BORDEN — Indiana basketball coach Archie Miller visited with several hundred IU alumni on Wednesday night at Huber’s Winery, spending most of the time addressing the future of the program as he prepares for his third season at the helm of the Hoosiers.
Miller spoke glowingly about his incoming freshmen such as McDonald’s All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis and highly-regarded shooting prospect Armaan Franklin.
But also, speaking just 15 miles from where Romeo Langford arrived on the national scene as a high school star at New Albany, Miller articulated his thoughts about Langford’s future.
“Romeo has untapped potential,” Miller said of Langford, who officially confirmed his intentions to stay in the 2019 NBA Draft earlier this week. “Physically, he’s as gifted as any guy you’re going to see. [From a] basketball perspective, he’s still young. In terms of learning the game, he’s so smart in terms of processing things. It doesn’t take him long to pick up on what he needs to do.”
Langford’s freshman season has been critiqued by many, with a keen eye focused on his 27 percent shooting from 3-point range as a glaring weakness. It’s been reported that Langford played most of the season through a thumb injury on his shooting hand that required recent surgery.
Langford’s stock has fallen as a result, at least based on the draft projections that have him going anywhere from a late lottery pick to around 20th overall.
“Coming off the season he had, his thumb is a big part of this last four or five weeks, as he’s headed into the [NBA Draft] Combine and doing his interviews. That’s where he’s really going to stand out because he’s such a great kid, he’s so humble,” Miller said. “When you sit down with him, you start to really feel like you’re dealing with a professional.”
“You’re dealing with someone who knows what’s going on around him. He’s not oblivious to what’s happening. That’s the one thing that will give him a great edge. His personality, his humility and I think he’s a very hard worker. You combine those things, he’s gonna take off. I think he’ll have a great career.”
Langford’s departure, like graduating senior Juwan Morgan, was expected, so Miller spent much of Wednesday night discussing the development of the returning guards as key for the Hoosiers’ fortunes in 2019-20.
Few freshmen come in and post the type of scoring numbers that Langford did, Miller said.
“Romeo’s freshman season, although everyone wants to nitpick it apart, [he] did some amazing things for us. His productivity as a true freshman stacked up against the college basketball world [and it] really, really looks good. The talent level, the teams he was going up against, was as good as any,” Miller said. “Those two guys [Langford and Morgan], they did their part.”
Miller looks forward to seeing growth from his backcourt players, like Rob Phinisee, Al Durham and Devonte Green, who have spent multiple years in an IU uniform.
“Guard-play is everything in college. Guard-play in the Big Ten is everything. If you look at the success level of the teams achieving at a high level right now, they’ve got terrific point guard play, they’ve got terrific shooters, they’ve got a terrific assist-to-turnover ratio,” Miller said. “Those guys, being Devonte as a senior, Al going into this third year and Rob who played a lot of minutes. Now you’ve got to bring Armaan along a little bit.”
MOREN ENJOYS RETURN TO SOUTHERN INDIANA ROOTS
IU women’s basketball coach Teri Moren, a former Indiana All-Star at Seymour, also attended Wednesday’s event in Borden.
Moren arrived in Bloomington in August of 2014 looking to build a program. She’s done just that. The Hoosiers won the WNIT in 2018 and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament, despite losing star Tyra Buss to graduation, in 2019.
“It is a process. You can’t miss a step,” Moren said. “A lot has changed in our program since the last time I was here. Anytime you can connect with some of your alum and maybe gain new fans is always good.”
The IU women’s team will bring in six newcomers, five freshmen and Notre Dame transfer Danielle Patterson, next season. The Hoosiers return four starters, but several are dealing with rehab from injuries.
“We had our share of kids that had to have some off-season stuff. They report this Monday,” Moren said. “We only have two healthy kids to do anything with, but a week from now we’ll introduce our six-person class. They’re getting acclimated to life in Bloomington and really working on their chemistry.”
ALLEN TAKING ADVANTAGE OF CHANCE TO WORK WITH COLTS
IU football coach Tom Allen discussed the opportunities the Indianapolis Colts have offered he and his coaching staff to learn from them.
“I was there last week and again today,” Allen said. “I’m really impressed with what Coach [Frank Reich] is building there. Chris Ballard is first class and has been open arms to allow us to have access to them, watching practice and talking to their coaches. [We’re] taking full advantage of that.”
IU is installing a new offense with Kalen DeBoer taking over as offensive coordinator.
“Offensively, I’m really encouraged by the rapid growth with putting in a new offense. I really like the things we’re able to do. I like the flexibility and multiplicity to maximize that group,” Allen said.