When talking about Indiana University Basketball, I try to be fair.
Leading or playing for the Hoosiers is tough. IU fans are demanding in a way that makes affiliation with the program a good news/bad news dilemma. Indiana coaches and players are adored and mocked in equal proportion.
There is no level of success, minus a national championship, that will satisfy a strange but passionate faction of the Hoosier faithful.
But there are times when those inside the Hoosier program invite unpleasantness from even the most patient fans. Last night was one of those times.
Indiana has injury issues with Collin Hartman, O.G. Anunoby, and James Blackmon Jr. on the shelf, and Northwestern continues to improve, so a loss in Evanston last night wasn’t the surprise is used to be. Losing wasn’t the problem.
The issue that caught the attention of many watching the game was a sign being held by assistant coach Chuck Martin that read, “Call out screens”.
No one can argue with the intent of the sign. Defensive basketball is better played when teammates call out screens. Communication is important in basketball, and that is why teams practice it relentlessly.
Coaches at all levels encourage players to talk more, but that communication is generally done verbally because signs need to be read, and when a brain is engaged in reading, it is likely not focused upon communicating with others.
Calling out screens is a basic part of basketball that players need to be reminded of, but the creation of a professional sign to communicate is simultaneously preposterous and counterintuitive.
Similarly obvious signs that fans are suggesting Hoosier coaches order from the IU print shop:
- Stay in bounds
- Shoot only at our hoop
- Dribble when you run
- Pass to your teammates only
This is Indiana – a place where fundamental basketball is instructed from the crib. Calling out a screen is one of those fundamentals. Reminders are always required to increase communication, but a sign?
Blackmon, Anunoby, and Hartman being out with knee injuries hurts the Hoosiers chances to win, but how much could they help if the team’s understanding of basketball is so shallow a sign is required to get players to call out screens?
This is Indiana – where basketball is supposed to be fun-damental.
Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.