Gabe Cupps has one foot on each side of the door in the freshman wall.
On one, his basketball IQ is far beyond his years as the son of a coach. On the other, he’s still learning the ins and outs of the college game after being thrown into the fire.
He has the trust of his coaching staff, playing 37(!!!) minutes against Kansas and 31 against Auburn. Partially out of necessity, but he was making the right decisions out on the floor when the lights were bright.
If not me, take it from Bill Self.
“We didn’t affect him, we didn’t impact him,” Self said postgame. “He had one turnover, he handled it well.”
Then, he added this:
I think this is important from one of the best college basketball coaches in the game. pic.twitter.com/PjZGq6rQex— Tony Adragna (@CoachAdragna) December 16, 2023
Self wasn’t asked about Johnson, just Cupps, what Kansas expected out of him and how he played. It’s worth keeping in mind though.
Cupps has proven valuable in wins over Maryland and Michigan. Not necessarily lighting the scoreboard on fire, but seeing the court, calling things out and being steady. It’s big time experience that’ll pay dividends this season once Johnson returns from injury.
He could probably take a few more shots, particularly from deep. The remaining buy games on the schedule should provide ample opportunity to do so. Becoming more of a scori9ng threat from the perimeter could pay some immediate dividends for Indiana.
And once Johnson is back? Playing both of them with Galloway at the three or on the bench. Johnson’s shot looks funky but tends to go in and Cupps as the ball handler could get the former a few catch-and-shoot opportunities.
Cupps is going to be a reliable presence in the backcourt for a while in Bloomington and so far he’s living up the the billing. He could get even better and soon at that.