Indiana lost twice and won once in Maui, and all three games were hard to watch. Turnovers plagued the offense, and familiar defensive failures (not guarding high screens worth a damn chief among them) allowed offenses operate comfortably.
Some angry fans want Tom Crean fired today, while others think he’s a genius who can fix what has gone wrong. All want answers.
For fans who look to the basketball program as a tether to their alma mater, it’s especially galling to watch Indiana founder in areas where competence was always a given. The only sure thing in this era of Indiana Basketball seems to be underachievement.
Expectations are driven by those within the program to a level players are unable or unwilling to meet. The resulting frustration for fans is driving calls for boycotts and an immediate change in leadership.
And it’s only November.
The passion is thick as ever for Indiana basketball, even if the quality of play has declined to the point where the description of IU as elite is as timely as Bill Walton’s wardrobe or a Dr. Bop & the Headliners set list.
Let’s get the talk of firing Crean out of the way immediately. Firing Crean prior to the end of the season would be an act of madness, and athletic director Fred Glass is not mad.
Crean’s Indiana program continues along the same course that has become routine through 7.2 seasons, and many believe that is not enough to justify the trust or salary invested in him, but to fire a head coach at midseason almost never ends well.
Two things can happen – the first is the team tanks under the interim guy, which no one wants. The other possibility might be even more harmful to the overall health of a program – the interim coach lights a fire under the team and they play their asses off.
That’s bad because the interim guy becomes the only palatable candidate for the full-time job when there might be a dozen better coaches out there.
Indiana is way too important a program for Glass to indulge in Steinbrenner-esque petulance. Even if he has decided to replace Crean as his head hits the pillow tonight, he knows that there must be a process where the next generational hire is made. For perspective, Branch McCracken and Bob Knight define generational hires.
Because today is November 26th, it’s quite possible Crean and the Hoosiers get this figured out and find a way to reach their goals. Remember when Michigan State lost last year to Texas Southern and Purdue lost to North Florida and Gardner-Webb. Both teams rebounded, refocused, and overcame.
There will be four months of highs and lows ahead, and depending upon the ratio Indiana will either continue with Crean as the head coach or not
Regardless of what happens four months from now after all is said and done, decisions need to be made by a circumspect and sober leader paid to determine what is best for the university, brand, revenue, and welfare of the student-athletes – not in that order. Anger is an indulgence of the powerless, and Glass has power.
My advice is to relax and enjoy the ride. if you are outraged by what you perceive to be a lack of coaching acumen from Crean, take pride in the effort of the players. If the players appear to check out, listen to the band and watch the cheerleaders. if the band and cheerleaders mail it in, dream of a strom and bucket (or six) at Nick’s.
Answers will come soon enough, but until we know them for an absolute certainty, do yourself a favor and embrace the possibility for meaningful improvement, regardless of the odds.