Notebook: Hoosiers shocked by Rutgers in 2018 Big Ten tournament

  • 03/02/2018 7:53 am in

NEW YORK – Indiana had the game in hand early on Thursday night in the 2018 Big Ten tournament.

The Hoosiers (16-15) led by 16 points at the 12:09 mark of the first half and held all of the momentum. The sizeble Rutgers contingent in the crowd was silent, and Indiana seemed destined for a quarterfinal matchup with Purdue.

Then it all fell apart.

It started with a layup from DeShawn Freeman with 6:53 left in the first half and didn’t end until well into the second half. In total, it was a 34-10 run from Rutgers over a 13-minute span, turning a 16-point Indiana lead into an eight-point deficit.

It was inexplicable, incomprehensible and surreal. It was an onslaught that had no end. Indiana knew what was happening, yet couldn’t find a way to make it stop.

“I think we just died out,” sophomore Devonte Green said after the game. “I think we just didn’t stay consistent throughout the game, and we came out hot and just mentally didn’t stay focused throughout the game.”

Rutgers star junior Corey Sanders, held to nine points in their first meeting with Indiana, was almost unstoppable. Sanders scored 28 points, all of which came in the final 25 minutes, including 10 in the last 4:35 of the first half.

“(Sanders) was really good at getting to his right hand, and that’s something we talked about,” senior Robert Johnson said. “When we allowed him to do that, he really hurt us. I don’t think us guards did a good enough job of taking that away.”

The loss marks what is almost certainly the end of a season full of countless up-and-downs, of horrendous losses to sub-100 KenPom teams and close losses to the elites of college basketball.

Indiana’s chance at an at-large NIT bid has assuredly gone out the window and Archie Miller dismissed the possibility of playing in a tertiary postseason tournament in his postgame press conference.

Offseason begins with plenty of questions

Archie Miller’s inaugural campaign as Indiana’s head coach is over. Now, the offseason begins.

With five seniors exiting, there will be no shortage of changeover throughout the next several months. Two open scholarships remain and as of today, the Hoosiers will welcome five new players to the roster next season. The likelihood of additional players being added is high.

At the moment, there are far more questions than answers when it comes to what the 2018-19 Hoosiers will look like. There’s the potential of five-star guard, Romeo Langford, electing to join the cream and crimson. On the other side of things, there’s a chance junior Juwan Morgan could decide to go pro.

Morgan had a breakout junior campaign as he went from being a key reserve that couldn’t stay healthy to the Hoosiers’ number-one option. He earned second team All-Big Ten honors and had a legitimate case for first team consideration

Morgan could test the NBA waters, as Robert Johnson did last year. Johnson eventually withdrew his name after being evaluated by NBA scouts and returned to Bloomington for his senior campaign.

In the locker room after the game, Morgan spoke of Thursday’s loss fueling him until the summer, when team workouts resume. But he also said he has not made a decision on whether he’ll return for one more year in Bloomington.

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  • Garry

    Reverted back to the team that was difficult to watch. A lot remains to be seen, this team didn’t have any wins against solid opponents (Notre Dame may be the best win?) and a lot of bad losses.

  • GHG

    For the love of god can we get a real big man as well! Import someone w one of those open scholarships!!!

  • JCM

    You may be right, but this also highlights the lack of leadership on this team.

  • Missing Moye

    Sure, no doubt. It’s not like I’m displeased with Archie, his performance this year, or the direction of the program. I’m simply agreeing that I felt a timeout was appropriate and didn’t understand the decision not to use it. In fact, when the lead shrunk to 12, I was talking to my TV aloud asking for a timeout, and continued to do so on every possession until it was really too late. Also, you do have the “use it or lose it” timeout in the first half, so it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to be hesitant to call it.

    Archie isn’t perfect. No one is. I’m 99% pleased with him as the coach.

  • SCHoosier

    I think Archie has proven that his preferred defense can be effective when executed properly. His offense, given sloppy passing and poor shooting all season has a lot to prove. Rutgers shut it down for 20 minutes of last nights game. Hard to have an offense though when you don’t have any reliable shooters.

  • GHG

    I really don’t think there was any downside… We ended half down 1. Without the timeout we did not stop them. With the timeout, we could have at least possibly got our composure back

  • Jeff Klusman

    On the bright side, I never have to watch Josh Newkirk play basketball again. All I hear is senior leadership is important in college basketball. We had two senior guards. One was so inconsistent that you could never count on him (4-16 as SG last night). The other at times had trouble dribbling. He also can’t shoot (1-7). I know we have some good quality players coming in next year but if we don’t land Romeo I see a lot of the same next year especially if Morgan is gone (which I don’t see happening).

  • IU simply did not have the horses this year. Cudo’s to JM for his play all season, he made the games interesting and IU fun to watch. I am ok with waiting until the fall to watch IU again, our passing has got to improve, i don’t want to watch another soft pass, over the shoulder, miss directed bounce pass or wild throw down the flow, multiple guilty offenders, and always when JN is in the game. Bring on some 2018-19 shooting and CAM defense.

  • Speed

    We seem to forget that this team never could shoot the 3, was terrible at defense, turned the ball over to the tune of 20 times plus per game, and simply was not good. Through hard work and good coaching they learned to play defense and took care of the ball. They turned an undersized Morgan into an inside force and vastly improved. Bring on the new recruits, IU basketball in Millers hands is looking pretty bright!

  • VOXAC30

    That was a hard game to watch. We were not inspired and we played horrible and worse of all we were beaten by Rutgers!

  • cbo3

    Take it easy there…this is an incredibly soft source on the Hoosiers and eminently positive. When you lose to Rutgers in the first round of the tournament I think you can have some introspection on what could be improved.

  • Q46

    Rutgers dared IU to beat them from the outside and they just couldn’t. Although contrary to the rest of the season, free throws kept them in this game.

    Overall I was pleased with this season. It wasn’t great, there were several missed opportunities, and it ended on sour note. But we saw the team get better throughout the season, there’s defense in Indiana again, and I honestly think CAM got the most out of the talent he had this year.

    I keep going back to this question: Would CTC have finished 6th in the big ten with this team? As much as I love CTC, I don’t think he does. This team’s starting lineup had 1.5 legitimate scoring threats, you never knew if you were going to have a reliable PG, and no one was consistent from outside. It’s hard for any coach to win like that and it definitely didn’t fit CTCs style.

    I’m excited for the future and think we’re in good hands. In two years we’ll know a lot more

  • The_Bob_Michaels

    I’m glad Johnson mentioned that they talked about Sanders going to his right. At least the coaching staff tried to get them to stop it from happening. They didn’t, and he was money. Even Don Fisher made multiple pleas for them to keep him from going to his right. Apparently some deaf ears in the locker room.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    Should have won this game, I get it. However, Rutgers is not that bad. The almost beat MSU twice, had PU down to the wire, and were playing in NYC, a huge motivation for the players. Plus, IU is simply ok this year. I will be rooting for Rutgers tonight, and they could be this year’s Michigan. I love the system Coach Miller is implementing, and I love my Hoosiers!

  • Koko

    I didn’t like the tone of this piece either. Hopefully Josh will lighten up a bit.

  • Koko

    Please explain why our chances of an NIT bid have “gone out the window”.

  • coachv

    i look for a big jump from durham. i think he is going to be a good one

  • I’d agree with you, except I don’t think a timeout would have made a difference. It didn’t make a difference later when timeouts _were_ called. For whatever reason, the team just lost its collective mind once it went up 16, and it never fully recovered. A disappointing loss, but still the season was full of some important improvements — better defense and ball control were the two things I was hoping to see, and we saw both. I’m not happy, exactly, but excited about next season with some new blood coming in.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    How in the world is it the coaches fault that the ball can’t find the bottom of the net? You have got to be kidding me. This group cannot shoot. They have struggled with it all damn season. It’s a talent issue. Not a coaching issue. Get a grip.

  • Sarasota Hoosier

    CTC had a designated shooting coach, and he (forget his name) was very good, turning Vic O. and OG into outside shooters when they did not have that ability when they entered IU. I have asked if Indiana currently has a shooting coach, and have not found the answer to that.

    Let’s face it, this is CTC team and recruits. Coach Miller did a good job this year but we cannot blame him for anything until he has a chance to coach with a team that he recruits.

  • Alan H

    It is a coaching issue when a team made up mostly of returning players regress in all aspects of shooting. If a single player regresses that is one thing, but when a whole team does, that is on coaching staff.

  • GHG

    This sucked! reminded me of a crean coached game. couple reasons. 1) Let a 16 pt lead fully disappear before calling a timeout. IDK how many times I watched Crean do the same thing. When you’re dominating like that, and offense starts to stagnate call the TO at 10/8 pts up, not 1! 2) No adjustments to their hot shooters 🙁 Only reason we stayed in this game is bc of crazy FT disparity.. Congrats and props to Rutgers, they were stroking it.

  • Missing Moye

    I haven’t been critical of the coaching at all this year because, in my opinion, there hasn’t been much to criticize. But I will agree with you on the point of not using a timeout. You could tell the momentum was really shifting. I’m sure Archie was wanting the team to play through it, and then there was the impending TV timeout (under 4 min). I’m just not sure you have the luxury in a tournament setting. IU never recovered from that run and Rutgers had all the confidence they needed from that point forward.

  • ImYourHuckleberry

    I’ll just go ahead and disagree with you Alan.

  • IU Coop

    Made up mostly of returning players…but lost the best shooters on the team from last year. Easy to understand why the shooting percentage went down. And don’t forget, Hartman was a shell of his former self.

  • IU Coop

    1.5 scoring threats…right on. How many of us just held our breath every time Morgan went to the bench this year? With him out of the game i frequently had to wonder where the scoring was going to come from. Next year will be much better

  • Bk39

    Archie is going to have to prove himself like any other coach, he doesn’t get a free ride because you adore him.

  • Koko

    And what about Georgia Tech last year….6 seed in the NIT with a 17-15 record. They went to the final game. There is always that chance we go to the NIT. I would guess the stats you mentioned does make it sound hard for us to get in but I’m still hanging out the banner until the NIT teams are announced.

  • coachv

    morgan will not play in the nba until he improves his outside shooting. 30% will not cut it and the nba line is further out. he needs to be a shooting threat to set up the rest of his game. too small to make a living inside like he is in college. i think he is athletic enough and intelligent so that will help. needs mid range as well. mcroberts needs to look to score more. coach should give him confidence to be aggressive on offense. bet he would be a good passer off the drive. too damn passive, mcbob!

  • Alan H

    This is the second year in a row that the season ended with a loss that shouldn’t have happened. Frankly, I’m very disappointed with Archie Miller this season. While the D improved over the season, this may have been the worst shooting Hoosiers team in the 35 years I’ve been a Hoosier fan. The shooting issues weren’t just from the FT line, but from the 3 pt line, to even layups. FG% dropped from 479 to 456, 3Pt% dropped from 380 to 322 and worst of all FT% fell from 729 to 657. There is no excuse for that kind of drop off on a team with 5 seniors and a very experienced junior in Morgan. It was a problem from day one and never improved. That is a huge coaching issue.

    Doesn’t McRoberts deserve one of the open scholarships?

  • Ivan Renko

    I believe GT also had some big wins during the regular season over ND, FSU, and eventual national champ UNC, which helped their NIT resume despite only having 17 wins.

  • Ole Man

    I agree that Zach has earned one with his play.
    However, that’s conditional. IF Archie doesn’t fill them with other needs, I would almost “predict” that Zach will get one.
    However, indications are that he does not need the money for school and is in fact enjoying his role as “super walk on.”

  • Ole Man

    A succinct and enjoyable reply!

  • Ole Man

    Two, probably three teams in the Big Ten will get a call before IU.
    PSU for sure.
    Probably Maryland.
    And absolutely Neb, since they will be hosed by the Tourney committee.

  • IUMIKE1

    I don’t think the knowledgeable bball fans would have taken him to task for calling a TO earlier had he done that and still got the same results. I believe that type of fan would have been a little more apt to say that, he took the TO when things started to unravel, it didn’t do us any good, but it was the right thing to do and the players were more to blame than he was. Where I fault Miller is that each team has it’s nuances and one of those for Rutgers is if and when they can get on a roll they are capable of shooting just like they did…..way better than they normally are.

    If his game planning for this game didn’t include that then it was a big mistake, plus just about any team is going to play better when they get on a roll and nothing is done by their opponent to check it. My guess is that it did and for whatever reason he just wouldn’t call it…..and it was the beginning of the end for us, as it allowed them to build and build momentum. The other reason that it really bothered me that he didn’t take it was that, as far as I’m concerned, it was needed as much for us to talk things over and go over some things, as it was to stop the momentum they were building.

  • Ole Man

    I thought about your post…And I think it is way more of the latter than the former.
    Think back, for example, the recent Iowa game at their place, the offense was fine then. Also, other games during the season the team executed and scored well.
    Rutger’s D is something like 14 in the country (at least recently). IU also played some excellent D teams this year and scored well on them.

  • IUMIKE1

    Sounds a whole lot like the comment I just typed before reading yours. lol

  • Koko

    Oh okay….I didn’t know they had wins over those teams.
    Well then I will cross my fingers and hope they invite us in.

  • Ole Man

    You’re not quite correct in that Rutgers has not shown all year that “when they can get on a roll they are capable of shooting just like they did.”
    Spurts yes, but no consistency at all.
    IU just got up 16; let off the pedal (the players said as much); and it was game over after that.

  • Ole Man

    Introspection is a far cry from the blame voiced in many of these posts.

  • Ole Man

    He at least get’s as much respect as Crean did in his first four years.
    You’ve yet to show a willingness to do that because you still adore Crean.

  • IUMIKE1

    “later” was a time where the other team had already been allowed to get their momentum established.

  • Bk39

    Yes, Zach certainly deserves a scholarship.
    Edit: in response to Alan H.

  • Missing Moye

    I’m not sure if the timeout would have made a difference or not, but I think the appropriate move would have been to find out. As Mike pointed out, the timeout came considerably later in the run and Rutgers had full momentum (the run was 15-2 when the timeout was finally called, in nearly 4 minutes of game action).

    It’s certainly possible that it wouldn’t have mattered. We don’t know what would have happened. We only know what did happen, which in hindsight, obviously didn’t work well.

    Agreed on all other points about the improvements and being excited about next season.

  • Ivan Renko

    i hope I’m wrong, but very unlikely we get an NIT bid. we’ll have to see how many mid-major conference regular season champs win their respective conf tourneys. If a lot of them do, our chances go up obviously.

    but right now, we’re basically .500 with 0 good wins. not exactly great, even by NIT standards. most power 5 conference teams that make the NIT usually have 18 or 19 wins with at least 1 or 2 wins over top 25 teams

    just consider IU last year. didn’t finish as well in the conference, but had 18 wins with 2 marquee wins over Kansas and UNC, and that was only good enough for a 3 seed

  • Cory Elsfelder

    Alan,

    For being a fan longer than I have been alive, you do not know your history very well. Have you even looked at the stats for 2008 and 2009? I wish people like you would get off the coaches back and let him do his job. CTC didnt have a winning season until his 4th year.

  • IUMIKE1

    Let me preface my comment with, I don’t think Miller not calling a timeout made him look stupid, but rather a decision that if he could go back and change he very well might do just that. Don’t know that I’ve ever viewed any players as looking ” stupid ” simply because their coach took a timeout, regardless of the rationale. I”d say that if unnecessary pressure is going to be created somehow it would be from us, or any other team, having a 16 point lead and watching it slowly but consistently disappear. If we consider that standard does not mean without any exceptions, (yes we don’t know all the factors and/or variables) the, quote unquote, standard way that most coaches deal with the other team going on an extended run and gathering more momentum with every possession/turn over is to call a timeout, regroup and possibly make changes that are best made when you are able to, and have the time to, speak to the whole team and utilize the dry erase board. I think one would be hard pressed to find even one example where any of today’s top Div 1 coaches letting a game go like Miller did without calling a timeout. Not saying they never have, but saying it would be really hard to find such an example. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying I know more about bball than Miller, that he should never make an in game decision that turns out to be the wrong one, or that he should be held to some higher level than everyone else, everyone makes decisions that makes them wish that they could have a do over . I don’t recall anyone asking him about not taking a TO during Rutgers’ run, but if he was I have to think that he would say that he probably should have called one, and that is one of the things that I like about Miller, he isn’t afraid to say that he should have done something different or that something that didn’t work out was on him and THAT is a refreshing thing to hear from the head bball coach at IU.

  • Banned on the Run

    For the record, I wouldn’t say we were “shocked” by Rutgers. This team had the ability to play with anybody and lose to anybody.

    One can only laugh at those fans who are out here saying this is “on” Coach Miller—notwithstanding the fact that Arch would probably be the first person to raise his hand and take the blame. A team—a program—is a living, breathing organism, buffeted by influences of all kinds, and to come out with one’s panties in such a bunch that fingers must pointed and names taken…it’s just ridiculous. If you can’t get with the fact that it’s just a game, where sometimes the ball bounces in and sometimes it bounces out, you need to take up a more predictable hobby. Like algebra.

  • Joshua Margolis

    Tim Buckley was the coach players referred to as “the shot doctor”

  • Joshua Margolis

    In no way did I mean for this piece to be an ultimatum on the program. I apologize if you read it that way