In his second year at the helm, Archie Miller appears to have one of the top rosters in the Big Ten. Players like Juwan Morgan, Romeo Langford and Justin Smith have garnered plenty of attention and for good reason—they’re all talented players that are expected to play large roles for the Hoosiers this winter. There might be one player on the roster that isn’t getting the attention he deserves though.
Rob Phinisee is the x-factor for IU this season.
The Hoosiers have had an obvious issue over the past two seasons—they haven’t had consistently good play out of the point guard position. This issue began when Yogi Ferrell graduated after leading IU to a Sweet 16 appearance in the 2015-16 season, which seems like it happened a million years ago, and then snowballed when
the fifth Ninja Turtle Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson took over. This is where Phinisee comes in.
The four-star recruit from Lafayette, IN (eat your heart out Matt Painter) might be the best point guard talent Bloomington has seen in the past 10-15 years sans Ferrell and is primed to make an early impact for the Cream and Crimson.
On Monday, Miller noted that Devonte Green and Race Thompson didn’t play in IU’s scrimmage against Loyola Chicago due to “nagging injuries” on his radio show. He also said that both players could miss time early this season.
Green has been expected to serve as the point guard for IU’s first unit this winter, so if he does miss time somebody will have to step into that role—enter Phinisee.
In his senior year Phinisee averaged 29.4 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5.8 assists, and 3.7 assists per game, showcasing his versatile skill set, which may be his most valuable asset. When you put that together with Miller’s comments about the freshman on Wednesday it’s hard not to get excited about his potential.
“He really holds his own defensively. I think as a freshman he’s advanced defensively, he’s got a really sturdy body, strong, he’s competitive,” Miller said, “I was really excited to see him compete.”
With Green nursing an injury we should get to see plenty of Phinisee early this season. If he performs well and cements himself as an important part of the rotation he’ll give the Hoosiers something they haven’t had in years, something that could push them forward and allow them to take the next step as a team. If he doesn’t, well we’ll see plenty of Devonte Green running the show and if that turns out how it did last year we’re in for a wild ride.
As the season gets underway keep your eye on the youngster in the backcourt for IU. No, not the one from New Albany with the red shooting sleeve—the other one. That other one might be the key to success for the Hoosiers this season.