As freshman forward Jake Forrester took his turn in layup lines, he would have none of the fundamental warm up.
Starting near the free throw stripe, Forrester attempted a highlight reel dunk — much to the delight of the student section behind the north basket at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Flanking Forrester as a rebounder was freshman guard Romeo Langford.
As his teammate chuckled all the way to the back of the line, Langford rolled his eyes.
The sequence, while seemingly innocent, perfectly encapsulated the lack of focus the IU men’s basketball team boasted in the first half of Friday’s 69-46 loss to No. 5 Michigan.
“I would say it's embarrassing,” senior forward Juwan Morgan said. “You know, in my mind I don't think any team is 23 points better than us. I think we have a lot more fight in us than that. I think there's a lot of talent in that room. I'm angry about it. I know every guy in that room is.”
Nineteen games into the 2019 season, the discussion of slow starts is a tired narrative for IU head coach Archie Miller’s bunch. Rather, it’s a staunch reality.
But the Hoosiers’ start Friday was comically poor.
The Assembly Hall crowd jeered at each missed IU shot as Michigan jumped out to a 17-0 lead.
It took the Hoosiers over seven minutes to find their first points of the night, a free throw from sophomore guard Al Durham. The team's first field goal — also courtesy of Durham — didn’t come until there was 10:15 remained in the half.
“We just can't keep taking punches,” Morgan said. “We can't just keep laying down whenever we do get punched. We have to be able to fight.”
With the exception of the Jan. 11 game at Maryland, IU has now trailed at halftime in four of its past five losses.
Further, the Hoosiers have not lead at halftime in back-to-back games since contests against the University of Central Arkansas and Jacksonville University in mid-December.
“The fight isn't there right now, and the confidence isn't there on either end of the floor to be able to capitalize on any type of opportunity that we have, to be honest with you,” Miller said. “There's nothing we're doing well.”
The next two weeks bring IU little respite. The Hoosiers travel to Piscataway, New Jersey, for a date against Rutgers on Wednesday before heading to No. 6 Michigan State on Feb. 2. Home games against No. 19 Iowa and Ohio State follow.
“We’ve got to put our big boy pants on here and start showing up,” Miller said.
There was a palpable buzz in the crowd ahead of Friday’s game. But Forrester’s missed dunk in warm ups was just the start of a night to forget in Bloomington.
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