Top nine reasons tonight’s win would be the biggest of the Tom Crean era at Indiana

If Indiana's players want a slice of Tom Crean's 50th birthday cake, they better damn well beat North Carolina tonight!

If Indiana’s players want a slice of Tom Crean’s 50th birthday cake, they better damn well beat North Carolina tonight!

Tom Crean faces a tough test tonight as the Hoosiers play North Carolina with a trip to the Elite Eight on the line.  Crean has been here before – twice – with the Hoosiers, but has never been able to advance beyond the Sweet Sixteen threshold.

That makes tonight a big game.  If Indiana wins, this will be the biggest victory of Crean’s eight-year reign running the program.  If Indiana loses, this game will join the Kentucky loss in 2012 and the loss to Syracuse in 2013 as its most disappointing moments.

There is a belief that a switch flipped for Crean and his program this season.  Something happened to make Indiana different from the team it was during Crean’s first seven seasons in Bloomington.  If it did, a win tonight would serve as tangible evidence.  A loss will bring a return to doubt that Indiana can ever return to sustained relevance in college basketball.

Yes, this is a big game, but a win would be the biggest at IU for Crean – including the Watford game against Kentucky in 2011.

Here are nine reasons why:

9 – How better to celebrate his 50th birthday than with a win?  Crean turns 50 today, and this day will be forever remembered in the Crean household because of the result of this game.  If Indiana wins, Crean and his family will recall the day their father and husband turned 50 with joy.  If they lose, Crean’s 50th birthday will never be spoken of again – at least not in front of Tom.

Click here to follow Kent on Twitter

8 – Distancing the Hoosiers from Butler and Purdue will benefit Indiana and Crean in many ways.  Butler’s back-to-back runs to the NCAA Champions Games in 2010 and 2011 established the Bulldogs as the program in Indiana with the best chance to make a deep March run.  That affected the economics of collegiate athletics in Indiana as Butler migrated from the Horizon League to the A-10 and then the Big East.  Today, high school recruits see Purdue and Butler as lateral if not superior to Indiana.  A run by Indiana beyond the Sweet Sixteen would help re-establish the Hoosiers as Indiana’s team.

7 – Yogi deserves to be remembered as a winner.  I know this isn’t a Tom Crean reason, but Ferrell has grown tremendously as a leader and defender.  Without a win tonight, he will be remembered more for his statistical excellence than the results of that great four-year run.  That would be a shame.

6 – Attrition might cause backslide in 2017.  Yogi Ferrell, Nick Zeisloft, Ryan Burton, and Max Bielfeldt will be gone next year.  OG Anunoby, Thomas Bryant, and Troy Williams might test the waters by declaring for the NBA Draft.  If two of those three leave early, who is going to play for the Hoosiers next season?  It’s one thing to have five significant contributors, including one all-time great, leave a Final Four team.  It’s another when a Sweet Sixteen is all that’s left to keep a fanbase warm during a roster renovation.  Collin Hartman, James Blackmon Jr., Josh Newkirk, and Juwan Morgan are nice players, but hardly the nucleus of the 2016 team.

5 – Big Ten championships are nice, but March is where legacies are etched.  Who won the Big Ten regular season championship in 2008, 2011, or 2014?  I’m not sure either.  It’s not that finishing first in the Big Ten is meaningless.  It just isn’t memorable – except in the mind of coaches.  March success is where memories are made.  For Crean led Indiana teams, those memories are in losses to Syracuse, Wichita State, and Kentucky.  The win against Kentucky last Saturday was great, but without using it as a springboard toward something greater, the loss will outshine the win.  Not sure that’s fair, but it’s a fact.

4 – Elite programs produce elite results.  There are many good basketball programs, and there are just a few that can be rightfully described as elite.  To be viewed as a peer of Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan State, and Louisville you have to advance deep into the NCAA Tournament as often as not.  Now and again, an early exit in a 15 vs. 2 as Sparty did this year and Duke did in 2012 is tolerable as long as trips to the Final Four come along every three or four years and a banner is hung every seven to 10 years.  if Indiana wants to confer upon itself a status of something better than good, the Hoosiers need to win a game like tonight.

3 – Recruits want chance to play in Final Four.  Current high school juniors were two or three years old in 2002 – the last time Indiana played in a Final Four.  They have no cognitive memory of the win against Oklahoma or the loss versus Maryland.  Here’s how long ago that weekend in Atlanta is.  In 2002, Kelvin Sampson took Oklahoma to the Final Four too, and was four years from being hired at Indiana.  Dan Dakich accepted the job to coach West Virginia.  Tom Crean was six years from becoming IU’s coach.  Bob Knight had been fired only 18 months prior.  2002 was a long, long time ago.  Recruits want to go where success is likely if not assured, and stories of 2002 do not resonate with them.

2 – Leaves Hoosiers a win vs. Wisconsin or Notre Dame from Final Four.  If Indiana can send the North Carolina Tar Heels back to Chapel Hill, the Hoosiers will be a win against a team they beat earlier this season from the Final Four.  That would be a hell of an accomplishment for a team that appeared headed in a very different direction 14 weeks ago.  To suffer disappointments and respond with grit and collective belief is a hell of an experience to enjoy as a very young adult.

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

1 – Advancing another level shows tangible evidence of growth.  Indiana has been to the Sweet Sixteen three times in eight seasons under Crean.  While Indiana fans prefer the Sweet Sixteen to crapping out in an earlier round, if the Hoosiers show again that level is where the program peaks, fans will continue to chafe at the notion of Crean’s continued leadership in Bloomington.  Villanova’s Jay Wright is thought to be a really good coach, but 2016 marked the first time since 2009 that the Wildcats made it to the Sweet Sixteen.  This is Crean’s third trip since 2012.  Not stumping for a Crean extension, just stating facts.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-6p, and writes about Indiana sports at


6 thoughts on “Top nine reasons tonight’s win would be the biggest of the Tom Crean era at Indiana

  1. j

    champions. champions of a conference that saw zero teams advance past the sweet sixteen. champions of a conference whose scheduling afforded the hoosiers only one game against the second, third, and fourth best teams in the league. of those three games one was on the road, and the hoosiers lost it.

    coach of the year. coach of the year who in eight seasons has amassed three sweet sixteen appearances and taken absolute beatings in all three. so if you enjoy going to a sweet sixteen almost every other year and being embarrassed when we get there….then tom crean is your guy. if you enjoy high scoring blowouts with three point shows and dunk contests against such and such state polytechnic a and m with embarrassing losses sprinkled in the non conference…then tom crean is your guy.

    I give credit where it is due. crean got these guys to play some defense. I applaud that. I question haing turnoer machine troy Williams running the point against Kentucky when you’ve got one of the best point guards in the country. I applaud crean for having the sense to adjust the game plan. yogi Ferrell impressed me to no end. yogi flat out got it all year. but in the end…the tom crean cycle has repeated.

    tom crean is going to get to a sweet sixteen on occasion. one of these years he might actually win a game there. his arrogance with tracy wolfson during the halftime interview when leading Kentucky by one was overshadowed by the deer in headlights look of the north Carolina halftime interview. the lack of class at the utc game was the epitome of crean. winning by thirty and he didn’t pull the the primary guys til less than two minutes to go. he received a blowby handshake that day. some day in the future when that coach is at a middling school and long after crean is gone from Indiana and at another middling school, I hope that guy runs up the score on crean and crean can show him how a blowby handshake is done. he is after all the master of the blowby handshake.

    so if youre happy with a sweet sixteen appearance every 2.67 years and having your ass handed to you once youre there, tom crean is your guy. if you believe that one of these years tom crean might actually win a sweet sixteen game, keep on keeping on man. not me. I expect final fours. and no Indiana is not elite. but if crean can only manage two wins at a time in the tournament, how can we honestly expect him to string together six against ever stronger opponents? we cant.

    Im surprised by the hoosiers this year, no doubt. but at the end od it all, it was a mediocre finish on a national scale and winning against losers at home.

  2. Warren in TN

    I’ve been posting here on Kent’s site for awhile now, and I feel compelled to make a few comments which may – or may not – be seen as unusual from me, at the very least, out of the norm. So be prepared, sit back with a cup of java, and get ready for a long post…..

    Kent’s comment to another knowledgeable and very likable Kentucky fan (Jeremy) in the other article of his (top nine reasons IU and UK should have a home and home game) demands a response from me :

    “We have finally found the lone rational and logical Kentucky fan.”

    Well, thanks Kent. I had thought I was the lone Kentucky fan that was welcomed here to voice my opinion. If me and Jeremy make two, then it would stand to reason there are a lot more “rational and logical Kentucky fans” that are actually alive to post on your site. Using said logic and rational thought, it would seem to me that there are many, many more Kentucky fans that are respectful and friendly towards Indiana fans.

    Stands to reason, wouldn’t you say? Gee, that’s an amazing thing for you to realize, I suppose. This is also notwithstanding your continued (and what I now consider) backhanded compliments for Kentucky fans such as Jeremy and myself. We continue to come here to your site with dignity and respect in-hand and continually keep in mind that we’re representing the kind and good side of Kentucky fans that you so seemingly never encounter in your daily life. I personally refuse to stoop to the level of inane stupidity and outright hateful and disgusting remarks you routinely make here. Your continued boorish rudeness and character assassination of Kentucky fans, the University in general, as well as Coach Calipari, is truly a pitiful shame.

    Now look, Kent. I understand where you are intractably hateful towards Coach Cal. I have said many times that I simply disagree with you. I would also note that I have (many times) been the ” lone rational and logical Kentucky fan” here on your site that would stand up for Tom Crean whereas many of the IU fans here have ….. “voiced their displeasure” …. (putting it as delicately as I can…..)

    I want you to consider this : If Coach Calipari is such a disgusting, haughty, and any other over the top negative characterization I’ve read from you over the years about the man …. then why would Tom Crean be a friend to such a person? Perhaps you should consider that long and hard, Kent. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again, you’ve got John Calipari wrong, man. BAD WRONG. You seriously need to recinsider your stance towards him as well as UK – the university and its’ fans. You continued negativity towards them invites negativity towards yourself. You really should understand that by now.

    Personally, I’m sick and tired of reading your newest ways and words you choose to write in putting down Kentucky fans and Coach Cal in general. I’ve gently chided you before that you’re a better person than to say the things you have and stoop so low to do it. I really mean that, and although I am not a close, personal friend of yours, I think it behooves me to point this character flaw you have as not only an Indiana fan, but as a person in general. I need to do it post-haste for your benefit. Your vitriol is often as bad – OR WORSE – than things I hear from Kentucky fans.

    Dammit Kent, cut the bullshit out with characterizing Kentucky as being EVIL. I’m demanding a retraction for that kind of rubbish.

    That’s complete and total garbage and YOU KNOW IT. I’ll gladly stop coming here from time to time to read and discuss things through my posts, but I’ll be damned if I am going to continue to come here and give you my patronage as a reader if I continue to read that kind of …. well …. I’m not going to curse at you like you deserve for saying anything is EVIL where Kentucky, it’s coach, or fans – are concerned. It really pisses me off to see you sink to a new low like this. It’s DEEPLY offensive to me, and you know I am a thoughtful and reasonable person that understands life in a positive and passionate form.

    You’re better than continuing to think of a friend of IU’s own coach as anything remotely close to the many mean-spirited and hurtful things you have said about Coach Cal. In my own opinion, if I were Tom Crean, I would call you out on your shit where not only Cal is concerned, but UK as well.

    I don’t engage in calling Indiana Evil, or say the kinds of disgusting trash I’ve been reading from you about UK and Coach Cal and the UK fans. I understand there are very disagreeable opinions and outright hateful vitriol I hear from UK fans about IU, and you stating that all fans of all walks have those kinds of fans.

    My suggestion to you is to simply take the higher road (and I’ve told you this before) don’t engage in throwing stones from the porch of your own glass house. How does it benefit you, and in how people perceive you, if you continually fall back on the mean and hateful things you say? It doesn’t and you know it. It invites the same moronic and juvenile response from passionate UK fans to throw right back at you.

    Could I say (with sarcasm and cynicism dripping from the tip of my poisoned forked tongue) that Indiana fans are EVIL !!!!!!!!!! (as referenced by Jeremy’s response to you in that thread about IU fans SPITTING on UK fans as evidence of that, and I could continue with many more real-life references).

    Could I say “Hey, are you guys going to make new popcorn boxes commemorating your incredible victory over mighty Kentucky in the round of 32?!?!? And are you going to hand out rings for another Sweet Sixteen???? Hey, I’ll bet you’re planning a parade in Bloomington because it’s been so long since IU has even sniffed a Final Four that an entire generation (or two, by now – it’ll be what, 30 years since your last title in another year or two, right?) has simply forgotten what it feels like? You poor meth-addicted teeth rotting out trailer trash morons. You should be so proud of yourselves! Making the sweet sixteen is the best thing that ever happened to you, isn’t it! Of course it is. Little Jimmy Hooosier cried when Crean made a THIRD sweet sixteen appearance! *pats you on your little warped and delusional heads*

    Could IU say “did CTC french kiss the players one by one for staying to play at IU for four full years and not being an evil Kentucky “one and done” to keep the focus on doing things the “right HOOSIER way?” (whatever the hell that is)

    I could go on and on. You get the damned point, Kent.

    The very words and tone you choose to communicate with – time after time after time where Kentucky is concerned is the BEST argument I could make for NOT PLAYING INDIANA EVER AGAIN – and I mean ever. Let the NCAA selection committee make that matchup when they can and leave it at that. Then you’ll be losing in the tournament on a regular basis then, just like lil brothel Lewisville fans wanting a piece of thier in-state big brother. Look how that turned out for them. I said when Rick Pitino went over to “the dark side” (to stay with your penchant for comparisons between good and evil) that he would just have to get used to LOSING to UK – A LOT. Gee, I look like a regular Nostradamus for predicting that, don’t I ???? (NOT!) Any dumbass could’ve seen the ass whipping UL was bringing itself on that one. Now they’re getting to reap what “evil” they sowed…..

    Until you and every single other Indiana fan, coach, admin and whoeverthehell else can get it through your collectively immensely thick numb-skulls, is that you don’t deserve a damned second chance at playing UK in a regular series.You know as well as I do that Indiana needs it FAR WORSE (and boy, do I mean FAR WORSE) than Kentucky has EVER needed to play Indiana. Not until you can pull your head out of your asses and realize that the very same kind of vitriol you accuse UK fans of that YOU ARE GUILTY OF YOURSELF.

    Maybe, and just MAYBE, then I would say the series should resume. But not now. OH HELL NO. I’ll be happy at seeing (those of you that are HOOSIER assholes) you squeal and squirm and complain and bitch and moan and say how the big bad evil Kentucky basketball empire ***cue evil and threatening Darth Vader breathing sounds*** doesn’t want to play you because they’re really scared of IU and how cowardly and dastardly (like dudley doo-right Boris and Natasha dastardly) those pitiful people are……

    Your steady and continued nauseating drumbeat avalanche of crap you spew about UK is one reason why I haven’t been to your site very much this year. I dunno if it’s because you have to hold the line in showing public hatred and disgust your fellow Hoosiers have for UK to get people to listen to your show, or come to your website. I suppose even less you value any Kentucky fans that try to come here in peace and harmony in discussing college basketball. Maybe that’s at the heart of this stupidity you continue to display, Kent. Whatever it is, you just don’t (or can’t) seem to get it.

    I really don’t know, and I don’t understand why everyone seems to have to feed into the hate. There’s far too much of that shit in the real world today. Being passionate about one’s team does not have to include hatred and disrespectful speech for – and towards – a rival. It should embrace rivalry in a friendly and respectful spirit of competition, realizing we have much more in common for a love of the game we all share, rather than that message get drowned out by over the top hateful speech and disrespect bordering on insanity.

    I’m really asking you stop and consider that, Kent.

    It hurts me to have to lecture you about this. Literally. I’ve had one of the worst health days of my life today, which is my birthday, cancer making me vomit blood earlier, and a migraine that has made me cry tears I had long thought I was completely drained of, but they come with every pounding sharp and biting, stinging pain pulsing in my head. It was only until I had pumped up enough of my cancer meds and pain meds that I could actually log on and check my email, and – what the hell – I hadn’t been to read Kent’s site for awhile, so I thought I would stop by and look at the bullshit I’m reading here today ! Pathetic drivel, simply pathetic.

    I’ve spent enough reading the trash. And enough in taking it out in feeling compelled to forcefully demand you to chill out and look at the bigger picture.

    Kentucky and Coach Cal, Big Blue Nation —- EVIL?

    Is that how you really feel? Or is it over the top sensationalist yellow journalism and a big ugly ass arrogant and despicable ego that’s driving how you characterize things Kentucky these days? Only you can truly know the answers. Maybe the “evil” you speak of is really your own subconscious feelings about IU’s and Coach Crean’s own inadequacies and self-loathing and disdain you feel towards yourself that is coming to the surface? I’ll not adhere to that line of thought for anybody, thank you very much, until they demonstrate with actions that is their true way from my perspective. You’re getting pretty damned close to that mark these days in my book, Kent. That’s a damned shame for me to have to say that to you in a public forum.

    I hope to hell it gets through to you. Shape it up, man. Cut the crap out. Maybe if you engage with respect, UK fans can eventually feel ok with cutting out their own rhetoric where IU is concerned. Like I said, maybe then, after there has been some time to judge you better on your sincerity through conitnued long-term actions, then maybe we can enjoy a simple basketball rivalry without the shit being vomited up from hell by both fan bases.

    I just hope my words haven’t fallen on deaf ears and that the next time I stop by, I’ll be reading current and previous articles on your site extolling the good things in life, the virtues both UK and IU fans, thier coaches and universities share, for not only IU and UK fans – but of us all that love their respective college teams.

    It remains my most sincere and deeply desired hope, Kent. Maybe this Easter’s lecture can resurrect a better side of you that lies within, but that we just simply don’t see much of these days.

    I wish you the best on this Easter day, health and long life, wealth and wisdom, and knowledge to enlighten the soul by – to you and all yours. Same sentiments to all the readers I enjoy reading from time to time here on your site.

    May all take care.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Of course, you are a logical and reasonable fan. Please don’t take offense to a little hyperbole. Your wisdom is always welcome here. I found a third Kentucky fan on Twitter who seems to have his head on straight, and then there is the great Bo Blackburn. So that’s a total of four. I believe that’s it – the end of the list. The rest are inbred kooks without an ability to express themselves without wild rancor.

      My explanation for the friendship that Calipari and Crean enjoy is that there isn’t one. No coach truly likes another. They are all either jealous of each others’ success, certain of their strategic superiority, or both. I have never heard a coach privately speak positively of a peer.

      The difference between IU and UK fans is that I agree with everything you wrote about Indiana. Hanging banners or passing out rings for a Sweet Sixteen is beneath Indiana, even if the program is no longer capable of competing for a National Championship other than during aberrant runs like 2002.

      As far as whether Indiana or Kentucky needs a resumption of the series, I don’t care. That’s inside the ropes nonsense. I think it’s more fun for fans of either team to watch an IU vs. UK game than a game against Lipscomb or LIU-Brooklyn. It’s not about need, it’s about fun.

      There are two types of evil Warren – the truly miserable and self-serving awfulness of Hitler, Amin, Pol Pot, and the financial scumbags who drain the economy of wealth because they need a bigger boat without creating any value – and the cartoonish evil like Lex Luthor from Superman or Big Boy Caprice from Dick Tracy. Calipari is one of the latter. Do I like him? No. He takes $7.5M+ from a university without satisfying any educational mandate while brining in eight month college students who never get a dime (at least no over the table). He uses the system to succeed, and the big brains at UK love it because basketball success increases application rates. The ends justify the means at Kentucky as they do at Duke hoops and Alabama football.

      Is that true evil? Hardly. Is it fun to yell about? Sure. It’s even more fun when a school who does it the right way (most of the time) beats their ass.

      Now the most important issue to address – that I hope and pray for your pain to cease, so you can continue to enjoy taking the moral high ground as you watch your beloved Wildcats.

      Thanks for sharing. You are respected and loved by many who read here, and we are all in your corner during your fight.

      I can’t promise that my rants will not annoy you from this point forward, but I can guarantee you are in my prayers.

  3. jay

    Thoughts on the two prior posts by J and Warren.

    J , made some good/valid points.

    Warren, I did not read the whole thing. I kind of got the idea after reading a few paragraphs where it was headed, UK v IU and Kent voicing his thoughts on the commonwealth. I am NOT an IU fan, so I don’t get caught up in the whole thing.

    People have to remember, Kent is an IU fan boy. Just like rabid Kentucky fans. I would not get myself into much of an uproar about what he says. If you are a Kentucky fan , just look at the programs(IU) and compare. Its obvious which one has been the more superior over he last decade or so. Numbers don’t lie.
    So blow it off as someone giving his opinion. I enjoy listening to Kent very much and reading his posts on this site. Sometimes when it comes to the IU love fest of the show, I tend to turn on some AC/DC, Zeppelin, Allman Brothers, and tune out for awhile. 🙂

    Some thoughts on the NCAA.
    After watching some of these other teams play over the last couple weekends, its insane to see how physically and athletically gifted, NBA ready, these programs and players are compared to the Big 10 . I am a Big 10 objective homer, but when it comes to the tourney, year after year for the most part they choke out.
    Michigan State is the exception. We saw what Carolina did to IU, no surprise. If Purdue ever played Oklahoma, the Boilers would get a beating of a lifetime. The Big 10 is always competitive within its conference, and makes themselves look good I guess that’s why they get to many teams in to the dance.
    The saying still goes for Purdue, and I guess you can apply to some of the other big 10 schools .

    What does ______________(fill in blank with actresses name) and Purdue and others have in common? They choke when it comes to the big one.


Leave a Reply to jay Cancel reply

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