ALBANY, N.Y. — Indiana’s Miller Kopp usually finds himself because the third or fourth choice within the Hoosiers offense. Often, he is likely to be standing on the perimeter ready for the ball to come back his approach. However simply 4 minutes into the primary half towards Kent State, Kopp was bored with ready round.
The senior, sporting a headscarf for the primary time this season, dug into his hips for energy and darted towards the center of the ground. Trayce Jackson-Davis, who was being double-teamed on the baseline discovered his streaking teammate. Kopp gathered his toes and attacked the rim, sending him to the foul line.
Within the grand scheme of issues, it was a easy play in a dominant win. However for Kopp, it was an indication of the sport he would have: gritty, assured and intuitive on each ends of the ground.
Within the Hoosiers’ 71-60 win over Kent State within the first spherical of the NCAA event, Kopp bought his knees scraped up. He discovered his physique on the ground a number of instances all through the night.
On high of placing up 13 factors and making three 3s, the senior performed a team-high 36 minutes and grabbed 5 rebounds. It was Kopp’s tenth sport with three or extra 3s this season.
Oh, and the scarf. The previous Northwestern switch determined within the crew’s shoot-around that he can be sporting it for Friday’s sport. However with Kopp, whose ambiguous nature creates countless leisure, there’s all the time a twist. He determined to put on it the other way up. The pink Adidas brand could have solely been learn accurately when Kopp was on MVP Enviornment’s flooring.
“If I’m sporting a headscarf, I would as effectively rock it the other way up,” Kopp stated. “Guys have been clowning me just a little bit after which a few guys gave me just a little confidence, like ‘yeah bro you look good, you kinda look good.’ That’s all I wanted to listen to.”
Perhaps the scarf gave the Houston native the boldness he wanted to carry out, or perhaps it’s been one thing that has quietly been brewing over the season. The distinction between the participant Kopp was final yr and the one he’s this yr can primarily be attributed to his consolation stage.
After transferring in final season, the 6-foot-7 ahead needed to discover his footing. After getting acquainted with Indiana’s basketball tradition and discovering his character alongside the best way, it virtually appears like evening and day. And whenever you’re extra comfy, you’re extra assured. After which the photographs begin entering into.
The fifth-year senior has began each sport since he started sporting the cream and crimson. Final season, Kopp made 39 3-pointers final season. This season, he’s made 61 and counting.
He’s additionally developed right into a much-improved defender. Whereas he could not have the quickness and athleticism to maintain up with expert gamers at his place, he performs good. His alertness and a focus to element have been on show towards the Golden Flashes.
“He’s gotten rather a lot higher on the defensive finish,” Trey Galloway stated postgame. “He can do numerous issues that don’t present up within the stat sheet. Deflections, getting on the ground, being in the suitable spot on protection is large for us… It’s been nice to only see him have a extremely good yr.”
For example of hustle, Galloway talked about an over-the-back name Kopp drew within the first half as one of many little methods he affected the sport.
There’s little question that Kopp is the perfect shooter Indiana has. And when that label is pinned on a participant and on the scouting report, it may be simple to coast into that function.
However as an alternative of doing that, Kopp has confirmed he’s greater than only a spot-up shooter. He’s a frontrunner, a superb defender and a assured participant.
Though, simply as any 44.5 % 3-point shooter may, he may all the time shoot it extra.
“Coach Woody, he’s been kinda ticking me off, however in a great way. He’s been yelling at me to shoot extra,” Kopp stated postgame. “And if I flip down a shot, I don’t hear the tip of it.”
On Friday, he let it fly. The sharpshooter has tried 5 or extra photographs from past the arc 14 instances this yr. Final yr, he solely did that eight instances. In these 14 video games, the Hoosiers have a report of 11-3. All three losses got here again in December.
From deflecting passes, drawing over the again calls and attacking the basket in the course of the ground, Kopp’s greatest attributes have been all on full show in Indiana’s win over Kent State.
The expansion in his character is vibrant. He’s held blaring audio system in his outstretched arms over his head within the locker room, he’s given his teammates ridiculous phrases to suit into their media availabilities and now he’s worn an upside-down headband. What he does subsequent would possibly shock all of us. However as he retains shocking, Indiana retains profitable.
(Picture credit score: IU Athletics)
Filed to: 2023 NCAA event, Miller Kopp