(Photo Credit: IndianaHQ)
On Saturday morning, students waited outside — some for hours — to have the opportunity to be on national television. ESPN selected East Lansing to be the site for their College Gameday feature, where they host a live broadcast with a participating fan base.
A few hours after the broadcast, Indiana versus Michigan State would tip-off in the Breslin Center where a formidable number of of passionate students and fans were already waiting in the Izzone. Their Spartans would host a free falling Hoosiers team that had lost seven straight coming into the day’s main event.
If you are reading this, you already know the result.
While from all accounts, the ESPN and Gameday crews did a great job covering the game on national television, there were a handful of noteworthy and interesting moments that may not have quite reflected through the broadcast.
5. Once IU target and Indianapolis native Aaron Henry has pure athleticism.
Aaron Henry, the 2018 recruit out of Indianapolis (Ben Davis), was once an Indiana target, but then elected to go to Michigan State after the Hoosiers had seemingly filled up his roster slot with the commitment of Damezi Anderson.
Don’t let his stat line of just six points and four rebounds fool you. There is a reason why Tom Izzo trusted Aaron Henry to play 31 minutes last night as a freshman.
Incredible athleticism defines him as a player. The 6’6″ freshman who is best classified as a wing towered over Indiana players when he got boards. He did not collect many boards, but when he did, it was emphatic. Sparty nation should look forward to what Aaron Henry can develop into as he matures. Considering his vertical right now as a freshman, he will end up being one of the Big Ten’s best in a couple of years.
4. Devonte Green can make plays unlike anyone else in the conference
Devonte Green returned Saturday for the first time in three games after serving a three-game suspension for still undisclosed reasons. The staff may have suspended him, but there was no one happier for his return than the coaches.
Devonte’s three of four shooting from behind the arc might be the most prominent impact for those watching through the tubes. But on the floor, his ball handling and pass abilities shined above the rest. Simply put Devonte Green has ball abilities that are truly one of a kind and Hoosier fans should appreciate what ceiling Devonte has as a player. Two plays stood out. The first play unfolded with Devonte bringing up the ball but unable to connect to an open Evan Fitzner. Devonte realized he did not take advantage of the open man, and decided he wanted to do something about it. Now, on many occasions, this story ends in one of two ways: Devonte either makes an incredible home run play or he mishandles the ball and turns over the rock.
Thankfully the former was true. Devonte drew his defenders left with one step and slipped the ball with a no look pass back to Fitzner. Evan swung the ball instantly to an open Al Durham on the right hand baseline. Dunk.
The second play involves Devonte’s post feeds to De’Ron Davis. In the second half, Green was frequently able to find De’Ron on the left side post with an outward bounce pass. On this particular possession, Michigan State hedged against the post feed by over extending on the elbow to disrupt the feed.
However, the plan was laid out and it had been working the whole game. Why change it now? Devonte had his mind set on passing the ball into the paint. In what can only be described as an NBA-style move, Devonte carried the ball forward within the limitations of the rules and replicated one of his post feeds identically.
Now only he knows if he had already made up his mind about feeding or faking, but to his better judgement he was able to pull the ball back towards him mid-air and continue his dribble in the other direction. Even photographer row bit and fell for the fake feed.
Minor in the grand scheme, these two moments were noteworthy from a courtside view.
3. Archie Miller has two categories of players: ones he trusts and ones who still have to earn his trust
Archie Miller has always been known to use a short bench. At his time in Dayton he typically had a core of six to eight players that received the overwhelming majority of minutes.
With an Indiana team that seems to have player availability on an hour by hour determination, Coach Miller has had his hand forced to play line ups that do not necessarily make a lot of sense. On top of that, those sets likely have had little to no practice time together again because of the ever changing availability.
The Michigan State game carried a lot of weight for the team. Winning would completely adjust the trajectory of the team experiencing a seven game skid. In those times, a lot can be revealed.
Outside of the starters, Archie Miller had no problem going back to Devonte Green. Even right off of a team suspension, Archie Miller trusted Devonte with 34 minutes of action on Saturday and he was rewarded for his decision.
If De’Ron Davis was named MVP of the game, there would be very little disagreement (except maybe from his teammate Justin Smith). Ideally staff would have preferred to limit his minutes, but at the most critical of times, Archie went to his big.
On the other end of the trust spectrum, Evan Fitzner and Clifton Moore seemed to have fallen a bit behind on the rotation. When Davis needed to step out, the staff indecisively could not choose between Clif, Evan, or even throwing De’Ron back in.
The result was one play for Evan, one play for Clifton, and that bought just enough time for De’Ron to return.
2. The team expended everything they had and fatigue will be this week’s challenge
The Hoosiers gave everything they had on Saturday.
If the 2018-2019 had a slogan, the three words guaranteed to be included are “slow starts” and “injuries.”
Juwan Morgan, who is averaging more than 30 minutes a game, laid all out for a loose ball.
De’Ron Davis who had not played more than double digit minutes since December 19th of last year, played for 24 extremely valuable minutes. When he could no longer tolerate the pain, he waved over at the bench.
Al Durham who has played 33, 32, 38, and 37 minutes in the last four games respectively, screamed with excruciating pain when it seemed that one of his appendages may have been dislocated. Athletic trainer Tim Garl popped the finger back in place right from the bench.
You cannot help but to feel for Al Durham Sr. who watched from right behind the Indiana bench and was standing up for his team nearly the entire game. That’s a parent’s toughest experience.
Yet magically, Juwan returned back to the bench without any brace or ice packs.
De’Ron came back in after a dripping wet, icing session on his lower leg.
Al Durham got taped up and contributed even more minutes.
The team gave everything, and then some, on Saturday. The end result was worth it all, but there will be costs associated and it would not be surprising if those costs appear at some level on Thursday when top 20 Iowa comes to Bloomington.
1. Leadership does not require you to be on the floor
With a little more than six minutes left in the first half, Juwan Morgan scrummed for a loose ball. He dove, he laid out, and he sacrificed his body for his team.
Hearts from Hoosier fans across the globe collectively sank as Juwan Morgan was not just slow to get up, but he could not even get up without assistance. Juwan Morgan has had historical medical issues with his shoulder and memories of past seasons flashed before the eyes of the Indiana faithful.
Tim Garl and the staff rushed out to the center court to check on Juwan.
Juwan ended up overworking his left shoulder and he would not return for the remainder of the game. Arguably more important than his physical presence on the court: he left a lasting impression with the team.
When your senior leader dives for 50-50 balls and gives everything he’s got for the team, you cannot help but to be inspired and fired up yourself. “We wanted to do it for him.” Al Durham explained to Andy Katz what motivated the team after Juwan left the game.
Later in the second half, Juwan did rejoin his team after he finished the medical protocol. Of course, what did Juwan do first? At the end of the bench, he sat down right next to Jerome Hunter and coached Jerome through what Juwan was seeing on the court.
What did he do immediately after that? Juwan Morgan made room next to him and called over freshman Jake Forrester. More coaching from the captain. With a minute straight of head nods, Jake Forrester understood what expectations his captain had of him and then returned back to the front of the bench.