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Friday, April 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

OPINION: IU men’s basketball has great playmakers, but you’d never know it.

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Before Wednesday, each of IU’s matchups had been decided by at least 16 points. Surely, a nail-biting thriller was right around the corner.

Like IU’s 69-67 overtime defeat to Florida State University on Wednesday taught us, not every close game is inherently exciting.

Legend has it, there is a land where basketball teams draw up plays, execute them as planned and score on their first shooting attempt. Fast breaks are run with ease and free throws are knocked down with confidence and precision. 

If such a place exists, it wasn’t anywhere near Florida State’s Tucker Center last night. 

I can’t tell if the Hoosiers have a sick obsession with taking difficult shots or if they just try to make every score look as arduous as possible, but points never seem to come easy. 

While that makes for some truly spectacular displays of physicality, it also means sitting through numerous possessions on which nothing really happens. 

This was epitomized with two minutes remaining in the first half when freshman guard Trey Galloway turned down a wide open 3-pointer, sprinted along the baseline and hurled an errant lob off the top of the glass to extend the Hoosiers’ four-minute scoring drought. 

That being said, it is always a joy to watch sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis. IU’s brightest star logged 25 points, a ridiculous 17 rebounds and a pair of emphatic blocks. 

Meanwhile, four other Hoosiers netted nine points each. Spreading the wealth is a great look for any offense, but IU could use a reliable right-hand man for the instances when Jackson-Davis can’t muster a double-double.

Defensively, the Hoosiers made finding the basket a living hell for the Seminoles, who shot 36% on the evening. However, Florida State did snag 19 offensive rebounds, many of which came on critical possessions during which IU needed nothing more than to get the ball away from its own hoop. 

Between sophomore forward Raiquan Gray and 7-foot 2-inch sophomore center Balsa Koprivica, it felt like the Seminoles constantly had a brick wall or an oak tree roaming the court for the Hoosiers to battle for control of the boards.

When IU did manage to secure the ball, its plays developed more slowly than the plot of an Oscar bait period piece film, and 14 of them resulted in turnovers anyway. 

Waiting for a completely unprotected lane in the paint or praying for a conveniently placed offensive rebound doesn’t strike me as a recipe for success. I don’t have the first idea of how to run an offense, but getting the ball to Jackson-Davis by drilling it against the backboard or dribbling it off an opposing player’s ankles can’t be sustainable. 

Though the Hoosiers hung close for forty minutes, their ugliest flaws proved fatal in the closing moments. 

I suppose the referees could have awarded the Hoosiers a timeout when sophomore guard Armaan Franklin intercepted the Seminole’s inbound pass with six seconds to go, but it would be extremely bold to assume the Hoosiers could move the ball down the court and score in such little time, let alone at all. 

Overtime arrived, IU greeted it with a measly five points and Florida State celebrated its tenth consecutive overtime victory.

The Hoosiers simply cannot rely on Herculean defensive efforts to compensate for an utter lack of a cohesive offensive game plan. An overtime loss would sting more if it weren’t preceded by 40 minutes of numbingly sloppy play on both sides. 

IU has grown into a defensive monster, a voracious serpent that consumes all in its path. Unfortunately, that defensive supremacy has potentially come at the cost of a competent offense, and the beast is starting to swallow its own tail. 

Before long, the snake is doomed to mimic exactly what IU did with a late lead over Florida State — choke.

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