Indiana’s Rollercoaster Season Comes To An End Against Wichita State In NIT Quarterfinals

You could call the Indiana Hoosiers’ 2018-2019 season many things.

Hopeful. Depressing.

Lucky. Cursed.

Fun. Funny.

Amusing. Exhausting.

Interesting. Agonizing.

Random. Repetitive.

All of these words not only described the Hoosiers’ overall season, it also described any one game during the season, including Indiana’s 73-63 loss to the Wichita State Shockers in the NIT Quarterfinals.

This rollercoaster of emotions finally came to a complete stop on Tuesday night, and now Hoosier Nation has exited the ride to differing results. Some had fun. Others ran for the nearest garbage bin and threw up. Regardless of the reaction, this season, for better or worse, will not be forgotten by those who took this ride.

Yet how did this wild ride come into existence? Why did games fluctuate so wildly? What does this season mean for the future? Now that the season is finally over, it is time to try answering these three questions:

1) How did this season become so unstable and unpredictable?

The truth is we never got to see the team that was advertised to us coming into the season. From the beginning, injuries have plagued the Hoosiers, taking countless games from potential rotation players, including the entire season from Jerome Hunter.

In fact, only Juwan Morgan and Justin Smith ended up playing all 35 of the Hoosiers’ games this season, and Morgan could have easily missed time but played through it.

Devonte Green missed four games in November and then was not allowed to play for three more in January. De’Ron Davis missed five games. Rob Phinisee missed three games. Al Durham missed one game but played half of the season with an injured hand. Zach McRoberts had an injured back most of the season. Race Thompson missed over half the season as well. Even Romeo Langford missed the final three games because injuries that he played through finally caught up to him.

Because of all these injuries, and the way they were spaced out, the team was constantly in flux as players entered and left the rotation constantly, hampering the creation of any kind of chemistry among the team.

2) Why did the team’s performance change so suddenly and often?

Injuries explain why the season was so uneven, but don’t explain why the team’s performance could change in the middle of a game. This is because this Hoosier team had a fatal flaw, one it wasn’t used to when compared to past seasons.

It couldn’t shoot well consistently.

“Shooting from the three-point line is the number one reason in many ways that our team could not get over the hump so many times (this season),” explained Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller about the biggest issue with the team’s consistency.

It’s easy to see this wasn’t a good three-point shooting team. On the year, the Hoosiers attempted 676 treys and only connected on 211 of them (31.2%), which was made even more painful by the team’s propensity for falling behind early, either because of committing turnovers or shooting (and missing) a lot of threes early in the game.

Needing to make threes became necessary to get back into games, and with only one player who hit above 35% from long range (Green hit 41% from deep on the season), it became easier for defenses to key in on that player and forced lesser three-point shooters to force up shots.

However, three-point shooting wasn’t the only type of shot that let the team down over the course of the season. Foul shooting was abysmal across the board, with not a single player hitting above 75% from the free throw line. Durham and Green ended up being the team’s most reliable free throw shooters and they only hit on 74% and 73.6% of their foul shots respectively. Such poor foul shooting made holding a small lead very hard.

3) How will the events of this season shape future IU seasons?

This is the question everyone wants answered the most, and unfortunately can’t be answered yet. Just like how every member of Hoosier Nation has reacted differently to this rollercoaster ride, so too will the players who experienced it firsthand. Will they leave to find new beginnings? Will they use the frustration they felt to fuel their motivation to get better and make the team better? Will it have no effect at all and we’ll have a repeat performance next season?

We’ll have to wait for the ride to open again next fall.

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Devonte Green Comes Up Big Again As Hoosiers Hold Off Razorbacks In Second Round Of NIT

March has been Devonte Green’s month.

The Indiana Hoosiers’ great March continued on Saturday afternoon, as the Hoosiers outlasted the Arkansas Razorbacks 63-60 to advance to the NIT Quarterfinals. If they win in the Quarterfinals, the Hoosiers will head out to New York to play in Madison Square Garden.

Now wouldn’t that be a perfect present for the player most responsible for Indiana’s end-of-season turnaround.

Green comes from North Babylon, New York, which is just less than 50 miles away from where the Hoosiers would play at the beginning of April if they advance to the NIT Semifinals. To make it to New York, Indiana will need Green to continue his March Magic.

Through his first 21 games, Green, much like the Hoosiers, were in the middle of a lost season. Instead of taking a big leap or showing gradual improvement, Green’s numbers stagnated or in some cases were even worse than his sophomore campaign:

  • Devonte Green’s Sophomore Season: 7.6ppg (36.4% FG) (33.7% 3FG) (70.5% FT), 1.9rpg, 2.5apg, 1.03spg, 1.9tpg, 22.5mpg
  • Devonte Green’s Junior Season (November – February): 7.4ppg (34.7% FG) (34.7% 3FG) (76.9% FT), 3.1rpg, 2.8apg, 1.10spg, 2.3tpg, 23.7mpg

However, in the month of March, Green seems to have turned a corner and has been a huge part of the Hoosiers’ 5-1 record this month. In fact, even during the lone loss against Ohio State in the Big Ten Tournament, Green helped dig the Hoosiers out of a 20-point hole to make it a one-possession game in the final seconds behind a career-high 26 points and eight made three-pointers.

Saturday was no exception, as Green was not only the Hoosiers’ leading scorer with 18 points, but was also their leading rebounder as he hauled in a career-high 11 rebounds for his second career double-double.

Green, who scored in double-figures six times during his first 21 games, has now scored in double-figures for six straight games, all of which have taken place in March.

  • Devonte Green’s Junior Season (March 2019): 16.0ppg (54.1% FG) (55.3% 3FG) (81.8% FT), 3.8rpg, 3.8apg, 2.00spg, 2.0tpg, 29.5mpg

“We’ve won six out of seven, and we probably don’t win any of them without Devonte’s ability on both ends of the floor,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller referring to the Hoosiers’ March games as well as their late February win over Wisconsin. “He’s our most important cog in the wheel right now.”

Green’s performance on Saturday could be considered his most impressive yet by the fact he was only able to practice once between games due to being sick all week long.

Juwan Morgan had another stellar game as he added 15 points and eight rebounds, while De’Ron Davis added 10 points and six rebounds for a Hoosier team that was missing leading scorer Romeo Langford for the second straight game. In his place, Coach Miller opted for a dual point guard lineup, as Rob Phinisee (seven points, seven rebounds, five assists) along with Green have worked well together to keep the offense moving even without the team’s star freshman.

Indiana now awaits to host the winner of Clemson-Wichita State on Tuesday night, with the winner of that contest earning the opportunity to play in Madison Square Garden. No doubt Green will give his all to make sure that is a reality for the Hoosiers, just like has all month long.

Juwan Morgan Has Near Perfect Senior Day As Indiana Dominates Rutgers

Juwan Morgan has risen to the occasion numerous times over his four-year career for the Cream and Crimson, so it should come as no surprise that on his Senior Day he put up one of his best performances yet as he lead the Indiana Hoosiers to a much-needed 89-73 win over the Rutgers Scarlet Knights on Saturday.

Morgan made his first 10 shots on his way to a game-high 25 points in what might be his last game at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers would only play at home again this season if they host an NIT game, something the Hoosiers are trying desperately not to do as they continue to make their case for the NCAA Tournament.

Morgan played just 22 minutes due to foul trouble but made the most of it, outscoring Rutgers as a whole during the first eight minutes of the game 12 to 10 and scored nine straight points for the Hoosiers early in the second half to push the Indiana lead to 20.

The Senior forward isn’t originally from Indiana, instead coming from Missouri, but has been the textbook definition of a Hoosier from day one, always making the hustle play and playing for the good of the team. Morgan was a glue guy off the bench his first two seasons, but during his final two seasons he has become the team’s unquestioned leader. Now he ends his final regular with 1,298 points, just one point shy of tying Tom Bolyard for 29th on IU’s all-time scoring list.

“I think the way he works. His leadership. His attitude. He’s a competitor,” said fellow Senior Zach McRoberts about what impresses him most about Morgan. “I think he wants to be the best in everything he does and guys see that and it’s contagious. He’s been a great leader and I appreciate everything he’s done for us.”

Devonte Green was also a huge contributor for the Indiana Hoosiers [17-14 (8-12)] as he added 16 points off the bench. The Junior from New York has scored in double figures the last three games and has assisted on 11 baskets compared to just four turnovers during the four-game winning streak.

“He’s really settled in,” said Indiana Coach Archie Miller. “He knows we need him to not make flashy plays or do anything crazy. He knows we need him to score baskets when he’s open, and we need him to make plays for others.”

This might have also been the curtain call for Romeo Langford in Bloomington before he jumps to the NBA. The freshmen wing struggled from the floor early, making just one field goal in the first half, but was able to get to the foul line numerous times, where he went 8-of-10 from the charity stripe. He would find his rhythm in the second half and finish with 20 points and six rebounds.

The Rutgers Scarlet Knights [14-16 (7-13)] received 18 points from Eugene Omoruyi and 17 points from Caleb McConnell, but received little help elsewhere as the rest of the team made 13 of 36 (36.1%) from the floor and the team as a whole committed 12 turnovers that turned into 14 points for the Hoosiers.

The Indiana Hoosiers will now take that four-game winning streak into the Big Ten Tournament and must win a few more to solidify an NCAA Tournament bid. However, considering how well they have been playing lately as well as how unorthodox this season has been, don’t be surprised if this is the year the Hoosiers finally go on a run in the Big Ten tournament.

Unlikely Heroes Smith And Green Give Indiana The Season Sweep Against Michigan State

Coming off the second ever home loss to the Indiana Hoosiers during the Tom Izzo era, there was no way the Michigan State Spartans wouldn’t come into Bloomington and get revenge in a much needed game for the Spartans’ Big Ten Conference Championship chances.

However it looks like Justin Smith didn’t get that memo.

The sophomore forward scored a career-high 24 points, including 3 three-pointers, as the Hoosiers once again stunned the Spartans, this time 63-62 to give IU its second straight win over a ranked opponent as well as the season sweep against Michigan State.

“Attitude is everything,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller when explaining how Smith broke out against the Spartans. “When your attitude is great and you’re focused in on just doing whatever you can to help, good things tend to happen, and I think that’s where Justin really changed his mindset.”

A lightning rod for criticism this entire season, Smith single-handedly shouldered a floundering first half offense that saw players other than Smith hit just 4-of-19 (21.1%) on field goal attempts while he scored 16 points on 6-of-10 shooting. It would end up keeping the Hoosiers in the game long enough for his teammates to get going as a combination of clutch shooting and fantastic defense helped Indiana [15-14 (6-12)] overcome an 11-point second half deficit.

What’s even more impressive is that most of that clutch second half shooting came from fellow “fall guy” Devonte Green.

Known for being consistently inconsistent, Green played a vital role in the second half comeback scoring 11 of his 13 points after halftime and hit two momentum-shifting threes during the final six minutes.

The first one ended a quick 5-0 Michigan State run that had turned a one-possession game into a three-possession game, while the second one occurred with four minutes left and started the final 7-0 run that ended the game.

“When he’s engaged, he’s as talented of a guy as you can have,” said Miller about Green. “When he’s not engaged, obviously he’s like everyone else, it sticks out. I think he was engaged today, made some plays. Devonte hit some really big shots for us in the game to keep us hanging around.”

That 7-0 run spanned the final 4:13, as the Spartans never scored again after a Matt McQuaid jumper. The Hoosiers would finally tie the game on a put back layup from Juwan Morgan, who finished with 7 points and 11 rebounds, and also drew a foul on the basket which led to the go-ahead free throw.

Cassius Winston had an exceptional game for Michigan State [23-6 (14-4)], scoring 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting and also dishing out 11 assists. However, one of his four missed shots came at the worst possible time as his potential game winner with less than eight seconds left was expertly defended by Rob Phinisee.

During a season where the longer it goes the less sense it makes, it’s only fitting that the two most controversial players on the team came to IU’s rescue with the season on the line. Now, as if things couldn’t get more confusing, the Hoosiers find themselves somehow back on the bubble thanks to now having seven Quadrant 1 wins, which are the most prestigious types of wins on an NCAA Tournament resume.

The Hoosiers still need to win their last two regular season games (at Illinois, vs Rutgers), but after two months of disappointment, hope is finally here now that it is March.

Hoosiers Suffer A Huge Gut Punch In Loss To Buckeyes

The Indiana Hoosiers yet again found themselves in a hole on Sunday, but this time things were looking different. That is until normalcy came crashing back down.

Despite finding themselves down eight with less than 10 minutes left, the Hoosiers rallied and seemingly took control of the game.
Everything seemed to be clicking as the Hoosiers sank three consecutive three-pointers and tied the Ohio State Buckeyes at 47-47 with 4:54 remaining, and looked just like the team that beat the Michigan State Spartans last weekend when they pulled ahead 52-49 on a Devonte Green trey with 1:46 left.

Yet it was all unraveled in that last 1:46. After C.J. Jackson hit a back-breaking end-of-the-shot-clock three pointer to tie the game, Rob Phinisee drove to the basket only to get his layup attempt blocked out of bounds with seven seconds remaining on the shot clock and 46 seconds left on the game clock. IU Coach Archie Miller called one of his final two timeouts to draw up a play only for the Hoosiers to burn the second one because they couldn’t get the ball inbounds.

Yet at the cost of two timeouts, the Hoosiers never got a shot attempt up as Juwan Morgan forced a pass inside to a posted-up Romeo Langford that was deflected and picked up by the Buckeyes.

“We drew up a play that put Juwan (Morgan) and Romeo (Langford) in a position to try and either drive it from the top or get a post-up,” said Miller about the intent behind the play. “We tried to get the ball right at the basket with Romeo, maybe get fouled or get a quick bucket.”

Adding salt to the wound, Ohio State Head Coach Chris Holtmann drew up a slip screen play for his team on the other end that resulted in an open basket due to a late rotation by the helpside defense.

With 20 seconds remaining and no timeouts left, the compounded result was Langford playing heroball and barely missing his three-point attempt. One last chance was given after a missed Ohio State free throw but again without that final timeout, a wave of chaos ensued and Green was forced to chuck a tough-looking shot with the clock going down.

In addition to blowing such a late lead at home, the Hoosiers’ 55-52 home loss to the Ohio State Buckeyes was a huge gut punch for a number of reasons.

  1. It was against a fellow Big Ten underachiever in Ohio State, which had gone from being comfortably in the NCAA Tournament to being on the bubble thanks to a five-game losing streak during conference play and is just now starting to recover from it.
  2. It was a game the Hoosiers needed so they could keep up all the positive momentum from the Michigan State game, with the Iowa loss seen as an acceptable outcome against a team that is one of the 25 best in the country playing well. Ohio State was on Indiana’s level and the Hoosiers should expect to win at home.
  3. Indiana blew a game where they had finally flipped the turnover script, this time being the aggressive team that scored a ton of points off the opponents’ turnovers, which ended up being 21 Hoosier points off of 15 Buckeye turnovers. It also wasted a clutch three-point shooting performance (four consecutive made three-pointers during the comeback) for a team that struggles to shoot from deep

Yet despite all the motivation you could ever need, it wasn’t enough and now the Hoosiers find themselves digging out of their biggest hole yet, as they will likely need to either win the rest of their regular season games or win the Big Ten Tournament to find themselves in the NCAA Tournament. While not impossible, the Hoosiers now find themselves dancing on an microscopically thin tightrope.

IU Showcases A Deep And Talented Team In Win over Chicago State

On a night that saw our first taste of Romeo Langford lighting it up for the Cream and Crimson, there was plenty more to be excited about regarding the Indiana Hoosiers after their 104-55 win over the Chicago State Cougars.

Langford led the way with a game-high 19 points on 7-of-12 shooting, yet he was just one of many Hoosiers who showcased their talent on Tuesday night.

Fellow freshman guard Rob Phinisee had a rough first half with early foul trouble, but rebounded in a big way during the second half as he finished with six points, five assists, and five steals in 20 minutes of play.

“I felt Rob played real well,” said Langford about his freshman backcourt teammate. “He basically translated his game from high school into college.”

It wasn’t just the freshmen newcomers that stood out. Graduate Transfer Evan Fitzner was a huge spark off the bench as he added 14 points on a hyper-efficient 5-of-6 shooting, which included a diverse shot selection from hook shots in the post to corner threes.

“Very high IQ, very skilled offensive player,” said Indiana Head Coach Archie Miller. “He has size and length and great touch with either hand around the basket. He obviously can stretch the floor (too). I thought he did a nice job of throwing over the zone at times, catching it in the middle and skipping it out at times.”

Yet the most encouraging thing from Tuesday night was that this group of newcomers fit in so seamlessly with Indiana’s returning key players, creating a team that looks eons better than the one that was blown out by Indiana State during last season’s opening game.

Juwan Morgan may have had a quiet night on the scoring front with just nine points, but he was still an essential part of the team, grabbing a team-high eight rebounds (five of which were offensive) and also added three assists and two blocks.

Zach McRoberts is making good on his promise to be more aggressive on offense, and it paid off as he sank both of his three-point attempts and grabbed seven rebounds.

Justin Smith put his explosiveness on full display, and while he didn’t play a perfect game, he still played a huge factor for the Hoosiers drawing seven opposing fouls and finishing with 13 points.

Last, but not least, Devonte Green was able to come off the bench and bring instant-offense through his scoring and his passing, finishing with 15 points and three assists. Even more impressive, his time on the floor paired alongside Phinisee presented a unique and dynamic look for the Hoosiers that saw both players thriving off of each other.

“Devonte, he’s a real good scorer as well as passer, but I feel scoring is his main thing,” remarked Langford. “So just letting Devonte play without the ball for a little bit, when they’re both in the game at the same time, opens the court up even more for guys like me and Evan and J-Mo (Juwan).”

Yet the roster appeared even deeper as Damezi Anderson (five points, four rebounds) and De’Ron Davis (four points) played solidly for 20 and 12 minutes respectively. Also don’t forget the injured Al Durham, who looked like a prime breakout candidate during Hoosier Hysteria.

What this all means is that Coach Miller looks to have a squad that can legitimately run 10-men deep and won’t see their effectiveness wane when Morgan or Langford need a rest.

Indiana has a lot of talented players, and while they neither played perfectly (19-of-33 from the foul line) nor faced a challenging foe in Chicago State, the potential shown off on Tuesday night should make Hoosier Nation giddy with excitement for this new season.

Hoosiers Dish Out 21 Assists During 80-56 Win Over Golden Gophers

The Indiana Hoosiers earned their second straight 20+ point win Friday night by defeating the Minnesota Golden Gophers 80-56 and they did it by sharing the ball.

The Hoosiers finished with 21 assists, their most in a Big Ten game this season. Devonte Green and Juwan Morgan led the way with seven and five assists respectively, both of which were career-highs for the players.

“We’ve really just been emphasizing sharing the ball and making the right read,” said Green about team’s improved passing.

Green and Morgan each added a game-high 19 points as the Hoosiers used their great passing to shoot 30 of 53 (56.6%) from the floor. All seven players that scored at least four points for the Hoosiers shot 50% or better during the game.

  • Juwan Morgan – 19 points on 8 of 13 shooting
  • Devonte Green – 19 points on 5 of 7 shooting
  • Robert Johnson – 11 points on 5 of 9 shooting
  • Justin Smith – 9 points on 4 of 7 shooting
  • Freddie McSwain Jr. – 8 points on 3 of 6 shooting
  • Aljami Durham – 7 points on 2 of 4 shooting
  • Josh Newkirk – 4 points on 2 of 4 shooting

Johnson also had 4 assists as Indiana’s retooled starting lineup of McSwain/Morgan/Johnson/Green/McRoberts 17 of the team’s 21 assists.

“To me that five gives us the best chance,” said IU Coach Archie Miller. “That’s why we’re working with that five right now to start the game.”

The Hoosier defense also continued to lockdown the opposing team as the Golden Gophers made just 20 of 60 (33.3%) on the night. Over the past two games the Hoosiers have allowed just 99 points, the first time since January of 2002 that Indiana held back-to-back opponents to under 100 combined points (IU held Northwestern and Penn State to 98 combined points back in 2002).

The Hoosiers will look to see if they can make it three dominant wins in a row when they host Illinois on Wednesday night at  Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.