Indiana Basketball – Questions and answers about Emmitt Holt and Thomas Bryant, and what their illegal possession of alcohol might mean

by Kent Sterling

Emmitt Holt has now violated alcohol laws twice while playing basketball at Indiana.

Emmitt Holt has now violated alcohol laws twice while playing basketball at Indiana.

The news earlier today that Indiana Basketball players Emmitt Holt and freshman Thomas Bryant were cited Friday at 12:50 a.m. for illegal possession of alcohol brings to mind many questions and some very simple truths as answers.

According to a press release from the state excise police, Bryant and Holt were cited after being observed attempting to conceal bottles of vodka while sitting in a car at the Convenient Food Mart down 17th street from Assembly Hall, near campus at 12:50 a.m. Friday.

“Officers were alerted to the five people seated inside the vehicle when Holt allegedly attempted to conceal a 750 milliliter bottle of vodka as an officer walked past it.  Holt, who was a backseat passenger in the vehicle, reportedly shouted to alert the front seat passenger of the officer’s presence. The officer then allegedly observed the front seat passenger, Bryant, attempt to conceal a 1.75 liter bottle of vodka.”

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Here are 10 questions –

  1. Are these guys morons?  (The answer to this question is self-evident.)
  2. Why are basketball players being arrested/cited/suspended at rates far beyond normal students?
  3. Is Tom Crean recruiting the wrong type of kids to play at Indiana?
  4. Does Crean effectively investigate the behavior of players to whom he offers scholarships?
  5. Do Indiana fans care enough about the drinking and drug use of basketball players that it deserves the attention of administrators/coaches?
  6. Is there any way to stop the drinking and drug use of basketball players?
  7. Is it unreasonable to expect any group of college students not to drink or use recreational drugs?
  8. Can Crean control the behavior of his players?
  9. If Crean can’t control the behavior of the players off the court, is it reasonable to assume he can control their behavior on the court?
  10. If Crean’s attempts to discipline players relentlessly fail, is it fair to assume he isn’t fit to discipline them?

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Wow, that’s a lot of questions!  While you ponder, here are my answers:

  1. The answer might be self-evident, but can young men this inept in the art of police avoidance be expected to win possessions in the Big Ten?
  2. For change to occur, the pain of change has to be outweighed by the pain of maintaining the status quo.  The threshold of pain for misbehavior has not been ratcheted high enough to matter.  This is much worse than it sounds because after Hanner Mosquera Perea and Devin Davis were kicked off the team, reasonable people in fear of losing their positions on IU’s basketball team would have adjusted.  Either the players are not reasonable or they don’t mind the idea of being kicked off the team.
  3. I’m silly enough to believe that 99% of kids will do what they are told if they are told effectively.  Some kids you can’t get to, but most will do what they are told if they respect the leader.
  4. He either doesn’t investigate properly, doesn’t inspire respect, or is unsure of the properties of a person who might be a good fit for his unique brand of leadership.  Whichever it is, those who are unable to follow Crean’s rules have a decided lack of respect for him.
  5. This is a great question because fans either don’t believe this to be a problem, or they don’t care enough about it to raise a meaningful amount of hell about it.  Look, most kids in college are going to drink, and that’s life.  if Indiana fans and administrators want to stand up and accept that fact of life, that’s an option.  But they can’t demand chaste and sober behavior and then look the other way when it doesn’t happen.  If the laws on possessing and consuming alcohol are important, then the authority figure needs to be able to meaningfully enforce them.
  6. Sure.  You can recruit non-drinkers, kids who respect Crean’s authority, or continue to churn through players until you land on 13 guys willing to stay sober.
  7. That’s a question that requires a response.  It really doesn’t matter to me, but the consistent talk about discipline followed by an ignorance of that discipline belies weakness.
  8. It would appear than he cannot.
  9. I have an issue with the transitive property in this case.  There are plenty of coaches who have gotten players to play winning basketball while they were something south of model citizens away from it.  There is not necessarily an ipso to this facto, but given the level of defensive awareness, it’s not irrational to make that connection.
  10. That’s a question only Fred Glass can answer, but the relentless torrent of arrests, citations, and suspensions reveal a lack of respect for authority that is either perplexing or damning – likely a combination of the two  It’s up to Fred to discern the proportion.

At some point, the tonnage of problems, if they continue or abate, will definitively answer all the questions.  If it isn’t clear already, it will become clear in one direction or the other soon enough.

For me, the evidence cleared to another level today.

17 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball – Questions and answers about Emmitt Holt and Thomas Bryant, and what their illegal possession of alcohol might mean

  1. Realist

    Question 2 is answered by Question 1.

    IU’s basketball players are being cited/arrested/suspended at a higher rate than the rest of the student body because IU’s basketball players are morons.

  2. Steve S.

    I really don’t know where to begin with this. Like you I am disappointed in the behavior of some of the players. However, I believe you are being incredibly unrealistic and overly harsh. In response to your questions:

    1. There is obviously some stupidity going on here. I only wish these players were as smart and responsible as all the other 18 and 19 years getting their first taste of freedom.
    2. This is a good question. Another question is why are there so many citations in the first place? What are the authorities trying to achieve? Are they trying change behavior with a hammer or are they just trying to raise funds by taxing students who decide to have a drink? Of course we know that none of Knight’s players ever drank so this is clearly a failing of Crean (sarcasm).
    3. What type of kids are you expecting? Do you want 13 Jordan Hulls on the team? The team would be polite and God fearing, but it won’t win any championships.
    4. What kind of investigation are you expecting? I’m sure their coaches have said they are good kids. I’m sure their parents have said they are good kids. Maybe part of the problem is many of these kids have been so coddled by parents, coaches, and hangers on, while playing basketball all year long for most of their life, they have never had the chance to be a kid and make kid mistakes. Now they get to college and they are around a bunch of their peers, most of whom aren’t basketball players, and they want to just be one of the gang. As we all know, peer pressure is hard to resist.
    5. I don’t. If you have serious issues like DUIs and such, those need to be handled harshly. If you got a ticket for holding a beer (or vodka), I just don’t care.
    6. You could recruit Mormons I guess. Maybe there needs to be a players only dorm like Kentucky has. Players have to live there while they are on the team and there is 24/7 supervision. They are only allowed to go to class, team study hall, and practice. Interaction with the rest of the student body is forbidden. This will keep the kids out of trouble but will further delay maturity and personal responsibility.
    7. I’m not sure what you are getting at with this question. There are many groups of college students who never drink or use recreational drugs for many reasons. There are also a large number who do. Some drink socially, some binge drink, while a few become alcoholics or addicts. Perhaps if our society wasn’t so puritan about drugs and alcohol, kids would learn responsibility at a younger age and many of these issue could be avoided. Why do underage kids drink vodka? Because they get more bang for their buck. If they allowed learn how to drink beer or wine socially, they might avoid the harder alcohol which is more likely to get kids into trouble.
    8. Ultimately, no. Kids are free thinking individuals. You hope they were raised correctly. You hope they listen to you when you explain the hazards of dangerous behavior. But ultimately, they will do what they want.
    9. There is some correlation here I will admit. Players who don’t respect what their coach has to say about off the court behavior may not listen while on the court. Part of the problem is that in the context of the team, the players only have the coaches and their teammates in their ear. If they listen and play hard, they continue playing. If they don’t listen, they get yelled at and they don’t play. When they are away from the team, there are a lot of other people getting in their ear. There also isn’t immediate feedback when they make poor choices. Maybe there needs to be harsher punishment when they make mistakes. However, I have a problem with the penal society we are evolving into. You make a mistake and your life is over. Granted, there are some mistakes that don’t deserve second chances like child molestation, rape, and murder. However, most other mistakes deserve multiple chances unless you are just seeking revenge and want to destroy someone’s life rendering them a useless member of society. Kicking a kid off a team and/or out of school because he had a beer while underage marks the kid forever which can damage his ability to be a productive member of society.
    10. Again, this is a fair question. See number 9 with regards to my feelings on discipline.

    The only real question is whether Crean can regularly take IU to the tournament with realistic chances to win a championship while maintaining relatively high standards with regards to graduation and behavior. His kids graduate. There are some issues with discipline among some players that have some cause for concern. Having any realistic chance at winning the national championship seems to be the biggest concern. We all know that winning cures many other ills. If he had won a national championship, there wouldn’t be the angst over underage drinking citations.

    1. Dirk

      Great summary of today’s society – if you can’t follow the rules (or you simply don’t like the rules) then it must be the rules that are the problem. That may work when you are 18-25, unemployed and living with/off mom/dad but good luck with that approach when you are subject to the “harshness” of the real world and try to tell your employer the “rules” don’t apply to you because they are “stupid.” To be clear – I don’t remember reading where all the other IU students get a free education and free room/board like the IU basketball players. So yes, we do expect that staying sober seems like a reasonable expectation for IU athletes (at least don’t get caught in public by folks whose job is to enforce the rules/laws). I also don’t remember reading where Notre Dame, Butler or Purdue basketball players are regularly cited for breaking such seemingly simple rules – and yes, these schools have enjoyed equal or better success than IU over the last 10 years (clearly Butler has and one could argue so has Notre Dame). The pool of diehard IU fans is shrinking every year and many of those fans are transitioning to schools like Butler who win, play hard and stay mostly within the rules (yes there are minor transgressions everywhere).

    2. kentsterling Post author

      I appreciate your perspective, and agree with much of what you wrote. My primary issue with the team is alluded to in your responses to #9 and #10. A lack of respect for authority is the biggest problem.

      Another problem is the lack of respect for the damage alcohol consumed in bulk can do to a kid. It seems every year an IU student dies of alcohol related incidents. It’s hard to get yourself in big trouble with beer, but vodka and other liquor can be dangerous.

      I’m not a big ‘laws exist for a reason’ guy, and wonder myself about the silliness of 21 as the legal drinking age, but if Crean enforces rules but the consequence doesn’t result in change, a lack of leadership ability can be inferred.

      1. Rb

        Kent – why do you keep looking at the players and not the people in charge at iu, people at butler, Norte dame and Purdue are laughing at iu.

        1. Pauly Balst

          I hope they are laughing at something other than off field or court incidents. Purdue was ranked #1 natuonally for lowest ratio of wins per football arrest, and in the top 20 for overall football program arrests. Notre Dame has had numerous incidents that are legendary. Rape, not drinking. Although the perception outside St Joe County may be different, the facts are not. ESPN is suing to force the university to release records for crying out loud.

          1. Rb

            I think if Purdue had consistent issues like IU has recently with their athletes, I bet Mitch Daniels would be having a serious sit down meeting with his AD and coaches?

    3. Pauly Balst

      @Steve S, thank you for making me snicker this morning with your rebuttal #3. This program has little if any chance of winning a championship under Tom Crean.

      The stupidity of a player who puts himself in a position where he has a bottle of vodka in a car at a well lit convenience store with 5 other dudes 30 feet from campus is mind blowing.

      He was not with “friends”. Friends at least would have left him out around the corner with a red solo cup and plausible deniability while they shopped. Kids will be kids. I’m sure the excise police would just as soon not bust an IU basketball player, but with this moronic move you leave them little choice.

  3. Pauly Balst

    This has officially been a Fred Glass issue for over a year. Crean is who he is. Glass is the one who accepts it.

  4. philboyd studge

    Is “clearing to another level” like Double Secret Probation? I’ll give Dan Dakich credit with his comments, as far back as last year, that “Indiana basketball stands for nothing.”
    Here’s what needs to happen, assuming Fred Glass is still not ready to put the responsibility on Tom Crean:

    Emmitt Holt needs to be dismissed today. He can join Hanner Mosquera-Perea at Rattlesnake Junior College. He nearly killed a teammate last year in an alcohol related incident. It may not have been his fault, but that clearly constituted a Last Warning. And who does he pick for a drinking buddy? A highly touted freshman whose mother has publicly stated her misgivings about the Indiana Basketball team’s Animal House reputation. He’s clearly got a problem, and if not taught that there are severe consequences for misbehaving in life, he’ll never learn. Imagine the financial and public relations consequences for Indiana if he is allowed to stay on the team and he finally succeeds in really hurting himself or some innocent person. Catastrophic.

    As for Bryant — He doesn’t need to run laps and miss two meaningless exhibition games. He needs a 5-game suspension. If I’m his mother, I’m expectiing no less, as I check into whether it is too late to pull him out and get him into Syracuse for the second semester.

    By the way, the “every college kid drinks” nonsense rocketing around Indiana fan sites is embarrassing. I played college basketball at a school with much less status and tradition than Indiana — even factoring in the Hoosiers’ 25 years of national irrelevance. It was an era of more drugs and casual drinking than today and, yes, I drank and smoked pot — until I arrived on campus to start the year. Then me and the other players — urban kids, farm boys, rowdies of all type — pledged to each other to focus on basketball and not to get in trouble until the season ended. We targeted spring break as a time to cut loose, away from campus. We really did understand that we were privileged and didn’t want to embarrass the school — or our coach.
    I suspect that model is still being followed by lots of kids playing college basketball, especially when they have a sense of respect for the school and the coaches.

    1. kentsterling Post author

      We are in total agreement. The lack of leadership shown by Holt is distressing.

      Excusing poor behavior by citing the assumed poor behavior of others is always the weakest most insipid argument.

      IU Basketball is a mess, and because Crean inherited a mostly empty cupboard, the culture in Bloomington is owned entirely by him.

  5. Matterhorn

    Jay Edwards, Armon Basset, Jamarcus Ellis, Deandre Thomas, Jordan Crawford……….players NEVER arrested or cited while at IU. Why? Has Crean upset someone? Are they looking for a way to fire Crean without paying him his buyout? Lot’s of conspiracy questions. The bottom line is for whatever reason Crean is not perceived to have control or he has not figured out how to “keep” his players out of trouble. I can’t believe the police have a “lets get all the basketball players arrested” mentality, but it sure seems that way. Crean just doesn’t get it for whatever reason or there is just some disconnect there, call it “preacher daughter syndrome.”

    1. kentsterling Post author

      Hard to imagine any of the conspiracy theories are valid. I think it’s much more likely that when Crean punted on bringing the hammer down on Perea after the DUI, everyone decided the “reward” of misbehavior was worth the risk.

      1. Matterhorn

        I remember having lunch with Greg Graham at the Reed Cafeteria when he was a freshman, he was NERVOUS as hell because Knight had left a message that he wanted to see him for a meeting. Turns out Knight told him how good a job he had been doing as a freshman. Do you think Creans’ players fear him, doubt it.

          1. Rb

            Kent – I am not impressed with any of them running the show at IU, everyone knows it, but we keep covering up the problem. It is amazing what the BB coach, fb coach and AD make $$ and we keep giving them passes! How do you get a job like that.

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