The most exciting news of the day for IU happened before its game against Rutgers even started.
The keys had been passed along, and it was a decision long overdue.
It was announced via Twitter that sophomore guard Devonte Green would start in place of senior guard Josh Newkirk, and suddenly, the feeling surrounding the team changed. Green getting more minutes over Newkirk seemed like an interesting move, and it was the best decision IU Coach Archie Miller could've made at this point.
Newkirk has taken a lot of criticism throughout the season, and rightfully so. He was supposed to be a key figure in the backcourt alongside senior guard Robert Johnson, and he was supposed to be a source of leadership and reliability.
25 games into the regular season, and Newkirk has been a shell of himself from last year. Nearly every statistic has regressed from last season to this one, excluding free throw percentage.
For a player who was supposed to be heavily relied on this season with players from last season departing, what happened to Josh Newkirk?
He has been careless with the ball in his hands time after time this season to the point where boos and groans could be heard throughout Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall every time he had the ball against No. 5 Michigan State on February 3.
We’re talking about a fifth-year senior who has looked like a freshman at times. There have been too many instances where he has thrown the ball away, passed the ball to invisible teammates on the court, or has driven into the lane only to come up empty-handed.
Newkirk has only surpassed double-digit scoring seven times this season. Seven is also the number of Newkirk’s season-high in assists.
Things didn’t get any better for the former starting point guard, who came off the bench against the Scarlett Knights Monday night.
Playing just 15 minutes, Newkirk only managed to score one point off of a free throw to go along with a rebound, three assists and a turnover.
Every time Newkirk checked into the game the same offensive production from the rest of the season ensued. The Hoosiers scored just 15 points in the 15 minutes Newkirk was in the game. The creativity and pop wasn’t there for IU during that time, and there seemed to be a lot more energy and production when Green was the primary ball handler.
Green had a pretty good day, and there weren’t many situations where he made any rash decisions passing or shooting.
That’s the main issue with Green. Too many times has he shot an ill-advised 3-pointer or made too flashy of a pass that results in a turnover.
That wasn’t the case Monday night, and he seemed to be more composed on the floor against a weak Scarlett Knight defense. He couldn’t have had an easier task to start the game at point guard. It helped that Rutgers is last in the Big Ten at 2-11 in conference play.
There will be more tests this season for Green to overcome, but he’s earned the starting spot. IU Coach Archie Miller has said over the past few games that he’s liked what he’s seen from Green in practice, and barring any injury or rash mistakes, he should be the starting point guard for the rest of the season.
Now is the time for Green to prepare for next season with IU’s postseason hopes dimming with each passing game. The worst thing that could happen is IU getting knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament under a player who is still adjusting to life at the starting point guard role.
Best case scenario is Green getting valuable minutes for the future and make him even more prepared once Newkirk graduates.
It’s a win-win situation, and one IU should consider moving forward.
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