In high school, my friends and I on the school basketball team were obsessed with doing impressions, and our magnum opus was our impersonation of my dad, an assistant coach, and his buzzwords.
You have to play with passion. Stop being lackadaisical with the ball. We’re playing like we have no heart or pride in what we’re doing.We all got pretty good at it, but I hadn’t thought about it in nearly four years, let alone try to do it again.
But it popped back into my head Monday night during the 66-51 beatdown the IU basketball team suffered at the hands of Nebraska. Every problem about the Hoosiers’ performance from start to finish involved one of those buzzwords.
IU didn’t play with passion despite needing a victory in the worst way.
It was lackadaisical with the ball to the extent that it became hard to watch at times.
And it may be harsh to say, but one would be hard-pressed to find much heart or pride in this performance from the moment the ball was tipped.
Simply put, there were barely any positives to take away from the Hoosiers’ ugly loss.
Again, maybe I’m just going on a pitiless rant of my own, but I don’t think that’s the case. At some point, IU needs to be held accountable for outings like this one.
Yes, teams have off shooting nights, and Monday was most definitely one of those for the Hoosiers. Freshman Romeo Langford clanked some of the shots around the rim that he is usually efficient at finishing. Once again, nobody on the roster stepped up to take on some of the scoring load outside of Langford and senior forward Juwan Morgan.
Not counting those two, IU shot just 6-23 from the field. Even if they’re not taking a ton of shots, role players like sophomore Justin Smith, junior guard Devonte Green or any of the other cast of players on the roster have to find a way to rise up and hit those shots at a consistent clip.
Regardless, it wasn’t the atrocious offensive output or the defensive performance that was almost as rough that was so damning about the way this game played out for IU.
It was the fact that this particular game was the one in which it all transpired.
There’s no denying this was an extremely important contest for the Hoosiers. They were coming off two losses in a row on the road at Michigan and Maryland. When they returned home to take on another quality conference opponent in the Cornhuskers, this was the perfect example of a game they should have been fired up to play.
They should’ve come out of the locker room with a different level of focus than they’ve had at any other point in the season.
Yet they came out as flat as possible.
It wasn’t like the final deficit grew over the course of the game. Nebraska built a sizable lead in the first half and managed to keep it that way for most of the time. Even when the Hoosiers looked to be making somewhat of a comeback at the end of the first half, they had already dug themselves too big of a hole by falling behind by 17 points at one point early on.
Whether it was poor shooting, wild passes or lapses on defense, you name it, IU brought it Monday.
It had been a long time since I’d heard a smattering of boos from the home crowd at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall intended for its own team or a mass exodus of the crowd with over three and a half minutes still left to play.
But that’s exactly what happened, and it’s hard to blame the fans for doing so.
It also leaves many questions still unanswered.
Which one of these supporting players is going to find the gall to become a third scoring option for this team?
When are the slow starts going to be fixed?
When is this team going to finally take the next step in its development?
While I was writing this, I thought of a few more buzzwords my dad loved to use.
Pitiful effort. Careless offense. Getting outhustled.
Whichever one of those words you want to use to describe IU’s performance Monday, it will probably fit just fine.
At this crucial point in the season, that’s just inconceivably frustrating.
In fact, it’s unacceptable.
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