BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WDRB) — The misses came from every inch of the Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall court.
The three-point line where Jordan Hulls and Steve Alford once showed off their signature strokes. Along the lane where Calbert Cheaney and Victor Oladipo once blew past defenders. At the rim that Kent Benson and Cody Zeller once ruled.
"Our team in general right now is soft," IU coach Archie Miller said. "And we're also for whatever reason right now scared, and you can just tell by the way that we played.
"The fight isn't there right now, and the confidence isn't there on either end of the floor to be able to capitalize on any type of opportunity that we have, to be honest with you. There's nothing we're doing well."
No ruling the rim. No blowing past defenders. Certainly no three-point stroke. I won’t even mention the free throw line. (OK, I will mention it. Indiana made 11 of 20.)
Indiana’s offense is broken — and Miller does not have the answers to fix it.
The Friday night scoreboard — Michigan 69, Indiana 46 — screamed that conclusion.
"I would say it's embarrassing," said senior Juwan Morgan, who saved Indiana from further embarrassment by scoring 16 points.
"You know, in my mind I don't think any team is 23 points better than us. I think we have a lot more fight in us than that.
"I think there's a lot of talent in that room. I'm angry about it. I know every guy in that room is. I saw the looks on their faces. I know how to read the room. Nobody is happy about that. Everybody is embarrassed."
Tough to beat anybody, especially one of the nation’s top five teams, after you stumble behind 17-0.
The Hoosiers had about five good minutes at the beginning of the second half. After huffing and puffing to five field goals in the first half, IU scored five in the first 2 1/2 minutes of the second half. Then it was back to brick, clank, thud, an uninspiring 46 points thoroughly earned on 27.6 percent shooting.
"We feel sorry for ourselves at times during the game," Miller said. "You can't do that."
Other than 2 1/2 good minutes, Miller’s team was as unreliable as the shot clock, which malfunctioned seven seconds into the game.
Mark it down as the third time in four games the Hoosiers have failed to crack 60 points.
Mark it down as the Hoosiers’ sixth straight defeat. Their overall record has tumbled from 12-2 to 12-8. Their Big Ten record has slipped from 3-0 to 3-6. And their NCAA Tournament status has plunged from No. 5 seed to Wait ’Til Next Year.
It was a painful and persistent exhibition of offensive ineptitude that cannot be pinned on Michigan’s status as the third best defensive team in America by Ken Pomeroy’s numbers.
The Hoosier slogged to a season-low 18 points in the first half, the fourth consecutive game that Miller’s team has been unable to crack 26 in the first 20 minutes.
Not in today’s college basketball. The analysts love to preach that you win championships with defense but there are plenty of coaches who will advise you that you’d better be able to score because in leagues like the Big Ten the other team can usually score like crazy.
Indiana cannot score.
Nothing comes easy for the Indiana offense.
Not enough easy baskets off transition defense. Not enough guys blowing past defenders for something at the rim. Not enough size at center or power forward to play the prime-time post up game.
Not enough Xs and Os wizardry to make up for Indiana's glaring shortcomings. The word is out on the Hoosiers. Defend the high ball screen at the top of the key. Seal off the lane from Romeo Langford. Pound on Morgan with a bigger body.
There has been no Plan B.
All of the Hoosiers’ flaws were on display in the opening 10 minutes of a game when Indiana fell behind 20-2.
Only a broken offense can deliver in 10 consecutive missed field goal attempts to start the game.
Only a broken offense falls behind 17-0 in front of a juiced home crowd that quickly shifted from roaring to booing as shot after shot clanged off the backboard and rim.
Only a broken offense can slog into the first television timeout without creating a field goal attempt for Langford, Indiana’s leading scorer.
With more than 25 NBA scouts and general managers in the building, Langford scored less than his 17.6 average for the third consecutive game. Credit Langford with nine points, but he missed nine of 12 shots.
It was better than the four points he had at Purdue last weekend, but Langford missed most of the first half with three quick fouls. He missed his only two shots from distance, extending his struggles with that shot to 0-for-12 the last four games, dropping his season three-point percentage to 21.1.
He's hardly the only one. IU missed 17 of 20 threes and has made 13 of 75 the last four games. That's 17.3 percent, half what is acceptable.
Now Indiana heads to Rutgers and Michigan State next week before the Hoosiers return home for six of their final nine games. Unless Miller can create ways to get this team to score, it won’t matter if they play in Bloomington, East Lansing, Madison Square Garden or Pluto.
"Very disappointed," Miller said. "Obviously take full responsibility for it. We've got to put our big boy pants on here and start showing up."
"Like I said at the beginning of the season, we're looking for a postseason this year," Morgan said. "We're not really looking for anything else. We're not selling ourselves short.
"I know there's a talented group in that room. I'm still -- I'm not giving up on any of the guys, they're not giving up on me, and that's what it is."
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