Welcome to another edition of 6-Banner Sunday, where we highlight the six most essential IU basketball stories of the past week.
Off the court, this was a good week for the future of Indiana basketball. Several recruits signed on the dotted line to officially endorse their intention to matriculate to Bloomington next year, and a couple of 5-star targets took next steps toward possibly doing the same.
On the court, well … I’m willing to go along with Chronic Hoosier’s plan if you are.
In this week’s edition:
- Indiana makes Romeo Langford’s final 3
- Darius Garland sets his announcement date and time (then changes it!)
- Rob Phinisee and rest of IU’s four commits sign LOIs
- Adversity is nothing new for De’Ron Davis
- Archie Miller is anything but soft
- “Soft” Hoosiers get embarrassed in season opener
Indiana makes Romeo Langford’s final 3
I recognize the ridiculousness of how much hype surrounds the college choices of 17- and 18-year olds who happen to be very good at putting an orange ball with black stripes through a round hoop with a net attached to it.
But the reality is that you have to have elite talent to produce elite results. So if our collective focus is truly on hanging Banner #6, then the decisions of 5-star players, especially in-state ones, demand our attention.
On Saturday, Romeo Langford gave Indiana fans everywhere something to dry their Friday night tears with.
If you missed it, Romeo narrowed his college choice to three schools: Indiana, Vanderbilt, and Kansas.
Indiana’s inclusion in this list wasn’t a surprise. Most people whose opinions I trust felt Indiana was a virtual lock to make the final three, with the other two schools coming from the group of Vandy, Kansas, and North Carolina.
Now we wait.
It sounds like Romeo is going to do exactly what I would counsel him to do: let the season play out, get as much information about his final three schools as possible, and then make the best choice for his (probable) one year of college basketball.
My gut feeling? I think Indiana ends up being the choice.
Granted, we can’t have a season full of performances like what we saw Friday night, because Romeo wants to go somewhere he can be a part of something special rather than to a place where he is expected to lift a struggling program out of the sewer. But given the improvement I expect us to make this season, and the impressive class of recruits he’ll be joining (more on them below), I just have a feeling Romeo will ultimately choose IU.
As soon as Louisville was removed from the picture, I started to feel like Indiana’s ability to offer Romeo something that no one else can — the chance to stay home, be beloved by fans who know him, and have the opportunity for true legendary status — would give us a great shot. We’ll see.
Either way, the job Archie Miller has done to give Indiana a chance in this recruitment is amazing. If he seals the deal, it will most likely be more important than anything that happens on the court this season.
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Darius Garland sets his announcement date and time (then changes it!)
Unlike Romeo, 5-star point guard Darius Garland doesn’t want to wait. He wants to get his decision out of the way so he can focus on his senior season.
So it was no surprise that Darius (actually his father, Winston) announced he would make his choice before the end of the fall signing period on Wednesday, November 15th. It is widely believed that the decision is a two-horse race between Indiana and Darius’ hometown school, Vanderbilt.
What was a surprise, however, was the initial timing of Darius’ announcement. It was initially set for Wednesday, November 15th at 6:30 p.m. ET. Most Wednesdays, such timing wouldn’t cause a double take. But this particular Wednesday at this particular time just so happens to be when Indiana’s battle with Seton Hall tips off.
It seemed like odd timing, even though you could spin it as a positive or a negative for IU depending on which direction your confirmation bias pulled you in.
But then Darius crossed everyone up by changing the date and time to Monday, November 13 at 3:45 p.m. Eastern Time. And, again, you can spin this as a positive or negative for IU depending on how you look at it.
At this point, everyone who has followed this recruitment is just ready to know the final answer. Fortunately we don’t have to wait too much longer to find out.
My gut feeling on this one? I think Darius picks Vanderbilt.
If you want to know my reasoning, go back up and read what I wrote about Romeo, and then apply it to Darius. Add in the fact that his best friends are going to Vandy to play football, and it just feels like the pull of staying home will be too much.
I hope I’m wrong on this, obviously. Darius is a magnificent talent. I’d love to have him at Indiana. But I also won’t be crushed if he ends up choosing Vandy, in large part because I really believe in the point guard Indiana already has coming in next season.
Speaking of …
Rob Phinisee and rest of IU’s four commits sign LOIs
I had the chance to interview 4-star point guard Rob Phinisee for this week’s edition of Assembly Call Radio. If you haven’t had a chance to listen yet, it’s the second segment of this week’s show:
The question I was dying to ask Rob was what he thought about Archie Miller’s pursuit of Darius Garland, even though Rob had already committed. And I was thoroughly impressed by his answer. Frankly, I’ve been thoroughly impressed by everything I’ve seen and read about Rob since his committed.
No, Rob is probably not the player Darius is. And he’s a notch or two below what Yogi Ferrell was as a recruit. So Rob seems unlikely to enter the Quinn-Isiah-Yogi pantheon of all-time great Indiana point guards — though I wouldn’t put it past him. But the floor for Rob is to be a rock-solid, team-first, high-character young man who I think we’re all really going to enjoy watching for four years.
And in that sense, he reminds me a lot of Jordan Hulls.
They are different style players, obviously, but I think Rob can be similar to Jordy in terms of his impact on the program’s culture and maturity. And, heck, Jordan had a hell of a career. If Rob can produce at a similar clip, he’ll have had a great run in Bloomington.
In addition to Rob, Indiana received letters of intent from Jerome Hunter, Damezi Anderson, and Jake Forrester. Add in Race Thompson (who was originally in the Class of 2018 but reclassified to join Indiana this year and redshirt) and this a 5-man group with a lot of stars next to their names who also fit Archie’s style of basketball and will the lay the foundation for his program moving forward. It reminds me a lot of the Hulls-Creek-Watford-Elston class that Tom Crean signed in his second year.
If you want to see what Archie Miller had to say about this class, read his comments about each player here.
The most telling quote for me was this — emphasis mine:
This is a group of four young men who we identified right away in the spring as players who not only fit our needs on the basketball court, but also fit the IU community and culture.
That’s the key phrase: identified right away.
Archie had a plan, targeted specific guys, and got them. That laid the foundation for a great, deep class and then freed him up to focus all of his attention on Romeo and Darius. It has truly been a masterful recruiting performance by a coach in his first year at a new school.
Now we’ll see if he adds the cherries on top. Regardless, the future is bright for Indiana basketball.
Which is important, because as we saw Friday night, the present looks a little bleak at the moment. But enough about that. We said we’d ignore it. So let’s find something, anything else to talk about …
Adversity is nothing new for De’Ron Davis
Zach Osterman wrote a great piece about De’Ron Davis this week. The article begins thusly:
The tattoo starts just above De’Ron Davis’ elbow, extending all the way up his left arm past his shoulder.
A lion, roaring, his mane falling down Davis’ bicep. Underneath, the words “Ronald M. Davis.”
It’s faded now, more than two years old and settled into the skin, the way body art gets when it’s been worn for a while. For IU’s sophomore forward — a player for whom new coach Archie Miller has high expectations — the ink is a reminder.
I recommend reading the it all. You’ll feel like you know De’Ron a lot better than you do now. He’s an impressive young man.
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Archie Miller is anything but soft
Speaking of great articles, Mike Miller wrote one for the HT about IU head coach Archie Miller. It goes back to Archie’s playing days and relays stories from many of the guys Archie played with.
Let’s just say that if Archie had been a player for Indiana yesterday, our guard play wouldn’t have been nearly so inadequate and lacking in emotion and purpose. (And we’d surely have made a bunch more 3’s as well).
From his earliest moments on NC State’s campus, it was clear Miller would take charge in ways others couldn’t or wouldn’t. Underclassmen seldom both invite and embrace so much responsibility; yet, Miller’s college experience illustrated the drive, focus and toughness that would later propel him through the coaching ranks.
Long before he landed his first head coaching job at Dayton in 2011, and longer still before he received the keys to one of basketball’s most storied programs at Indiana this past spring, Miller was laying the groundwork for entering the family business.
You’ll need an H-T subscription to read this. If you don’t have one already, let this article be the one that convinces you to subscribe.
Read it here: How Miller’s playing career shaped him as coach
Okay, I guess we should at least address the elephant in the room …
“Soft” Hoosiers get embarrassed in season opener
You know what happened. And hopefully you got our postgame analysis email, so no need to rehash the gory details.
But you should definitely make sure you watch Archie’s postgame press conference. It will make you feel better.
And if you want some other perspectives on the loss, read these articles:
- Five takeaways from Indiana’s loss to Indiana State (Alex Bozich, ITH)
- IU was given a reality check against Indiana State (Michael Ramirez, IDS)
- 3 reasons IU basketball lost to Indiana State (Zach Osterman, Indy Star)
And here was Victor Oladipo’s reaction upon seeing the final score. Oof.
And with that, the joy of hanging Banner #6 is now one week closer.
Thanks for your continued support for The Assembly Call. We’ll be back next weekend with a new roundup.
Now go enjoy yourself a 6-banner Sunday.