So, I’m not going to say that putting a beat down on Tennessee Tech at home is nothing, but yeah it basically means nothing for the Indiana Hoosiers.
The Hoosiers hang just above .500, 7-6, after their win over the Golden Eagles (exciting, I know). Let’s be honest, a win like this is sort of like throwing newspaper over a spill to try and clean it up. It works for about ten seconds or so until you realize the newspaper can’t absorb such a spill, still leaving a mess on your floor.
I imagine Adam Sandler is some form of Archie Miller, saying we can fix this. Stepping on Scubba Steve, well that represents what’s to come - Big Ten Conference play.
For Indiana, the loss to the Fort Wayne on December 18th was the spill and their win over Tennessee Tech is the newspaper. While the win was a boost of confidence for the Hoosiers, it was also expected. It also didn’t help fix residue from the second straight loss to an in-state, non-power five conference team.
Youngstown State comes to Bloomington on Friday to wrap up the non-conference schedule for the Hoosiers. A win, expected, won’t blow anyone away in terms of strength of schedule – but maybe just another tiny confidence boost heading into conference play.
I said it last week and I think it will be the theme of Indiana basketball this season – finding an identity. The older guys clearly haven’t adapted (or bought in) to the change in style of play and also the coaching style of Archie Miller.
One player that Indiana desperately misses on the offensive end, senior guard Robert Johnson. In what seems like a shell of himself, the Hoosiers struggles to put up points start and end Johnson who has struggled with inconsistent shooting and not showing up in pressure situations. Johnson is also shooting a career-low 33.8% from beyond the arc with the highest amount of shots averaged.
Playing to the level of your competition has become an unwanted theme for Indiana. Beat No. 18 Notre Dame and get blown out by Indiana State and Fort Wayne? – will never understand it.
I’ll say this, some of the comments made by Archie Miller were ones that coincidence with what fans are seeing – disappointment in the lack of senior leadership presence. Miller said, “Your best players at the end of the day have to be your oldest players,” Miller said. “What I mean by best players, the guys that get it done in the tough moments, the guys that require, are requiring the other guys on the team to follow their lead”.
All indications point to Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk.
Two guys who were an integral part of Indiana’s success last season. They also were part of the embarrassing upset loss at Fort Wayne last season. Miller expects more from his upperclassmen, “There's got to be much more of sort of like an alpha dog approach to the upperclassmen. They just can't let that happen. And it's almost perplexing”.
Despite the first year learning curve, Archie Miller has shown impressive signs that the Hoosiers future is still in great hands. It may not stack up in the win-loss column that way this season, but Miller’s end game is what Hoosiers fans should be excited for.
If not for what he says or the actions he’s taken so far this season, for the sheer fire he brings on during a game. Passion and winning are two variables Indiana fans can stand behind.