Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers to go as far as the role players take them

EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 02: Devonte Green #11 of the Indiana Hoosiers during a game against the Michigan State Spartans in overtime at Breslin Center on February 2, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
EAST LANSING, MI - FEBRUARY 02: Devonte Green #11 of the Indiana Hoosiers during a game against the Michigan State Spartans in overtime at Breslin Center on February 2, 2019 in East Lansing, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images) /

After winning their third straight game, Indiana basketball is playing its best basketball when it counts, mainly due to their health and added depth.

In the midst of losing 12-of-13 games in January and February, doubts started to come over the Indiana basketball program and whether or not they could turn the season around.

Injuries continued to pile up, players stopped playing with the effort needed to win – or even compete in games – and the team looked in disarray.

It was a Romeo Langford and Juwan Morgan show with very little help from the supporting cast.

All of that changed with the return of Rob Phinisee, not to games, but to the level he was playing at before suffering the concussion.

Despite playing in much of the losing streak, he was never right. He looked timid, scared and not confident. But over the last four games he is averaging 11.5 points, 4.0 assists, and 2.0 steals per game. The biggest stat though is his turnovers, or lack thereof. Averaging just 0.5 turnovers per game over that span, all of those games he has played over 30 minutes in, including a 43 minute and zero turnover night against Wisconsin.

With Phinisee’s aggressiveness back on the offensive end, it creates so many more easy opportunities for the likes of Justin Smith and Juwan Morgan with Phinisee’s ability to get in the lane.

Related Story. What Indiana needs to do to get an at-large bid. light

One such player who has reaped the benefits of Phinisee’s play is that of Justin Smith.

The 6-foot-7 hybrid forward is averaging 17.0 points per game while shooting 53.8 percent from the field over the last three games. In what seemed like Smith’s time as a starter, a major contributor, was up following a six minute outing against Iowa, he has burst on to the scene becoming a major factor on the offensive end.

There is no questioning Smith’s athletic ability, and when he plays under control and with confidence, he can be one of the most effective forwards in the Big Ten. His improved play has given Juwan Morgan the ability to be matched up one-on-one on the block, excelling against Illinois with a 20-point performance.

A fellow member of the front court who is starting to get his health in order at the right time has been De’Ron Davis.

Many people have forgotten that Davis was a top-40 recruit in the 2016 recruiting class and was putting together a terrific sophomore season.

Averaging over 10 points a game before he went down with a torn achilles last season, Davis was showing just what he would bring the Hoosiers as the big man down low. To be expected though, a slow start to his junior season had many people writing him off, especially after playing just a total of 28 minutes in the first seven Big Ten games.

Being shut down for a two week stretch at the end of January did him wonders. What has he done since he returned to the rotation? He has averaged nearly eight points a game, with three double-digit games, and five outings of over 20 minutes. Not only has his size been invaluable for an undermanned and undersized Indiana team, but his playmaking ability has shined in the middle of the paint, shown by a seven assist game against Iowa.

One of the biggest reasons for the success of the Hoosiers over the last week has been the play of junior guard Devonte Green. Hopefully making a positive turn for the rest of the season, the 6-foot-3 guard has put up back-to-back double figure games, including leading the Hoosiers in assists over that span as well.

Next. Hoosiers win third straight after victory over Illinois. dark

Don’t get me wrong, he has had his moments this season in an Indiana uniform – both good and bad. But he is like an ex-girlfriend that keeps you coming back no matter what they do previously. He has a knack for taking and making big time shots, 7-for-13 from deep in his last three games, something that will come in handy down the stretch.

What happens when you mix all of that up? A three game winning streak, with two ranked wins, and a team that is as dangerous as any in the conference and maybe, just maybe the entire country.