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Tuesday, April 23
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

OPINION: IU men’s basketball can beat anybody, itself very much included


The idea that a sports team has a finite number of quality performances it can muster before producing a complete dud of a game is totally illogical. There is no all-powerful force setting predetermined limits on any player’s output. 

That being said, it sure felt like IU men's basketball spent all of its good karma prior to its 74-67 defeat at the hands of Northwestern on Wednesday night. 

You know those nightmares in which you desperately try to run, only to helplessly sprint in place while some hideous monster hunts you down? That’s essentially what the Hoosiers’ offense was early on, a flailing mass of effort with little actual progress. 

No player encapsulates IU’s shortcomings in the first half better than freshman guard Khristian Lander. 

Within only 90 seconds of coming off the bench, Lander surrendered six points and committed a foul. However, thanks to the lone 3-pointer he drained while on the floor, Lander remained the team’s leading scorer for the next four minutes. 

Although the Hoosiers’ defense was its usual hornet’s nest of swiping and swatting, the Wildcats’ shots kept falling. 

Sophomore guard Chase Audige erupted late for Northwestern, repeatedly sinking contested baskets when IU was aching for a stop. Meanwhile, sophomore guard Boo Bouie buoyed the Wildcats’ offense with 11 points and four assists, keeping the game just outside the Hoosiers’ reach. 

While it’s unfair to blame IU for its opponent coming in with a roster full of hot hands, the impotence the Hoosiers exhibited on offense can’t go unaddressed.

It’s hard to understand that the same five athletes blocking shots and shutting down drives on one end of the court are the same ones handing turnovers directly to defenders or heaving bricks off the backboard on the other. 

IU shot a respectable 39% from beyond the arc and 48% on all field goals, but went just 10-16 from the free throw line and consistently struggled to find open looks.  

In terms of sustainability, the Hoosiers’ offense is basically a diesel truck running on the fossilized remains of a centuries-old Tyrannosaurus Rex. Relying on sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis to power through a vortex of elbows and shoulders en route to a glorious slam dunk every possession is far from an ideal strategy. 

One easily overlooked bright spot was freshman guard Trey Galloway, who continues to offer sparks of life to an often lethargic IU offense. I have no way of proving this, but I am almost certain no athlete covers as much ground as Galloway, constantly sprinting to the ball on both sides of the court. 

Considering IU’s long and sordid relationship with turnovers, having someone like Galloway to spread the ball and rack up assists is a huge advantage. Sure, he may only make a basket or two, but depending on the night that could still put him among the Hoosiers’ top scorers. 

It occasionally seems IU is trying to shove square pegs through round holes with its freshman, but between Lander and Galloway there’s plenty of potential for the future. 

Unfortunately, that future is also littered with elite Big Ten competitors, many of whom are projected to be much tougher than Northwestern. 

The Hoosiers are too talented to be embarrassed by anything less than a top-tier opponent, but they are definitely liable to humiliate themselves. 

Look no further than senior guard Al Durham, typically an unshakable pillar of calm and focus, dribbling the ball off his shoe on the Hoosiers’ most crucial possession. You can’t come much closer to literally shooting yourself in the foot.

This IU squad is incredibly skilled and can make any game a living hell for a long list of teams. 

There’s just one problem — the Hoosiers are also on that list themselves, and tonight they were at the very top. 

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