My Two Cents: I'll Gladly Take the Good with the Bad with Devonte Green

Tom Brew

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The candy-stripe boys were riding down the escalator at Simon Skodjt Assembly Hall after Indiana's thrilling 80-64 win over Florida State Tuesday night. There were laughs and smiles and high-fives all around.

And there was also this:

"Devonte Green might be my least favorite great Indiana player of all-time,'' the one guy said. The others just nodded.

That's not a new take, really, because Green, Indiana's senior guard and team captain, has been that kind of player since he's been here. Not the great, but the toxic. He can really be frustrating to watch, especially when he's dribbling and dribbling and dribbling, or letting a penetrator simply drive by unchecked.

But then there is good Devonte, and we got a whole lot of that Tuesday night in what might have been the most important win of Archie Miller's career at Indiana. After a month of cupcakes to start Year 3 of the Miller era, this matchup with the No. 17-ranked Seminoles was meant to be something of a litmus test. 

Where the Hoosiers any good?

Could they play with a legit top-15 or so team?

Did they have the horses to knock down a bigger and, let's be honest, more talented team?

The answers were yes, yes, and yes. And Green was THE horse. The stud. He scored 30 points and singlehandedly carried the Hoosiers for long stretches in the big win, which was part to the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.

Green was impressive — to everyone.

"He just had one of those nights, and you know you’re going to run into one or two of them throughout the course of the year. Unfortunately for us, he had it tonight,'' Florida State coach Leonard Hamilton said of Green. "I thought he did a great job of just being in the moment. It seemed like everything he threw up there, especially from three, was going in.

"This was a very important game for them and I thought he got himself mentally into that zone that sometimes great shooters will get into. You hate to run into them. You’d like to have a few of them on your team yourself, but tonight was his night and honestly, he had a huge difference in the game.”

He sure did. Green made 10 of 15 shots, including 5 of 7 from 3-point range. They were tough shots, too, but he kept finding a way. He hit three straight 3-pointers late in the first half that helped send the Hoosiers out to a 15-point lead.

He was, without question,  the best player on the floor.

He was also the most frustrating player on the floor too in the second half. We've all seen the "Devonte feeling it'' guy, and we've seen it a bunch. Once he gets into that scorer's mode, he wants the ball and he won't give it up. The offense stalls around him, and bad things — like four second-half turnovers — happen. Bad things — like 12 team turnovers in the second half — happen.

And then he nails a couple more shots and it's ballgame over.

That's Devonte.

And if the question is, can you take the good with the bad with Devonte, the answer is damn right I can. He was electric Tuesday night, and the raucous Hoosier crowd was into it, firmly convinced that this was indeed a huge game for this program, for this one night and also for going forward.

I'll take this Devonte and not even think twice. The rest? Grin and bear it. He learns from it, too.

"Every shot is a good shot,'' Green said with a laugh when asked about some of the tough shots he hit. "I think every player feels a hot hand, and it's just something you feel. I can't explain it. Shots were dropping tonight, so I guess I just had the hot hand.''

His teammates have seen Green like this before. We all saw a lot of it down the stretch a year ago too, where he carried Indiana through the finish once Romeo Langford went down. So when he gets hot, just admire it.

"When he's hot, he doesn't miss. In practice, in games, he's a microwave, so you've just got to let him keep playing,'' said Indiana forward Justin Smith, who had 14 points and was huge defensively and on the board.

"Green light, for sure,'' said freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis, who had 15 and held his own against Florida State's massive front line.

What we know for sure is that when Green has nights like this, Indiana is going to be tough to beat. They are 8-0 now, and have that signature win we weren't sure we'd see after that easy November schedule.

Hamilton, who's already played a brutal schedule, is a big fan of this Indiana team. They're going places, he said.

"There’s no doubt that this is the best team we’ve played up till this point. I thought they showed that Indiana is on its way back,'' said Hamilton, who's already beaten Florida, Tennessee and Purdue this year. "You have to give them credit. I thought the players played with exceptional amount of energy and focus. I thought they were very focused in their game plan. We forced some turnovers, but we could not make them pay on turnovers because we didn’t cash in on those. 

"When you’re on the road against a really good team like this, that’s what happens. I think they are definitely a top-25 ranked team. I think they are going to be a NCAA Tournament team and I think the fans can be very proud and happy that they are showing signs of coming back to the Hoosier style of ball they’ve been accustomed to over the years.''

Related items

  • Highlights from the Indiana-Florida State game.
  • Game story from Indiana's 80-64 win over Florida State. CLICK HERE