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Preseason Preview: Indiana

Morrow

(Photo by Ryan Messier/Paint Touches)

The first official practices of the 18-19 college basketball season are in the books and Paint Touches is celebrating by counting down every Marquette opponent from worst to first. Each preview will contain a look at how the opponent did last season, who they lose, who they gain, reasonable expectations for their season, and our own prediction of how their matchup(s) with Marquette will go. This series will start with the most under of underdogs and progress all the way up to most unbeatable of opponents. We will be releasing one a day ending the day before Marquette’s exhibition with Carroll. That’s right, when this series ends, Marquette basketball will finally be here.

Team: Indiana Hooisers
17-18 Record: 16-15 (9-9 Big Ten)
Postseason?: Nope
17-18 KenPom: 71
Date: November 14, 2018
Location: Assembly Hall (Bloomington, IN)
Coach: Archie Miller (2nd Season)
Projected KenPom Range: 20-50
Projected Conference Finish: 4/14 in the Big Ten

Departures from 17-18
Josh Newkirk: Starting PG: 23.3 mpg, 7.1 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.8 apg, 0.5 spg, 0.3 bpg, 1.8 tpg, .378 FG%, .305 3P% (Graduated)
Robert Johnson: Starting SF: 34.2 mpg, 14.0 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 2.7 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 2.5 tpg, .427 FG%, .373 3P% (Graduated)
Collin Hartmann: 3rd Man Off the Bench: 15.4 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.0 apg, 0.4 spg, 0.2 bpg, 0.5 tpg, .368 FG%, .242 3P% (Graduated)
Freddie McSwain Jr: 5th Man off the Bench: 14.6 mpg, 4.2 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 0.5 apg, 0.3 spg, 0.6 bpg, 0.9 tpg, .446 FG%, .000 3P% (Graduated)
Curtis “Cujo” Jones: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 7 games (Transferred to Oklahoma State)
Tim Priller: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 4 games (Graduated)
Ethan Lasko: Benchwarmer: Appeared in 1 game (Left team for personal reasons)
41% of scoring, 38% of rebounding, 49% of assists, 31% of steals, 28% of blocks, 59% of 3PM

Arrivals:
Romeo Langford: 5-star SG, ranked #7 by 247 Composite
De’Ron Davis: Backup PF (returns after missing 16 games due to injury)
Jerome Hunter: 4-star PF, ranked #59 by 247 Composite
Evan Fitzner: Grad Transfer PF from Saint Mary’s
Race Thompson: 2017 4-star PF, ranked #134 by 247 Composite (returns from redshirt)
Damezi Anderson: 4-star SF, ranked #125 by 247 Composite
Robert Phinisee: 4-star PG, ranked #136 by 247 Composite
Jake Forrester: 3-star PF, ranked #148 by 247 Composite
Vijay Blackmon: Walk on SG (returns from redshirt)

Probable Starters:
PG: Devonte Green: 6’3” 185 lb JR: 22.5 mpg, 7.6 ppg, 1.9 rpg, 2.5 apg, 1.0 spg, 0.2 bpg, 1.9 tpg, .364 FG%, .337 3P%
SG: Zach McRoberts: 6’6” 210 lb RSSR: 21.9 mpg, 2.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 1.2 apg, 1.3 spg, 0.1 bpg, 0.6 tpg, .429 FG%, .394 3P%
SF: Romeo Langford: 6’6” 215 lb FR: 5-star SG, ranked #7 by 247 Composite
PF: Juwan Morgan: 6’8” 232 lb SR: 29.4 mpg, 16.5 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 1.5 apg, 1.2 spg, 1.4 bpg, .579 FG%, .302 3P%
C: De’Ron Davis: 6’10” 255 lb JR: 18.8 mpg, 9.6 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.1 apg, 0.8 spg, 1.5 bpg, 0.8 tpg, .615 FG%, .000 3P% (only appeared in 15 games due to injury)

Probable Bench:
Jerome Hunter: 6’7” 214 lb FR PF
Aljami Durham: 6’4” 181 lb SO SG
Evan Fitzner: 6’10” 225 lb RSSR PF
Race Thompson: 6’8” 228 lb RSFR PF
Justin Smith: 6’7” 227 lb SO SF

Probable Benchwarmers:
Damezi Anderson: 6’7” 215 lb FR SF
Robert Phinisee: 6’1” 182 lb FR PG
Jake Forrester: 6’8” 218 lb FR PF
Clifton Moore: 6’10” 230 lb SO PF
Quentin Taylor: 6’2” 185 lb SR PG
Johnny Jager: 6’0” 185 lb RSJR SG
Vijay Blackmon: 6’2” 185 lb RSSO SG

Notes:
• Last season for Indiana kicked off with the firing of former Marquette head coach Tom Crean and the hiring of Archie Miller, last summer’s hottest coaching hire. Miller’s first season did not go swimmingly as it was bookended by a blowout loss to Indiana State and a B1G tourney loss to lowly Rutgers with a bunch of .500 ball in between. Other than an OT victory over Notre Dame (which we at Paint Touches quite enjoyed) there was not much to write home about for Hooiser fans. That should change quick, fast, and in a hurry in Miller’s second season. The Hooisers return one of the top players in the country, bring in a recruiting class that features five top 150 players, including a bona fide 5-star ranked unanimously in the top ten by major recruiting services. Indiana has serious potential to be the most improved team in the country next season.
• All the buzz in Bloomington at the moment is about 5-star freshman Romeo Langford. Indiana convinced Langford to stay close to home despite blue blood offers including a full court press by the Jayhawks. Langford is a tall scoring guard with an absurd wingspan of 6’10”. He uses his length to be disruptive on defense and his athleticism to overpower defenders for highlight reel finishes. If Langford has a weakness, it is his shooting. He’s never been a consistent threat from range and that could lead to sagging defenders clogging the lane. Ultimately, Langford is a legitimate one and done prospect who should put up impressive scoring numbers in Bloomington.
• Despite Langford getting all the buzz, the true star of the team is Juwan Morgan. The rising senior followed a path to stardom that required patience and development. As a freshman, Morgan was a bit role player only earning 7 or so minutes a game. He found his way into the rotation as the sixth man his sophomore season. Last season he was easily the best player on the roster and he is now primed for a potential All American level season. In fact, valueaddbasketball.com dubbed Morgan the most valuable player in all of college basketball heading into next season. Langford and Morgan will combine to be one of the most terrifying duos in the NCAA.
• Indiana rival Notre Dame may have Rudy but Indiana has an inspiring walk on story of its own. Indiana’s Zach McRoberts came off the bench last season but finished in the top five for minutes played. The former Indiana high school basketball star began his college career as a bench player for low major powerhouse Vermont. He transferred back home and accepted a walk on position in Bloomington. This past season McRoberts started buried on the bench earning only 16 minutes in the 6 games Indiana played in November. Things started to turn in December as he started to find a consistent role off the bench. His defense, rebounding, and flat out effort were eventually rewarded. In the big win over Notre Dame, McRoberts earned 31 minutes and grabbed 9 boards. After that, McRoberts saw at least 18 minutes of action in every game except one (fouled out in 12 minutes at Nebraska). McRoberts brings defense and rebounding and led the team in steals and offensive rebounding%. What he doesn’t bring is scoring. With only 78 points scored last season, Markus Howard scored more points between January 3rd and January 6th than McRoberts scored all season. It will be interesting to see with a better roster if this walk on can maintain his place as one of the top five minute getters on the team.
• If Indiana has a weakness this season, it is PG play and 3P shooting. The only traditional PG on the team is true freshman Robert Phinese and he likely won’t be ready to have the keys to a potential top 25 team. The most likely person to replace the departing Josh Newkirk is rising junior Devonte Green. Green was recruited as a SG but often played the role of second guard to both Newkirk and Robert Johnson. He will need to be ready to step up as someone will need to feed Langford and Morgan if Indiana is going to be a top team again.
• The other concern is 3P shooting. Last year, the Hooisers ranked second to last in the conference for both 3PM and 3P%, beating out only Rutgers in both categories. They also lose their only consistent 3P threat in Johnson in addition to Newkirk who was third on the team in 3PM. Green can make threes but wasn’t particularly accurate at 33.7%. McRoberts was accurate but only attempted 33 on the season. Morgan was neither accurate (30.5%) nor prolific (16 3PM). There will need to be significant improvement from these three or the newcomers. If there isn’t, Juwan Morgan could see constant doubles in the post and Langford will be driving into a crowded lane.
• What Indiana does have in spades is depth. Coming off the bench they will have players like Evan Fitzner who was a key player on St. Mary’s NIT squad last season. Another is Race Thompson, a former Marquette target and 4-star recruit who took a redshirt season. Jermone Hunter is a 4-star recruit who was consistently ranked in the top 75. The possible best of them is De’Ron Davis, an offensively dominate big man whose season was shortened due to a ruptured Achilles. On top of that they still have three top 150 freshmen who may be stuck fighting for garbage time. Fouls and injuries are unlikely to slow the Hoosiers down.

Prediction:
• All in all, I think Marquette is the better team next season. The game is also early in the season and Coach Miller has a lot of new pieces that will need to learn how to play together. Despite this, I have Marquette falling on the road in Bloomington. Non-conference road games are always tough to win, and I don’t see anyone on Marquette’s roster of slowing down Juwan Morgan. He’s too fast for the likes of Heldt and John and to strong for the Hausers. The one player with a prayer may be Ed Morrow which should end up providing an interesting matchup. It’s a close affair with plenty of Marquette leads throughout, but Indiana pulls off the one possession victory.

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Categories: Analysis, Home, Offseason, Previews

Author:Ryan Jackson

Texas A&M Professional, Marquette Fantatic

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