Crean addresses Elston, Bawa

The two Indiana players who most often fill in the blank in the question, “How come _____ doesn’t get more playing time?” are freshmen forward Derek Elston and Bawa Muniru. Indiana coach Tom Crean actually addressed the status with both on his weekly radio show Monday night.

The mention of Elston was mostly unsolicited, coming in response to a general question about rebounding.

“We’ve gotta have a lot more out of our five position,” Crean said. “We’re really searching to figure what’s going to help us, and we’re looking for some consistent measures right there, and at the same time I look at it, we’ve gotta get Derek Elston more minutes. He’s had a couple of tough situations where we played four guards against Ohio State, we played four guards against Michigan. So it makes it harder for him. He’s not ready to defend those type of people yet the way we have to defend him. But we’ve still gotta get him on the court because he’s capable of getting rebounds.”

Elston is averaging just 15 minutes per game, but hasn’t played that many since the win over North Carolina Central on Dec. 19. He’s averaging 6.1 points and 4.3 rebounds per game, though, and grabbed six rebounds in just 10 minutes against Illinois.

Muniru was brought up by a caller, who asked if Muniru was going to spend this much time on the bench, why he wasn’t redshirted.

“I’m at practice with him every day,” Crean said. “I respect the fact that everybody else isn’t. As we work towards all the time, we are not in a position — I think if you look at our five position the way it is right now, with our front line abilities, there’s nothing that says he’s not going to be able to help us over a period of time. But I mean, we’re with him every day. The learning curve that he has right now is very high. He’s gotta continue to work inside of it and he is. I’ll just go on the premise that I’m there and I know what I’m doing.”

Crean said, though, that with a stronger front line Muniru would have been redshirted.

“If we had the luxury of knowing that we were going to get tremendous production over a period of time consistently over the front line, there’s not a question in my mind we would’ve redshirted him,” Crean said. “But that’s where we sit right now. Again, it’s just a matter of continued work and improving. He’s showing improvement. When I feel that it’s helping our basketball team be better, I’m going to put him out there.”


  1. Can Bawa apply for a 5th year based upon a poor coaching decision not to redshirt him? Has the kid played a SINGLE meaningful minute this year?

  2. I disagree with Coach Crean’s explanation why Bawa is not playing. Give the kid a chance. He couldn’t do any worse and he has potential to improve with playing experience. He sure isn’t getting any on the bench. He needs to be taught the power move from the block and baby hook. Let him play and have fun.

  3. This might sound arrogant but truth is truth. Crean
    is making a super big mistake with Elston. He has Star Power but you can’t jerk him in and out in short spurts and he only gets 10 minutes. You gotta believe he is the man. Crean doesn’t like him you can see it. What a shame. It is that or somebody on that team is dictating the buddy system and if Crean is letting that happen he is not the right Guy for I.U. Sounds like I’m not for Crean but I’m really for him but just like the team he needs to get his act together.

  4. The way he is treating Elston is a travesty. This kid stuck with us through all the changes and never wavered. He is our best rebounder and he gets 15 min a game? He should be starting.

  5. I’ve been asking this question about Elston for weeks. Coach, we Indiana fans aren’t blind or stupid-this kid is a talented, athletic player on a team that is severely lacking those characteristics, especially with the big guys. He needs to play, and a lot, for this team to have a chance to be more successful. Why on earth can’t he play alongside Christian Watford? I’d really love to hear an insightful answer. If I’m wrong, tell me why!

  6. Elston definitely needs more minutes. He came in the 2nd half against UI and immediately gets a rebound and fouled. Yeah he missed the free throw, but awful tough to come in cold and hit one. Elston has a nice touch and is not afraid to bang underneath. My question is what’s up with Watford? He plays about 2-3 minutes and looks totally winded. Crean usually pulls him around the 16-17 minute mark of the first half. In the Michigan game he lasted about 3 1/2 minutes before he asked to come out. Does he have health issues such as asthma or something? I can’t recall ever seeing a kid get so winded so early and having to rest as much as he does.

  7. ive wondered about Watford as well in addition to the fact that his jersey is always hanging out. give elston time, I think he will prove that he belongs out there more and crean will see to it that he plays more. its too early to say we have a solid 5 guys that should start every game

  8. Crean is a pathetic excuse for a coach. He is sounding more like Davis everyday. He is starting to see that the IU fans know their basketball and he is constantly making excuses..”I know what I am doing” Man that sounds like a Davis quote.

    I really hate this. I was really excited about his hire, but his lack of game management and the lack of ability to actually see his teams strengths and weaknesses is a Mike Davis type trait.

    I’ll still be cheering every game for these guys. But this is going to be a long 10 years fellas…

  9. Having not seen much of Muniru since he has rarely been in games, I’ll trust the Coach on him. I have no idea why Elston isn’t getting more playing time though. By the way, I hope it’s not just me, but I cannot follow many of what are apparently verbatim statements (see above) from Coach Crean worth a darn. He doesn’t complete thoughts he’s trying to express and changes directions in the middle of sentences/statements. Appears to have a serious lack of focus while speaking. I re-read statements like those above several times trying to discern what he’s trying to say. Maybe just an artifact of his high energy style of going in all directions at once?!

  10. Skip,
    I think Coach BL does the same thing. ‘We put the guy in there and I mean, those other guys were big you know, and it was juicy fruit, so we’ll just have to practice harder.’

  11. The shortsightedness and impatience of so many IU fans is really disgusting at times.

    We are less than 1.5 years into Crean’s tenure, which began with a team that was initially built starting with Kyle Taber and Brett Finkelmeier.

    I agree Elston should play more. I’m sure that will happen, as Crean himself admitted to wanting to get him more minutes. It seems as if that problem will soon be solved.

    To people who think Crean’s on the hot seat, he’s not. To those who say he’s a bad coach, he’s not. To those who say “it’s going to be a long 10 years,” just stop watching and following this team now then. It may be a long 2-4 years, but many of you are going to end up eating your words when we start fielding legitimate teams.

    Please try to gain some foresight. Sheesh.

    Give me a rational argument against Crean having an eventually successful career at IU. I’d love to hear it.

  12. I agree with Elston getting more playing time. He appears to know what he’s doing. Playing time will enhance his comfort level and we should see more production from him. I have been saying for weeks that Watford looks out of shape or something. He gives little effort, although his efforts vs. U of I were more of what I would expect from a player of his background. Freshmen need to learn to play hard all the time that will come with experience. Watch any of IU’s big guys… Capo and Elston make more things happen when they are on the floor than do Pritchard or Watford. I am not saying I don’t like Watford or TP, but the other tow need more minutes.

  13. Casey: I completely agree!

    People need to chill…..If Mo Creek wouldn’t have got hurt we wouldn’t have been blown out by OSU (but still lost) and we would have beaten the Illini. They were beat with out our best shot but we ran out of gas. Too much fouling was the difference and that happens when you’re dead tired and you’ve lost a step.

    I’ve been maintaining, and still do, that it will take at least until next year to get a victory total in the mid teens. But, I still also maintain that IU will win over 20+ games during the regular season 2 years from now, i.e. the start of Crean’s 4th year here.

    Of course, all that depends on injuries, academics, transfers, etc… These types of things could bring set backs and there’s not much that can be done about that. The loss of Creek this year is devastating and just might keep us from double digit wins. But, Rivers was a great transfer pick for this team considering it’s talent level from last year. We now have better talent, but still not a lot of depth. We need a couple years more of recruiting. Great talent coming in next year too. Patience is a must in these situations.

  14. Anybody who claims bawa needs mor eminutes is crazy. He needs time to develope. Possibly, they will give him a redshirt next year to develope

  15. Watford plays hard, but he has that Tracy McGrady lazy look to him. Thankfully thats just his look because if you watch Watford play, he does play hard. As for Elston, he does look lost at times and his shot looked off in the UI game. He should definetely be out there more than Capo, because Capos about 1/4 as tough as he looks. He looks quite short out there as well. Hopefully the freshman will mature, and play more as a cohesive team. It will come with time, and all the panic attack trolls can eat crow in 2-3 years.

  16. I would agree with the descriptors “short-sighted, impatient, and foolish” in reference to the many posters here that have childlike expectations of what Crean should be achieving right now. Do any of them have a clue as to why he was given an eight year contract? It will take that long to determine what kind of job he can do here because of the condition of the program he inherited. Good grief, armchair coaches….

  17. These posts do not deserve any response or consideration. The’re all from a bunch of high school ego failures, with very little knowledge of coaching or basketball. We have a proven coach. We do not have a base of posting fans who are qualified to coach anything above Jr. H.S. Let Crean coach and you try to learn something. You’re welcome to your opinions, however keep them to youself.

  18. At the beginning of the season , I looked at the schedule and really believed that we would make improvements this year but still finish a couple of games below .500. Then after the season began and watched how well Creek was, I reconsidered and though maybe a we could pull the halfway mark, maybe even an N.I.T. bid. Now, I’m back where I was and they’re winning and losing the same games I thought they would. What I wonder here is where all the “coaches” on here coach at?Where are you playing, that you are so much better than Crean?What contributions do you make other than sit here in front of a computer and complain? I think we have a short selective memory,I can remember The Coach, BMK, benching star players for making a bad play and leaving them in the doghouse while letting the game get out of reach and still be yelling at the player on the bench it’s his fault for being there, justto make point across.

  19. We were talking less about Elston’s minutes before Creek was hurt. Now it is a topic of focus. Coach Crean has two options with the loss of Creek, try to fix the turnovers at the guard position or add more strength inside. He has chosen to try to fix the problem at guard by starting Hulls. He like all of us recognize the interior weakness still exists. The improved play of TP is the real answer. I was pleased with the fairly decent play of Capo the other day but wonder how Elston would have done in the same situation. The lack of strength is Watford’s issue. He is a year away.

  20. Tom Crean is one of the top college basketball coaches in the US! But even the best coach (wins), Knight, got stubborn about certain players and playing combinations, does anyone remember Landon Turner? Luckily, Knight started playing Landon in Jan and we won a championship. But many of us fans complained about his lack of minutes. No, I don’t think our complaints had anything to do with the coaches decision. We need size on the floor. Lets see what Bawa, Elston, Watford, Jones and Hulls can do together for 10 minutes with no subs; then Rivers, then Dumes for scoring; then Capo and Pritchard for size. Give Elston some hugs, he had some nice looks from the 3 point line and was too terrified to take the shot-he is good at 3’s, go for it! Go IU! Yes I am NOT a coach just a fan, but we are 7-8 not 15-0, and we need size on the floor, Capo and Pritchard have had some opportunities so try Bawa, Elston, and Watford for 10 minutes with no subs. The worst thing that could happen is we tank during that time, but I doubt that it would be as bad as the Ohio ST tank.

  21. One thing a lot of fans don’t seem to notice about Elston is that his spacing has been very poor at times.

  22. Everybody needs to relax a little but. I am a huge IU fan and seeing where the program has ended up after the KS mess is hard, but come on. Crean has been here for a year and a half and started basically from scratch with this team and he is right. He is at practice everyday and we aren’t, he has coached at a high level for a long time and knows what he is doing. I would love to see Elston and Bawa get more minutes but relax. We all know this is going to be a long process and need to give the process a chance.


  24. The thing I notice about Elston is that he brings good skills and great energy, but he plays out of control a great deal of the time. I just don’t think he’s learned to harness his energy in a productive manner on the court. Honestly, the same could be said, to a slightly lesser degree, of Rivers. I love his effort, but it is often his undoing. With Elston, I think it will come with time.

    As for Muniru, I would like to see him get some game time but he is a raw talent at this point so I trust the coaches’ decision on that one.

    I think the injuries to Roth and Creek have really wreaked havoc on what little depth we had. With those two we probably had a shot at .500, but without them it is a little too much to ask at this point from these players. I just hope to see continued improvement throughout the season, much like with last year’s squad. Things are moving in the right direction, and Crean is doing a good job. Patience is key.

  25. I’m glad to see the push back against the whining and impatience. Crean is going to have success at IU and it doesn’t hinge on whether people agree with his coaching decisions.

    Elston does bring energy and rebounding to the floor. Watford is weak defensively. The problem is if both are on the floor at the same time we are either weak in the post (if Pritch is out) or on the perimeter (if Pritch is in). Watford is a better scorer at this point, so he’s getting the minutes.

    Remember that Tweet of Crean’s where he said he is looking for doers, not learners? That’s all about the Ratliff and Echinique(sp) coming in and helping solve some of this. Probably at Bawa’s expense.

  26. Mike W. you said we have “great talent coming in next year too.” To whom were you referring? All I’ve read is that we are going after 3 guards, two of whom aren’t that highly rated. I was disappointed because there were no ‘bigs’ on the list.

  27. We beat Michigan Thu and all of this anguish will go away, things will turn rosy. When we win all’s good. When we lose, whatver the real reason, things turn crazy, Crean’s past suddenly turns fraudulent and all those who didn’t play (or didn’t play enough) start to look like they could’ve turned the game around for us. (Although a minority of Crean bashers will always say the other team had a bad day).

    Recall how in September at the Auditorium Crean said:

    I want you to spread the word that we aren’t back. But, I’m telling you, the process has been sped up by the support of the fans.

    So that’s exactly how it is (besides losing Roth and Creek): we are not back. Period. But we’re getting there faster because of the fans. This includes both those with patience and those who keep reminding Coach (out of respect for him and Indiana basketball) that a certain amount of impatience is actually healthy and even necessary. I’m sure he appreciates that.

  28. Bawa definitely could have used a redshirt year, but if we’re going to play Jobe–both Bawa and Jobe are inexperienced–then I’d rather play the inexperienced player with the bigger upside and 3 years of remaining eligibility: Bawa.

    And how can people compare Crean to Mike Davis after just 1.5 years? Hello knee-jerk reactionaries!

  29. Bill,

    There is a JUCO player we are after named Ricardo Ratliffe, 6’9″, 240 pounds. Plays for Central Florida Community College. 28 pts and 11 boards per game. Number 1 rated JUCO player.

    The other player is Greg Echenique, a 6’9″, 260 lb player who is transfering away from Rutgers. Averaging 12.6 pts and 7.7 boards. Coached by Dan Hurley is HS. He is currently out of action with an eye injury. Crean is after him too.

  30. “Bill”, if I told you that Randy Whitman and Jim Thomas would be on the team next year, would you be excited? Will Sheehey reminds me of Randy and Victor Oladipo reminds me of Jim Thomas. Then we are still in the hunt with Josh Selby, a great PG, plus the JUCO’s Ratliffe (6’8/240), Vargas (6’11/210), Clark (6’9/?), Perry (6’9/235), also the HS Senior Dibo from West VA, and the transfer Echenique (6’9/260). A lot can happen! With Creek, Roth and Bawa playing next year, that is like 3 new recruits except they each will have experience! The future looks good to me!

Comments are closed.