Indiana Basketball: Who becomes the third scoring option?

ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 06: Aljami Durham #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers gets a shot off next to Ignas Brazdeikis #13 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half at Crisler Arena on January 06, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 74-63. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
ANN ARBOR, MICHIGAN - JANUARY 06: Aljami Durham #1 of the Indiana Hoosiers gets a shot off next to Ignas Brazdeikis #13 of the Michigan Wolverines during the second half at Crisler Arena on January 06, 2019 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan won the game 74-63. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

The Indiana Hoosiers have one of the best scoring duo’s in the country, but after that they lack a consistent scoring punch. Who steps up?

There is no question that the Hoosiers have a lot of talent, especially at the top of the roster with two future NBA players leading the team.

For Juwan Morgan and Romeo Langford, they average 34.9 points per game which ranks 11th best in the entire country when it comes to scoring duo’s, but it is who is behind them that is concerning at times for Indiana.

In three out of the four Big Ten games this season, the supporting cast for the Hoosiers has failed to show up, with nobody else scoring in double-figures besides Morgan and Langford.

It was stressed even more in the Michigan game when the duo picked up two early fouls each, leaving both on the bench. With no real answer from the supporting cast, Michigan continued to build their lead, essentially putting the game away.

The supporting cast made up of Justin Smith, Al Durham, Devonte Green and Robert Phinisee, are all names that Big Ten fans know of, but none of which have broken through yet.

So who will step up and be the consistent third scorer for a team that desperately needs one?

Who It Could Have Been

Robert Phinisee

The backcourt partner of Langford, Phinisee was starting to play his best basketball before his concussion against Central Arkansas on Dec 19, missing the last three games.

Only playing seven minutes in that game, he was averaging 10.3 points and shooting 53.3 percent from three in his previous three games, including the game winner against Butler.

Not only was he becoming a more confident player, but he was one to show up when the Hoosiers needed him most.

In his absence, Langford has spent a lot more of his time on the ball, paying dividends for the Hoosiers. All signs point to Langford continuing this trend even when Phinisee comes back, so at this point it looks like Phinisee will play more of an off ball role.

An all-around point guard, Phinisee’s role will look to be more of a knock down shooter on the perimeter. With his extremely high rate of 44.8 percent, defenders will have to pick their poison of leaving him open or sliding over to help on a Langford drive.

There is no timetable for his return and who knows how long it may take him to get back into the rhythm he developed before his injury.

Who It Could Be

Devonte Green

Being inserted into the starting lineup has changed up Devonte Green’s role a bit as he needs to get the offense into their sets and get a rhythm before looking for his spots, but that is not the type of player he is.

A very good role player off the bench, Green is an energizer bunny who gets after it on defense and can be a scoring punch on the other end.

The negative is his effectiveness, as he has just a 12.2 average player efficiency rating over his career. Even more telling is his offensive rating at just 94.6, decreasing as his minutes increase.

Never a great shooter, Green is shooting just 40.9 percent for his career on two point shots.

In 11 games over his career when he has taken double-digit shots, Green has shot above 40 percent in just four of those games, showing his inability to be effective with a larger scoring role.

His scoring ability is best used in a reserve role to keep the offensive pace off the bench.

Justin Smith

Just like Green, many Indiana fans have a love-hate relationship with Smith.

The 6-foot-7 hybrid forward has an extremely versatile skillset which can be used for multiple mismatches on the offensive end, but he doesn’t always utilize it.

One of the biggest knocks on Smith is his inability to always be in control.

With a turnover rate of 21.3 percent, Smith has five games this season where he has as many, if not more, turnovers than he does field goals.

Though the Hoosiers rarely run any plays specifically for him, Smith only averages six field goal attempts a game which ranks sixth on the team.

Averaging 8.5 points per game on the season and shooting 57.8 percent from the field, good enough for seventh in the conference, Smith needs to be involved in more mismatch situations.

Coach Archie Miller referenced that on his radio show Monday night as he said he “hopes to get Smith scoring the ball more on the offensive end.”

Until then, the former four-star recruit needs to assert himself more on the offensive boards that will eventually lead more to easier points.

Who It Should Be

Al Durham

Al Durham, who starts on the wing with Romeo Langford, is a smooth lefty who has a good shooting stroke, at 41 percent from deep this year, and good size and length, at 6-foot-4, to become that third go-to option on offense.

Averaging just 8.4 points per game this season, Durham has flashed the scoring ability to be a 11-13 point per game scorer on this roster, but has lacked the aggressive play consistently.

Scoring in double-figures in just five of the 14 games he has played in this season, he is still trying to get comfortable playing on the ball and attacking the rim.

With Langford and Juwan Morgan controlling the ball in their hands most of the game, he has become more comfortable in spot up situations; but it is when he is on the court with neither of them in which he struggles.

In a two game stretch against Louisville and Butler, Durham played 40 minutes scoring 0 points on seven shots, while not attempting a single free throw. From a wing who has a great slashing ability, that is unacceptable.

Related Story. Romeo Langford Named Big Ten Freshman of the Week. light

With college basketball becoming more wing oriented and revolving around the big men less, you can never have enough scorers on the wing and in the backcourt.

In order for Durham to take that next step, he needs to become more aggressive and assertive with the ball in his hands, as he has only taken more than five shots in just six games this season.

Not many teams have two lock down defenders on the wing, so if Durham can become that third option, it will open up the offense and allow, at times, the offense to run through him creating more one-on-one opportunities for both himself and Langford.