Just when you think we’ve got the season figured out ...
- The three point shot is not walking through that door. I know it’s odd to start the game wrap of a conference victory with a gripe BUT this team’s offense remains a complete mess and it’s largely because they refuse to embrace who they are. Indiana inexplicably took 27 three-point shots tonight, making exactly six of them. Meanwhile, they shot over 50% from inside the arc and hit 80% of their free throws, the blueprint to score points for this team is right in front of them AND YET there are still these bizarre stretches where Indiana starts firing threes en masse, completely ignoring the post and, without fail, the offense stagnates horribly and allows an opponent to creep back in.
- Let’s talk about that free throw shooting. As the game wound down, Penn State went into fouling mode in an effort to extend the game and, as we’re all well aware, it’s a particularly decent strategy to use against an Indiana team that has struggled from the foul line all year long. However, credit to Josh Newkirk and Devonte Green, who hit all eight free throws they took in the last minute, keeping a Nittany Lions team at bay that had managed to hit a couple late threes in between to keep things just sweaty enough.
- Indiana looks like a team that could be just good enough to really make those Indiana State and Ft. Wayne losses hurt. I had initially shrugged off those god-awful losses as irrelevant to the overall picture because I saw Indiana as a bubble team at its absolute best at the season’s outset. But now that the Hoosiers seem to be rounding into form and/or taking advantage of an increasingly bad-looking Big Ten, the Hoosiers could make those losses hurt all over again come Selection Sunday. There is, all of the sudden, a couple slim paths to 10 B1G wins on Indiana’s schedule, but does 10-8 in THIS conference with THOSE non-conference losses get your ticket punched? I doubt it.
It has been a frustrating season, but as questions started to (wrongfully) crop up about Archie’s ability, it’s nice to see some progress out of a team that looked completely checked out just one week ago in Madison. Yet another winnable game awaits the lads as Northwestern comes to town on Sunday before Indiana heads off to East Lansing to start an absolutely brutal six-game stretch that begins and ends with the Spartans, and includes games against Maryland, Purdue, and Ohio State.
The weather is about to get really, really rough for Indiana. But they showed plenty of glimpses tonight as to what they’re building towards, and for many fans, that’s enough.