Indiana Basketball – A Whimper Rather Than a Bang Ends the Hoosiers Season

by Kent Sterling

UnknownIndiana had their chances – up 38-33 with a chance to extend the lead to seven, but the shots that missed for Illinois earlier started to fall and the turnovers that have plagued the Hoosiers all season extracted their toll.  And the season ended for this young Hoosiers team.

Of course, Indiana will be invited to the NIT, as will all schools sporting both a winning record and 17K+ arena, but that invitation is like going to be like a timeshare presentation in order to eat a good steak.  Sure, it’s basketball, but at what cost.

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Worse than losing to Illinois 64-54 is Indiana looked listless in losing.  There was very little passion exhibited by anyone other than Will Sheehey, who was understandably urgent as this was his last rodeo for the Hoosiers.

His next stop will be Greece, Israel, or some other outposts where a young man with his size and skill can earn a lot of money.  Gone are the days of meaningful basketball for the love of the game in front of adoring fans.

The Hoosiers turned the ball over 16 times, which was the weakness though out the season that cost Indiana a chance to win games like this.  The most troubling aspect of the turnovers was their seeming inability to not repeat the mistakes that caused them.

It hard to say who might join him leaving Bloomington, other than seniors Evan Gordon and Jeff Howard.  Noah Vonleh may leave a dearth of size on the Hoosiers front court by bolting for the millions available to him in the NBA.

The offseason between the sophomore and junior seasons is the time feet get hot and cars get packed for a more suitable place to exhaust remaining eligibility.

Plenty of time to talk about how disenchanted several of the Hoosiers looked on the floor and off during this 10-point beating, that was 51-48 with under five minutes to play.  Vonleh missed the front end of a one-and-one, and that was it for Indiana’s chances to advance to play Michigan tomorrow.

So Indiana sits with a substandard 17-15 record, and no hope of an NCAA Tournament bid.  This is the first step back for the Hoosiers under Tom Crean after four seasons of step by step progress.

Fans have yet to see how Crean responds to a backslide, and it will be interesting to see what, if any, consequences are brought to bear for the players as they retool for next year.

And Crean has yet to see how the fans respond to taking a step backwards after years of disappointment authored by predecessor Bob Knight (his last five years were hard to swallow), Mike Davis (minus the 2002 trip to Atlanta), and Kelvin Sampson.

Twelve months from an outright Big Ten Championship, the Hoosiers finished eighth, and ran their all-time record in the Big Ten Tournament to 10-17.

The question is how much of the equity built through winning the Big Ten was eaten by the Sweet Sixteen loss that followed and this season where the team could never gel for more than 40 minutes at a time.

It’s likely the questions about the future of the Indiana program will outnumber the answers for another eight months when the team next takes the floor.

The Hoosiers were very young, and they won’t have a senior next year, unless a spot opens for a fifth year transfer like Evan Gordon was this year.

But there is some doubt whether this will be a team on the come in 2015, or a program that peaked and went under Crean.


17 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – A Whimper Rather Than a Bang Ends the Hoosiers Season

  1. Jerry

    Crean is a horrible coach. This “youth” crap is not going to fly. Our AD, who I like otherwise, will be on a very hot seat very quickly for giving this bum a long-term contract.

  2. Warren in TN

    Certainly not coming here to gloat or put down Hoosier nation, I come with respect and peace, as usual. It’s been a difficult season and the final dagger to any NCAA bid makes it doubly painful. As a UK fan, we went thru that last year and I can certainly sympathize. The off season looks to be a long one, filled with questions, most likely how I will feel about UK at the end of this year as well!

    I still think Hoosier fans should not go overboard on wanting to get rid of Crean for the foreseeable future. One or two more seasons should be given to see the commitment through and for him to prove if he’s really up to getting IU back to where it should be. That said, next year will be a litmus test for certain.

    Keep on fighting the good fight and don’t ever give up hope on your Hoosiers!

  3. Jeff Gregory

    Crean and Hoosier Nation need to hope that Vonleh and/or Ferrell doesn’t bolt. If that happens, then next year looks bleak and the recruiting will suffer. That would probably lead to another downward spiral.

    On the other hand, Crean and the program COULD survive such a thing. But since they couldn’t do anything with THIS season, I have my doubts that they could do anything with next year without Vonleh or Ferrell. IF there are no meaningful departures, Crean could put together a good season and things might be on the upturn. If I was a betting man,I still wouldn’t bet.

  4. Greg

    If you adjust IU’s record for the nine wins against cupcake teams (only one of which had a winning record as of Feb. 22– Stony Brook (who???)) you see even more clearly how poor IU is (8-15). Also, IU’s turnover rate per game ranked them 335th out of 345 teams; assist/turnover ratio at 330 (as of Feb. 14). Remember these stats include the nine cupcake games. A shockingly poor season. Although Crean seems to be a great motivator, recruiter and a real gentleman, his ability to instill fundamentals in his players (not just this season), his X’s and O’s skill, and pattern and timing of substitutions are among the factors that lead me to doubt his abilities as a coach.

  5. john

    noah is gone.

    crean has not signed any bigs.

    quality bigs are leary of the crean system.

    what iu loses to graduation is a gain in chemistry.

    crean is going hard after 3 star players.

    3 star.

    next year will be better.

    the year after still better.

    neither team will get further than sweet 16.

    then the backslide will be ongoing.

    until tom crean slides out the door.

    keep him until the right coach emerges.

    no need to actively hunt.

    just wait and spring when the time is right.

    tom crean has illustrated his inability to mold a team. evan Gordon did not fit and he was brought here for other reasons. that move damaged the team. hollowell was benched for 3 games for losing focus. parrea was benched for 2 games after being arrested spending the night in jail and endangering the lives of countless people by driving drunk. ironically our primary big man was hurt at the time. I very much question creans integrity. his morals. his character. he sacrificed the moral makeup of iu basketball and still lost. badly.keep your eyes open mr glass and when the right coach emerges…do what needs to be done.

  6. Doug A

    Kent, are you positive you didn’t eat brownies down south? Not even sure (but I will) I can watch this team in the NIT! Might be an interesting off season.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I agree that the offseason will be fascinating. It will be interesting to see who stays, and who goes. Some losses would be understandable. Others would require a reasonable candid explanation.

  7. Steve Brown

    I’m not in favor of ditching Crean primarily because there isn’t anyone available who is materially any better. However, I am really concerned about the level of discipline on the team. Turnovers are a product of poor execution and a sign of poor discipline. What Crean has done with Hollowell and Hanner Perea is another sign of poor discipline.

    Jeremy Hollowell seems like he is in agony every time he takes the floor for IU. He looks like a very unhappy kid. How can you have a full scholarship to a major university, have a chance to play on a major college basketball team, and be unhappy? Jeremy needs to transfer to St Luke’s Nunnery and Day College, somewhere he could play and be much happier.

    Hanner is another issue. He gets nailed for a DUI, has his name plastered all over the media, and only has to sit on the bench for two games. He should have been suspended (and his scholarship halted) for the rest of the season. Actions have consequences.

    Why does it seem that the team continues to make the same errors and turnovers, game after game? No consequences.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      I hope that Crean acts from a position of strength, and makes life miserable for those who violate his edicts. He would benefit from being more transparent about the process.

      1. john

        acts from a position of strength.
        — seriously? he just laid the biggest egg of his career. he should exercise some humility.

        — seriously? seriously? edicts-are you talking about things like hiring a relative of a recruits coach? or signing on a guy for a year that just happens to have a super talented younger brother whom crean is recruiting?
        or are you talking about benching a kid for 3 games for “losing focus” and a different kid for 2 games after commiting a crime that endangered peoples’ lives. im afraid is mr crean were transparent it would be 2007 all over again. and that’s just the stuff we know about. no, transparency wont do. transparency will destroy this house of cards. this program is rotten again. and its not winning. if alums are willing to buyout a contract why not throw millions upon millions at brad stevens. tom crean is a stepping stone. time to move on. who? who shall be our coach? people ask this like there isn’t a better coach out there. everybody has a price.

  8. Plasticjimmyhat

    Mr. Crean is a great recruiter and developer of talent… that being said, he can’t coach in game, and too often over subs, and behaves like timeouts cost alot of money to use!! Also, how do you not foul down 4 with 38 seconds left on the clock hoping your “D” will get the stop and when it doesn’t you’re down 6 with 11 seconds left!! I want to pull my hair out watching him coach!!

  9. Johnathan Bishop

    So he wins the Big 10 outright for the first time in 20 years and the next year we are taking about getting rid of him? When did we become UK fans? Don’t get me wrong, I’m extremely disappointed with the way this team played. This team is young. Only 1 4th year senior with meaningful playing time and one who transferred in (no disrespect to Jeff Howard and the others). Yogi is only a sophomore, sadly Jeremy Hollowell and Hanner Perea never developed like I hoped they would. Luke Fischer up and left mid season. Our freshman played like freshman with only Noah Vonleh being fairly consistent. I have high hopes for this team next year with the class we have coming in. I’m willing to see what happens next year before I throw a guy under the bus who came to Indiana when nobody else would.

    1. john

      he was hired because nobody else wouldcome to Indiana. look at his track record at Marquette. he had an accidental final four appearance and the reast is mediocre. seriously look up his record there. this team has 2 mcdonalds all americans and this this years freshmen were a top 5 class. lets examine again the benching, the reasons for it and the timing of it. he has made clear his willingness to blur right and wrong to win. but he still didn’t win. last year had 2 all americans and got our brakes beat off in the sweet sixteen. lets stop looking at tom crean as a person. he is a cog on a wheel of a machine. that particular cog doesn’t fit well and is slipping. it isn’t going to fix itself. it must be replaced.

  10. Philboyd Studge

    “Of course, Indiana will be invited to the NIT, as will all schools sporting both a winning record and 17K+ arena,”

    You are on a roll Kent. This tops the “Hoosiers to the B10 tourney final” call of a few days ago.

    By the way, what’s with declining the CBI? Indiana scared to give Wright State a go? Can’t afford the entry fee after patching the roof of the collapsing Assembly Hall? I think I recall you referring to Kentucky as cowardly for not playing the hooligans in Bloomington, never mind that UK has a winning percentage over IU of better than 80 percent since 1992 and so has nothing to gain by playing a rapidly diminishing red-headed stepkid of a basketball program. What does that make Indiana for dodging the CBI? Let me answer: Pathetic.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      There is nothing to gain by playing in the CBI. A first round flameout would be even more ignominious than the UK loss at Robert Morris in last year’s NIT.

  11. john

    I took great joy in kentuckys flop last year. I wonder what Kentucky thinks about our flop? actually weve been flopping around most of the time since the early 90’s. how many titles has Kentucky won since 1987? tom crean is not going to win a title. why wait to fix this mess?


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