Archie Miller has done quite a job of cooling his seat early in the 2019-20 season, despite having a mediocre strength of schedule (63rd in the country) thus far. The Hoosiers are 11-1 with quality wins against Connecticut, Florida State, and most recently, Notre Dame. Their only loss this season was their first conference matchup against Wisconsin at the beginning of the month. It’s always tough to open the conference season with a loss, but winning Big Ten road games is tough, especially when the conference is a combined 86-12 at home this season.
Since the loss to Wisconsin, Indiana has close wins over three tough opponents in UConn, Nebraska, and Notre Dame. That 20-point loss to the Badgers may have helped the Hoosiers turn a corner in terms of accountability. Archie Miller said after the Notre Dame victory “Yeah, unfortunately we had to learn a hard lesson (against Wisconsin).
The stick-to-itiveness and the togetherness and the players grabbing each other by the jerseys and holding themselves accountable at different times in the game was needed, and that didn’t happen that day.” This new development is encouraging for Indiana fans as the team struggled to find an identity last year with Romeo Langford in and out of the lineup all season.
One thing that needs to improve for Indiana to have a successful season is consistency from the backcourt. Al Durham started the season looking like a potential All-Big Ten candidate averaging over 18 ppg in the first six games. In the six games since then, he’s averaging just over 9 ppg. Likewise, Devonte Green scored 30 points against Florida State but followed it up by scoring only 5 points a week later against Nebraska. These inconsistencies by upperclassmen need to be corrected as the brunt of the conference season nears.
The bright spot for the Hoosiers is the contributions from the 2019 recruiting class. Armaan Franklin stepped in the Notre Dame game, scoring 17 points despite playing only fourteen minutes off the bench. Joey Brunk is having the best season of his career so far after transferring from Butler. He also had a big game against Notre Dame, pulling down a career-high 14 rebounds. However, the star for the Hoosiers this season is Trayce Jackson-Davis who is averaging 15.0 ppg and 8.9 rpg. The freshman is a legit candidate for First-Team All-Big Ten and Archie Miller has revolved his team around Jackson-Davis’s versatility. He can play both the four and the five as well as providing value on the defensive end.
While the backcourt inconsistencies have been evident and need to be resolved in the near future, the bright spots have been enough to keep Hoosiers’ fans hopeful. To resolve these issues, Archie Miller has turned to quantity over quality in terms of personnel in hopes to find the answer. Eleven players got minutes against Notre Dame.
In the meantime, Indiana will continue to rely on athletes Trayce Jackson-Davis and Justin Smith to carry them. Regardless, Indiana has been able to pull out close wins in all but one game so far which will keep their postseason hopes alive as they figure out their flaws. They will play a really good Arkansas team on 12/29 before taking on No. 14 Maryland in the new year.