Indiana has played nineteen games. They’ve won twelve of them and lost seven. At this point, they are who they are. The results are in.
Indiana is a bad basketball team.
You can’t hide anything in Big Ten play. The Hoosiers won their first three league games by 12 points aggregate, and then lost the next five (three by double digits). This is not what a good team does. This is what a bad team does.
They certainly have good players! Juwan Morgan is as good as it gets in college basketball and Romeo Langford is, despite his recent form, still a phenomenal freshman guard. But after that, the roster gets a little upside-down. A poisonous mix of good talent that lacks experience, and good experience that lacks talent. When you play under-gunned teams, the likes of Morgan and Romeo will almost always be enough. But when conference play rolls around? You’re going to need more. You’re going to need so much more.
Indiana is not a threat to score on you. You can commit to doubling Juwan Morgan without fear of being burned on a kickout pass. Not because Morgan can’t make that pass (it’s one of his several talents) but because its recipient can’t be counted on to do anything with it. For everything Romeo is, he’s not a long-distance shooter (at least not yet), he’s an unfathomable 21.7% from deep this season.
But even doubling Morgan seems silly— he’s only one man. He can’t beat you on his own. Just leave him isolated, use your other four players to do whatever they want because you almost can’t screw this up. Sag off a bit, there’s a good chance your guy can’t shoot and you’ll be in better position to get a rebound. Keep the ball in front of you, after all, even the best distributors on this team are just as likely to turn the ball over than make a key pass.
Unless something changes, this will be every night for the Hoosiers from now until the end of the season. There’s a dearth of evidence that anything can be changed in time to salvage the year with a tournament appearance. Without shooters in today’s game, your goose is often cooked right from the tip.
Things are certainly very bad for the Hoosiers right now, but let me remind you that there’s quickly-vanishing hope for next year as well. The two bright spots of this season? Juwan? Required to be gone. Romeo? Likely to ply his trade for money next season. Next year looks like a bigger reboot than when Archie came to Indiana. And reboots have growing pains. Reboots take time. Reboots sometimes need to be rebooted again.
So where do we go from here?
I’m going to bed.