The consensus criticism of the 2017-18 Indiana men’s basketball team seems to be centered on a lack of passion, energy, discipline, and vocal floor leadership from the players. The vulnerability of this team due to those issues really seemed to crystallize on Tuesday at Wisconsin as the Hoosiers were outworked and less fundamental than a group of mostly unheralded and inexperienced Badgers.
Archie Miller hasn’t hidden his frustrations either, referring to the team at various times as “soft”, “lacking energy”, and “not fully understanding what it means to wear Indiana across their chests”.
Most observers seemed to agree that based on pure talent, IU had a clear advantage over Wisconsin. But while Indiana might have had more talent, it doesn’t have that much more talent. The talent might be enough to get by Youngstown State and Tennessee Tech. But as we’ve seen on multiple occasions with Indiana over the last 2 years, when the talent is even reasonably close — heart, passion, energy. leadership and fundamentals can trump athleticism.
Ask yourself, who on this year’s Indiana team is going to do THIS:
It takes a special kind of person to make that play. It takes a refuse to lose attitude. It takes a fighter. It takes an assassin. Do you see any of that kind of mentality from any of these IU players?
We take no pleasure in giving such a scathing critique of these young men. By all accounts they are nice, decent people. Those are important attributes that will serve them well in life. But it doesn’t win basketball games. Not every assassin like Yogi has the same kind of personality. Some are quiet and humble off the floor and then flip a switch when they cross the lines. Some are type A in everything they do.
If these Indiana players flip a switch, it is to the “OFF” position. Too often there is a deer in the headlights look, with a lot of standing around and watching. Too often there is passive play, a lack of discipline and an inability to sustain energy.
If things are going to change then people are going to have to change. So you have to ask yourself:
Who is going to be the guy to get in a teammate’s face?
Who is going to get in an opponent’s face?
Who is going to take pride in locking up the opponent’s best player?
Who is going to have the mental toughness to step up and make a big shot?
Who is going to refuse to lose?
So far, the answer to all of these questions is a resounding nobody.
You can follow us on Twitter: @daily_hoosier
Find us on Facebook: thedailyhoosier