At the beginning of an exciting new era in Indiana Men’s basketball, this season has had its share of both thrills and disappointments for IU’s basketball team. The team’s season officially ended Sunday as it failed to earn a spot in either the NCAA March Madness tournament or the NIT tournament. IU finishes its season with a 16-15 record and a 9-9 conference record. The Hoosiers finished sixth in the Big Ten conference and were knocked out of the Big Ten tournament in the second round by the Rutgers Scarlet Knights in a disappointing 76-69 defeat.
Archie Miller’s first season in Bloomington leaves a bittersweet taste in the mouths of IU basketball fans as there were plenty of opportunities for the Hoosiers to make their case to the committee for the Big Dance. The Hoosier’s started their season in disappointing manner losing to Indiana State at home in the first game of the year. The Hoosiers then won four games and dropped one to Seton Hall before welcoming the Duke Blue Devils to Assembly Hall.
The Hoosiers had a chance to make some noise early in their season facing the then number one team in the country in the Duke Blue Devils. The first half was a closely contested battle, and the Hoosiers trailed only 42 to 38 at the half. The Hoosiers looked and felt as though they could take this game from the perennial powerhouse Blue Devils. However, the Hoosiers could not hold on, and were outscored 49 to 43 in the second half and lost the game 91-81. The Hoosiers pushed the Blue Devils for the full forty minutes and was a fun one to watch for any fan of basketball. Forwards Juwan Morgan and De’Ron Davis posted 14 and 16 points respectively, while guard Robert Johnson also added 17.
After the game against the Blue Devils there was still hope for IU to make something of their season. However, the Hoosiers went on to drop games to Michigan and Louisville before facing Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic. The Hoosiers knocked off the 8-3 Irish 80-77 in overtime, and it again looked like the season could be looking up.
Despite high aspirations, the rest of the Hoosiers season fell short. Losing De’ron Davis for the remainder of the season to injury proved to be costly for Miller’s squad. The Hoosiers lost their next game to Indiana University Fort Wayne for the second straight year. Over the next month the Hoosiers went 6-3 before playing host to rival Purdue in Assembly. The Hoosiers again stepped up to a tough challenge in the Boilermakers going into halftime only down two points. Again, the Hoosiers could not finish the job losing the game 74-67.
A week later history seemed to repeat itself losing to Michigan State at home by only three points.
By this time in the season it seemed as though it was too late to scrap anything meaningful out of the regular season for the Hoosiers. The Big Ten tournament would be their last chance to make their case.
Losing in the second round of the tournament to a sub .500 Rutgers team sealed the Hoosiers fate of not making either the NCAA March Madness tournament or the NIT tournament.
The focus for Archie Miller and his staff now turns to strengthening the pieces they have and bringing in fresh young talent to liven up the squad. The Hoosiers know they will lose seniors Josh Newkirk, Robert Johnson and Freddie McSwain Jr, as well as graduate student Collin Hartman. However, a key for Archie Miller this offseason will be convincing junior forward Juwan Morgan to return to Bloomington for another season to finish his collegiate career.
Morgan was one of the few bright spots for the Hoosiers this season. He averaged 16.5 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. Strong season numbers as well as outstanding performances against Notre Dame, Purdue and Michigan State earned him a spot on the USBWA All-District V team. An honor that former Hoosiers Victor Oladipo, Eric Gordon and Cody Zeller, all now NBA players, also garnered. Morgan also was selected to the All-Big Ten second team.
Archie Miller will also look to continue to improve his team with fresh blood. The Hoosiers already have commitments from the 62nd overall ranked recruit in the country in Jerome Hunter, according to ESPN’s ESPN Top 100 recruiting database. Hunter is from Pickerington, Ohio and also had offers from Michigan and Xavier. The Hoosiers will also add Robert Phinisee, the number 25 ranked point guard from Lafayette, Indiana and Damezi Anderson, the 30th ranked small forward from South Bend, Indiana.
Though, the Hoosiers offseason will be defined by one thing: the recruitment of Romeo Langford. Langford, from New Albany, Indiana, is the No. 5 overall recruit in the country. Langford has been highly sought after since he entered high school. Langford will play in the McDonald’s All-American game on March 28, the Jordan Brand Classic on April 8, and the Nike Hoop Summit on April 13. Langford has already been named Gatorade’s Indiana high school basketball Player of the Year, and is likely to be named the 2017 Indiana Mr. Basketball. An honor also received by the likes of former Purdue star and current Portland Trail Blazers forward Caleb Swanigan, former Kentucky star and current Denver Nuggets forward Trey Lyles and former Michigan State star and current Denver Nuggets starter Gary Harris.
Langford has already scored over 2,900 career points in high school, moving him up to the fourth highest scorer in state history. He has also received offers from Kansas and Vanderbilt and is expected to make his college decision between April 13 and April 30.
Romeo Langford and Damezi Anderson will lead their high school teams, New Albany and South Bend Riley, into the semi-state games of the Indiana High School Athletic Association state tournament this weekend.
Signing Langford will improve Archie Miller’s squad drastically and make IU’s recruiting class one of the best in the nation. It will be a top priority for Miller in the coming month.