“We’re soft. We’re just a soft team. You don’t have to sugarcoat it at all,” IU Coach Archie Miller said.
The entirety of IU’s season opener against Indiana State was summarized in one quote.
The Sycamores blew the hinges off the door in a 90-69 route of the Hoosiers on Friday night, and just like Miller said, the team was soft.
IU was given a reality check and was popped in the mouth in the process. The fairytale offseason, and hype for the start of the regular season was shut down by the Sycamores in quick succession.
Even at the start of the game, IU never looked like the more dominant team, and it wasn't. That’s the reality. The Hoosiers were outplayed in just about every category, and it all began on the first two plays of the game.
Sophomore guard Devonte Green turned the ball over on IU’s first offensive possession of the season, and junior forward Juwan Morgan picked up a foul on its first defensive one.
Look, Indiana State shot the lights out from behind the arc, where they were 17-26 throughout the night. Give credit where credit is due, but most of the blame should be put on IU’s defense, or lack thereof.
IU was broken down numerous times, and Indiana State made them pay. ISU found an ample amount of space to hit three after three in IU’s mouth, and the Hoosiers didn’t do anything to stop the bleeding. They just absorbed it.
They didn’t look like a team that focused primarily on defense throughout offseason practices, and that’s not to say it won’t ever show this season. It just didn’t show on Friday night. At all.
Five different Sycamores scored in double-digits. IU had three, and the only reason sophomore guard Curtis Jones had 11 points was because he hit two garbage-time 3-pointers.
Keep in mind this wasn’t against a dominant, blue blood program. This was against Indiana State, what’s supposed to be IU’s “little brother.”
IU’s starting two guards, seniors Josh Newkirk and Robert Johnson, combined for just 15 points on 4-15 shooting.
That’s not going to cut it, especially from Johnson, who was supposed to be one player IU was going to rely on to be consistent from the field.
You could’ve seen it coming, though. Johnson was never a reliable scorer while at IU. He had the likes of Yogi Ferrell and Troy Williams to play third fiddle to in 2015-16. Last season, defenders had to worry about Thomas Bryant, OG Anunoby and James Blackmon Jr. before they could even consider Johnson as a threat.
That’s not the case anymore. Johnson has to step up significantly from here on out if IU wants to have any chance of success this season, but until that happens, expect the same output from the starting two guards as tonight.
But the Hoosiers as a whole looked flat-out beaten as the clock ran down to 0, and all they could do was look at the scoreboard in misery. They were embarrassed in front of their home crowd in the season opener.
Bright spots? There weren’t many, but sophomore forward De’Ron Davis had 14 points, but also only pulled down three rebounds.
You can even find darkness in IU’s light. That’s how bad the performance was.
It didn’t help that senior forward Collin Hartman was ruled out before the game even started because of a tweaked groin. After the game, Miller said he expects Hartman to be out for a long period of time.
The bigger issue isn’t how soft IU is as a team. It’s how long they will be soft, and how long it will take to change that.
Miller said how it’s going to take time to find the fight and the ability to resurge back into games, and that’s good to hear if you’re a Hoosier fan. IU is going to have to figure that out quickly though because there’s a quick turnaround to their second game of the season against Howard.
If they come out and play the same brand of basketball, there won’t be too much hope to latch onto this season, and it could get ugly. Fast.
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