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‘Sometimes feel disconnected in some ways’: Midway through the season, Indiana basketball is broken and it starts at the top. Can it be fixed? Time will tell.



Indiana basketball
Indiana basketball lost another game by double-figures on Friday night as the team continues to feel 'disconnected'. (Indiana Athletics)

‘Disconnected’. That’s the main takeaway following the 91-79 loss to No. 11 Wisconsin for Indiana basketball forward Malik Reneau. He didn’t hide it following the game as Indiana lost another game by double-figures where toughness, pride, discipline and leadership were lacking.

It’s been a consistent theme for this team and Friday night was no different — highlighted by yet another flagrant 2 and ejection, the fourth flagrant foul in the last four games. It was also the second Indiana basketball player ejected in the last four games.

With 12:42 left in the second half, Indiana basketball guard CJ Gunn was ejected for elbowing Wisconsin guard Max Klesmit in the face. Both players were on stranding on the wing waiting for the ball to cross half court when the incident happened. Indiana was down 61-44 at that point.

“Every time something happens on the court, X (Xavier Johnson) is there, Gallo (Trey Galloway) is there with support trying to keep us calm and motivated throughout the game,” Reneau said postgame. “We just can’t go out there — you gotta be level-headed on the court and can’t let any small thing irk you on the court.”

Indiana has now lost its seven games this season by an average of 15.7 points per game. And, yet again, there seems to be no changes in game plan, leadership or discipline.

It continues to be shown when opponents pour on large runs throughout each and every loss — including runs consisting of 36-18 and 18-4 among others on Friday. Much like large runs by Purdue, Nebraska, Rutgers, Kansas, Auburn and UConn — the theme is noticeable.

“We gotta figure out a way to be one on a court, all five of us sometimes feel disconnected in some ways,” Reneau said. “But we will fix that and get it right … this disconnect happens when they (opponents) go on their runs and I feel like we stop trusting each other. Just have to get back to the drawing board and trust the extra pass, trust our teammates to make the next play.”

More: Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson provides injury update on Kel’el Ware

How is trust expected to be built as January comes to an end — 20 games into the season?

How did it get to this point? How can you change it?

“It starts in practice. we have to go harder in practice and figure out a way to understand and apply it to the court and I feel like we aren’t doing that and that’s when they go on their runs and it’s hard to fight back,” Reneau added. “We fought back as hard as we can but it’s tough when you build that deficit and try to come back. We did It in the purdue game and most of the other losses too.”

The same, consistent message — that has been shared throughout the entire season — was discussed ad nauseam once again: ‘Need to practice harder’.

And, Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson didn’t mince words about where the energy needs to come from.

“I put it where it lies,” Woodson said postgame. “It still starts with our seniors. We got three of them. I didn’t think (Anthony) Walker was very good. Gallo had a stretch where he just was horrendous and really cost us about 10 points. So those are things that are correctable that we got to clean up if we’re gonna move forward and stay in the hunt.”

While it falls on the players — it’s time for the coaching staff to take on the responsibility.

Friday felt like a tipping point and a major crack in the shield. It was a complete meltdown and total embarrassment for Indiana basketball. Enough is enough when it comes to the players. Time for this coaching staff to step up and take on full responsibility and leadership — what it should have done a long time ago.

“I thought we fought, we didn’t quit … we gotta keep working, that’s all we can do, just keep working,” Woodson said. “We are a new team, and I’m not using that as an excuse, but we have 10 new players and were are still trying to feel each other out.

“I’m a coach, it’s my job to figure it out as a coach to get our team playing better and that’s what I’m going to do.”

SEE ALSO: Robbie Hummel on Indiana basketball: ‘Their program is better than this’

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.