Hoosiers focused on game plan, not being a Boiler ‘spoiler’ Confident Devonte Green makes his IU freshman mark.
Devonte Green makes his own Hoosier luck. Let’s be clear about that.
The 60-foot three-point bomb that rocked Assembly Hall during Saturday’s cliffhanger victory over Northwestern didn’t just happen.
Green, a freshman guard with a promising upside, works on it.
“I do practice those shots,” he said.
How often do they go in?
“Maybe 50-50,” he said. “But I’m 2-for-2 in the season.”
For the record, Green also made a half-court shot against Austin Peay just before Christmas.
Forget the freshman wall. Green is becoming more of a factor. He’s played at least 18 minutes in four of the last five games. Against Northwestern he had eight points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals in 23 minutes.
“I’ve been working hard in practice every day,” he said. “Proving I can be out there. Taking advantage of the opportunity.”
During IU’s 22-0 run to end Saturday’s first half, Green had eight points.
“It’s just getting into the flow of the game. Being ready. Getting warm off the bench.”
Added guard James Blackmon: “He brought a lot of confidence to the game. He made confident plays and big plays. He got us going. He really gave us a lift off the bench.”
The Hoosiers (16-13 overall, 6-10 in the Big Ten) will likely need another lift Tuesday night when they play at No. 16 Purdue (23-6, 12-4). The Boilers have a chance to clinch at least a share of the Big Ten championship with a victory.
It’s been two years since IU has played at Mackey Arena, which means Hoosiers such as Green, Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan, Freddie McSwain, De’Ron Davis and Josh Newkirk have never played there.
“We’ve been told it gets crazy,” Green said. “It gets loud. A lot of things are said. We have to keep our heads on straight. Don’t let it get to you.”
Purdue already has beaten IU in Assembly Hall, 69-64 earlier this month.
Will having a chance to spoil the Boilers’ title chances give the Hoosiers extra motivation.
“I won’t say an extra edge,” McSwain said. “We know what we have to do going in there. That’s what we have to do. Try to get a win. Worry about us.”
There’s plenty to worry about. IU has lost seven of its last nine games to fall near the bottom of the Big Ten standings. The Hoosiers have lost 10 games by seven or fewer points.
“They can beat anybody in the country,” coach Tom Crean said of his team. “That’s not debatable.
“We’re getting healthier. We’re getting better. You don’t guard the three the way we have been; you don’t guard the perimeter and the post the way we have without getting better.”
Still, turnovers continue to cost the Hoosiers, especially the ones Crean said Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle calls “catastrophic.”
“They are unguardable,” Crean said. “There’s no way to get back and stop them.That’s what has hurt us some.”
Crean continues to push optimism, and it’s not just spin. IU has three of the Big Ten’s best players in Blackmon, Bryant and Robert Johnson. It has solid players in Newkirk, Morgan, Davis and Green. It does have early season wins over Kansas and North Carolina. If it could ever figure out how to play smart and efficient at crunch time, it could make a late-season run.