One of the best parts of hosting a sportstalk radio show everyday is that I get a chance to talk to local and national experts on all kinds of things.
It’s college basketball season and this is Indiana, so I spend a lot of time talking to guys who know a lot about college hoops.
Indiana is in the midst of a miserable season and fans want answers as to the cause and correction. And so I ask the questions.
What has happened to turn a Big Ten Champion into a Big Ten doormat? I’m not quite that crass in my wording, but why has Indiana evolved into what it is from what it was is the gist of the thing.
Local IU hoops experts point at Tom Crean as the architect and implementor of the program. They talk about an inability to recruit in Indiana, schematic simplicity, ill-fitting pieces, astronomical turnover numbers, and an overall lack of understanding of how to defend.
National guys talk about injuries to Collin Hartman and O.G. Anunoby.
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Local guys talk about Indiana being a mostly ordinary program that might enjoy the fruits of a national brand like Duke of Kentucky despite results more like West Virginia.
National guys call the coaching position at IU “a top five job,” but then say a coach like Archie Miller at Dayton would likely pass if he were offered the job.
Local guys will tell us that Indiana has a Big 10 record over the last four years of 37-33. National guys talk about the two Big 10 C championships.
I’m not sure what causes the disconnect between local and national guests, but the answers from the national guys are entirely predictable.
The question that is left without an answer is why the national pundits are less likely to embrace the notion that the life cycle of the Crean Era is coming to an end than the locals.
Both sides present factually accurate arguments, but paint vastly different pictures of the basketball program at Indiana University.
Is there a personal anti-Crean enmity among the locals, or a positive embrace by the nationals – or both? Maybe it’s neither. Maybe Indiana’s propaganda has effectively painted a picture for the national guys, while the locals saw this team up close and personal before Anunoby got hurt.
Not sure there is anything to be gleaned from a discussion of the obvious but honest difference of opinion, but I find it interesting every time I talk to a local or national expert. The answers are quite predictable, but no less fascinating.
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That’s why I enjoy the perspective of informed guests despite having my own focused thoughts on the unraveling situation at IU, and that’s why you listen.
In the end, it likely doesn’t matter a damn. Athletic Director Fred Glass is the guy who will make the call on whether Crean comes back, and he’s a big boy who makes decisions without the input a the media.
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.
The difference is one of familiarity.
When my mom was in a nursing home trying to recover from a medical episode, the medical staff there looked at sterile facts and statistics and the general way of treating people like my mom.
However, being the primary care taker of my mom for 20 years, I knew her better than any person who looks at her as one of many patients. When there was a conflict, my take was right 90% of the time. I knew how she worked and I looked at her, AND ONLY HER, enough to understand just about anything that was going on with her.
That is just like the IU disconnect between the locals and the nationals. They look at statistics, the record last year, and the injuries. The locals know WHY the record is what it is and HOW they lost games, the real effect of the injuries. I am guessing the locals would probably be right a majority of the time. In addition, it is kind of tacky to be a national guy suggesting a coach is inept and should be fired.
Tragic analogy, but very apt. I would like for national guys to suggest what they believe should happen. Can’t stand the guys who refuse to provide real analysis because they don’t want to irritate (and that’s a kind word for it) a coach who might provide unique information down the road.
Jeff and Kent both nailed it! It is great to listen to others’ opinions. But agendas are different for various people. Also, Crean’s message is picked up by media pundits. And Kent had that point covered.
There is another thing working here. It is the coaching strategy toward how to win. Should the coaches and players cheat? Should the coach and players focus only on NBA preparation? Should the system be team oriented not player oriented? Should emphasis be on offense or defense or both? Should there be more or less discipline, position focus, free-wheeling, draw fouls, assists, plays, weave vs. swing vs Princeton vs just play faster?
Some say wins solve all problems. Some say status quo is good enough and why try to be better?
I say that IU is in jeopardy of losing it’s…uh…brand or legacy. But it is up to Indiana University to decide what it wants to be.
Winters sure are long when IU’s coach fields a team that doesn’t really know how to win. It is so very obvious the characteristics and priorities that IU’s basketball coaches should have. I believe that AD Glass will pull the trigger on Crean. In about 3 weeks Crean will be out and a new, clean, smart coach will take over.
Here’s a proposal from a 50 yr old Hoosier 1,000 miles away in Colorado. I won’t argue that it will address many folks fixation with banners, Blue Blood status, 5 Star recruitment, and the talk typically associated with UK, Duke, UNC, but it would get IU back closer to basketball competition exhibiting team unity, discipline, consistency, and ultimately, RELEVANCY.
Let Tom Crean leave IU on his own accord directly after the last game of this season. If he does not want to leave, then IU will relieve him of his coaching tasks. This first step has to happen, even if IU does not have a ‘big name’ coach waiting in the wings. The state of Indiana has lots of good high school coaches AND players who would bring fundamental basketball back to IU. I would rather lose with Indiana players and an Indiana coach playing fundamentally sound basketball than win banner after banner grooming kids to play in the NBA….which is what Crean is all about….he just approaches it differently and less successfully than Coach Cal and UK.
Those who have grown up around Indiana basketball (HS and College) understand this sentiment. Deep down, they know this already.
Finally, I believe coaches like Brad Stevens or Steve Alford would seriously consider the IU job now if they have EVER wanted it. Depends on how important money is to them…I don’t know. NOW is the time to make a move on the IU job. Who knows how long the legendary coaches at the other major programs will stick around? …and when those positions come open, IU doesn’t want to be competing with them.(UNC, Duke, Syracuse, UK)
Talk to Stevens and Alford at least. “Do you want this coaching job? You have a chance to build a legacy at IU. Do you know where you’ll be in the NBA or at UCLA in 3, 4, 5 years?” If they say “no thanks”, then find a born and bred Hoosier coach who understands what basketball means to all of us.
This is how a typical Hooiser fan thinks. Surprising , huh?
Lets bring in Brad Stevens, Steve Alford!! We need players like Damon. Bobby would not tolerate this!!!
If you REALLY think Brad Stevens or Alford would come here you are definitely a delusional IU basketball fan.
The name “IU” does not sell basketball like it use to. I know its hard to believe ,but coaches and players are not going to come here just because of the name. Maybe back in the day sure, but that’s gone. Get over it!
Any national prognosticator who has watched any number of IU games under Crean – good years or bad should be able to tell the team has never performed up to their potential with his coaching. You tell me a single year that they have. Sure they tied twice for the conference championship twice. The first time they had the best team in the country and the second time they had two all Americans but lost many games to teams they should have beaten easily. In any close game down the wire Crean has never been able to set up winning plays. Glass should have been smart enough to recognize his ineptitude long ago.
In addition, in the whole Crean regime. I can only think of three games they won over teams they weren’t supposed to beat – Kentucky one year and then this year Kansas and North Carolina. If I missed anyone, please enlighten me. They have played an embarrassing schedule every yearbut still have lost to teams that shouldn’t have been on the same floor with them. As for Glass, I have no faith in his ability to do his job.