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The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Devonte Green shows flashes of improved game in IU men's basketball victory

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Even with a version of senior guard Devonte Green that passes up open 3-pointers for easier jump shots, a version that fights through contact for and-ones, a version that takes lay-ups over the chance for a dunk, a version that doesn’t turn the ball over, the dynamic, free-wheeling flair hasn’t gone anywhere.

Green skipped down the floor back on defense after he zipped a one-handed pass through a tight lane to junior center Joey Brunk. He pump faked on a three from the corner before smoothly driving inside and hitting a jump shot. Though he still hit the threes, stepping back and drawing contact to hit a three from deep behind the arc and jogging back on defense before it even went in, that are at the core of his playmaking and his role within the IU offense. 

Green didn’t start against Princeton University, but in just his second game, he’s already starting to look comfortable. The senior captain’s spark helped an IU offense that struggled to make shots in the first half pull away in the second to beat Princeton 79-54. 

IU head coach Archie Miller has stood in front of a revolving door of available players. Sophomore guard Rob Phinisee and Green have each had their turn before it spun to senior forward De’Ron Davis tonight. For the first time all season, even if neither started, he could pair Green and Phinisee together. 

“I’m feeling a lot more comfortable,” Green said. “I was out for a while, but it feels good to be back.”

As he has started to participate more in practice in his return to the floor, Green is building chemistry with his new teammates on an inexperienced team, and rekindling that with the guys he’s played alongside for years. It’s already starting to come together for him, just two games in. 

Green’s first half three was IU’s first three of the game. In fact, he made IU’s only two threes until walk-on junior Cooper Bybee made one in the game’s waning moments. IU shot 2-3 from three. His 16 points tied for a team lead with Brunk. Miller said before the season that Green is IU’s most talented offensive player. After the win over Princeton, Miller called him terrific. 

“I’m happy I’m not the one guarding him,” Brunk said. “I’m not the one getting out there on ball screens trying to hedge him. I’m happy he’s on my side.”

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Senior guard Devonte Green shoots the ball in the second half against Princeton University on Nov. 20 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Green scored 16 of IU’s 79 points against Princeton. Alex Deryn

IU struggled to get shots to fall in the first half. It was why it was unable to pull away in a game it controlled. 

But when IU settled in and found its groove in the second half, shooting 62% from the field, it played the type of basketball that had not just the players on the floor smiling, but giving a fan base that had largely been quiet something to cheer for.

“The ball goes in the basket baby,” Miller said of what it takes to get Green feeling comfortable. “If there’s one thing that makes him feel good in my opinion that’s him being able to impact the game by making a shot early, a play early. He got that tonight.”  

Green had a +/- rating of 29. Miller, who said that isn’t his favorite stat, noted how well Green must have played to get that number. Green only had one turnover, a season after he turned the ball over 63 times in 28 games. The passes he forced a year ago looking for the big play found their mark against Princeton. Green had four assists and only missed lay-ups held him back from more.  

“I think at the end of the day Devonte knows that he is a playmaker for us and we want him to be aggressive,” Miller said. “He’s our best playmaker in terms of making the pass that you can’t see, he sees it early.”

Miller hasn’t seen a matured version of Green, or at least not much. Green has spent much of his career working to keep the playmaking that garners such a high ceiling while limiting the mental mistakes that have held him back. Even as the senior guard showed all the best of what has always been a Jekyll and Hyde player, Miller doesn’t want him to lose his aggressive nature. He wants him to play simple, and to play smart. 

But he doesn’t mind the flair for the highlight reel either. 

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