Indiana guard fights through struggles, comes out with a ‘humbleness’

Indiana guard Devonte Green (11) drives to the basket past Rutgers guard Geo Baker (0) during the first half of a game Monday in Piscataway, N.J. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana University men's basketball coach Archie Miller directs his team against Rutgers during the first half of a game Monday in Piscataway, N.J. (By The Associated Press)
Indiana guard Devonte Green (11) brings the ball up court against Rutgers during the first half of a game Monday in Piscataway, N.J. (By The Associated Press)

Rutgers and Indiana both played a pair of emotional – yet unsuccessful – men’s basketball games Saturday against two of the nation’s best teams.

However, one team found a way to bounce back emotionally, mentally and physically 48 hours later, while the other did not.

Indiana crushed the Scarlet Knights from the outset Monday evening and eventually won 65-43 and no Hoosier player captured that level of resiliency than sophomore Devonte Green, as the Hoosiers (13-12, 6-7 Big Ten) didn’t let a frustrating 63-60 loss to then No. 5-ranked Michigan State linger.

Green endured his least impressive outing of the season recently, but instead of allowing the irritation of a terrible game affect him, he has come back with three consecutive solid outings, including Monday’s.

“I think I am just simplifying my game,” Green said following the win. “I’m going to keep doing what I’ve been doing, but much simpler.”

Simply put, Green is playing smarter and better than he was earlier this season.

The 6-foot-3 guard went through a nine-game stretch of terrible shooting (he missed 39 of 51 shots), which culminated with first-year Indiana coach Archie Miller benching him for 36 minutes in a recent loss to Purdue.

“You take a look,” Miller said following the Michigan State game, “the backcourt of (Robert Johnson, Josh Newkirk and Devonte Green), those numbers, from shooting the ball, those guys have to be more accountable.

“They’ve got to play better at times.”

Green has. Mostly.

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After missing his only shot attempt against Purdue, he had a 6-for-10 night (scoring 20 points) on the road at Ohio State, followed by another bad outing (3 of 11) against the Spartans.

But Monday, he was back on solid ground, as he hit 4 of 7 shots and played 30 minutes.

It was the first time since prior to Thanksgiving that Miller started Green and the third consecutive game in which Green had played at least 30 minutes.

Before that stretch, he hadn’t tallied that much time since an overtime win against Notre Dame in mid-December.

“That lineup deserved to be the lineup to start the game from a productivity standpoint,” Miller said of starting Green in place of freshman forward Justin Smith. “Just coming through here the last three weeks, studying some things and looking at it, I definitely wanted to go with that lineup, as we come on the road here.”

Though Green’s shooting has improved some, his decision making is what Miller has been noticing.

Green passed for five assists in a loss at Illinois and had six more against Michigan State.

On Monday, he dished four assists, while turning the ball over just twice.

“The play-making ability, I think, was missing,” Miller said of his offense, which looked spectacular at times Monday. “That is the one thing that Devonte has actually done a nice job in probably three of the last four games.”

Green has 17 assists in the past five games, which is more than he had totaled in the previous 11 combined.

“He is being able to get some guys some easy (baskets),” Miller continued. “When you have a guard out there, at times, it can make it easy to get some guys some good looks.

“That can get you off to a better start.”

Which is what happened Monday, as Indiana scored 24 of the game’s initial 32 points.

Following the disappointing game against Purdue, Green acted in a mature, team-oriented fashion. He didn’t pout or sulk. He just focused on doing better, according to Miller.

“It’s just attitude,” Miller said of Green. “He had a humbleness about him. Most guys can react in certain ways when they don’t maybe play as well, or didn’t play as much as he wanted against Purdue.

“He had a humbleness about him. He paid attention. His attention to detail in our walk-through and conversations and scouting was much better.”

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