Welcome to the Reality Era

Last night ushered in a new era of Indiana Basketball and it wasn’t awesome. But it was real.

Indiana State, without Larry Bird (or even Jeff Bird), came into Assembly Hall and handed Archie’s Miller team a decisive and (to some) shocking 21-point loss, 90-69.

It was the first time a new head coach had lost his opener since Everett Dean lost to Indiana State 24-28.

That’s not a joke.

I looked it up.

It was in 1924.

But this isn’t about the past. It’s about now.

I spend a lot of time reveling in IU’s past. We all do. It’s fun to look back and tell the stories of yesterday. That’s why I started the Indiana Basketball – Bask IN the Day Podcast. You can subscribe here. And you should. It’s good to relive those times, those games, those stories.

Expectations

But when it comes to Archie Miller’s team, we need to focus on the present. On reality.

Not on what we hope will be true now that we hired a “real bench coach” or “a guy who knows how to teach defense.”

There has been an unreasonable and unrealistic certainty among IU fans since Archie Miller was announced as the next coach: We finally had someone who could hang that sixth banner, would stop the turnovers, would land all the top in-state recruits, would shut down the other team’s best scorers.

A certainty based on what?

Nothing that I could put my finger on.

So many people, so certain of something that just couldn’t be known.Lindy’s picked IU to finish 9th in the Big Ten and IU fans online were INSULTED.

Based on what?

Last year’s team wasn’t good and we lost our three best players, but somehow 9th was an insult.

Well, now we have something to look at that’s real. Something that actually happened. Reality.

Reality

Which is something that Miller mentioned more than once in his post-game press conference last night.

“It wasn’t the effort effort level that we’re accustomed to or the start we had hoped for, but it’s reality.”

That was in his opening statement. The first thing he said. REALITY.

There’s a reality here that must be addressed and he sees it. The fans need to see it too.

Then there was a very legitimate follow up (I wasn’t in the room, so I can’t tell who asked which questions)

Question: Coach, you talked about the effort level, I mean…

Miller: We’re soft. We’re soft on…I mean we’re just a soft team. You don’t have to sugar coat it at all. If things aren’t going well right now and you’re in an exhibition and you’re better than that team, you can cover up those mistakes. You can seal ’em up and get a little bit of fools gold.

He didn’t use the word “reality” there, but that’s what he’s talking about. The exhibition games don’t provide you with a true sense of reality. Games against real teams, teams named “State” that are actually states. Indiana State, not Northwestern State (Tom Crean’s first opponent), or Ball State (Branch McCracken AND Bob Knight’s first opponent).

Fools gold = not real.

“You’re not going to give up 90 points in your home opener if you’re playing hard as hell. You’re just not. And that’s where we’re at.”

Reality

Here was another good question.

Question: Can there be a value in having your flaws exposed so early in season?

Miller: Yeah, reality, man. You can’t make any excuses. We played a pretty good team and they exposed us in a lot of areas. We’re gonna play a lot more ‘pretty good teams’ so if the evidence of doing it the wrong way or the right way isn’t absorbed, the results are gonna stay the same.

Are you seeing it yet? Miller is telling you what I’ve been saying all summer, what Lindy’s wrote that IU fans didn’t like. This is going to be a hard season. We can get better, but when Indiana State rolls you at home, the schedule is going to be even harder than it looks.

Miller knows this. He has a plan to attack it. An approach he thinks will work, and that’s good. He didn’t seem shell shocked by what happened, which means he knows his team, knows who they are, and hopefully what it will take to make them better.

But that’s hope. We’re all about reality now.

“You can take every negative and make it a positive, but this is a reality check,” he said.

How do you start turning those negatives into positives? That’s important question between now and Sunday night against Howard (Reality – this is another Fool’s Gold type of deal. Howard isn’t good. Don’t get too excited by a big win, if one were to occur.)

“Tell the truth. Make no excuses. Move on.”

Reality. Reality. Next.

He started his press conference talking about reality and he ended it that way too.

“I’m not looking at this concerned about the future of our program, but it’s reality. We’re here. And anyone who’s smart is going to look at our schedule and say, “these guys have got their work cut out for them and let’s see what they can do.”

Well, guess what guys, I’m smart, and hopefully you are too.

These guys have got their work cut out for them and let’s see what they can do.

Jeff Taylor