On April 30th, 2019, Archie Miller received the biggest commitment of his career as a college basketball head coach, his first five-star recruit, and the first Indiana Mr.Basketball to play for the Hoosiers since 2011.
Romeo Langford was all smiles as he committed to the Indiana Hoosiers in front of thousands of Indiana fans in his high school gym at New Albany High School.
Immediately, Romeo put Indiana back on the map with national analysts. Whereas prior the Hoosiers were regarded as a borderline bubble team, the commitment of the top five player in the nation shifted the sentiment significantly. The Hoosiers were considered in the conversation of the top 25, select national pundits even had the Hoosiers as high as the top 15.
Archie Miller would bring a unanimous top ten recruiting class in 2018-2019.
Today in February of the following year, the Hoosiers have free fallen to the point where they are far outsiders looking in to the NCAA tournament.
So what happened?
To take all simplification liberties, three point shooting has been the reason for Indiana’s demise.
A Look at the Numbers
The chart above compares the three point shooting percentage for Indiana in wins and in losses, and the difference is eye opening.
- In wins, the Hoosiers are shooting 37.26% behind the arc.
- In losses, the Hoosiers are shooting nearly ten percent less at 27.67%.
For those thinking that the numbers are skewed by grouping the wins and losses, remember that the majority of the losses came recently. In fact, the Hoosiers are averaging 3 turnovers less in losses than in wins.
Remember when the 2017-2018 season came to a close and three point shooting was a major topic of discussion? While Robert Johnson and Josh Newkirk provided senior leadership in a much needed guard role, three point shooting was by no means their speciality that season.
In 2018-2019, the Hoosiers are shooting essentially the same percentage: 32.85%compared to the previous years 32.22%. Conference numbers are even worse for Indiana at 28.43%.
If you take a look at anomalies of the Illinois and UT Arlington home wins, you can see that Indiana minimized the damage by reducing the number of three point shots taken – represented by the relative size of the bubbles. However, arguably Indiana played against easier opponents where margins were not as tight.
Archie Miller understands, but what will he do?
Interview after interview, Archie brings up the topic of three point shooting with the team.
It has to do with confidence and seeing the ball go down.
After the Ohio State loss, Archie again reiterated the benefits of three point shooting, not just by adding to the score directly, but it opens up lanes on the offensive side of the court.
Defenders are forced to respect the three and unable to sag in as far as they are into the block.
“Throughout the course of this game, the perimeter shooting from three needed to be there for us. Now I’m not sure how many good ones we got — how many rhythm ones we got. But we needed to be able to make a few to alleviate the pressure in the paint.”
At this juncture of the season, waiting for the team to naturally find their confidence behind the arc may be fool’s gold. Besides the Michigan State game, that confidence has been long gone.
More practice? More competition? A “doctoring” of the team’s shooting ability? A change up in pre-game warm ups? Can the bench be a confidence booster? That sounds backwards.
Despite fans that believe effort is the issue, the Hoosiers have played with fairly strong energy except for the Nebraska outlier. But if there is no change to three point shooting preparation, Indiana will continue to miss uncontested threes and should expect another repeat, disappointing end of the season.