Every time IU has seemingly figured it out, it quickly remind everyone of the team it truly is: a team that cannot shoot, has no go-to playmaker on offense and turns the ball over way too much.
The sky was the limit after the Hoosiers trounced then-No. 17 Florida State University by 16 points as the Hoosiers seemingly become contenders at the top of the Big Ten. However, IU followed up its dominant performance with a dud in Madison, Wisconsin, as it was mauled by the Badgers.
Last Saturday, IU once again gave Hoosier fans a reason to believe the team had turned a corner, beating then-ranked No. 11 Ohio State but quickly showed why that belief was misplaced. It embarrassed itself against Rutgers in a 59-50 loss.
“The game is dictated by the teams that set the rules,” IU head coach Archie Miller said. “Rutgers set the rules right at the tap.”
IU looked out-of-sorts immediately as Rutgers opened the game on a 12-0 run. IU was never truly able to recover.
The Hoosiers’ desperation got the best of them as they started shooting tough shots that sunk them offensively. They started to look a lot like those parody videos on YouTube in which the ball goes everywhere but in the basket while the Hoosiers shot a season-low 31.7% from the field.
“We were two-for-18 from three, that’s definitely not going to get it done,” Miller said. “We have to be able to find a way to make a couple of the open ones.”
The only offensive production IU got in the game was down-low, making just two shots outside of the paint.
IU’s one-dimensional offense put the Hoosiers in a tough position from the opening tip, but what made it worse was that they didn’t seem to realize their strength in the paint until the second half. The Hoosiers inexcusably spent the majority of their possessions during the first half passing the ball around the perimeter before launching contested three-pointers as the shot clock expired.
The Hoosiers did the opposite of everything that worked for them against Ohio State.
Senior guard Devonte Green, who played one of his best games of the season just four days prior, turned in one of his worst gamesagainst Rutgers. Green went from showing a strong understanding of when to be the focal point of the offense and a facilitator, to trying to play hero-ball.
In the second half as Green took the ball up court, Rutgers sent a double team to trap him at the midline. Instead of passing to open sophomore guard Rob Phinisee, Green tried to spin around both Scarlet Knight players before dribbling off his own foot and falling as Rutgers scored an easy layup on the other end.
As much as I hate the thoughtlessness of the phrase "IU goes as far as Green goes” following it this season, because it's generally a lazy explanation for the Hoosiers' struggles, the kernels of truth behind it are becoming undeniable.
It’s no coincidence that IU’s best games have been when Green has either been lights-out shooting or a team player that didn’t try to do too much. And the team’s worst games have been when he’s played hero-ball.
Against Rutgers it was the latter as he seemingly only played for himself and doomed the offense around him.
If the Hoosiers are going to salvage this road trip, Green and the rest of the offense need to figure out their roles quickly. If not, this has the exact feeling of last season as IU started circling the drain when it lost 13 of 14 games in Big Ten play.
“More importantly than anything on the road — I’d be hard pressed, I don’t know the number — but you got to sink a couple of shots,” Miller said. “You’re just going to have to find a couple of shots to go down on the road.”
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