Sometimes there are sequences in games that can be looked back on as defining moments for a player, a team, a coach, and even a season. And from this fans perspective, I think there was one of those on Sunday night in Assembly Hall.
As a loose ball was being batted around on the floor under the basket and three Hoosiers were bending over reaching for it and ended up committing a foul, head coach Archie Miller threw his towel in disgust.
As a result he received his first technical foul as the Indiana head coach. His disgust was not directed at a referee. Not at the foul being called. Not at anything other than his team not wanting the ball bad enough to get on the floor and get it.
It’s that personality that will eventually rub off on this team and make it what we as fans want it to be, and that is tough. Having grown up on that type of Indiana basketball, and then going through the “we’ll just out score you phase” I’m personally ready to go back to that blue collar approach.
To have any success worth mentioning this year, this Indiana team is going to have to be willing to do the dirty work of playing defense, scrapping & clawing for loose balls, battling for rebounds, and digging a little deeper inside themselves than maybe they ever have.
Some of those very things happened on Sunday night. The second half was as good a half as they’ve payed thus far in this young season. I’m not sure I would say a switch was flipped, but once good things started happening as a direct result of their defense, and their hustle, they did seem to feed off of that and play even harder.
Most Hoosier teams have had a shooter or two that when they shot the ball you were surprised if it didn’t go in. We don’t have that on this team, we just don’t. So therefore we are left hoping that it goes in when a shot goes up.
But on offense, the movement, the screens, and the passes are becoming crisper and more fluid all of the time. We are getting the shots we want our offense to get for us and that is refreshing to say the least.
Yes it can be frustrating, especially right now. But down the road, when a guy or two that is wearing an Indiana jersey can knock down open shots, and this system gets them those open looks that it is right now, maybe the frustration we feel now will have all been worth it.
Juwan Morgan was finally aggressive. That’s the best way I can think of to describe his play last night. He just needs to bring that energy EVERY night. Robert Johnson could still tighten up his handle some, but he hit some open looks and also didn’t settle for just jump shots and instead took it to the hole.
Aside from the fouls, AGAIN, De’Ron Davis was pretty solid. Justin Smith just gets better every game. And he needs to, because he is going to be on the floor for not only a lot of minutes this season, but also for very important minutes.
Aljami Durham, what can you say about a kid that plays as hard on the defensive of the floor as he does on the offensive end, especially as a freshman. He totaled 31 minutes last night and had a pretty impressive stat-line to show for it. 31 minutes. 9 points. 6 rebounds. 4 assists. 0 turnovers…as is Zero. Nada. None.
It’s been rumored that Josh Newkirk may not be 100% healthy, and I don’t know if that rumor is true or not. But what I do know is, he makes way too many mistakes for a 5th year senior. He doesn’t, and never has, appeared to me to be mentally focused on the situation at the moment. He plays hard, but he plays lost. And with numbers like Aljami is putting up, Josh may need to get it figured out pretty fast or he may be on the outside looking in.
All in all, after a bad first half of basketball against a bad team, Indiana found a rhythm in the second half, they turned the defense up a notch, and they looked the best they’ve looked thus far.
That’s improvement and something to build on, which I think is what we are all really looking for right now.