For the second meaningless game in a row, sophomore guard Devonte Green turned in a meaningful performance for IU men’s basketball.
Last weekend, Green flashed aggression and led all Hoosiers in scoring during a 24-minute Hoosier Hysteria scrimmage. In IU’s first exhibition game of the season Saturday night, Green expanded his game even more by leading his team in points, assists and rebounds.
Green scored 22 points on 9-of-14 shooting while adding seven assists and six rebounds in a 93-62 victory over NAIA school Marian University. It might have seemed like a breakout performance from the second-year guard, but IU Coach Archie Miller said it was just more of the same Green he’s seen all offseason.
“Devonte, I know, is going to get a lot of the credit, but that’s who he’s been every day in practice,” Miller said after the game. “He does a little bit of everything for us.”
The opportunity to start and play a team-high 30 minutes may have only come to Green due to senior forward Collin Hartman and freshman guard Al Durham being held out of Saturday’s exhibition, but Green made the most of his chance.
His efficient scoring night included two made 3-pointers and a 7-of-9 mark from two-point range. Green said he made an effort to be aggressive in his rebounding, and added two blocks and a steal on the defensive end as well.
Green was part of an IU offense that came alive for 53 points in the second half. Green was one of three Hoosiers – along with senior guards Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson – who handled the ball often throughout the night, but he was undeniably the most productive creator. Five of Green’s seven assists came after halftime.
“I’m very comfortable initiating offense,” Green said. “I’ve been playing point guard a lot more this year and in practice I’ve been working on it.”
Newkirk, who played 26 minutes himself and didn’t turn the ball over once, said Green’s presence will be needed as the season gets underway in the month of November.
IU’s guard play, and particularly the carefulness with which they handle and distribute the ball, has been one of Miller’s stated goals for improvement ahead of the Hoosiers’ 2017-18 campaign.
Newkirk, Green and Johnson showed their dedication to curtailing turnovers as the three combined for 12 assists while giving the ball away just twice among the trio. Miller said the unselfish attitude displayed by Green often leads to success.
“When Devonte is unselfish and he’s making people better, his team always wins,” Miller said. “When Devonte isn’t making guys better and he’s thinking score a lot, his team doesn’t win as much.”
Miller said he’s still getting a feel for how IU’s rotation will play out when the regular season begins, but noted that he’ll be sure to stick with players who catch fire.
He did just that with Green against Marian, and as the Hoosiers move into their second and final exhibition game next weekend, don’t expect to see Green’s playing time diminish.
On a team with a first-year head coach, early impressions can mean a lot. The games might not matter now, but individual performances certainly do.
“I think you’re starting to see a guy, if he just kind of stays with it, who’s going to be a very, very important player for us,” Miller said.
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