When IU men’s basketball last beat Purdue, Facebook had just opened at $38 per share, Kim Jong Il was the supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and sophomore forward Trayce Jackson-Davis was in the fifth grade.
Of course, none of those are actually correct, but they almost sound true, don’t they?
The Hoosiers’ 67-58 defeat to the Boilermakers marked their ninth in a row and their fifth consecutive loss to close out the regular season.
There are plenty of reasons why IU couldn’t compete with the No. 23 team in the nation and the fourth seed in the tremendous Big Ten. However, as is typically the case, most of them appeared on offense.
I won’t pretend to know enough about the intricacies of how a basketball offense should be run to pinpoint exactly why the Hoosiers’ is so lackluster. Still, I can make a few casual observations.
IU struggles mightily to move the ball around the court. Its roster definitely has skilled shooters, but their chances of actually getting a scoring opportunity are usually fairly slim. Between errant lobs and off-target bounces, the Hoosiers really put the ass in passing.
Furthermore, IU’s shot selection wasn’t exactly what you’d call carefully curated. It seemed like every possession ended in the basketball equivalent of a jealous partner or a pair of cargo shorts — not a good look at all.
In order to keep a lid on Jackson-Davis, the Boilermakers employed 7-foot-4 freshman center Zach Edey, who I assume is one of the only people to recently see the top of Jackson-Davis’ head.
Edey not only held Jackson-Davis to 12 points, but also forced him to pick up four personal fouls guarding Edey’s massive frame.
Obviously, all of this criticism comes with the massive asterisk that is sophomore guard Armaan Franklin’s absence. Outside of Jackson-Davis, Franklin was the only Hoosier who could reliably end up in double figures every contest, and he did so while stretching the floor and forcing his opponent to at least pretend to guard the perimeter.
Purdue’s defenders clung to the paint like shrink wrap, daring IU to knock down a 3-pointer. That challenge went about as well for the Hoosiers as the kid who gets triple-dog dared to lick the flagpole in “A Christmas Story,” with IU shooting a pitiful 1-13 from beyond the arc in the first half.
The Hoosiers have lived and died by scoring runs all year, and it’s hard to put together scoring bursts when every basket requires squeezing through your opponent’s entire starting lineup.
Honestly, this game is standard as far as disappointing losses go, but it comes during a perfect storm of frustration. Injuries to Franklin and Thompson, a brutal conference schedule and questions surrounding head coach Archie Miller’s job security provided the perfect stage for a season finale against the in-state rival, the climax of a monthslong Greek tragedy.
Speaking of Miller, now would be the perfect time to discuss his future in Bloomington if I thought I had anything to say that hadn’t been tweeted in capital letters several times.
It’s pretty clear Miller isn’t the leader who’s going to get IU where fans want it to be. If he indeed gets fired, I imagine he’ll feel as sad as a millionaire can be. As for the Hoosiers, they will probably get slightly better in his absence but won’t come anywhere close to fans’ expectations in the near future.
I do wish IU’s athletes had been given better schemes and more opportunities to display their talent this year. Losing demonstrably to your school’s most bitter rival isn’t really a fair conclusion to a season of sacrifice and resilience.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go check on IU’s field hockey, chess and debate teams. Surely, some group of Hoosiers has beaten the Boilermakers in the last 365 days.