My Two Cents: Is This the Start of One Last Magical Run for Devonte Green?

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — This whole Good Devonte/Bad Devonte thing is real. It really is. That's just who Devonte Green is. 

We saw Good Devonte for most of Thursday night's huge home win over No. 21-ranked Iowa. He caught fire early when Indiana really needed a boost, and he stayed hot — for the most part — and made good decisions — for the most part — throughout the 89-77 win. 

He scored 27 points, his second-highest total of the season, and proved once again that when Indiana needs a quick-strike offense in a must-win game, he's the ONLY ONE who can provide it in a matter of minutes.

We also know after four years of this — or is it forty? — that these moments can be fleeting. After all, we've seen it in living color in just the past month. Prior to Thursday, in six of the past nine games, Green scored only 13 points TOTAL in those six games. He shot 5-for-38 from the field, a brutal 13.1 percent,  and 2-for-19 from 3-point range, an even worse 10.5 percent.

Really good. Or really bad. He's the ultimate shake-my-head Hoosier.

"Devonte is a unique guy. He really is,'' Indiana coach Archie Miller said. "He's a smart guy. He's got a good IQ. And when he's engaged, he's really good. But when he gets lethargic, down on himself or starts to look around funny, I think you can see a different player out there. 

"But we don't have time for that right now, and I think he realizes that. In talking with him this week, we don't really have time for him to be feeling this thing out. He's got to hit the afterburner here and try to push through for us.''

He sure does. There are only seven games left in the regular season, and four of the next five are on the road, where the Hoosiers have struggled all year. They need Green to stay hot, something he hasn't done all year.

But he has done it before. Remember last year, once Romeo Langford checked out for the rest of the season? Green scored in double figures in Indiana's last seven games, including scoring 26 points in the Big Ten Tournament loss to Ohio State where an NCAA bid was on the line.

It can happen. But can it happen again?

"I think Devonte starts and stops with his ability to show up ready to compete in practice. He's a competitive guy. And I don't think that he's practiced very well through his down times,'' said Miller, who's shown his frustration with his senior captain often this year. "I think he lets things get on him. He's hard on himself. He gets down. Sometimes he's frustrated. But I think it carries over into the everyday process with him, that 'I'm not playing real well right now. We'll see, whatever.'

"He doesn't have that fire where he just comes flying out the next day, like 'here I come.' I wish he had that. When he does, puts some things to the side and says, all right, it's about winning and the team; I've got to come to practice and work. I can tell when he's looking to playing well.''

Miller said he saw that out of Green this week after the Hoosiers sleep-walked through a rivalry game with Purdue that should never happen, especially on a day when Assembly Hall was abuzz with the return of the legend, Bob Knight.

"After the Purdue game, I think we all felt like, obviously, not very good. And I think he took the approach this week, like, 'my team needs me.' '' Miller said. "And he stepped up and did a good job leading into the game, not just tonight. He did a good job leading into the game in the couple of practices that we had.

"The key for him is let's just move on to this next one because I've said this throughout the course of his career. He's had four or five games in a row or a month in a row where he's played great his entire career.  This year he's yet, in my opinion — and he knows this because I talked to him — he's yet to string together a back-to-back, two in a row, three in a row.'' 

Since there is only seven games left, we can't wait for too long. Green, quite frankly, needs to play well on Sunday at Michigan ... and take it from there.

"We're at that time now where you can't wait three more weeks to come back around. You've got to come back around now,'' Miller said of Green. "The whole key for him is just come back to work tomorrow, be focused and get ready to go. It's not about how many you got tonight; it's about, can you be really good at Michigan on Sunday?''

"We have to find a way to get him consistent. No question about it, You talk about an X factor with our team, how the difference of some of the plays, shots he makes, when he's playing good basketball, how much it helps our team.  He makes plays that other guys can't. But we need consistency out of him. I'm not telling you guys anything different that I don't tell him.''

The hardest part about watching Green over the course of a long season is that you just never know what you're going to get. There were even moments Thursday night where he was out of control again and you wondered, even on a good night, if Miller was going to give him the hook.

The best, and most honest, description of what to expect from Green is to keep it simple. Be a knock-down shooter when he's open — he's one of the best in the league on open looks — but avoid playing out of control, even for just a minute or two at a time. 

In other words, let the game come to him instead of forcing everything so much.

"I got a lot of open shots early. We moved the ball well and spaced them out, spaced the zone out. Once I started hitting I got hot and it was on from there,'' Green said. "It's just a good feeling when you see one and two and three and four go in, it's like, I'm going to shoot it again. I'm going to shoot it until I miss it. And then I'm going to shoot it again. So that's basically what it feels like.''

That's Green. He's a shooter. He's a showman. And that's what he was Thursday night, in front of his big brother Danny Green,  the standout shooter for the Los Angeles Lakers.

" I just came out there, I was going to play hard and do what I was trying to do regardless,'' Green said when asked if having his brother in  the house was added motivation. "But it was good to see him, and good to have him here. He doesn't get to come to many games I'm glad I had a good night while he was here.''

Those good nights? Yes, they're wonderful. And let's hope they're more plentiful. It'd be a great way to head out the door in a month or so.  

Related Indiana basketball stories

  • Indiana 89, Iowa 77: Green's 27 leads Hoosiers past No. 21 Iowa. CLICK HERE
  • TOM BREW COLUMN: Accountability a key component of leadership. CLICK HERE
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