Indiana loses to G-town in OT – finish non-conference at 10-3; future far from clear

by Kent Sterling

Indiana's Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon enjoy a moment of revelry during an afternoon that ended badly for the Indiana Hoosiers.

Indiana’s Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon enjoy a moment of revelry during an afternoon that ended badly for the Indiana Hoosiers.

Indiana Basketball continues to tantalize and taunt in equal measure.

Talent and scheme show stretches that give fans reason for hope, then moments of borderline incompetence have fans on their feet screaming at the TV or court.

Is Indiana a team on the come, or are they as mediocre as many thought when the season started?  Does coach Tom Cream know what he’s doing, or is he being bailed out by sporadically excellent shooting?

Click here to follow Kent on Twitter

If the Hoosiers finished the non-conference portion of their season 12-1, we would suspect they are capable of a return to the NCAA Tournament, and then with shooters like they have maybe a run to the Sweet Sixteen or beyond would be more than a dream.

If Indiana was 8-5, fans would know the exact opposite.

But at 10-3, the season could still fall in either direction or continue to hover in the middle.

Today’s overtime loss to Georgetown at Madison Square Garden was as vexing as the season itself.  Indiana looked good for stretches, confused during others, and resilient at the end of regulation.  Georgetown had difficulty attacking Indiana offensively for stretches, and made IU look weak during others.

Of the Hoosiers 87 points, 83 were scored by James Blackmon (22), Yogi Ferrell (27), Robert Johnson (11), and Troy Williams (23).  That lack of depth will make them easy to defend when Big Ten play starts, or will it?  Maybe the overall excellence of Ferrell and Blackmon, the burgeoning athleticism and productivity of Williams, and the steadiness of Johnson will be vexing for opponents.

Expectations are unclear for the Hoosiers and their fans, and maybe that works to Tom Crean’s advantage.  If people felt IU should finish in the top five of the Big Ten and they fell short, fans would call for Crean’s head.  If there was no reason to believe something good could happen, fans would say that Crean was not delivering on the promise to restore relevance to the university’s signature marketing unit.

Somewhere in between, nobody knows exactly what to think.  Is the program showing promise or backsliding?  It’s impossible to tell.

Indiana exists somewhere on the success continuum between collapse and triumph, but exactly where is beyond our ability to pinpoint.

After wins against Butler, Pitt, and SMU, and losses to Georgetown, Louisville, and Eastern Washington, I am baffled.  After watching Michigan lose to NJIT and Eastern Michigan, Michigan State drop one to the perpetual road dogs from Texas Southern, Nebraska lose to Incarnate Word, Hawaii, and Rhode Island, and Purdue fail against Gardner-Webb and North Florida, I am bamboozled by the entire Big Ten.

Indiana’s Big Ten schedule appears to be kind in that the Hoosiers will only be required to play Wisconsin (the prohibitive favorite to win the conference) one time and get two swipes at bottom-feeder Rutgers.  But they also must play #15 and #21 Maryland and Ohio State twice and Michigan only once.  Again, an unclear future awaits.

The way the schedule lays out, a 5-7 start to the Big Ten season for Indiana is possible, but then because the Hoosiers’ last six games are vs. Minnesota, vs. Purdue, @Rutgers, @Northwestern, vs. Iowa, and vs. Michigan State, they could still finish 11-7 – which would certainly cause additional confusion for a fan base fond of clarity.

For those looking to this website – one that takes pride in providing concrete answers – I apologize for not having a clear and definitive resolution.  Indiana Basketball is a stew where one bite can be satisfying and delicious while the next is putrid.  Today’s game was a perfect microcosm.

If clarity is going to come for Indiana fans objectively evaluating this program and its future course, it won’t be before March.

9 thoughts on “Indiana loses to G-town in OT – finish non-conference at 10-3; future far from clear

  1. Matterhorn

    Fred Glass is not going to have an easy decision at seasons end, for sure. Here is the problem IMO. If Indiana does just enough to keep Crean for next year and next year there is not a deep run in the tourney then Crean would be fired. Along with Crean getting fired in 2016 would be the loss of Yogi (graduation) Troy Williams (NBA) James Blackmon (NBA) so now your new coach has no players and hiring becomes a problem. However if Crean is let go this year look at the talent next year for a new coach. If they don’t make the NCAA this year I think termination is the only answer. It’s year 7 for heaven’s sake.

    1. Steve b

      I have got to give Crean credit for turning the mess that Sampson left around. Seven years ago, IU basketball was dead, gone. Let’s face it, he resurrected Lazarus. I admit Crean seems to be a poor tactical coach, but in the last couple of years, the NBA stripped him of some major talent. There is a lot of talk about Brad Stevens coming to IU, but to be honest, I would be really surprised if this ever came close to fruition. Crean is here to stay, at least until his contract expires. I think that we really owe Crean some gratitude for saving this thing we call IU basketball.

      1. kentsterling Post author

        Good thoughts. The factor that will determine Crean’s fate is the level of indifference from the fans and boosters. If Indiana continues to fail in delivering on expectations, Crean cannot survive. Some would say that $3-million per year is thanks enough, but I like your take better.

      2. Matterhorn

        He needs a final four at IU to solidfy his rank among coaching elites. He’s getting paid like an elite coach so he needs to produce. His recruiting suggests otherwise.

    2. kentsterling Post author

      That’s a hell of a prescient analysis. Hard to argue any of those points. A really good job could become very mediocre unless Indiana pops for Calipari level cash.

  2. s brown

    I like the idea of playing Holt along with Hanner. Troy may average 15+ points, but he gives the other team about 20 in turnovers and foul shots. Troy seems to think that he is another Oladipo. He plays like he os somehow responsible for making something happen by himself. Knight would have him collecting splinters on the bench.

  3. j

    anybody notice the football recruiting success of late?we flipped guys from ohio state, nc state and Maryland. we jumped up like 27 spots in class rankings in about a week. crean said on the radio show he is still rrcruiting. ummm…we already have to take two scholarships away from people just for the guys that he already signed. I would like to know who’s scholarship crean is going to take away. I bet they would like to know too. has anyone ever asked crean these questions? coach crean just who’s life are you going to wreck?

    1. kentsterling Post author

      He is asked about oversinging quite a bit. His response is usually a variation of “It all works out.” I am not a fan of that practice, especially in light of the recent promise by Fred Glass to honor scholarships for four years. I’m sure they have a plan for how the necessary staff reduction will transpire, but it has not been shared.

  4. j

    we just got another great football commit and signee from uab in the 7th most productive rb in the ncaa last year. usually following season after season of mediocrity and falling short of goals most iu coaches start to suffer immensely on the recruiting trail. whatever the footballcoaches are doing is working. there is reason to look forward to next year. there really is.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *