Explaining the Horrible State of Indiana Hoosier Basketball

tom crean

Hands down, the Indiana Hoosiers are probably the worst team in the Big Ten right now. It's very unfamiliar territory considering the storied Hoosier tradition. In all college basketball,
they're third all-time in national titles, fifth in tournament
appearances, sixth in tourney wins, seventh in Final Fours, and 11th in
wins.

But since Tom Crean took over, they're a lowly 25-54 (32% winning
pct.), 5-31 in the Big Ten (14% winning pct). No wonder Crean's public
persona grows more high-strung and irritated by the week.

On Sunday night they were drilled by a Northwestern team that was itself drilled by Illinois four days before that.

Yes, we knew Kelvin "Mr. Telephone Man" Sampson came from Oklahoma
like a F5 tornado to ravage the pride of southern Indiana, but who knew
the wreckage would be this bad?

Let's take a closer look at the Bloomington rubble.

crean

In year two Crean showed a slight improvement, going from 6-25 to
10-21, 1-17 in conference to to 4-14, but this year they're taking a big
step back. They loaded up on cupcakes early; and now find themselves
crashing from the sugar high, with no nutritious consumption to speak
of. They got off to a 6-0 start against some really terrible
competition. But later lost to both Northern Iowa and Colorado, and now
find themselves 0-4 in conference play.

The thought process behind the scheduling was "get some wins, build
some confidence." Instead they developed awful habits like a lack of
intensity and awareness on defense.

Crean's bi-polar personality is not really well received within both
the University offices and the IU community. Of course some winning
would cure that. But there's also his increasingly contentious
relationship with the media. He allegedly reads everything that's written about his team and sometimes takes to task those he disagrees with.

Maybe he should take the time devoted to analyzing IU coverage and instead put it towards recruiting/making the team better?

After the loss to Northwestern, he went off on a beat reporter. To
his credit, he was somewhat professional and did not raise his voice,
but his comments were condescending and mean-spirited.

Here's the exchange:

Q: Have you considered going to any different type of offensive structure?

A: Give me an example.

Q: Going to a motion, a flex, something like that?

A: You draw something up for me, I'll take a look at it, OK?
If that's what you're thinking about, you draw something up, I'll take a
look at it, and we'll  see if we can put it in."

Clearly, that exchange shows the pressure gets to him. Hoosier nation
is beginning to regard him as somewhat of a basketball Ron Zook- great
recruiter, horrible Xs and Os tactician. Can super-recruit Cody Zeller
save this sinking ship next year? Not if Crean continues to leave the
best athletes on the bench.

But it's not all Crean's fault. There are numerous personnel issues (or maybe that is partially Crean's fault?)

They lost their European 7-footer in the off-season, so they really
have no bigs at all. And since D.J. White left school, they really
haven't had anything up front at all.

Maurice Creek
should be this team's number two or three option, but he can't even
elevate or move right now. Injury has prohibited him from getting any
lift in his jump shot, and he really should be red-shirting this season.

Creek is struggling mightily and he won't be getting any better, any time soon.

Christian Watford has to do way too much of the scoring himself.
Verdell Jones III is trying to help out. But both have to be on the
floor all the time for offense, and that's a problem because neither one
can defend a living room table. Jeremiah Rivers and Jordan Hulls are
similarly one-dimensional.

In short, it's a train wreck right now in Assembly Hall. Who knew
that one guy with text and phone habits more aggressive than your
stereotypical stalkerish ex-girlfriend would set off a scandal ravaging a
very proud program?  Who knew the aftermath would still be getting
worse, and not better three years later?

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net , a Midwest webzine. He's also a regular contributor to the Tribune's Chicago Now network, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker Network, and Fox Sports.com

You can follow him on Twitter @thesportsbank

He also does a regular guest spot each week for Chicagoland Sports Radio.com

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