by Kent Sterling
The truth always lies in the middle someplace, and as the chief potentate of Indiana Basketball Tom Crean isn’t as bad a coach as his critics believe nor as good as his ardent supporters assert.
This morning the critics voices are loudly decrying last night’s miserable collapse in Bloomington at the hands of Big Ten cellar dwelling Penn State (at least the Nittany Lions were in the basement before last night’s game).
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How bad a collapse was it? The Hoosiers led by 11 points until D.J. Newbill hit a three-pointer with 2:25 left, and took a nine-point lead with 2:09 left on an Evan Gordon free throw. From that point forward, Indiana scored zero points on two field goal attempts, four turnovers, and no free throw attempts.
I can’t remember watching a game – ever at any level – where a team lost a lead as Indiana did without missing foul shots. For Penn State to erase a nine-point deficit in two minutes without fouling is incredible. Indiana made a series of boneheaded plays that have reaffirmed the cases made by many Hoosiers fans who have never bought what Crean has sold.
Two backcourt violations, three turnovers on inbounds plays (including a critical five-second call on Jeremy Hollowell with 2:06 left), and a silly foul by Stanford Robinson also with 2:06 left have caused fans to look to Crean as not only the reason for that loss but for what they perceive to be the underachievement of the last two Indiana teams. Never mind the first outright Big Ten Championship in 20 years, bad games against eventual champion Kentucky and Final Four qualifier Syracuse in the Sweet Sixteen, fans wanted a championship out of Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Jordan Hulls, and Christian Watford.
They didn’t get one, so the wolves are howling.
Because I’m not joining the loudening chorus of those who would like to see Indiana move in another direction with a new leader, I’m now seen as a Tom Crean apologist.
That’s a baffling development I didn’t see coming. I’m no one’s champion, and I’m sure as hell no one’s lap dog.
A championship or bust mentality is the way Kentucky has turned into what it has become. Maybe I’ve grown soft as I’ve grown up, by I don’t demand the poleaxing of a coach after every negative result.
The negatives are mounting, and the intellectual development of players seems to have stagnated, but the positives are still profound. The players graduate, none have been in trouble for quite awhile, they have beaten two top ten teams in the last month, and despite losing 70% of their scoring from last year have been competitive as the freshmen physically matured.
There are holes in the performance of the team and in the recruiting of Indiana kids, but overall the work that Crean has done in Bloomington for the nearly six years he has been there has been quite good. Would it have been great to get Gary Harris and Trey Lyles? With Harris, there is no doubt he would have been force for good on many levels as a representative of Indiana University. With Lyles, who decommitted from IU and will attend Kentucky, who knows. We’ll see.
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If Noah Vonleh leaves for the NBA, that will be three lottery picks in two years for Indiana, which shows that Crean and his staff are recruiting and developing players at a high level. The flip side is that if Vonleh leaves, who is going to man the front gout for Indiana – Hanner Mosquiera-Perea and Peter Jurkin? Great question.
Indiana’s Academic Progress Rate was a perfect 1,000 for the 2009-2012 period. That is the demand from fans and the administration, and Crean has implemented a culture where kids perform in the classroom. That is the least that should happen for the players, whose only compensation continues to be their education.
Would a sixth championship banner look nice in Assembly Hall? Absolutely. Was last night a miserable train wreck of a loss that can’t be explained without pointing a finger at Crean and every single player on the floor over the last 2:30? You bet. A disappointing berth in the NIT is almost a given, which is a significant step back.
But before we turn as red in the face as the non-white stripes on our warm-ups, take a step back and evaluate Crean’s entire body of work. Just as important, think about who athletic director Fred Glass could get to come down to Bloomington to run things if Crean was told to clean out his office. Brad Stevens is making big money coaching the Boston Celtics. Who’s next on your list – Shaka Smart? Gregg Marshall?
Yes, Indiana is 14-10 with home losses to Northwestern and Penn State, and that’s disheartening to everyone, but a basketball season is like a novel with 32 separate and distinct chapters. I’m not putting the book down until I see how the damn thing ends.
Redemption requires adversity, and the Hoosiers have provided half of that dynamic. Let’s watch the last 25% of this narrative before judging where the Indiana Basketball program is, and how Crean fits as the pilot.
If that makes me an apologist, it also makes those calling for Crean’s head on a spit reactive hot heads.
Here’s the problem, though. It’s not “championship or bust” that Crean is failing. He’s failing on nearly every in-game coaching level possible, doesn’t make adjustments, has no game plan, and he can’t develop a big man.
And the statement that “sure we’d be better with Harris” is something we can no longer be sure about, because we are starting to see that Crean is not developing his players. In fact, it seems the best thing Harris ever did was avoid playing for Crean. We had two top 5 draft picks last year and barely made it past the second round of the NCAAs and didn’t even compete against Syracuse.
And yes, I’m glad the players graduate and do well academically. Terrible players could do that too. We’re talking basketball here.
As an IU alum, I’m really confused why everyone is blaming Tom Crean. After all, he was a mediocre coach at Marquette save for a final four run. IU hired him because nobody else wanted the job. It’s not as if he was a coveted basketball mind others were beating down the door to hire.
All of the hiring decisions after the Knight firing have been troubling. Davis didn’t possess the experience, Sampson was a known scoundrel, and Crean was a marginal coach at Marquette. The best thing Fred Glass can do is give him one more year as a courtesy for digging IU out of the mess made by Sampson and the IU administration.
Let’s face it, inept decision making over the past 10 years has led us to this mess.
As far as recruiting, Crean and company have singed some nice players, yet they’ve also let many slip away. The current freshmen (except Vonleh) are quite average and have not gotten better throughout the season. The word is out this staff cannot develop players, thus the mass exodus of homegrown talent.
As Bryan alluded to, last year’s team barely made it past the second round with two lottery picks, eventually being embarrassed by Syracuse.
Tom Crean should not be blamed because he’s an average basketball coach; rather, the institution should be faulted for allowing the program to sink so low as to settle for average basketball coaches.
I’m not an apologist. I’m not a basher. It would be terrific if the Hoosiers get on a run, win the Big Ten Tourney, and advanced to the final 8. The reality, we’re NIT bound, Vonleh is leaving, a freshman or two will transfer, and Yogi Ferrell will be left shouldering the weight.
Your points about Davis and Sampson are absolutely right, and the same may be true about Crean. Until the season ends, making a judgment is premature. Over the first five years, Indiana ascended. There were lapses, but that’s the case for every coach. Widely thought to be one of the best coaches in college basketball history, Mike Krzyzewski’s Duke Blue Devils lost to 15-seed Lehigh in the first round of the 2012 NCAA Tournament. Did that make him a bad coach? Of course not. Crean built the team that won the Hoosiers first outright Big Ten Championship in 20 years.
Jordan Hulls came to Indiana as a kid thought to be way short of a contributor for an elite team. Indiana was really good his junior and senior year with him playing 30+ minutes. That was a righteous job of helping a kid develop his game.
Chris, you seem to forget the last 7 years of Bob Knight, his NCAA performances were worse than Crean’s of the last two years. This goes back further than the last 10 years.
Crean being average at Marquette? He took Marquette to a Final Four for a program that hadn’t been there since 1977. He took them to 5 NCAA trips in 7 years, a feat that hadn’t been done since Al McGuire and left a stacked team for Buzz Williams to continue on.
I fully agree that coach can not develop players especially big men. With the exception of Victor who has gotten better each year they have played at IU. Cody never got stronger, never developed past his high school training, Christian never learned to protect the ball down low, just look at all the times the ball was knocked loose. Sheehey is not the player this year he has been in the past. Jurkin why is he even on the team. Perea where is his minutes? Hollowell, isn’t playing anybetter this year. I don’t even want to go into game time coaching, or game time substitutions. Mediocre may be all to kind.
He can’t develop players, but Victor Oladipo was drafted #2, Cody Zeller was #4, and Vonleh is projected sixth? By what metric aren’t players being developed? Jordan Hulls became a 1,000 point scorer, and Christian Watford became a winning player.
Why would Harris not playing for Crean be good for him? It was good for Oladipo.
It’s not like freshmen are walking into Assembly Hall as blue chippers, and leaving as chumps. Rankings are squirrelly, but Vonleh was ranked #13 in the 2013 recruiting class, and is now looking to be drafted inside the top ten. Oladipo was #150 and Zeller was #14. None left, or will leave worse for the experience.
As far as a game plan, no one bitched after the Michigan game about a game plan. Nik Stauskas scored six points, and Indiana beat a team that was undefeated in the Big Ten.
If you want to blast Crean for being able to get his team to successfully inbound the ball three times in the last three minutes last night, that’s great. It was a disaster. Blowing him up for player development is ridiculous.
Let’s be really honest about “development” here. Are we really arguing that Zeller was developed by Crean? He never got stronger under the basket, he consistently got into trouble dropping his shoulder rather than going up strong and drawing fouls. He was drafted purely on development capability, something the NBA does quite a bit. He’s a 7 ft white guy who can shoot and has good footwork. But he didn’t get better under Crean. His draft stock was top 10 as a freshman, and top 10 as a sophomore. And he hasn’t had a very strong rookie season. Just because he was drafted high doesn’t mean he was developed at all. By end of Sophomore year he should have been unstoppable.
Vonleh was a stud the minute he came into the program but he hasn’t gotten better. He is not dominating games, and as we can tell an IU win is largely determined by whether or not Yogi’s shots are falling.
Oladipo developed himself. We all know that. Crean saw potential that no one else saw, and hooray for that. We all know Crean is a skilled recruiter. But everyone knows Oladipo’s development was based on his tenacity and consistently insane work ethic. Crean didn’t make Oladipo a better basketball player. Oladipo refined his own raw talent.
His game plan against Michigan was one of his best but it was totally an outlier and you have to be purposefully ignoring reality if you’re not upset with Crean’s insane substitution patterns, his incredibly confusing refusal to change tactics when you have things like a 6 minute scoring drought and, the worst, his knack for taking out players when they’re hot (see every Wisconsin game last year). Hell, look at taking Vonleh out in the last minute of the Wisconsin game. Bo Ryan immediately schooled Crean by going inside. Was Vonleh tired or in foul trouble? No. There was no explanation and we’re lucky it didn’t cause us to lose.
Couple of things, Bryan. You can’t debit Crean for some of the players not improving, and then not credit Crean for the kids who do develop. If one is true, the other must be also. The development of the players is in large determined by personal work ethic. No coach can develop a kid who isn’t committed to his own development. Hulls and Watford improved also, and Zeller became a physically stronger player because of the weight programs developed by Crean’s staff. Was Zeller more comfortable facing the basket? Yes, and so is Vonleh. Both have bodies for the pivot and brains of wings. Vonleh is truly a high school senior leading the Big Ten in rebounding. Does Crean get all the credit for that? Of course not, but he recruited him, developed a plan for Vonleh that he executed from the time he committed, and is trying to teach him the game as quickly as possible.
The other thing is there was an explanation for inserting Etherington into the lineup for Vonleh late in the Wisconsin game. Crean told me after the media gathering he anticipated Ryan trying to run a set for Kaminsky to rotate out and take a three. Wisconsin trailed by four. They adjusted to the substitution, fed Kaminsky on the block, and Etherington fouled to allow the three-point play. Given the result, the strategy looks flawed in hindsight, but there was an explanation.
Hulls and Watford improved from decent prospects to good stock for European ball. That doesn’t really mean Crean was a master player developer. The huge talent, the guys with real expectations, did not turn into world beaters. Cody was a huge disappointment and is not having a very stellar rookie NBA season. I don’t think Cody got any better over the course of 2 years. I don’t see how anyone can argue he did. You really can’t talk about “weight training.” IU has amazing facilities and any coach would have access to great training staff and ability to physically develop his players. Come on. If you don’t want to sound like an apologist, why are we talking about non-basketball related items?
And having an explanation for Etherington coming into that game doesn’t mean he was within reason. He can explain all of his bizarre substitutions, but they may not be plausible. Are we really arguing there was wisdom behind taking out a top-50 recruit big man who could help shut down the inside (a higher percentage shot area with more foul “and 1” potential) in order to have defense on the perimeter to stop the 3 (a low percentage affair) and that was the right move in the game’s final minutes? If so, you’ll have to help me out, because to me the math doesn’t work.
Zeller improved as a rebounder in his second season, but only marginally as a scorer. Not sure how you can call a kid who was on pace to score 2,300 points if he stayed four years a huge disappointment. He was second team consensus All-America, led the Big Ten in several categories, and was in the top five in most.
When Hulls came to Indiana, he was a decent prospect for getting a degree and getting a job as an athletic trainer.
I’m talking about non-basketball related items because at Indiana they are important. That students get degrees is important. That they are bona fide college students is important. That is the Indiana culture Bob Knight built, and it’s one of the legacies of Knight’s that the university should cling to.
I didn’t say that Crean’s explanation for subbing Etherington for Vonleh was inspired, and he didn’t either. You wrote that there was no explanation. I corrected you because there was one.
Jeez, ALL these comments about what Crean is/ isn’t, IU s past/ future etc, Im merely trying to point out what everyone seems to be confirming anyway. Breakdowns of epic proportions late in games that IU had built significant leads in are EXPLAINABLE….The starting 5 is a good one….that’s why they’re building leads. And they’re quite capable of playing ALOT longer than the time being “allotted ” them. We were lucky to have wrestled Troy Williams from North Carolina, and I have to believe he’d be seeing significant time there….It would be GREAT if indeed there was NO dropoff in talent as you go down our bench and that each player had the talent/ experience to pick up where the starters left off……….but such is not the case. I’d suggest to coach ” don’t worry about being an equal opportunity coach……just win”
Why does Tom Crean take guys out when they are hot. Troy Williams, why was he out of the game so long. Hey, lets put Hollowell in! He can’t even throw the ball in. I think it’s time for changing of the Coach!! not the guards
It’s as if he’s ( Crean) promised everybody play time….he’s blown 4 major leads that the ” starters” had gotten, only to blow it with subs that have proven to turn the ball over under pressure…WHY did Williams sit? He was ruling the first half…no foul trouble… Love the program….beginning to doubt the coach
Anytime you have a team dominated by Freshmen and Sophomores, you are going to get results like last night. This year’s team is a product of the matriculation of Zeller, Oladepo, Watford, and Hulls. I have to believe that if Zeller and Oladepo were still on the team this year, we would have been able to in-bound the basketball last night. In many ways, Indiana’s downfall has been the product of its success in attracting top-flight players to come to the school. Are you going to recommend sacking Crean for that?
Maybe Indiana’s approach in recruiting should be different. Maybe Indiana should go after less talented recruits who will stay for four years. Anyone agree with that? Changing the coach now is ridiculous.
The great Miles Brand and the NBA hardship draft ruined Indiana basketball, probably for many decades (or forever). In 1976, Coach Knight told us to look at closely at the team at that time. We said that we would probably never see another team like it again. He was right. Hoosiers, get used to it . You are in a different time with different circumstances. Enjoy what you have and quit complaining.
I’m not going to enjoy home losses to Penn State and Northwestern. Moreover, not real excited about recruiting less talented players. The next thing you know, we’ll be offering scholarships to players transfering from IU East, Kokomo, and South Bend. There are major programs winning with Freshman and Sophomores. The difference is coaching.
My life will not change that much if Crean sticks around for 4 more years and we never make it out of the second round. Heck, if we make the NIT this year at least we’ll be playing basketball in late March.
Louisville became relevant again when Pitino replaced Denny Crum, who won two titles along with 6-7 final four appearnces. This is a rarity in college basketball, but it took landing a Rick Pitino to get back to dominating their conference, 3 final fours and a national title.
You gotta aim high sports fans. IU has the tradition, but lacks the vision.
Wanting to be like Rick Pitino. It appears to me you have forgotten the IU tradition and lack the vision.
Some one needs to make Crean look at the play back and note when the train wreck begins in every game. His subsitutions are unbelieveable. Once again last night just when the starters are working well, he decides to put in the second team. Everytime this year the turnovers happen because of the subs. These guys are 18 year men who are all in great shape. They don’t need to be taken out en masse at the wrong times. And while I am on a role, put Hollowell on the end of the bench and leave him there. Put him behind a wall so Crean can’t see him. It is obviously too tempting to put him in. How many Div.I teams can’t get the ball in bounds three times in 2:00. Zero!! By the way my 93 year old mom knows this stuff. The problem must be obvious.
This is entirely Crean’s fault. I am starting to think about Davis and Crean in the same sentence which is when my headache starts.
Take an Advil or two and think happy thoughts about the baseball team’s berth in last year’s College World Series. Last year, the criticism of Crean was because he never subbed and By the first of March their legs were gone. He subbed similarly during the Michigan game, and everything was fine. He’s trying to find the right pieces of the puzzle, and it seems they just don’t fit well together. So before next season, we’ll see some new pieces come in, and some others bounce.
Never subbed? No players averaged more than 30 minutes all year. That’s absurd.
There were games early in the season where the game was long over, and Crean kept Zeller, Hulls, Watford, Oladipo, and Ferrell on the floor. Later in the season, those minutes caught up to the Hoosiers.
Kent, these are peak athletes. I don’t think a game in December where the starters played too much affected their legs in February or March. I’m in my 30s and have run 3 marathons in 3 months with increasingly better times each time out, and I’m not nearly as athletic as these guys.
And even if you’re correct, then that is a coaching problem.
It’s tough to tell kids who want to work their asses off to not work, especially for a guy like Crean whose biggest point of differentiation is his work ethic. I do think Crean miscalculated, but that opinion was gained through watching games on TV from St. Louis, so I could be way off.
Last year’s #1 team, not a single player averaged more than 30 minutes per game. Players like Aaron Craft averaged upwards of 34-35. How unbelievable is that? Does Crean not think that 18-20yr old athletes in peak physical condition can handle more than 75% of game minutes? It’s incredibly frustrating.
Every kid is different because of their physical capacities. Wednesday night, three kids played 34+ minutes. How’d that work out? If Indiana had beaten Syracuse, everyone would have said that Crean’s rotation throughout the year was genius. They won the Big Ten outright. One year ago, no one was moaning about rotations. Either he’s smart, a dolt, or somewhere in between. He’s no dumber than he was a your ago.
Yes but let’s talk about the specific kids and not generalities. Oladipo last year, and Troy Williams this year, are arguably the most athletic players IU has ever seen. They can both handle 34 minutes and should never leave the court unless gassed or in foul trouble (or we’re leading double digits).
And if you’re a stats guy at all you can’t use Wednesday’s singular example of 34 minutes not working when the whole damn game was lost in the last 2 minutes in a spectacular mental collapse. You need a larger sample size. Being a sports guy, you know that.
Need a bigger sample size that than all games themselves. Practices are the keys to playing time, and we don’t see those. Williams is not disciplined enough defensively to play 30+ minutes.
Fair enough, hard to argue when we just can’t know for sure if our methods would work better. Having watched every game I could since I was 8 years old, I guess I just see in-game decisions from Crean that I’m unable to explain and when we lose, it seems like the easy thing to do is point to those decisions I find bizarre.
Do you think losing Cheaney has had an effect on the bench atmoshpere and maybe development in practice? I miss seeing him on the sidelines.
Kent, I respect your opinion, but lets debate a few things. Crean did not develop Cody Zeller nor Noah Vonleh, both would have been drafted out of high school. Oladipo and Wade yes, but there are hundreds of players in the NBA so I guess we have to give credit to their college coaches for developing them as well. “The work that Tom Crean has done in six years has been quite good.” Ok that would be 3 overall losing seasons and a potential 4th this year. Also this will most likely be Creans 4th losing big ten record something Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo and Thad Matta have never had, heck even Mike Davis only had one losing big ten season. Kent, in what year would you reasonably expect IU to get to the final four, that’s all a lot of fans are asking.
Did Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo or Thad Matta ever inherit a Big Ten team that had one DI player on it that played less then 35 minutes in his entire career?
What year would it be reasonable to expect IU to get to the Final Four? In the last 7 years of Bob Knight, did he ever get out of the first weekend? It isn’t a birthright. Has Steve Alford pushed any of his programs past the first weekend in the last 5 years? It is crazy, unhinged IU fans that give the sane ones a bad name.
Brad Stevens back to back championship games and quit using the “inherited worst program in history of college basketball” you sound like an Obama supporter.
I have no expectation they will get to the Final Four. Even last year they were too run down for anyone to legitimately expect high quality play in March. There are 65 teams from the FBS schools who are all doing everything they can to get to the Final Four, and Indiana isn’t good enough as a program to beat the teams necessary to get there. That doesn’t mean it will never happen, or can’t happen regularly, but that in a world where Kentucky loses in the first round of the NIT at Robert Morris, and the year before Duke – a #2 seed – gets beat by LaSalle as a #15, expecting a run to Dallas, Indy, or wherever the Final Four is played will make for a lot more disappointment than glory.
My point about development is that fans can’t say Crean hasn’t developed anyone by pointing at Derek Elston or Matt Roth, and then dismiss what Zeller, Oladipo, Watford, Hulls, and Ferrell (so far) have become because they all built themselves. And I would have been surprised if Vonleh had been drafted. He was very skinny and only the 13th ranked HS player in his class.
Crean had zero chance to win during his first two seasons. Everything that happened during the first four year was to rebuild. The fifth year was a payoff. Grading Crean down for the clean slate he built from is unfair.
Are there flaws? Does he micromanage? Sure, but I believe he’s a better coach today than he was three years ago.
OK fair enough, but we are in year 6 with 2 McDonalds All-americans and multiple 4 star players and Indiana is looking at a 5-13, 6-12 or 7-11 season in conference. So once again Bo Ryan, Tom Izzo and Thad Matta have NEVER had a losing record in conference. Ok another question when does Crean and you get to stop using the “inherited worst disaster in Indiana Basketball history excuse.” I mean year 10,15,20,30 what is it.
That excuse should have died last year for the record of the 2012-2013 team – and beyond. The excuse that he had a total rebuild in 2008 continues to explain the records of his first three seasons.
Nobody cares about the first two years. Few coaches would have had more success. But what’s this about a team being too run down to compete? Didn’t everyone else in the tournament play a similar number of games going into March? These guys were #1 most of the year! They were a one seed!
Indiana plays an uptempo game that is different from the majority of the teams in the Big Ten. It’s not just about the minutes, but the ground covered with intensity during those minutes.
That was a tired team in the second half of the Ohio State game, and with the brief exception of the Michigan game, they never recovered. Was it a result of ruthlessly exacting practices, poor aerobic conditioning, players working too hard on their own? I don’t know, but that was a team without legs at the end of the season.
I know of a high school team a few years ago that was #1 in the state. They won a very close game in mid-February where they played poorly. The coach ran them for three hours until kids collapsed and vomited. Their legs were gone and never came back. There are a lot of things that can cause fatigued legs, but once they go – they’re gone.
Good article. As a graduate of Marquette and Indiana my basketball fortunes have been tied to Coach Crean for 15 years. How soon people forget he was ESPN’s National Coach of the Year just two years ago, Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year, resurrected a disaster at IU, took Marquette to its only Final Four by a coach not named Al McGuire.
Is he perfect? Does he make you want to scratch your head at times? All coaches do at point or another. Brad Stevens was brilliant when leading his team to the CBI tournament. John Calipari was Woodenesque leading Kentucky to the NIT in 2013. Buzz Williams squad was picked to steamroll the new Big East this year and they are not even a bubble team right now.
Developing players? Instead of taking the word of some of the commenters here, why not ask the players themselves? Dwyane Wade says Crean was the reason he got to the NBA. Oladipo credits Creans more than anyone. It appears the detractors want it both ways, which is hardly surprising.
etherington sub against Wisconsin. yes there was a reason. that’s the whole problem. that reasoning was deeply flawed. why was jordan hulls in the game last year against butler? he was our worst defender and we didnt need points. we needed to stop one shot. thats all. why leave the weakest defender on the floor? tom crean coaches a system. he expects the players to adapt to his system to get the most out of his system. he cannot adjust his system to get the most from his players. this in a nutshell is the paramount quality of a bad coach. I last played basketball in 5th grade. I could coach victor oladipo to the lottery. it is not championship or bust. it is we havn’t hung an ncaa banner in 27 years and that’s not ok. THAT is a bust. this university should compete for a title every year. tom crean will not be able to do that. yes he can recruit but he cannot get the most out of those recruits. he cannot coach on a micro level. tom crean is a stepping stone. he is not the answer for Indiana basketball. creanball is fun to watch but all the pieces have to fall in place. tom crean cannot put them in place. im not a hothead. give him two more years to alleviate contract financial burdens and start scouting now. find the answer. hang banners.
Are you one of those fans that only recognizes the losses? Do you acknowledge his coaching acumen when they beat Michigan twice last year, already beat them this year, beat Wisconsin this year, beat Michigan State twice, Kentucky, etc? Or are those wins because of the players and the losses are because of Crean?
The university should compete for a title every year? Under Bob Knight they didn’t? Duke doesn’t. Kentucky doesn’t. North Carolina doesn’t, yet you think IU should be competing for a title every year? No wonder why every coach at IU since Knight has failed to meet expectations, the fans are nuts.
allow me to clarify. Indiana should be grouped with duke Kentucky Kansas Louisville and Carolina. teams that have won titles in modern history and are simply the elite group of programs that tend to be the most competitive on a national level most often. to not expect that, to not expect excellence is not hoosier in nature. Indiana basketball is not that now and will not be with this coach. if those programs can do it so can this one. I recognize wins and losses. I recognize that every step forward is coming with a step backward. two all americans and a beating in the sweet sixteen. lots of great wins last year. lots of them. to what end? two great wins this year so far. to what end? to what end? lets consider our two great wins this year and all the wins before it. think about all those wins. to what end? a top 5 recruiting class a stud point guard and a senior with tons of experience. to what end? i guess when its all over and when we lose in the second round of the nit we can hang our hat on those two quality wins.
those wins will matter forever. we will talk about those two wins over top 25 teams in the 2013-14 season for generations. just like all the final four teams and even the ones that hung banners. but right now my concern is the recent loss to penn state that exposed Indiana basketball in the worst way. enough of that. what about the Kentucky game and the last second shot?! its fading. it doesn’t matter anymore. it was great. to what end? it revived the program and brought it back to its rightful place in the national spotlight. no. no it didn’t. because here we are. a sweet sixteen embarrassment and home losses to penn state and northwestern. but we did beat two top 25 teams this year. to what end? we can do better. and it starts with coaching. and to that end maybe just maybe we hang a banner. and tell our grandchildren about the two top 25 wins in 2014.
The problem with putting IU into that group of programs is ignoring the last 20 years. Knight’s last 7 years were poor. Mike Davis hire, as you stated, was poor. Sampson, a joke. Crean, jury is out but he has had more consistency than the previous two without the cheating.
Duke has had the same coach for 25+ years. You might want to go back and look at Coach K’s record the first 5 years at Duke. Kentucky? Sorry, when I was at IU we took not cheating and cutting corners as a good thing. I want no part of what Kentucky is like. Louisville, see Kentucky. North Carolina, the same team that Carolina fans are calling for Williams head?
Let’s not forget that Carolina has actually been something the last 20 years, IU has not. Duke has, IU has not. Kentucky has, IU has not. Kansas has, IU has not. You can’t just snap your fingers and decide to make it happen. Most of those teams also play in weaker conferences than the Big Ten, so they don’t have near the pounding the Big Ten takes. In fact, when’s the last Big Ten champion? Michigan State in 2000, with players that Tom Crean recruited.
I understand the need to shoot for the stars, I’m just wondering why you think IU is like any of those programs when it hasn’t been anything like those programs for several decades. As a result, it will take some time. Blowing through coaches every 5 years isn’t going to do it either, you will just make the program more unstable, hurt recruiting, and continually start the cycle over and over again. That is if you can even get a good coach to go there knowing the fans have expectations of being Duke, UK, KU, and Carolina. You are running into the same issue that UCLA fans run into which is why UCLA is constantly in this peak and valley existence and great coaches refuse to go there. The demands of their fans are tied to an era in another century.
So do you, you want it both ways. This season can’t be Creans fault it must be the players fault and last season was because of Crean not in spite of him. If you want to take credit for Crean being ESPN coach of the year then what award should he get this year, most underachieving team of the year?
it can be done. im not implying its easy. but it can be done. tom creans recruits in 2000. fits the bill. great recruiter. tom izzo coaching. Indiana can do better. it starts with a better coach. whether its year 2 or 20 make the best decision and that is hiring a better coach. Indiana can do better. fact. there are better coaches. fact. it just makes sense. why wait another 5 years to get a better coach? why wait? continuity of mediocrity or whatever you call this is simply delaying the inevitable. hire a better coach. im not saying i know who that is or that i understand any of the language in his contract that would screw the athletic department. there are much better coaches therefore coach crean is not the means to the end that hangs an ncaa banner. he is definitely decent as a coach and certainly belongs in div 1. but if iu wants an “a” level program, and that can happen, it needs a “a” level coach. unfortunately that’s not coach crean.
You think winning the Big Ten last year and being ranked #1 is the definition of mediocrity because they lost in the NCAA tournament? It happens all the time where the best teams don’t make it. One loss can happen at any time. What coach is going to want to come to IU knowing that their fans judge Big Ten championship teams as MEDIOCRE?
Your initial position is absolutely right, but to think that coaches would avoid Indiana and the $3+ million that comes with being its coach is wrong. When Sampson was fired, there were very few coaches in college basketball who would not have jumped to Indiana. Today, the money is better and the program is competitive. There would be even fewer coaches unwilling to work for a great AD at a program with excellent facilities for top of the line compensation.
Saying that Crean should be fired, but you have no idea who should get the job is a vacuous argument. If you wrote that Crean should be fired and Oliver Purnell should replace him, that would be crazy but at least a position that can be discussed.
Brad Stevens, end of discussion and you know it Kent. Dakich called him best coach in college basketball and he was not blessed with the talent Crean has. People are just anti Brad Steven because they are jeolous and I’m in that group. I got sick and tired of watching Butler go to the final four and all the attention going to them and not IU.
If the IU job came open in 2011 instead of 2008, Brad would have been the clear favorite. Life is about timing, and in 2008 Crean was the choice.
You won’t be tired of watching Butler go to the Final Four this season.
Brad had the advantage of playing in the Horizon League, where the bottom feeders were walk-overs. Playing DePaul is a hell of a lot different from playing Youngstown State. No nights off in the Big Ten either.
here is my argument:
A. Indiana needs a better coach to win an ncaa title.
B. there are better coaches.
this argument is not vacuous. it is reality. yes timing is key in hiring. but money talks and bullshit walks. arguing that point is vacuous. refer to points A. and B.
Without naming a better coach, your comments define vacuous.
Try managing a department and telling a general manager you want to fire someone without having an idea who that might be.
if there are better coaches out there that Indiana could hire – so you can toss Coach K, Pitino, and Izzo. Out of who is left, give me some names.
quite honestly I don’t have the time to pay much attention to bball outside the big ten and top 25.if your car breaks down you don’t have to know what to fix. you take it to someone that does. but in order to get to that point you must acknowledge the fact that the car isn’t performing. only at that point do you start the process of fixing it. it is reaching that point, that apex of logic that allows us to see the next mountain in the distance and how to scale it. in this case, coaching change. crean is a decent coach. he recruits very well. but he is not and will not be elite.
earlier you acknowledged that any team can lose early in the tournament. absolutely true. couldn’t agree more. it was no single moment that drew my concern. it was the virtual meltdown of the team itself. it was as if early on Indiana had a better team, more cohesive. later as the season wore on it was as if that cohesiveness gave way to the evolution and growth of other teams. those teams simply got better and Indiana stayed the same. in this respect, knowing the quality of players on the team, I must fault coaching. yes big ten schedule last year was backloaded with great competition. yes we hung on to win it outright. its the fact that we had to hang on. it was the early exit of the big ten tournament. it was narrowly escaping with our pride in the second round against temple and then watching jim boeheim rip the beating heart out of the hoosier nation and eat it right there in the coaches box while tom crean paced back and forth looking like a deer in headlights simply UNABLE to make it a game. we lose ground as the season progresses. tough to blame players. with the evolution, immigration and emigration of dozens and dozens of players comes an averaging out of the typical hoosier player. that in itself makes the players a virtual constant in the equation with coaching ability that yields success or failure on the court. I know enough to know the engine is failing in this car. I don’t know how to fix it. but i know it has to be fixed. write the article you really want to write. write the article about who should replace tom crean. I would love to read it in tomorrows paper.
I would be interested in your choice for a replacement. There is no way cream is fired without an upgrade already agreeing to the accept the position. Can’t make a lateral move, and given Crean’s position toward the top of the second tier of coaches – behind Coach K and other who have won NCAA tourneys – that level of hire is tough to imagine.
It feels good to at this point take the next logical step of figuring out who. it appears we have reached the point of agreement that a change needs to be made. the evidence has been presented and now kent sterling you are asking me who based on the fact that a change needs to be made. not because the potential for something better is in sight or readily available. but because we have determined based on what we have and what we know that this car is performing at the level it should. we have reached this summit of truth. we have proven point A. it sounds as though you believe there is no possible way that any coaching change for the better could possibly materialize that would make the argument for firing crean. I am not suggesting we fire crean. at least not right away. I concede as you stated that tom crean is “second tier.” that second tier coach is going to keep talent around as long as he is around. he isn’t going to hang an ncaa banner but he will leave a enough talent for the next coach to be successful right away. if brad stevens was hired today, ridiculous I know, fire crean today. clean out his office for him. the very elite coaches are not going to leave there program. why would they? so we have to look at that second tier. or third. which tier exactly was brad stevens before he took butler to the title game. he certainly wasn’t elite. and I doubt he was second tier. there are a subclass of elite coaches. the ones that don’t know they are elite yet. but they are right there under the surface just about to breakthrough. now that we know we are coach shopping and have a talent magnet laying the foundation for our eventual sixth banner we can better deal tom crean. happens all the time. in sports. in business. in life. we now know that we need a better coach. I don’t believe we will have to look for him either. I believe that coach will emerge as such an obvious choice on his own that there wont be a need to shop around. it will just be a matter of when. every couple of years one of those coaches emerges. who will be the next young coach like brad stevens and shaka smart to dazzle us with their ability to turn turds into diamonds? I don’t know. but if it isn’t one of those two then that should be the next coach at Indiana university.
Wow. The vitriol is flowing. With this little experience, the inconsistency is unavoidable. I am very disappointed in the PSU game, but I am not that surprised. If/when Noah makes the wise choice and stays for next year, we will be the favorite to win the BIG. Have patience.
I hate to say it, but Noah didn’t re-class a year ahead to get to the NBA slower. If he continues to be projected as a top 10 pick, he’s a goner. Otherwise, exactly right.