Indiana Basketball: Hoosiers’ three-point shooting woes need to be addressed

Devonte Green, Archie Miller, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
Devonte Green, Archie Miller, Indiana Basketball. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /

Indiana basketball needs to figure out its three-point issues that have plagued them since Archie Miller’s arrival in 2017.

In Archie Miller’s third season as Indiana’s Head Basketball Coach, the Hoosiers have taken some major strides. They’ve proven themselves to be an NCAA tournament-caliber team, currently sitting at 15-6 with a 5-5 record in Big Ten play which has them sixth in the conference standings.

Considering at this time last year Indiana was in the middle of a 12 game losing streak that crushed any tournament hopes, Indiana fans have to be happy with where this team has itself with 10 games left in the regular season. However, if this team wants to become a legitimate threat in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, the struggles from beyond the three-point line need to be addressed.

Indiana is no stranger to poor outside shooting since Miller’s arrival. In Miller’s first year (2017-2018) Indiana ranked 315th out of 353 division one teams in three-point percentage. A year ago they actually managed to regress in that department–finishing 317th. Although they actually rank 294th in the country in 3P% now, the Hoosiers have actually dropped two full percentage points and are making a meager 30.9 percent of their attempts from deep this season.

There are a number of factors that play into this but none bigger than the fact that Indiana simply lacks shooters. Trayce Jackson-Davis, who is arguably the team’s best player, has yet to even attempt a three-point shot this season. Teams have prioritized flashing double teams to him once the ball is entered to him on a post-up.

Granted, he’s a decent passer and often times makes the right read when doubled, but when the rest of the team is hitting just 30 percent on threes it’s not keeping the defense from shutting down the number one option offensively for Indiana. It also does not help that TJD shares the court with either Joey Brunk or De’Ron Davis for the majority of his minutes. Neither big has the ability to space the floor, which has been a prevalent issue for the entirety of Miller’s tenure.

It’s tough to put all the blame on Miller for their struggles, though. Devonte Green was the leading three-point shooter a season ago, nailing 41 percent of his tries from deep. This season, Green has dropped to just 35 percent from deep. Though guards Rob Phinisee (35.9%) and Al Durham (36.7%) have improved from three, Indiana lacks consistency. They need to find answers from deep if they want to maximize this team’s potential this season.

Within the last few weeks, Miller mentioned publicly that he wanted his guys to have the confidence to step in and take open shots if they have them. One guy that seems to have taken this in stride has been Jerome Hunter. Hunter opened the season struggling mightily offensively but has really come on of late. The redshirt freshman is 5-of-9 from three over the last three games, including a career-high 12 point game in the loss to Maryland. Indiana will need consistent outside shooting from guys like Hunter in order to open up the floor for Jackson-Davis and Brunk.

Indiana was able to take down Michigan State by shooting 33 percent from three, which is the NCAA Division 1 team average. In its six losses this season, Indiana is shooting 27 percent from three. In their fifteen wins Indiana is shooting a much better, but still sub-par 32 percent behind the arc. If IU could just be an average three-point shooting team, they’d likely be a top-four team in the Big Ten and would have a much higher ceiling come March.

As of now, Indiana has to hope Hunter can stay hot and guards Green, Phinisee, and Durham can pick it up down the stretch. The Hoosiers have the ability to score from inside and at the line and typically play great defense. If they can improve their outside shooting down the stretch they could become a team nobody wants to face.

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Either way, Archie Miller’s squad needs to show some improvement in the next year or two. If not, the criticism will turn to the player development within the program. There’s just no excuse for a team as talented as Indiana to struggle so mightily from three.