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Yes, it’s this bad

What happens in Year Two won’t get you fired, but it will rot the foundation. How are the almonds?

NCAA Basketball: Indiana at Rutgers Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
  1. This, we’ve written this exact one before. Two weeks ago. Was it Nebraska? It was Nebraska. Or therebouts? The names don’t matter anymore, the treadmill keeps moving. How are the almonds?
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  3. Indiana lost to Rutgers (yes, Rutgers) in basketball tonight, again. How it happened isn’t particularly important, because if you’ve watched one game during 2019, you’ve watched all of them. The offense still can’t score reliably, the defense still isn’t good enough to lean on, no one has figured out how to shoot, the bench is still worthless, the starters still don’t seem to care. Indiana has lost seven straight and has to walk into Breslin on Saturday night. Haha. Cool man.
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  5. This particular season is over, if you measure it in tournament aspirations. If the seven-game losing streak isn’t irredeemable itself, Indiana’s inherent problems clearly are. No one on the floor or on the sideline can figure out how to create consistent scoring opportunities for Indiana. No one on the floor or sideline seems particularly interested or capable in turning that around. In addition to having a schematic offensive philosophy that is the antithesis of what today’s top-level recruits want to play in, the day-to-day execution of such a scheme is also bad. Oh, and the players can’t shoot. Did we mention that? No one can shoot, and no one seems particularly interested in fixing that either.
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  7. Again, we’ve written this before. Grab another handful of almonds, we get them from the store downstairs, it’s not a big deal, honestly. No one is getting fired, let go, cut loose, in year two. Pending something non-wins-and-losses hasn’t yet surfaced publicly, Archie Miller will coach Indiana next season if he wants to be here. It would be reckless and improper to suggest he’s possibly way in over his skis in Bloomington, because he has no idea how to solve the RAC, College Basketball’s Rubik’s Cube. Right? Yes, yes, right.
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  9. And yes, there are problems. There are flaws. There are plenty of recruiting beat reporters on the internet happy to share with you the presumably Miller-family provided talking points on all of the problems with the Indiana program at the time Archie took over. The unbalanced roster, the APR situation, the lack of shooting on the roster. Now it’s the injuries. Some of those are fair and valid, yes. Indiana doesn’t have top tier talent on the bench. Zach McRoberts plays significant minutes. Seemingly no one is capable of manufacturing a bucket when needed. Indiana wasn’t going to be a top-15 team this season. Maybe not even a top-25 team. Fine.
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  11. Yet, pick whatever sport you’d like, a “losing streak to Rutgers” is not a bellwether of a positive outcome in year two for any coach. It is certainly not one for the head men’s basketball coach at Indiana — a program still just three years removed from a outright conference title. It isn’t for a coach in a freshman-reliant sport where turnarounds can happen lightning quick. Talent, shooting, whatever be damned. Each time you believe this particular iteration cannot sink further into the hellscape, Tom Ostrom throws back his head with a hearty ‘HA’ and swigs another Lone Star. Lose to a replacement-level Purdue team in a non-competitive matchup by double digits? Yes. Score exactly two damn points in a sitcom episode’s worth of game action against Michigan? YES. Concede a 27-3 run en route to losing to Rutgers? OH GOD YES. Let the flames of eternity swallow your soul, you live here now.
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  13. That’s the problem, that’s what we’re discussing. If Indiana is on a crash course with a .500-at-best season and another missed NCAA Tournament, the concern is not now, but rather how the dominoes fall after it. Next season, Indiana will lose, by far, their best two players off a team that will likely miss the postseason by a wide margin. Preventing Indiana’s first four-year senior class to not play in an NCAA Tournament in 50 years will require magic from Trayce Jackson-Davis and fuckin uhhhhhhhh Jerome Hunter? Or maybe skill development, or maybe schematic improvement, but there’s nothing in “losing streak to Rutgers” that inspires confidence in any of that happening. Recruiting? Romeo Langford’s full-season tape of toiling in a mediocre offense not suited to his strengths will be used as a full-on negative recruiting tape for years. This is how “losing streak to Rutgers” becomes three, then maybe four, then we do this whole thing again all over again. Almonds.
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