By nature, I’m a preseason optimist. You can ask me just about anything about any team in the lead up to the official start of college basketball and I’m going to give you the reasons why that team can make the tournament and surprise the world. Does that eventually go away? Of course. I’m not a psychopath. Bad things happen to a lot of good people and their favorite sports teams. But since we’re only a few more weeks away from the start of real life Big Ten basketball, let’s dive deep into the optimism. Last week I opened the series with Illinois, and this week we’ll take a look at Indiana.
It all starts and ends with...
O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou banners, Romeo?
I used to do a series for BTPowerhouse called “Creating the Hype”. In that series I would dive deep into an incoming freshman and do my best to push the already bubbling hype even further into the stratosphere. Allow me to do that once again for Romeo.
Romeo Langford — last years Mr. Basketball in Indiana and the first to sign with IU since Cody Zeller — doesn’t just have college basketball hype, but NBA hype (he’s currently being slated as the Chicago Bulls pick at #6 and I can’t begin to describe to you how pumped that makes me). It’s been this way ever since he helped lead New Albany to the 2016 state championship as a sophomore. The more and more the smooth shooting, do everything guard raised the level of his game during high school, the more the whispers turned into thunderous roars among the IU hopefuls.
Could Romeo Langford be the local son that spurned any and every offer a recruit could dream of stay home to help push Indiana back to where they so rightfully belong?
The answer was a resounding and exciting yes.
As an outsider that enjoys when the Big Ten has a successful Indiana team, Langford seems to have that unique combination of look, feel and hype destined to be an all time Hoosier great; even if it is for one season.
It’s almost as though the candy stripes picked him long ago:
What Langford has already done for this program before even playing a game is astronomical. His signing gave Archie Miller’s rebuilding plan a co-signer. It put Indiana back on the map and it’s paid off in full with the Hoosiers becoming major players for some of the biggest 2019 and 2020 recruits out there.
Call it what you want, but i’ll call it the Romeo Effect.
Although there is one thing that I feel obligated to point out as a negative...his cartwheels are horrendous:
That’s drunk guy at a tailgate bad.
Back to Madness?
Some might tell you that Indiana is one more season away from being great, but even on the most conservative level, Indiana has the firepower (thanks in part to the Top-10 recruiting class that will feature three in-state recruits) to make it back into the upper echelon of the Big Ten and back to the NCAA tournament.
The team Archie Miller has at his disposal this season looks like a juggernaut on the offensive end of the floor with even more length and athleticism that should be more than enough to build on the defensive prowess that they displayed late in the season.
Oh and lest I forget, the rebuilt roster might be one of the deepest in the conference led by potential All-Big Ten forward Juwan Morgan (the perfect floor mate with Langford) who led the team in scoring, rebounding, blocks and free throws last season. If he can take another big step in his maturation as a player after testing the NBA waters, Indiana can make a run in March.
Thank you Cody & Dipo (and others)
There really is nothing I can put in words to describe the new and improved Roberts Family Team Center:
I want to live in here.
Did you know
I saw this in Athlon Sports College Basketball Preview and it blew my mind (and this coming from a fan of Iowa who can’t shoot free throws to save their lives): “In a season when IU lost three games by three points or fewer, the Hoosiers made only 65.7 percent of their free throws. That number ranked 13th in the Big Ten and 331st in the nation.”
That needs to be corrected if Indiana hopes to have some of those 2016 feels once again.