Do you hear yourselves?
My articles are usually just my thoughts that are solely based off of what I witness while watching the games. And while this article is also basically based on that very same thing, due to the outcry of some, a lot actually, that I’ve seen on social media during the current six game losing streak, it will venture off the track of it just being my general observations.
I have seen the calling for coach Archie Miller to be fired. Are serious? I mean really, are some of you really ready to give up on a coach half way through his second season at Indiana? Listen, I’m not making excuses. And yes, coach Miller has to take some responsibility for the way the team is struggling right now. But let’s start by taking a look at the roster as to where some of the problems lie. Half of the roster is compiled of players that coach Miller would not have recruited to play for him. Two, Jerome Hunter & Race Thompson, of the five players that Miller has brought to Indiana haven’t stepped on the court yet. And I believe wholeheartedly that Hunter would more than likely have been that third consistent scorer that we so desperately need. I also believe that with Thompson having been in the program for two years already, he would have in the very least provided an able bodied post player to give Juwan Morgan a few breathers during a game.
De’Ron Davis, who was projected to be our center and was coming along nicely while playing 12-15 minutes a game early in the season, slowly started regressing physically, and has now joined Hunter in black warmups on the end of the bench. It became as much as a struggle for me to watch him try to run as it did for him to actually do it. Which leaves IU with a 6’8” 225lb. face up forward as our only capable “center” left to battle players he’s giving up a couple of inches and about 30 plus pounds to night in and night out. All things considered, I think he’s done an outstanding job, and shudder to think where this team would be without him.
The roster has one true point guard. Robert Phinisee has been a pleasant surprise, especially for a freshman point guard. But once again, he also missed extended time due to an injury. He has been handed the job much earlier that many thought he would, and there’s two reasons for that. He’s shown he was capable sooner that many thought he would be, and because there’s no one else on the roster that has proven to be as capable. He logs a lot of minutes, and has to learn on the fly so to speak. So I personally think he’s handling it all very well. It scares me to think where we would be without him as well.
There is not a shooter on the roster. The closest thing we have is Evan Fitzner, and he’s struggling mightily right now. If you look back to the Marquette game, back when Davis was giving us solid minutes, you can see he is a capable shooter. But when the bench is depleted and you’re asked to do things other than shoot open shots created by good spacing, then you are going to be easy to guard. Fitzner needs to be on the floor with a capable big that draws defenses and creates open looks for others. Right now, Indiana doesn’t have that.
IU was 12-2 entering 2019. They had some very solid wins included in those 12 wins. But the reality is, the rest of the B10 was paying attention and realized that not only were the Hoosiers mediocre at best from the 3pt. line, they actually had some players that wouldn’t even look at the basket from out there.
Early on Romeo Langford proved that he could get to the basket and finish as well as anyone in the country, freshman or otherwise. But he was doing it being guarded one on one and with teams trying to help. The B10 teams help defenders are closer to the lane than they are the guys they are guarding. They are willing to take their chances with IU shooting from the perimeter in exchange for having 2 or 3 players awaiting Langford when he gets in the paint. Langford has never been known as a shooter, he’s a scorer who will become a good shooter in time. But for now, he’s struggling as much as the rest of the team due to there not being a shooter on the floor to create space.
The defensive end is where I’m most angry about their play. Defense is this teams only hope in salvaging their season. They have to become a team that is hard to score against. They have to be a team that scraps and fights for loose balls and battles their asses off on the boards. Right now they are letting their ineptness on the offense end of the floor dictate their play on the defensive end.
Coach Miller said it best in the press conference following the most recent loss. He said they were soft. And they are. They don’t seem to have that certain something in them that “punches” back when they get punched. And unfortunately, that seems to be some of thems personality. Of the hold over players from the previous coaching staff that play significant minutes, only a few show a willingness to dig down deep inside and find that little something extra that competitive people have.
I personally believe Archie Miller is going to win, and win big, at Indiana, and I may be wrong. But I’m sure not going to pass judgement or make a decision on whether or not he is right or wrong for the job 1.5 years into being the head coach. I’m not going to even entertain such thoughts until he has a roster full of players that he hand picked to come to Indiana and play basketball. Coaches know what kind of players fit their system and their personality, and those are the players they recruit.
The holdover players fit former coach Tom Crean’s demeanor and basketball philosophy. They in no way shape or form resemble any of coach Miller’s players at Dayton, or the few he recruited to Indiana thus far, including the two coming next year. Be patient. And yes, I know it’s not easy to do when a team we are all so passionate about is struggling. Look at the big picture before you pass judgement. Look at all that goes into building a program. Look at the roster and see it’s strengths, and it’s weaknesses. Don’t base your expectations off of a few good wins. Look at players demeanors when there’s some adversity and see if it mirrors that of the coach’s. In the very least, when you get frustrated, or disgusted, or mad, or whatever it is you get when they play bad, say out loud to yourself what you want to tell the world before you actually tell the world.
As always…GO HOOSIERS!