Indy’s Morning Sports List – Top 10 reasons to feel good about IU Basketball

Seems like a long time since Tom Crean and IU fans celebrated together.  Maybe there are a few reasons for optimism.

Seems like a long time since Tom Crean and IU fans celebrated together. Maybe there are a few reasons for optimism.

Okay, I admit it.  This is just an intellectual exercise to see if I can come up with 10 reasons for optimism about IU Basketball without getting snarky.  Last night’s loss at Duke was miserable.  The defense was pathetic, and it was one of those 20-point losses that felt much worse.

But like Tom Crean said after the game, “It’s December 3rd!”  If Indiana fans can’t find reasons to look forward to watching the Hoosiers, it’s going to be a long winter (unless they are willing to watch Butler or Purdue, who both appear capable of playing at a very high level).

1 – Indiana is still tied atop the Big Ten with a 0-0 record.  There is a lot that can happen for and to a basketball team in the four weeks that will pass before IU plays its first non conference game at the end of the month.

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2 – The Big Ten might be down this year.  Minus Michigan State, Maryland, and Purdue, nobody looks great.  Illinois almost lost to Chicago State.  Wisconsin did lose to Western Illinois.  Rutgers lost to St. John’s.  Penn State has lost to both Duquesne and Radford.  There are Big Ten wins to be had, and if IU can get to nine, they are likely going to the NCAA Tourney.

3 – Collin Hartman is competing hard.  He’s a solid component contributing in a way that would be useful to a really good team.  That Indiana has not been really good to this point is not due to Hartman’s play.

4 – Next three opponents are against Morehead State, IPFW, and McNeese State at home.  Those appearance fee opponents should provide Indiana with a chance to catch its breath, recalibrate, and prepare for Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic.  Don’t sleep on Morehead State though.  Sean’s Woods is a really good coach, and they will defend hard.

5 – There is plenty of talent on the roster.  You can’t teach what Indiana has in abundance, and while it remains to be seen if Crean can teach this group to defend with precision, grit, and intellect, the athleticism of the Hoosiers is beyond question.

6 – Maybe this tough stretch will breed humility.  The Hoosiers of the past two-plus seasons appeared to believe they hit a triple when getting to play in Assembly is actually third base.  They can be haughty and entitled, and that hubris needs to be corrected.  Losing might just bring them (Crean too) to their knees to ask for help.

7 – The media was wrong when they ranked IU #13, maybe they are wrong now to write off the Hoosiers.  Teams are rarely as good or bad as they are reported to be, and the media hates the Hoosiers this morning.

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8 – 51% and nine turnovers.  Even when playing in a hostile environment like Cameron, Indiana executed offensively and scored very well.  Shooting 51% and committing only nine turnovers on the road shows an offense that can play at a high level.  That’s half the game, right?

9 – Off-court behavior has been out of the news.  It’s been over three months since one of the Hoosiers screwed up by getting caught with booze in the parking lot of the old Kenny’s Food Mart.  That’s not a huge accomplishment to be celebrated, but it beats the alternative.

10 – Tom Crean is going to keep working.  Say what you will about Crean, but he wakes up every morning engaged in the process of getting the most out of his team.  He works tirelessly, and hard work is the only chance the Hoosiers have to improve in a meaningful way.

That was much less hard than I thought it was going to be.  My only regret is in expending this much energy writing about a team that is failing to meet self-imposed unreasonably high expectations when Butler and Purdue have been playing so hard and well.  It would be a lot more fun to extoll the virtues of those two units than continue to focus on the Hoosiers.

7 thoughts on “Indy’s Morning Sports List – Top 10 reasons to feel good about IU Basketball

  1. Philboyd Studge


    No criticism or commentary from me today. But I do feel obliged to point out one serious miscalculation in your post. Indiana has two bad losses and another 20-point loss already. Look at the schedule: There is exactly one more opportunity for a Top-50 RPI win OOC, and that is against a Notre Dame team that will barely constitute a quality win, if IU does beat them.

    That said, there is no possible way a 9-9 record in the Big 10 will warrant an NCAA bid, unless IU also upsets a couple heavy hitter teams in the conference tournament. The Big 10 being down will HURT IU’s resume, devoid as it will be of other quality wins. Maybe 9-9 would suffice if that included wins over Michigan State, Maryland and Purdue, but then obviously that would mean there were some pretty ghastly conference losses as well.

    Given IU’s schedule, and losses so far, I’d say it’ll take at least 11-7 and, with a loss to Notre Dame maybe 12-6 in conference to have a resume that’ll impress the committee. Look more closely at things like wins over top 50 RPI teams, bad losses, and overall strength of schedule and I’ll bet you agree.

    On the matter of IU’s tournament profile and prospects, it is later than you think.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      I agree, but they have to fill the field with somebody. Rarely does a team in the Big 10 go 9-9 without getting a bid. This season could potential get very unpleasant for IU fans.

      1. j

        soooo….youre saying more of the same regarding being unpleasant season. no, kent, crean will not teach them defense. he does not know how. its that simple. hes had the occasional good defender but I attribute it more to the individual.

        colin Hartman competing. colin Hartman is a hacking machine.

        so crean went out and scheduled some quality non conference teams to boost the schedule….and promptly got his ass whipped. that wasn’t a march unlv team that beat a November iu team. that was a November unlv team and a November wake forest team. that wasn’t a march duke team that could have won by 35 last night. that was a dacember 3rd duke team against a December 3rd Indiana team.

        you ever seen a mouse running in its wheel in a cage? that’s tom crean working. he is really getting after it. really giv ing it his all…aaannnddd going nowhere.

        1. Kent Sterling Post author

          Hey, I was just trying to be optimistic. I didn’t say I was good at it.

          And Crean didn’t schedule quality non conference opponents. All were mandated by the conference responsibilities or events to which they have accepted an invitation. In Maui, Indiana played three nobodies because they dropped into the losers bracket. The Big Ten/ACC game opponent was selected by the conferences. Notre Dame will be a part of the Crossroads Classic. Other than that, it’s cupcake after cupcake – although I’m not sleeping on Morehead State.

          1. j

            I stand corrected. crean did not schedule quality teams on purpose. they were forced on him and he showed why he didn’t schedule them on his own. I bench every starter. I trickle them in one at a time. if they play defense they stay on the floor. if they don’t, they sit. I don’t care if they don’t win another game. you play defense or your ass sits on the bench. if you don’t like it transfer. yogi Ferrell is horrible. that guy is a bad teammate. there was a crossroads when sheehey was a senior. yogi led everyone away from that mentality. yogi is the first rotten apple. crean failed to fix that problem.

  2. Mark Thrice

    There are so many things to be positive about IU Basketball! Thanks so very much for the initial list. I have a few more:

    11. I won’t feel guilty as my wife and I go to see the live music downtown at the same time as the Moorehead game; 12. Kentucky, Purdue and all of the B1G teams will be thankful that Tom Crean is still coach at IU and they can score in the paint against us; 13. The longer Tom Crean is coach at IU, the easier it will be for opposing teams’ fans to get tickets; 14. The refocusing on the IU football program becomes an easier sell; 15. Fewer sell-outs of Assembly Hall will help to justify the renovation decision as opposed to any increase in seating; 16. A new red banner in Assembly Hall could read something like: Accepted NIT Invite 2015-2016.

    And last, but not least: 17. We will be looking forward to the day when Tom Crean squirts out of Assembly Hall for the last time. I wish him great success at his next coaching gig starting June 2016.

    Hope that the next coach moves away from the philosophy of coddling these young players and goes toward the team concept.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      I try to keep it positive, and leave it to you to plunge the thing into a vat of sarcasm and mirth. Nice work!


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