IU men’s basketball kicks off 2019-20 season

Lizzie Allen, Staff Writer

In 2018, a strong start for the IU men’s basketball team (started 12-2) turned into a very disappointing 19-16 season. Talent in the likes of Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan was wasted as they suffered injuries, and Hoosier fans saw the team fell apart in the last half of the season.

This year, head coach Archie Miller and his Hoosiers look to improve on last season and make the NCAA tournament for the first time in three years, and the first time ever under Miller. Even with the losses of Langford and Morgan to the NBA, as well as several other helpful rotational pieces, the Hoosiers have a solidly balanced roster, a favorable schedule of games, and hopefully, a bright future.

While the Hoosiers took some roster hits after the last season, they recruited well and picked up some interesting new players. IU lost a total of nine players after the 2018-19 season, most noticeably stars Langford and Morgan, however, the losses of Evan Fitzner and Zach McRoberts will also be noticed as they were both reliable depth players and provided strong backup in the frontcourt. Miller and his staff did a nice job of recruiting over the summer and added a few developmental players in true freshmen Trayce Jackson-Davis and Armaan Franklin, as well as graduate transfer Joey Brunk.

Jackson-Davis looks to be the Hoosiers biggest pickup for the year. While not an automatic star like Langford was last year, many people have high hopes for the four-star recruit. He should provide good depth for the unproven frontcourt, and should build his playing time over the season. Franklin will likely have less of an impact as he is joining an already established Hoosier backcourt; however, he will provide backup and should be able to develop nicely. Brunk, a transfer from Butler, will provide valuable experience and depth for the Hoosiers. It’s doubtful that he will be a huge player for the team, but he should be able to contribute some good minutes when needed.

The Hoosiers starting lineup is pretty much set as they turn to established returners in point guard Rob Phinisee, shooting guard Devonte Green, small forward Aljami Durham, power forward Justin Smith, and center De’Ron Davis.

The biggest possible issue for this roster is that there is no true star for the Hoosiers: someone to rally behind and lead the team. The best candidates as of right now are Phinisee and Jackson-Davis. Phinisee had a decent year last year, and looks ready to have a breakout season this year. Jackson-Davis arrives in Bloomington with high expectations, and if he can handle those expectations, he may turn into a genuine star. Altogether, the Hoosiers have a well-developed roster that looks very nice on paper.

Additionally, the Hoosiers have a schedule that should give them some easy games to win, and some harder games to prove themselves. They have a seven game streak in January and February against a handful of Big Ten opponents that will likely be the deciding period of their season, and if they can win the majority of those games, the Hoosiers would prove themselves as a respectable opponent in the Big Ten.

IU kicked off their regular season with a 98-65 win over Western Illinois on November 5th, and an 85-75 win on November 9 versus Portland State. Tickets are available for the Hoosiers next game on November 12 against North Alabama at Assembly Hall now.