Coaching changes bring a change of culture. Culture change brings adversity. Adversity brings roster changes.
Such is the cycle of life in college basketball.
Curtis Jones was recruited to Indiana by Tom Crean, and he played his freshman season for the former coach. When Archie Miller replaced Crean, it became clear very quickly that the two leaders shared little other than a love for basketball.
Indiana announced yesterday that Jones has decided to leave the team immediately and will transfer at the end of the semester.
While I’m a big fan of fighting through adversity, it’s not always the right option for everyone. Testing yourself to see exactly how much misery you can bear isn’t a valuable experience for all.
Miller is demanding. He coaches basketball is a specific way, and there are consequences for non-compliance, as there should be.
I have no special insight into Jones’ decision, but college athletes have a very short window of opportunity to enjoy the challenges of playing a game they enjoy. Some want to enjoy playing the game, and others crave the opportunity to push themselves through the membrane of pain to the potential joy that awaits on the other side.
Whether Jones was too soft to respond to Miller’s challenges, they spoke different languages, or it was simply a bad fit unlikely to improve, Jones made the call he thinks is best.
There is no reason to blame him, nor any reason to blame Miller given what we know right now.
This is college basketball, where every player for a major conference team believes he will eventually play in the NBA. If that dream dims, players seek hope. Sometimes perpetuating hope requires packing.
My advice would always be to stick it out and find a way to overcome a set of adversities where the risk is minimal. Learning techniques for dealing with temporary woe will bring enormous benefit later in life. But there can also be situations where unpleasantness seems unending, and a change of address becomes a necessity.
When I was a freshman at IU – in the same dorm where Jones and other Hoosier athletes live – I was thoroughly miserable. My roommate was a drug addled pain in the ass with a live in girlfriend every other weekend. The social structure of my floor was set with upperclassmen, and I wanted out.
My parents talked me into sticking it out, but recommended I seek a change of roommates. That change was accommodated with dispatch after I explain the routine illegal drug sales and consumption of my roommate. That small move was a perfect remedy for all my ills.
Moving helped me, even though my move was simply from one tower at Briscoe Quad to the other.
Jones leaving IU gives him a chance to find a happier home, and Miller gets a scholarship to bank or use.
Everybody can win here.
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.