suggest you enjoy it while it lasts.
With the way Langford is improving by the day, that shouldn’t be difficult.
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