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Wednesday, June 19
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

COLUMN: Indiana men’s basketball is good. Rutgers is where good teams go to die.


Hey, remember when No. 10 Indiana men’s basketball beat the No. 18 University of North Carolina? That was so cool for the Hoosiers.  

Anyway, Rutgers University absolutely blasted Indiana because of course it did.  

The Hoosiers suffered their first defeat of the season, an ugly 63-48 drubbing by a team they haven’t beaten in three and a half years. They had their worst performance of the season in nearly every meaningful statistical category.  

If you’re not really a stats person, allow me to put it in layman’s terms — Indiana was sort of straight garbage. 

To be fair, there were numerous factors working against the Hoosiers. For one, playing on the road is never easy, and that goes double for the hornet’s nest that is Jersey Mike’s Arena in Piscataway, New Jersey. Throw in the absence of promising freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino and the emotional hangover of the North Carolina win, and it’s easy find excuses for Indiana’s struggles. 

Still, yikes.  

[Related: COLUMN: It won’t always be this smooth for Indiana men’s basketball, but who cares?]

In the first half, Indiana’s best offense was its defense. Its second-best offense was arguably its ability to draw charges.  

Indiana’s third-best offense? That was graduate student forward Miller Kopp. 

You likely won’t hear this terribly often, but Kopp was absolutely in his bag Saturday afternoon. Sure, that bag might be likened to one of those little velveteen drawstring bags you get smooth rocks in at a state park gift shop, but Kopp was deep in there.  

He racked up 21 points, shooting 5-9 from the 3-point line. Outside of Kopp, the Hoosiers shot 20% from the floor and — get ready because this is so bad — 6% from beyond the arc. 

Kopp is a skilled shooter and was Indiana’s best player on Saturday, but he isn’t necessarily the player around whom the players want to build their offense. Star senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who played despite lingering injury, put up a relatively underwhelming 13 points. He didn’t score his first field goal until 40 seconds remained in the first half, and it took a Rutgers goaltending foul to generate those two points.  

With Jackson-Davis struggling, Indiana really could have used Hood-Schifino. It also probably could have used graduate student forward Race Thompson, junior guard Trey Galloway or literally any of its bench players.  

But be it Jackson-Davis or junior walk-on guard Michael Shipp, I found myself wondering if any Hoosier could provide a spark. Other than Jackson-Davis, Kopp and graduate student guard Xavier Johnson, no Hoosier scored more than two points.  

That’s why losses like these are so brutal for fans. You go through stretches during which you wonder whether you’ll ever see your team score again.  

Things got so bad that at one point Galloway didn’t walk to the scorer’s table quickly enough coming off the bench, so he had to wait on the sidelines until the next clock stoppage. Indiana literally failed at substituting.  

To the Scarlet Knights’ credit, they weathered a nearly equally rough first half and put together a 100-level introductory course to fundamental basketball. They outrebounded the Hoosiers 47-33, including 17 on offense. All those second chances kept them on top when their offense was otherwise lacking. 

Then Rutgers freshman guard Derek Simpson scored 10 straight points and ignited a 17-0 run for the Scarlet Knights, effectively burying the Hoosiers. The undefeated season is no more, and Indiana starts 0-1 in Big Ten play. 

There’s a lot of doom and gloom in the previous several paragraphs, but a team is never defined by one game. Indiana should still have a very strong season, especially once Hood-Schifino and Jackson-Davis recover from their injuries. That said, I am considering the possibility that Rutgers will bring nothing but pain to Indiana for as long as the Earth still spins.  

Basketball? Rutgers wins. That fender bender you suffered in the parking lot? I’m pretty sure I saw a big red R bumper sticker on the guy’s car. 

Your hopes of a happy, fulfilling life? Mark your calendar. Your soul mate is getting married to a Rutgers graduate in five years and you don’t want to miss it.

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 
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