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Indiana basketball happy to have depth back ahead of Big Ten play

Coming into this season, Indiana’s depth was a strong suit.

Zach McRoberts surveys the floor looking for a passing option. (Josh Eastern)

But without Zach McRoberts, Devonte Green, Race Thompson and Jerome Hunter, that depth has been hampered. It’s not only evident in games, but it’s hurt how IU has been able to practice. Green and McRoberts both returned Tuesday night in IU’s loss at Duke, which will help the Hoosiers moving forward. IU coach Archie Miller said those two would not be restricted at all moving forward, while Thompson and Hunter still don’t have a timetable to return.

Now with at least McRoberts and Green back, the Hoosiers can get back to some sort of normalcy. The amount of injuries over Thanksgiving week came to a point where Miller said he’d never seen before. That, however, is starting to change.

“I would say there’s always been at least one to two out since the beginning of November, late, late October, and pretty much every game since I think we’ve had upwards as many as five or four and as least amount as two,” Miller said. “If we have Jerome and Race sort of on the shelf right now, that’s a full practice for us. So that was (Thursday). And maybe partly before we went to Duke. So we’ve had our full team together here for the last couple, but hopefully today will go well and we can continue with that.”

The Duke loss was a low point of the month of November for the Hoosiers. Even still, Miller pointed out that Thursday was one of the best practices they’ve had in a long time. Part of the reason for that was getting bodies back in practice able to compete. Evan Fitzner pointed out that two of the biggest things the team needed to work on coming off of the Duke loss was taking care of the ball and running good offense.

Fitzner said they were starting to develop good chemistry. Then all of a sudden, there were guys gone, which slowed things down. Starting with Saturday against Northwestern, it’s a chance to get back on track moving forward.

“I think it’s very important, not only from a game aspect but it’s also helping a lot in practice,” McRoberts said on getting teammates back. “It’s one thing, you’ve got to see in a game, not having a lot of depth, but also hurts us in practice not being able to go against guys, is hard, because we don’t have a lot of subs in practice. It’s definitely helped us and I think we’ll only be more prepared because of it.”

Part of what made Thursday’s practice so good, according to Miller was, one, getting players back, and two, taking it seriously as if it was a game.

“Coming off a tough loss, what you want is you want guys that want to get back in the gym; we had that,” Miller said. “We also had our full allotment of rotation, guys in practice, where we had the ability to play longer against one another with substitutions and whatnot and we were able to really put two teams on the floor that going against one another was very competitive, so I like that.”

With Tuesday night now fully in the rear-view, Indiana can look ahead to the next four games on its schedule, all against quality opposition. That starts with Saturday’s home game against Northwestern. It’s an important game for the Hoosiers and it’s a game where the previous outcome can’t affect their play.

“We can’t lose that game twice,” McRoberts said. “We want to move on and be ready for Saturday because it matters as much now as it does in March, this game. It’s definitely, definitely important to be ready for it.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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