Indiana Daily Student

Devonte Green's play is risky, but he’s a risk Archie Miller had to take against Purdue

<p>The Indiana bench talks among themselves at the start of the second half Feb. 27 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Boilermakers defeated the Hoosiers 57-49 in Mackey Arena.</p>

The Indiana bench talks among themselves at the start of the second half Feb. 27 in West Lafayette, Indiana. The Boilermakers defeated the Hoosiers 57-49 in Mackey Arena.

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — Senior guard Devonte Green shot 3-pointers against Purdue on Thursday that bounced off the top of the backboard and free throws that didn’t hit the rim. 

Green’s erratic shooting was part of a Hoosier offensive display that tied for a season low in points and shot 25% in a 57-49 to the Boilermakers in Mackey Arena. 

Yet even on nights like Thursday when Green and IU’s offense plays so poorly, he’s on the floor anyway. He has to be. He is the only player with the ability to carry IU back into the game. 

Welcome to the Devonte Green complex. 

“He’s a guy that needs to be able to score for us,” Miller said. “When he’s able to make some shots and score some points from the perimeter it really helps us. You got to encourage him to play through it.”

Green led the team with 11 points. But it came on 15 shots, and 14 of them were 3-pointers. He only made three from beyond the arc — that’s 20%. His +/- rating of -10 was tied for the worst on the team. His errant 3-pointer attempts left IU with many quick, empty possessions. And in such a low scoring game, every miss stands out just that much more. 

Green and sophomore guard Rob Phinisee had a short stretch in the second half where shots went in, but even then, they combined to shoot 6-26 from the field. 

“Nothing was easy in this game,” Miller said. “He fought his way through it, made some big ones. I thought he made some tough ones in the second half, to actually finally, give us a little bit of hope that we can stick around for a little bit.”

But Green kept shooting, and Miller needed him to. Even with all the misses, if Green found a way to get hot, IU suddenly had a chance to come back. It’s a risk Miller has to assess every game — how to balance Green’s good and his bad.

“Some of the threes he took were out of necessity,” Miller said. “There were some shots that he’s made in the last three games and some shots you wish you had back.”

When he has games like he did against Iowa on Feb. 13, IU’s offense clicks and has a player that can bail out even the worst offensive possessions. At Mackey Arena, Miller held out that at some point, that version of Green would arrive. 

That never happened. 

Green played 24 minutes against Purdue, the most from a player off the bench and the fourth most for the team overall. Even for all the negative he brought — including four turnovers on top of the missed shots — the only way for Green to be a positive influence is to give him time.

And when IU isn’t hitting shots from outside — IU shot 5-24 from three as a team against Purdue — opposing defenses can focus on the paint. In doing so, Purdue’s defense shut down the post play IU relies on. Freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis had virtually no influence on the game and redshirt sophomore forward Race Thompson was barely involved until late in the game. 

When Green has games where he seems to make any shot he attempts, IU’s offense has the ability to beat some of the best teams in the country. Wins over Florida State, Penn State, Iowa and even a close loss to Maryland exemplify that. 

Miller has never found a way to consistently get that version of Green. Green has had seven games this season scoring five or fewer points. But he’s also had seven games where he scores at least 16. 

After all of his best performances, Green has talked about the need to just keep shooting, good or bad. Against Purdue it was mostly bad, but he had to keep shooting anyway.

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