by Kent Sterling
Indiana lost a basketball game last night to a team out of the Big Sky Conference that has played once NCAA Tournament game in its history.
Eastern Washington beat Indiana 88-86 last night at Assembly Hall in large part because of defensive indifference and/or poor fundamentals, and that has Hoosiers fans hot.
There are few things in life we can rage about without serious consequences. Jobs can be onerous and bosses idiots, but say what’s on your mind about them, and that problem will quickly be corrected as you are asked to vacate the premises. Health can take a turn for the worse, but anger only makes rehab tougher. Being pissed off about family is usually the cause of additional troubles, not the solution.
Sports? Fans get to yell about sports. We get to demand immediate satisfaction. We are the customers, and by God, if we pay for tickets, we can raise holy hell when disappointed! What in the good hell was Indiana doing switching to a 2-3 zone when Eastern Washington loves shooting threes?! ARRRRGH!
Take a deep breath. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten. Better? What we all need to remember is that Tom Crean’s job is to lead players to attend class, earn diplomas, remain compliant with NCAA rules, and win. This is his job, and whether or not you believe he does it poorly or well, he’s doing all he can to make the Hoosiers as competitive as possible.
Crean, like most coaches, have a family. If Indiana loses too much, that family will need to move to the place where he will find a job next. That’s a way of life for a coach. It’s part of the price of entering that volatile profession.
But there is no reason to make it less pleasant by haranguing Crean, the players, or his boss with demands for immediate satisfaction in the area of wins, titles, or banners. While Crean chose to become a coach, and his wife chose to marry one, the kids chose nothing. Granted, life could be a lot worse than living amid the largesse provided by the $3 million Crean earns to lead the basketball program, but hearing the relentless yelping from torch carrying fans demanding a change is miserable regardless of the financial health of the family.
As kids play sports, act in plays, sing in concerts, and otherwise busy themselves, coaches always have one eye and one ear pointed toward their players. Let your focus drop for a minute, and the phone rings with news of a kids hospitalized with a fractured skull. Attend a choir concert, and that gameplay won’t install itself. Allow yourself to relax long enough for a 30-minute conversation about how to deal with a girl or boyfriend, and grades dip.
Yeah, Indiana lost last night to a team that was scheduled specifically to provide a much needed win prior to the Big Ten season, and that makes the loss hurt more than one to a team from one of the Big Five conferences, but anger isn’t going to help Indiana play better Friday against UNC Greensboro, or put athletic director Fred Glass in a frame of mind where he will be more likely to replace Crean – at least not until the season ends.
Think of your life and what it would be like if because you had a bad day at work, Twitter was filled with insane rants about what a dumbass you are. What would it be like if you needed to move your family from your home if you screwed up today? That’s what coaches deal with, and what Crean thought about as he tried to sleep last night – if he tried to sleep.
The life of a coach is ridiculous. No matter how much you win, people always believe there is someone out there who can do it better. Great isn’t good enough. What have you done lately? Big Ten Championship two years ago? What about beating Eastern Washington, you clod!
I’m not saying that Indiana losing to Eastern Washington is excusable, or that kids being suspended, hospitalized, or arrested should result in something other than a pink slip at the end of the season.
What I’m saying is that it’s possible to be demanding and humane at the same time. Crean is a good guy who will be the coach at Indiana until the end of the season at least.
Relax. Glass will handle things in one direction or the other when the time is right. Until then, support the players and coaches. This season is a book with between 32-40 chapters. Last night, one of the chapters was written. That’s all.
If Indiana Basketball doesn’t bring you joy, do something else with your time until it does.