BOZICH | Archie Miller irked by Indiana's "soft" play in opening basketball dud
Archie Miller did not sugarcoat the news after Indiana gave up a record 17 three-point shots and was routed by Indiana State Friday night: His Hoosiers are soft.
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) — As the Indiana State three-point shots kept splashing through from Terre Haute, Fort Wayne, Muncie, Batesville and Corydon, there was quickly no reason to ask if Indiana could defeat Indiana State Friday night at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
The question became this: Could Indiana come within 20 points of Larry Bird University?
The answer: No — and the Sycamores don’t have a Bird or even a Carl Nicks on their roster. Nobody predicted Indiana State to finish in the Final Four — of the Missouri Valley Conference.
But the Sycamores, winners of 10 games last season, beat Indiana from here to Elkhart — 90-69. The Hoosiers were outscored by 39 points at the three-point line.
IU coach Archie Miller had multiple ways to describe what happened. This was the most effective:
“We’re soft. We’re just a soft team. There’s no need to sugarcoat it … Indiana State was ready to play. Indiana wasn’t.”
This is the kind of night it was. Indiana State fans sitting in the lower arena walked down to the court after the game to snap pictures of the scoreboard. Indiana fans started leaving midway through the second half of a game that was over midway through the first half.
Don’t believe anybody who tries to tell you the game was competitive. It wasn’t. Not on a night when Indiana State made 17 three-point shots, the most shots from distance that an opposing team has ever made in this building.
Miller was summoned from Dayton to replace Tom Crean after last season. The opening storyline was supposed to be that Miller was recruited to upgrade Indiana’s defense and improve the Hoosiers’ carelessness with the basketball.
Now one footnote from Miller’s jarring debut will be he is the first IU coach to lose his opener since Everett Dean. Ask your great grandfather about Coach Dean. He started in Bloomington in 1924 — by losing to Indiana State. The Sycamores made 59 percent of their shots, 65 percent from distance.
Looking for local flavor? Indiana had not lost a home opener since Milt Wagner and Louisville toppled the Hoosiers by on Nov. 24, 1984.
“You’re not going to give up 90 points in a home opener if you’re playing hard as hell,” Miller said. “You’re just not.”
“In the first half (when the Sycamores made 10 of 15 threes), a lot of their three-point shots just came from us not playing hard enough,” IU guard Robert Johnson said. “We never collectively made a decision to take that away.”
If the first half annoyed Miller as the Sycamores raced away to leads of 16-6, 25-11, 42-23 and 54-33, the start of the second half convinced the coach that his guys are not ready to defend the way they need to defend. Indiana State scored on its first four possessions.
The Sycamores actually led by 30 — 70-40 — after forward Qiydar Davis made a contested three-point shot from the left wing. That the Sycamores’ 14th three. Indiana State actually made 17 of its first 22 threes before missing its final four.
“I haven’t seen 17 threes go in at that rate,” Miller said.
No opponent made more than a dozen threes against Indiana in 34 games last season.
Indiana, meanwhile, missed 10 of its first 11 threes, finishing 4 of 18 from distance. Miller’s team failed to score more than five consecutive points at any stretch of the game.
By game’s end, all five Indiana State starters scored at least 10 points and made better than 64 percent of their shots. De’Ron Davis (14), Juwan Morgan (13) and Curtis Jones (11) were the only Hoosiers in double figures.
This, remember, was not Larry Bird Indiana State. This was an Indiana State program that lost 21 of 31 games last season. This was an ISU team picked to finish eighth in the 10-team Missouri Valley Conference.
How bad was it for the Hoosiers?
They turned the ball over on the opening possession of the first half and the final possession of the first half. They finished with 19 turnovers — after throwing the ball away only 18 times in two exhibition games.
The Sycamores scored 54 points in the opening half. That’s more points than any opponent scored in either half against the Hoosiers last season.
Indiana has less than 48 hours to regroup. The Hoosiers return to Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall to play Howard University at 8 p.m. Sunday.
Miller talked like a coach who is already prepared to reshape the starting lineup of Johnson, Josh Newkirk, Morgan, Devonte Green and Davis. Don’t look for Collin Hartman to move into the group. Hartman missed the opener with a groin injury. Miller said Hartman, a senior, will not be back soon.
But Indiana looked like a team that needed an intensity change as much as a lineup change.
“I think anyone who is smart if going to look at our schedule, say these guys got their work cut out for them and let’s see what they can do,” Miller said.
Nobody watching in Assembly Hall Friday night will argue with that.
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