It was a 28 point win for IU, but when considering the caliber of the opponent and the Hoosiers’ level of play in the first half there wasn’t much to feel good about. Indiana didn’t look sharp at all in the first half. Was it rust from a long break or just another enigmatic performance from this edition of the Hoosiers? Whatever it was, it won’t work starting next week. Ready or not, it is time to resume Big Ten basketball, and the Hoosiers will start out with a challenging back to back on the road at Wisconsin and Minnesota next week.
Overall: C+ An uninspired first half really set the tone in this one as IU struggled to gain separation from a team ranked 300+ in KenPom. 10 first half turnovers and poor shooting were the main culprits. Give the Hoosiers credit for working some things out after the half, but one really has to wonder what kind of holes this team is going to dig in the Big Ten.
Coaching: B- Archie Miller is frustrated with this team. In his post game press conference, he said some players’ level of play is “deteriorating”, and suggested that they cannot find the necessary level of every day effort that is necessary to be worthy of having “Indiana” across their chests. Of course he owns some of those issues as the head coach, but these things really appear to have carried over from last year and he just might not be able to change it with this group.
Offense: C The 10 first half turnovers and 36% shooting in the first half were familiar. It appears that this is never going to be a good shooting team, which is allowing teams to drop their defense down and focus on stopping De’Ron Davis and Juwan Morgan. Overall, it was another miserable day from behind the 3-point line (22%) and the free throw shooting continues to be a problem (59%). On the bright side, Indiana had 15 assists on only 5 turnovers in the second half.
Defense: B- Youngstown State couldn’t throw it in the ocean in the first half and it felt like that was more about them than anything IU was doing defensively. IU was fortunate that YSU was 0-12 on 3-pointers in the first. Indiana came out with more energy in the second half and forced a couple early second half turnovers that helped stretch the margin to 14 and force a YSU timeout. For a team that was giving up opposing 3-point shots at north of 40%, Indiana limited YSU to 8%, but again how much of that was about the opponent? Indiana did force 18 turnovers on the game.
Players with meaningful minutes
- Al Durham, Jr.: C+ Another quiet game for the freshman starting guard. This time foul trouble was a factor in limiting him to 17 minutes. His shot is off right now — tonight he was 0-3 from distance. He had 2 turnovers on the game.
- Josh Newkirk: A- A nice night for the senior guard. 10 points, 5 assists (on 1 turnover) and 3 steals. As usual he was effective at identifying holes in the defense and attacking the rim. He led the team with 29 minutes which indicates that he has the confidence of Coach Miller right now.
- Justin Smith: A- Coach Miller indicated that Smith came back from the break with a renewed spirit and it showed. He grabbed 5 rebounds in only 11 minutes and added 8 points and a steal. He looked confident knocking down a first half 3-pointer, and it was an important one giving IU a 9 point lead after an uncomfortably tight first half.
- Robert Johnson: B 14 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists is a nice line for the senior guard, but it is when you peel back and look at the details that it loses its luster. The bottom line here is that Johnson continues to struggle with his 3-point shot, going 1-6 on the night and he sits at 32% on the season. This team really needs at least one constant threat from the perimeter, and coming into the year Johnson was the obvious choice.
- Devonte Green: C+ He’s been struggling with his shot and was 1-7 on this night. The one shot he hit was a really nice steal and finish at the end of the first half to help stretch the lead back to 9. He seemed to be forcing his shot, attacking the rim when openings really weren’t there.
- Juwan Morgan: A- Another solid effort from Morgan, as he contributed in several areas: 16 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 blocks and 3 steals. He did it on an efficient 7 for 9 from the field. He may be the one constant on this team right now.
- Zach McRoberts: A After barely seeing the floor early in the season, McRoberts is getting big minutes right now and Miller hinted that he may be starting soon. It is quite the development for the walk-on, and he has earned it. Both Miller and Morgan heaped praise on McRoberts, for his effort in games and practice. Morgan referred to him as the guy that no one wants to go up against at practice. It is clear that Coach Miller rewards effort and being a good teammate, and it is clear that McRoberts is taking advantages of his opportunity. For the second straight game he knocked down a couple 3-pointers, including an “and one” on his second make from distance. If he keeps making those shots he’ll be impossible to keep on the bench. Oh, and he had 8 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals on the night.
- De’Ron Davis: B- Does it seem like Davis his faded a bit? Coach Miller thinks so, as he specifically called him out for not giving the necessary effort every day. It is costing him minutes, as he only saw the floor for 16 in this one. Perhaps Miller is sending a message against a small team where he can afford to not play Davis? With Ethan Happ looming it is hard to imagine Davis not having a more prominent role.
- Freddie McSwain, Jr.: B- It was a mixed night for Freddie. He flashed more skills on offense than we’ve seen in the past, but he also committed 4 turnovers in only 10 minutes. He added 4 rebounds.
- Collin Hartman: B Hartman continues to be the mystery man on this team. He only played 9 minutes. Is Miller saving him for the Big Ten? Is his injury still lingering? Or is he in Miller’s dog house? We expected him to be starting by now but that hasn’t materialized. He’ll be interesting to watch as Big Ten play begins.
(Clifton Moore, Ethan Lasko, Quentin Taylor and Johnny Jager also saw the floor in late game action)
Photo credit – Evan De Stefano/IDS