The boos rained down, the shots did not, and No. 10 Indiana’s short stay at the Big Ten Tournament ended with a 61-50 loss to No. 7 Rutgers.
That’s it. That’s the season. Now we wait. Up next is an offseason full of questions, the most important of which — the one with the expensive (correct) answer — will be weighed by athletic director Scott Dolson in the coming days and weeks.
In the meantime, here are Three Things:
A strong start, then ... well ... the same ol’, same ol’
Hey, those first 10 or so minutes were fun, huh? It was an aggressive start on both ends for Indiana, which dictated tempo and scored eight of its first 11 points at the rim, then seized upon a flurry of early steals on the other side of the floor.
For those first 10 or so minutes, things were good. And yet, all the while, you knew better than to trust this team. With good reason. Much like the last time these schools met, a double-digit IU lead evaporated late in the half. At one stage in Rutgers’ comeback, the Scarlet Knights drained six straight shots, including 3-pointers by Ron Harper and Jacob Young, to get within a point and force IU to call timeout with two minutes left in the half.
On the way to taking a 33-32 halftime lead, Rutgers scored 22 points over its final 13 possessions of the half, while Indiana went the final 2:46 of the period without a single point.
If only that were the lone scoring drought of the night!
IU went without a field goal over the final 9:50 of regulation
Ah-ha! Yes! That’s the kind of dry spell we all know and love! In a season full of them, the Hoosiers snuck one more in before they cleaned out their lockers. Playin’ the hits on a Thursday, eh Arch?
The Hoosiers missed each of their final 14 attempts from the field, whiffing on bunnies, floaters, pull-ups, 3-pointers — everything, really. Actually, it was kind of impressive. You know what’s even more impressive? IU’s consistency down the stretch of Miller’s fourth season.
Not only did Indiana finish the season on a six-game losing streak, the Hoosiers were held under .90 points per possession over the final five contests, per the Bart Torvik database. Not even the 2008-09 team had a streak of offensive futility that went on for that long.
The shooting was bad on Thursday (37.5% FG, 12.5% 3PT), just as it was bad for most of the year. And the year before. And the year before that. And so on. Over their final three games of this season, the Hoosiers shot just 15% (9-for-59) from beyond the arc to lower their season rate to 32.4%. Do you remember what IU shot from distance last year? 32.6%.
Oh, and the free throws. IU made only six of the 15 it shot on Thursday. For the season, the Hoosiers finished with a success rate of 66.5% Do you remember what IU shot from distance last year? 67.9%.
As Andy Wittry outlined the other day, things are only getting worse on that end of the floor in the Miller era. And things sure were bad on Thursday.
We’re gonna go full-armchair bench boss here for a moment, because there was a key sequence around the under-8 timeout that surely had Your Dad screaming at the TV.
There were two media timeouts in quick succession with eight minutes left. Trayce Jackson-Davis needed a breather — he was tugging at his jersey — so he got one. Problem was, he couldn’t get back into the game soon enough. After the second of those media timeouts, IU had a lineup of Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Trey Galloway, Race Thompson and Jordan Geronimo on the floor. But you really can’t afford to play a lineup of Al Durham, Armaan Franklin, Trey Galloway, Race Thompson and Jordan Geronimo. It’s nothing personal. Rather, those collective skill sets simply aren’t going to yield the necessary production.
Meanwhile, on the other end, Rutgers got a couple quick drive-and-kick 3-pointers from Paul Mulcahy, who was wide open in the corner for both of those deep balls. At the same time, Jackson-Davis was waiting at the scorer’s table to check in. Not great!
Yeah, Jackson-Davis needed a blow, but man, you gotta get him back on the floor. Perhaps call a timeout after your mish-mash lineup goes 0-for-5 on the offensive side and then leaves Mulcahy untouched in the corner? Yeesh.
Alas. So it goes.
And now we wait.