Indy Morning Sports List – 10 reasons why Indiana fans are staying away from Assembly Hall

Just prior to the tip against IPFW, empty seats and filled seats appeared roughly equivalent. Those empty seats are there for a variety of reasons.

Just prior to the tip against IPFW, empty seats and filled seats appeared roughly equivalent. Those empty seats are there for a variety of reasons.

On my way home from hosting my radio show last night, I listened to Jake Query explain the decline of Indiana Basketball under Tom Crean on his radio show.

He compared IU hoops to a Tonka Truck. Back in the day, Tonka toys were virtually indestructible.  Dads could pass them down to sons they lasted so long.

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Today. Tonkas look the same, but in six months they wobble.  In a year they are in the trash.

Like Tonkas, Indiana Basketball looks the same as it did once upon a time with the Candy Stripes, under eight timeout celebration, no names of the jersey backs, and Chuck Crabb on the PA, but if you scratch a little paint off the surface, you see that the program is different.

I liken it to a circus I saw when I was a kid.  After a couple of trips to Chicago Stadium to see the Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, I was excited when a circus came to my hometown 35 miles north of Chicago.

This circus had elephants, clowns, trapeze artists, a lion tamer, and the cotton candy tasted the same, but it wasn’t Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey’s.  I left disappointed and cheated because this circus – despite being so similar to the circus I loved – just wasn’t the same.

That’s why I don’t make the drive to Bloomington for basketball games anymore.  I am tired of trying to convince myself that a ringmaster is a ringmaster, and a clown is a clown.  That’s my reason for one seat among thousands at Assembly Hall being empty for games like the one against IPFW Wednesday night.

Here are the total of 10 reasons for the other empty seats:

1 – Like I wrote, regardless of his impressive efforts, Tom Crean isn’t a ringmaster capable of organizing a circus like those I enjoy.

2 – Finals.  Students might need to study for next week’s final exams for which they are woefully unprepared.  Some might study all weekend.  Others will pick and choose their spots.  Given a choice between watching the Hoosiers dismantle IPFW on Wednesday or a night in the bars Thursday, they opted to study Wednesday to accommodate the Thursday hoopla.

3 – Quality of competition.  When you schedule programs like Morehead State, IPFW, and McNeese State as home opponents in a span of eight days, there is going to be some tomato can fatigue.  Making the drive down the perpetually under construction State Road 37 from Indy to Bloomington or the mile walk for students from Willkie Quad to watch a certain win becomes less attractive with each journey.

4 – Players seem aloof.  Compared to the every man vibe of the football team, the basketball players are removed from the fabric of the student body.  That’s what I have been told by more than a dozen IU students.  Back when I was a student, the players were always at our parties and very accessible.  Rooting for Dan Dakich, Winston Morgan, Marty Simmons, and Uwe Blab was easy because they were much more gifted athletic versions of us.

5 – Parking is a little more difficult.  The renovations to the south end of Assembly Hall has caused a scarcity of parking, or at least a disruption of routine.

6 – Minus one Big Ten Championship season, Indiana has been mediocre under Crean.  The five championship banners are collecting dust, and one Big Ten Championship, as fun as it was, in more than 20 years hasn’t been enough to engage a fan base that enjoyed 11 championships in 24 years and three National Championships in 12 seasons.

7 – More entertainment options.  Students and adults have a lot more to do/watch today.  With the enormous palette of options begging for their time, trudging to Assembly Hall to watch this level of basketball would rarely bubble to the top.

8 – Consistent mediocrity.   In 49 states, you can trick fans into believing brighter days are ahead, but this is Indiana.  Crean can try to fool Indiana fans into buying his unreasonably optimistic narrative, but not when delivering the same bill of fare every year.  The defense has been terrible for more than two years, and fans see it.

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9 – Purdue and Butler are bringing consistent effort.  Fans watch Indiana play and then Purdue or Butler, and wonder what the hell is the matter in Bloomington.  I spent 11 semesters plus one glorious summer at IU as a college student, and I would rather watch the Bulldogs or Boilers than the Hoosiers.  That’s sad in a lot of ways.

10 – Fans don’t like being conflicted.  Sadly, there are reasonable people in Indiana who root for Indiana to win, but believe championships are going to be scarce until Crean is gone.  They know Crean will never be replaced until fans respond to mediocrity with indifference.  That attitude might not reflect the majority of fans, but more and more of those to whom I speak are avoiding IU games because of that duality.

The oddest part of the 2015-2016 season might not be the growing indifference of fans, but the success of this team seemingly incapable of playing defense with consistent tenacity and discipline.  The Big Ten is in such a goofy state that Indiana could finish 12-6 or better.  The Hoosiers play what are assumed to be the three best Big 10 teams (Michigan State, Maryland, and Purdue) only once and two of those are at Assembly Hall.

These are weird times in Bloomington.  Clarity and passion are unlikely to visit anytime soon.

12 thoughts on “Indy Morning Sports List – 10 reasons why Indiana fans are staying away from Assembly Hall

  1. Steve S.


    What are you going to complain about when Crean is finally gone? The mediocrity under Crean doesn’t automatically disappear because he is gone. Let’s face it, IU basketball has been mediocre the last 25 years save for a couple of seasons here and there. This includes the last 10 years under Knight. I know, Brad Stevens will come and save the day. I wouldn’t hold my breath waiting for that to happen.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      The last six seasons under Knight weren’t pretty – not the last 10. I don’t complain about Indiana at all. I express hope that mistakes are corrected.

  2. Gary Reed

    What will happen with reasonable fans as with when Crean arrived is a grace period. People will watch to see improvements in the players the new coach has. They will watch to see if the program grows as it should and then they will make their opinions known as with Crean. That is what will happen. This is Indiana. This is the one state in the union where the fans often know more about the game than most who report on it, and aren’t easily distracted by flashy pregames or excuses at postgame pressers. That is what will happen.

  3. j

    I like lists. they are the product of brainstorming which kind of just throws everthing on the table out into the light. how about a list potential replacements?

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      The time to produce a list of replacements comes after the current one is dispatched. Just as it’s bad form to start a list of potential stepdads before parents split, crafting a list of replacements for a still-employed coach is bad form.

  4. j

    I like lists. they are the product of brainstorming which kind of just throws everthing on the table out into the light. how about a list potential replacements?
    and please kent, please don’t lob some mocking jab at the idea of archie miller being a candidate. in the face of his success you perpetually downplay not only his results but his potential. and he could be a bigger disaster than crean for all I know. at this point I really just think you are jealous of his hair. what about brad stevens? I would like to hear an update on stevens dedication to the Celtics.
    list of reasons tom crean sucks:
    1. spends ten times as much on recruiting as bo ryan
    2. loses to bo ryan 9 out of 10 games.
    3. high school kids said so.
    4. I say so.
    5. his players spend a lot of time dealing with legal issues.
    6. the perpetual wrestling match with keeping his pants up to his armpits.
    7. fails to utilize talent.
    8. fails to produce defense.
    9. his fluid intake on the sideline is only rivaled in intensity by tark and his towel.
    10. wanted to change his name to harbaugh when he got married.
    11. 2012 ncaa tournament.
    12. 2013 season.
    13. at times has 5 players playing five different defenses at one time and in mid possession all five switch to a different defense.
    14. believes this defensive strategy confuses the other team.
    15. actually believes number 14.
    16. not actually a BAD person so we cant just hate him.
    17. made dick vitale say non positive things during duke game.
    18. duke game.
    19.seems to recruit attitude problems.
    20. cannot beat the 2-3 zone.
    21. cannot coach the 2-3 zone.
    22. blow by handshakes.
    23. Nebraska coach made him look like a bitch.
    24. IS bo ryan’s bitch.
    25. not as successful as notre dame.
    26. not as successful as butler.
    27. not as successful as purdue.
    28. doesn’t effectively recruit Indiana.
    29. turns four star talent into three star results.
    30. does number 29 consistently.
    31. wasting the time of Indiana university basketball
    32. brought a Michigan football coach to an iu basketball game.
    33. Michigan coach doesn’t reciprocate because he knows tom crean sucks.
    34. probably cheers for Michigan football against iu.
    35. always looks greasy and disheveled.
    36. is greasy and disheveled.
    37. ruining the name of tom crean the explorer who trekked Antarctica and liked dogs.
    38. probably doesn’t like dogs.
    39. all the stuff that former manager said.
    40. called the manager detlef Schrempf.
    41. players seem to not like him.
    42. he is overpaid.
    43. tom creans gif with the purdue player—look it up.
    44. hugs are….a little over the top.
    45. the worst coach at the harbaugh family dinner table.
    46. jon harbaugh gives him noogies.
    47. jim harbaugh may have given him a wedgie when he was at the duke game.
    48. it very likely was atomic.
    49. the harbaughs play keep away from tom at family get togethers.
    50. seriously, they try to keep away from him.
    51. tom crean sucks because his failures make me write really mean things.

  5. Duh boss

    While the finals are keeping some students away, there are still plenty of locals and those from the region who are also not going. That and like explained, the handpicked record inflators they play every other day are tiresome. I tried to sell some tickets to the ipfw game and listed them for 50 for the pair despite a face value of 38 each. Not one person was interested.
    I left with about 10 minutes left as it was just boring as hell as all these preconference games have been. They don’t tell us anything about the team and are simply pointless.
    Glass better fire crean by the end of the season because if not, he too will be looking for another job.
    This squad will finish no better than 4th in the big 10 and will not sniff a top25 ranking again this year. in fact, i figure 5th is more likely.
    Msu, maryland, purdue, wisc and then iu. We are looking at a bubble team again.

  6. matterhorn

    We don’t need top 10 lists or top 51 lists of why Indiana fans are not going to Bloomington on a Tuesday night, there is only one list needed…………TOM CREAN……….that is the reason. Sugarcoat it all you want, make other excuses why fans aren’t going, but the bottom line is TOM CREANS idea of basketball is not what Indiana Basketball fans enjoy watching. I SAID TO FIRE TOM CREAN LAST YEAR AND WAS HARSHLY CRITIZICED NOW THE NEXT COACH WILL HAVE NO PLAYERS AND NO RECRUITS………Thanks, Fred.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      If a change is made, Indiana will be rebuilt almost immediately. The tree of Indiana HS talent is full of ripened fruit.

  7. Todd

    I for one enjoy a good snack. The 51 reasons why Crean stinks is like crackers and cheese for my brain. Thank you for that list!

  8. S M

    My Purdue and Butler friends want to know where to send donations to the fund Fred Glass has started to extend Crean s contract another 5 years. Sad state of affairs for IU fans……

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      As will all frivolous donations, they should be sent to me, and I will route the funds to the appropriate destination.


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