The Big LeadThe Big Lead

Indiana's Devonte Green is College Basketball's Most Puzzling Player

Devonte Green
Devonte Green plays for Indiana against Penn State | Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

It's impossible to know which version of Devonte Green you're going to get on any given night. Despite having an insane wealth of offensive ability, Green struggles to consistently show up for Indiana. Thursday night, he stepped up in a big way just when his team needed him most.

Green put Indiana on his back Thursday with an offensive explosion that led the Hoosiers to a huge 89-77 win over Iowa. He poured in 27 points in 25 minutes, hitting 7 of 11 from three-point range. As his brother Danny watched courtside, Green dominated Iowa and was the player Indiana fans have been wanting for four years.

Indiana's 89-77 win halted a four-game losing streak just before the Hoosiers head on the road for four of the next five. The team is currently 16-8 and if they are going to go on a run late in the year, Green needs to be at his best. And therein lies the issue.

Green can go nuclear as fast as anyone in the country. If he's feeling it, it's hard to beat Indiana. That was on display earlier this season when the Hoosiers dismantled Florida State, 80-64, and Green dropped 30 on 10-for-15 shooting:

Sadly, those eye-popping performances have failed to materialize regularly and has led to the senior captain coming off the bench. As Indiana head coach Archie Miller has repeatedly lamented, all he needs is some form of consistency out of Green.

In 21 contests this season Green is averaging 11.0 points, 2.7 rebounds, 2.1 assists and 1.8 turnovers per game while shooting 38.3 percent from three-point range, 39.2 percent from the field and 71.7 percent from the free-throw line. For a guy with so much natural scoring ability, those numbers simply aren't good enough. There's so much more he can give on the court.

Yes, Green scored 19 in a win over Ohio State, and had 18 and 16 in losing efforts against Maryland, but he's often been missing when Indiana needed him the most. He had just three points in a loss to Purdue, four in a loss at Penn State and was held scoreless at Rutgers. It's obvious to everyone who watches the Hoosiers that they need Green to perform if they're going win consistently. The season hinges on what he can do offensively.

Green tends to dribble too much and force off-balance shots and drives. But when he gets rolling, he's an incredible pure scorer. Indiana lacks anyone else with that kind of ability in the backcourt, therefore it desperately needs Green at his best all the time. If he could somehow rein in his hero-ball impulses and just provide consistent buckets, Indiana could be dangerous down the stretch. But in four years we have yet seen him do that consistently.

Thursday night may have been the high point of Green's college career. He was brilliant. It was nice to see after so many ups and downs. But the Hoosiers need more than a great showing here and there if they are going to make noise over the next few weeks. They don't need Green to get 27 points every night, they just need him to find a middle ground where he's contributing every game.

Against Iowa, Green looked like one of the most dangerous players in the country. He certainly has that ability in him. He only has a handful of games remaining in his college career, here's hoping he goes out with a bang.