Rob Phinisee Embraces Leadership as Team Captain

Dylan Wallace

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Rob Phinisee was asked about a few things he really wants to improve on heading into his junior season at Indiana's media day, and the number one thing was leadership.

Phinisee was just announced as one of the team's four captains on Thursday night along with Al Durham, Joey Brunk and Race Thompson.

Durham was a captain with Devonte Green last year, and Joey Brunk has been praised for being vocal ever since he got to Bloomington last season.

But Phinisee and Thompson, the two juniors, have more toned down personalities. Teammates and coaches have said Thompson has had the best offseason, which has led him to step up more in the leadership regard.

Then there's Phinisee, who has been Indiana's starting point guard the last two seasons. Even before he was named captain, he was already focusing on being a better leader.

"I know we have a lot of young guys," Phinisee said. "Just taking control of the team and being that leader when we need it."

One of the more intriguing young guys Indiana has this season is five-star point guard Khristian Lander.

Lander reclassified from the class of 2021 to 2020, and even though he plays the same position as Phinisee, many believe they will play together. If Phinisee can help get Lander acclimated quicker, the better it could turn out for the Hoosiers.

"I think we'll complement each other very well," Phinisee said of Lander in late July. "He's very quick. He likes to attack on ball screens, and I feel like in the new offense we have, we'll both be able to play off each other and create for each other."

Lander agreed with those sentiments.

"I feel like we'll play really well together," Lander said of Phinisee. "I feel like both of us can play on ball and off ball, so I feel like we can play off each other very well."

The new offense Phinisee mentioned is a more spaced-out, perimeter-oriented lineup, which means guard play will be very important.

Many times during the course of last season, Phinisee stressed the important of getting into the paint more. With this offense, that becomes even more vital to the junior guard.

"I feel like that's one of the main things for our offense," Phinisee said. "Me just getting in the paint, that just open things up for everybody."

It's no secret Phinisee has dealt with a slew of injuries over the course of his two seasons, but right now, he said it's the best he's ever felt in awhile.

He believes he is taking good care of his body, which is a reason the other two goals for him to improve on this season are to be more of a scorer and play with more consistency.

"Obviously, I feel like injuries affected that more than anything," Phinisee said of his consistency. "I feel like I've been on top of my body, and just being in the gym more."

An aggressive Phinisee always bodes well for Indiana. Countless times during his career he has made big shots or big defensive stops to help Indiana win games down the stretch.

His mentality this offseason to improve in all those areas is why his teammates chose him to be one of the four captains, and if his play translates on the court, Indiana should be in good position.

"I feel like the more aggressive I am, the better we play," Phinisee said.

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