Indiana Basketball no longer must see TV on a Saturday night

Tom Crean hopes in vain last night that his Hoosiers can find a way to beat a far less talented Penn State team.

Tom Crean hopes in vain last night that his Hoosiers can find a way to beat a far less talented Penn State team.

So there I stand at Drake’s on 82nd Street in Indianapolis picking up some carry out, and the Indiana game against Penn State starts.  A guy I met because he listens to my radio show asks, “Are you sticking around for the Indiana game?”

“Nope, just picking up some food,” I tell him.

As I walk out of the place with a buffalo chicken quesadilla and some boneless buffalo chicken bites (I had a hankering for some spicy chicken, I guess), I am thinking that it’s really odd that I’m not at home that moment watching the game.

Over the last 30 years, I have rarely missed a minute of Indiana Basketball, even driving from the north side of Chicago to Griffith, Indiana, in 1992 to catch a game on channel 56 that was otherwise not broadcast.

For this game at Penn State, I decided the Hoosiers didn’t need to be my top priority – buffalo chicken was.  

Click here to follow Kent on Twitter

Is it me, or is it them?  Is my comparative indifference driven by the arrogance that has been the program’s calling card since Tom Crean’s arrival in 2008?  Is it the off the court antics that have distracted from the mission of the university?  Is it the Indiana high school basketball players who have chosen to play somewhere else – or were ignored by Crean?  Maybe it’s that I can talk to Purdue’s Matt Painter, Butler’s Chris Holtmann, and players from both programs every week while Crean in his players are protected from one-on-one access to the media.

Did getting food instead of watching the game live from start to finish mean I care less about Indiana Basketball and its prospects for a run during March?  Maybe.  It doesn’t please me, but I might just not care as much as I did last year, five years ago, or 25 years ago.

Earlier in the day, I spent two-and-a-half hours joyfully toggling back and forth between the Purdue vs. Maryland and Butler vs. St. John’s games, but as the IU game approached, I wandered over the Drake’s for some take out.

And it’s not only Purdue and Butler that captivate me.  I’ll watch ACC or Big East games because this season is unlike any other in college hoops I’ve ever seen.  I watched Duquesne and Davidson yesterday from tip to buzzer on NBCSN, so it’s not apathy toward college basketball in general that drove me toward buffalo chicken.

And it’s not for a lack of effort.  Last week on National Signing Day for IU Football, I had a nice talk with athletic director Fred Glass.  As we talked about hoops, I tried to gin up some genuine excitement about the Hoosiers the morning after the Hoosiers trounced Michigan.  It felt hollow and less than honest.

As it turned out, my decision to get some food was validated by an effort lacking in execution and poise during a 68-63 loss in un-Happy Valley.  Thomas Bryant stomping his feet in frustration over not getting fed on the block would have driven me nuts in years past, but a lack of emotional maturity is nothing new at IU.  Defensive lapses were frustrating, but unpunished – as usual.  Repeated silly turnovers brought shrugs as history became present again.

But the point isn’t to excoriate the Hoosiers for a poorly played game that resulted in their second Big Ten loss of the season.  It’s that my level of interest has declined from rabid to interested enough to watch live when convenient.

Don’t get me wrong, I eventually watched the entire game.  I DVRed it because I would never talk on my radio show (or write on this site) about a game I did not see in its entirety, but watching Indiana live as a lover of college basketball is just not important enough to keep me riveted to my television.  Frankly, watching the taped game made me question my dedication

Why?  How could this happen?

Maybe it’s because Indiana’s coach, who I think has done a better job this year than any other during his eight seasons at Indiana, recruits Missouri and the east coast more successfully than his home state.  Maybe it’s because Indiana’s non-conference schedule is nothing more than a mish-mash of palookas against whom a loss is a virtual impossibility.  Maybe it’s because the last two seasons have been exercises in misery, and hoping for better seems an imprudent investment.

Despite a 19-5 season to this point, the Hoosiers are ranked #56 in the RPI – behind programs like Valpo, Akron, Davidson, South Dakota State, and others behind whom Indiana should never be.

Through no fault of its own, Indiana has enjoyed a cupcake Big Ten schedule to this point, but the season’s final seven games will provide five serious challenges from Iowa (RPI #8) twice, Michigan State (RPI #15), Maryland (RPI #5), and Purdue (RPI #22).

Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry

For those games, and whatever games follow in the Big Ten and/or NCAA Tournaments, I’ll find a way to get my chores done before the tip.  I won’t be at Drake’s waiting for delicious buffalo chicken goodness.

But when Indiana plays Nebraska and Illinois, I won’t make any promises.

13 thoughts on “Indiana Basketball no longer must see TV on a Saturday night

  1. steve

    Agreed i went out to dinner rather then watch this game. I have seen enough of crean the last few years to know the second half meltdown was coming and sure enough it has begun. The fact he doesn’t recrutit indiana players only adds to my non interest. My guess is when its all said and done we will be a 9 seed and maybe win one game tops in the tourney. That is a typical tom crean team.

  2. Mike Williams

    Stop being a jerk. Tom works very hard making the team better. You need to get a level of professionalism. I will support Indiana basketball when they win or lose. Just because you do not have access to Tom and his players, you are mad. The program does not need your negativity. We will beat Iowa

    1. Mark Thrice

      No doubt Tom Crean works very hard. But, it seems, that working smart would be a lot better.

      I agree with Kent Sterling on all of his points.

      I graduated from IU the year that RMK got his first. I remember the old AH with the dust. I understand that the game has changed. But a couple of things should not change.

      1. Defense is still 1/2 of the game.

      2. Turnovers should result in a player getting pine time.

      3. Assists are vital.

      4. Recruiting Indiana is a priority.

      5. Being a good student and representing IU well is mandatory.

      6. Compete favorably almost each year for the top of the B1G.

      7. Beat Purdue.

      8. Be a very good basketball tactician, know your X’s and O’s.

      Of all of the above, Crean has not performed but one partially.

      I watch as many of the games as I can. But, even being retired…if something else comes up…with family or friends…so much for the game…I’m elsewhere.

      Crean has done a better job this year. But, why allow the turnovers to continue? Because he has emphasized that faster is better? What happened to valuing each possession?

      1. Kent Sterling Post author

        And he’ll alibi the turnovers by saying the pace of play causes more possessions, which makes the number of allowable turnovers a notch higher. Haven’t heard that this year, and there are reports of Crean forcing the team to run something they call a “17” for each TO past a certain number. Whatever the disincentive, it’s not causing the hoped for response.

    2. Kent Sterling Post author

      I inserted some punctuation for you at no charge. You go right ahead and support IU win or lose. I support them too – just not with the same zeal I used to. I’m not mad at anyone – just pleased that the Colts, Pacers, Purdue, and Butler make their players and coaches available quite often for 1-1s (the lone exception being Chuck Pagano, with whom I’ve never spoken individually).

  3. Pauly Balst

    Don’t be so hard on yourself, Kent. IMHO the issue is Indiana is just not “dangerous”. Literally everyone on earth with any basketball knowledge whatsoever knows IU, at best, makes it to 32 or 16 in March. There is literally zero chance of final 8 or 4.

    Knight, Davis and even Sampson teams had the potential to knock off quality opponents. You never knew if they were going to beat someone, so you watched. There is zero variation in Crean teams. They are going nowhere and everyone knows it, or is hopelessly ignorant. Its simply human nature to be less engaged if you already know how the movie ends. And rational fans know how this movie ends, year after year.

    The bigger issue is Hoosier Hysteria is dying at a measurable half life at the margin. Every year a subset of fans effectively says “meh” as Fred Glass oversees the metamorphosis of IU into Purdue: sometimes good, never great. Those fans do not require media access.

    I’d much rather churn and burn coaches in pursuit of greatness than endure yet another blah blah blah 22-9 season with an exit in round of 32.

  4. Mike

    You make the same interesting observation that I made recently. It used to be that anywhere in Indiana, if IU was playing, it would be on the tv at the bar or restaurant. I was at TGIF in Castleton a few weeks ago and I was shocked that they didn’t even have the IU game on. It was just another sign of the apathy for IU basketball. All the TVs and they just had some random sports on here and there, nothing big, no headline game of any type. IU was playing and I had to ask the waitress to put the game on the television – in Central Indiana!!!

  5. Downings 5th

    I feel entirely like you, Kent.

    When the pressure dials up, Crean’s coaching is even more weak than the pathetically soft scheduling Hoosier fans are forced to endure. I’m not sure who is at fault for the Hoosiers only playing the top tier teams from the BIG(other than Iowa) only once each, but it is no less the disgrace.

    And you are also correct with your assessment of the aura of unfounded arrogance that emanates from Crean. There is a constant facade that great achievements have been made during his tenure. There is a wall around the program that appears founded in the same levels of immature arrogance. The overall result of such displays that rarely include a humble approach to the game(how you make yourself truly available to a fan base) so indicative to the history of Indiana Basketball, is a huge turnoff.

    You are not alone in your conclusions. Many are growing disinterested. The false arrogance and hype surrounding mediocre achievements(especially in the backdrop of years upon years of soft scheduling) makes many fans feel disrespected. The expectations for support should be seen as disingenuous when such a substandard product is delivered to an Indiana fan base that simply knows better.

    It’s time for ‘put up’ or ‘shut up’ for Indiana Basketball. Less arrogance…Stronger scheduling.. and far less mind-boggling mistakes during crunch times in March Madness.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      The quality of your comment dwarfs my post, and if I were an Indiana official I would carefully consider it as I plot a course for the program. Great stuff. Thanks for sharing.

      1. Downings 5th

        Thank you Kent. The aura of protection around Tom Crean is also unprecedented.

        Crean plays the fan base like a human accordion though rarely being truly available to said fan base he gleefully refers to as “great” in every postgame blurb. “Great” because we’ve learned to remain indifferent and passive to the sugar-free lemon jello scheduling at the Assembly Hall retirement home? And I’m not sure why more local journalists don’t have ‘zero tolerance’ for unfounded arrogance, standoffishness(let’s just call it a word), and bamboozling ‘the faithful’ with embarrassingly soft scheduling. Hang three championship banners? Nah…that’s unreasonable in this era of uncoachable prima donnas(nearly as impossible as a Lilly employee coaching the Boston Celtics).

        How about just passing the b-ball eye chart test? Take a team deeper than the talent appears on paper? Maybe prove your command of X’s and O’s is one grade above a grueling game of tick-tack-toe against McNeese State before you snuggle into the obnoxiousness of an ‘untouchable’ plaid jacket? At least cover the basics of insulting a fan base with sub-mediocrity before you treat Don Fischer like the Ben Franklin candy store clerk?

        Note to IU Basketball: Marriages don’t end at anger. They end at passionless indifference.

  6. Matterhorn

    Not sure who that guy from “never daunted” was you had on your show but that dude had some serious racial chip on his shoulder. Bench Colin Hartman over a Troy Williams and Basically he said if Peyton had acted like Cam nobody would care, what an ass he was.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      It was a different perspective, but that is a good thing. Whether we agree or disagree is up to us, but listening to someone like Shimbo express his perspective is a net positive.


Leave a Reply

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