Let’s face it. Anything was going to feel better than a 92-72 home court loss to Fort Wayne. In our game preview we talked about the need for this IU team to find an identity. If an identity is emerging coming out of this 87-59 win over Tennessee Tech, then it looks like it is on the defensive end. Given the composition of this roster and based on what we’ve seen to date from the offense, it would seem that defense would have to be the answer. Identities aren’t formed in one game however. After an 8 day break Indiana will resume play against Youngstown State on December 29th and at that point we’ll get to see if this team is on to something.
Overall: A- Tennessee Tech is no national powerhouse. But with a 207th KenPom ranking, they probably aren’t all that much different than Fort Wayne (150) and Indiana State (175). Archie Miller hinted that he believes that his team plays down to its opponents and that would make sense based on its performance against the likes of Duke and Notre Dame on the one hand, and Fort Wayne and Indiana State on the other. So if the outcome of tonight’s performance is to be sharp and focused against inferior opponents — mission accomplished.
Coaching: A- Archie Miller left no doubt in his post-game press conference that Monday’s Fort Wayne game was “unacceptable”. He noted that he realized after that game that he was going to have to change his style with this team to get their attention. It was refreshing candor and the results of the changes were apparent tonight. He’ll have two more weeks before the level of competition ramps up considerably to fully get through to this team.
Offense: B+ The shooting wasn’t stellar (45%) but Indiana had 17 assists on only 10 turnovers. We are likely past the point of expecting this to be a great shooting team. If they can take care of the ball and play good defense that should be enough to keep the Hoosiers in most games. IU shot a little better from the free throw line with a 76% performance on 25 attempts.
Defense: A- Coach Miller noted that the biggest improvement he saw in this game vs. the Fort Wayne game was the ball pressure. It was apparent that Indiana played with a more aggressive ball hawking style throughout the game. You could almost tell that guys were embarrassed about what happened against Fort Wayne on Monday. Indiana had 10 blocks and 10 steals. Tennessee Tech came into the game ranked 58th in the country scoring 81 points a game. Indiana held them to 59, on 38% shooting and forced 16 turnovers. Indiana was difficult to play against for the Golden Eagles. All in all a solid effort for the Hoosiers.
Players with meaningful minutes
- Al Durham, Jr.: B The freshman continues to start but isn’t necessarily getting starters minutes. He played 19 minutes and was relatively quiet. Most notable was another turnover free game.
- Josh Newkirk: A As we’ve noted several times, he has a special knack for getting to the rim and finishing and there were several instances in the game where he flashed that skill including one point where he did it on a back to back sequence to stretch the lead to 20. He had a very efficient and season high 20 points on 6 of 9 shooting and added a team leading 6 assists to go with 4 rebounds. An overall great game for the senior guard.
- Justin Smith: B+ It was good to see the freshman forward back on the floor. Coach Miller said in the post-game that he is just going through various ups and downs right now and seemed to suggest that he might be trending back up. His minutes will be interesting to watch against Youngstown State. He looked sharp tonight and had 3 rebounds and 2 blocks in 8 minutes.
- Robert Johnson: B+ A quieter game for the senior guard, perhaps due to Tennessee Tech’s scheme which seemed to be willing to leave other people open. He was one of several players whose defensive effort was apparent. He had 12 points on the game. On the negative he seems to have a bad habit of getting himself in the air with nowhere to go with the ball. Both of his turnovers came that way.
- Devonte Green: B Rough shooting night going 2 for 10. He was pulled at one point for a rushed 3-pointer in the first half. Solid effort on the glass with 7 rebounds and he added 2 steals.
- Juwan Morgan: A- After back to back double doubles, he came through with 9 points and 6 rebounds. Again, it appeared to be the opposing scheme as much as anything else. He doesn’t have to score 34 every night to be effective. He added 3 blocks and 2 steals on the defensive end.
- Zach McRoberts: A- We said after the Notre Dame game that if he could find an offensive niche he would be dangerous. After starting the game 0 for 3 from distance he hit his next two 3-pointers which says a lot about his confidence. On the game he had 8 points and 6 rebounds.
- De’Ron Davis: A- He seemed to be dealing with an injury on a couple occasions and he was limited to 12 minutes. It didn’t appear to be anything serious. He was very effective in those minutes with 9 points, 5 rebounds and 2 blocks.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: A- We’ve been critical in recent games of his rebounding numbers. Coach Miller noted in the post game that his practice efforts translated to better in game results. Overall he matched his career high with 10 points and he added 6 rebounds.
- Collin Hartman: B Another quiet game and limited minutes (14) for Hartman. He traded 2 steals for 2 turnovers.
(Tim Priller, Clifton Moore and Johnny Jager also saw the floor in late game action)
Photo – Brian Spurlock, USA Today