Indiana needs a more consistent Devonte Green to finish out 2019-20
Indiana senior guard Devonte Green had another big night Thursday against Iowa, as his 27 points led the way for Indiana to potentially find its way back onto its feet after a four-game losing streak.
But Green needs to find more as Indiana looks to end a grueling Big Ten schedule and make the NCAA Tournament.
Indiana needs more performances like the one it got from Devonte Green on Thursday night against Iowa. Time is running out, head coach Archie Miller said, for the senior guard to be the seismic shift he can represent within the 2019-20 season.
“This year, he’s yet to string together a back-to-back, two in a row, three in a row,” Miller said. “And I'm not talking about 27. I'm talking about you're looking out there, and you're seeing one of the best guards in the Big Ten. And we're at that time now, you can't wait three more weeks to come back around.”
The number of times Green has propelled Indiana to a win like he did Thursday – 27 points and 7-of-11 from three – can be counted on one hand, but when he hits shots, Indiana’s offense runs at its best.
By halftime of Indiana’s 89-77 win over No. 21 Iowa, Indiana had out-rebounded Iowa 23-16, forced 10 turnovers, scored 18 points off those turnovers, assisted 10 of 16 made field goals and got to the free throw line 17 times. Not all of those statistics can be attributed solely to Greens’ three-point shooting, but there is a noticeable difference between the team Indiana is when shots are going in versus the team Indiana is when shots are missing. And for Green, shooting is his most identifiable trait.
“We needed it. We really needed it,” Miller said about Green’s shots. “Our team needs some type of confidence boost in big games. And when he's played well, we've played well. We've got to bottle it and figure out a way to keep him rolling, not to get 27 every night, but this consistency.”
The offensive confidence follows Green. It did against Florida State, when Green hit five threes and scored 30 points, giving his team its first double-digit lead over a ranked opponent by halftime. It did against Ohio State on Jan. 11, when he scored 19 points on just two threes and pulled a 13-point, 7-rebound, 4-steal game out of Rob Phinisee for the sophomore’s breakout game of the year. And it did against Maryland in Bloomington, when he scored 16 points and the offense recorded a season-high 22 assists.
His four three-point shots before his first media timeout sparked Indiana in a way it hadn’t been sparked since just before dropping the game to Maryland on Jan. 26 and igniting a four-game losing streak. Race Thompson even had a career night, with 10 points, four rebounds and four steals in his first game back from an injury suffered against Michigan State in January.
Miller said he could tell Green was more focused in the days leading up to the Iowa game Thursday, based on the way he practiced, as if he felt he needed to take responsibility for getting out of the slump the Hoosiers found themselves in. But when asked about ways he’s found, as a coach, to find a consistency in Green, he joked that he asked Greens’ brother, Los Angeles Laker Danny Green, who was in attendance Thursday during the NBA’s All-Star Weekend, if he could “stick around.”
He obviously couldn’t.
But with six consecutive quad 1 games awaiting Indiana, four of them being on the road, the player Miller considered the “most talented offensive player” on the team before the season began is going to have to find a consistency – quickly.
“When he's engaged, he's really good,” Miller said. “When he gets lethargic, down on himself or starts to look around funny, I think you can see a different player out there. But we don't have time for that right now, and I think he realizes that. In talking this week, we don't really have time for him to be feeling this thing out. He's got to hit the afterburner here and try to push through for us.”