Crean talks lineups for Michigan

Until this week, Tom Crean has mostly vague about his decisions regarding lineups and who he plays when. He’s been a lot more forthcoming about that since Monday, when he said on his radio show that he wanted to get more minutes for freshman forward Derek Elston. In his press conference Wednesday, he talked at length about how Michigan’s four-guard lineup hamstrings him in terms of personnel decisions.

“This is the third of four games we’ll have played in the Big Ten where we really see a four-guard lineup,” Crean said. “The difference with Michigan is its basically four guards and a guy that really is a small forward at the next level in DeShawn Sims. They pose a ton of problems. I want us to get bigger, but what that means is our guys have got to be able to guard the dribble. That’s the one thing that we’re very concerned about going into this game.”

And it’s something that Crean said he’s especially concerned about with Elston.

“He’s not real comfortable guarding the small, quicker, small forward guys yet,” Crean said. “I say all this and I say it knowing that we look down the road, in a year we won’t be having this conversation because his body will be so much different. His speed and quickness will be high-level collegiate. He’s a high-level athlete, but being a high-level collegiate defender, they all go through that. … When you’re going against four guards, at some point in time, you’re going to be in a big switch game. Especially with a team that spaces the floor like Michigan does. That’s not his strong suit yet.”

Crean is apparently spending a lot of thought and energy trying to figure out what to do with the rest of his front line as well. He mentioned freshman center Bobby Capobianco as one player who is stepping up more than most, and talked about sophomore center Tom Pritchard needing to be more aggressive and meet the challenge Capobianco is presenting for playing time.

“It’s real,” Crean said. “Bobby is really improving. … The more guys we can get playing better on the front line, the better we’re going to be. It’s not any competition that I’m creating, it’s real.”


  1. I wonder if this will silence some of the armchair coaches who regularly diss Crean on this board over Elston’s playing time.

    Probably not.

  2. Probably right…I’d rather endure getting blown out of Ann Arbor by fifty points with Elston on the court struggling mightily against a bad matchup…watch him foul out and attempt to play against superior speed with some mustered grit than witness 10 seconds of Danny Moore lathering up the bottom of his sneakers with his mighty in-game spit.

    Pritchard and Elston…?… Weren’t they Sampson recruits? We paid one hell of a price for that bogus NCAA investigation…Shouldn’t we at least get our minutes worth?

  3. I’ve seen plenty of other posts on all the IU boards from guys that follow Indiana HS hoops that make the same observation about DE: He’s just not that good guarding smaller, quicker guys. But hey, he’ll get there. I’m not fretting over his playing time or abilities. He’e fine.

    Crean should play the players that gives us the best chance to win each game and I think he is doing that. Derek is getting 15 minutes per game as a freshman, so he’s getting out there and learning. Anyhow, everybody on this team needs development so its not like the minutes and experiences are being wasted on somebody who isn’t going to help us in the future.

  4. Maybe IU should try to make other teams match up with our team instead of IU always trying to match up with them?

  5. Nickelback might just be the worst band of the last 20 years. The only reason I say “might” is because they are from Vancouver, the greatest city in North America.

  6. Great idea Coach Crean! Right now, after Jones, Watford and Hulls, and sometimes Dumes, Elston is our best bet to score 15 points and our only bet to grab 15 rebounds in a game. ‘Machine’ you need to watch the games! Danny Moore has really improved from last year. His 6 minutes on the court are very positive. He is NUMBER 1 in FG% (.667), and in 3-point FG% (.667), number 2 (active) in FT% (.818), gets .10 rebounds/min, gets .24 points/min, and has 5 assists/6 TO, a great improvement from last year, and he costs us 0 scholarships! The proof is on the floor, 6-7 minutes of Danny Moore is perfect, he does add energy and grit. But give Elston 20 minutes a game or more, he is a TALENT!

  7. There are numerous ways players can cheat on individual match-up problems. Zone defenses can also deal with overall match-up issues. It’s never going to be a perfect world…Daniel Moore riding on an offensive player’s shoelaces may look like blazing speed on the court, but it can also be indicative of wasted speed. There are opportunities to sag off a player to cut down passing lanes, prevent lane penetration against a superior athlete with quicker first step, keep yourself between your man and the ball to limit vulnerability to backdoor plays, enable more efficient movement to areas of the court for quick trapping/double teaming scoring threats, etc. To simply say a guard matches up more efficiently against another guard oversimplifies the game. The only way Derrek Elston will learn how to compensate for skill inefficiencies is to get more assignments that overmatch his abilities. It’s how you build understanding of the game…It’s how you build confidence on the floor and a minimum comfort level against more experienced opponents in the future..It’s the foundation of winning.

    Derrek Elston and Daniel Moore played equal minutes against Illinois…I like Danny Moore’s energy…I like his effort. I don’t like it enough to justify the lost opportunity in Elston getting his necessary butt-shellacking minutes against high level, Big 10 opponents. If Elston is not challenged, he will not evolve into the dominant forward he can be…He has a nice looking jump shot with the ability to move his game outside the paint…agility and coordination, unteachable gifts of reaction to the ball and timing around the rim. and the fiery disposition on the court that thrives on mixing it up with the opposition and not backing down to intimidation tactics…He has all the gear.. What better time than now for Derrek to start climbing the mountain?

  8. I look at it this way.

    Next year around Christmas for us to be a good team, Elston will have to be a force at center and Moore should be sitting on the bench.

    Disclaimer: I am not a fan of Moore at all.

  9. There are good comments above on how to create match up problems. I am not sure we have the talent/athletic ability or experience to match up with most teams we play. How does IU match up with teams that have complete guards and 2 solid big men? Yes, you can zone, cheat, press all you want but in the end, like the football games, the second half is how you win or lose games. With that said, does IU have a complete player on the team? People give Laffy a hard time for his 3 star guard talk but he makes a good point in his repetitive posts. The 4 and 5 star gaurds/players are usually a complete player with more than one skill if not all skills to use on the court. IU simply does not have a complete player on the team, a truly talented player in all areas of the game of basketball thus it is almost impossible to create match up problems for other teams. Would love the feedback…

  10. JPat, you are right. We lost the only kid that had a shot at being a complete player. Coach can’t get DE to match up with our guards in practices and they are not great players like some he would have to match up with in games. So in order to get teams who play with 3 and 4 guards to shift their lineups we must make them PAY on the offensive end of the court. When our bigs learn to use their size to rebound and score it will make their playing time go up. Right now our kids as a whole are not getting the job done on the inside. We are allowing small teams to out rebound us. Our guards should not be our leading rebounders. The other teams know we can’t defend,score or rebound with this group of players. I like DE and I think he needs more playing time because he can make other teams pay but he can’t do it trying to guard players who go right past him to the hoop. All the bigger players have got to play harder and they will all benefit in the process and that is what Coach is trying to get them to understand.

  11. There will be no more games where we have a match-up edge. Even before the loss of Creek, wasn’t it obvious, we were always drawing the short straw in that department? Yet, at any level of basketball (high school, collegiate, NBA) we have all been witness to the jaw-dropping games, the upsets, the shocking scores in the morning paper (does anyone still get a morning paper?), that baffle the mind and defy the logic.
    On any given night guys can get hot. On any given night guys can lose their shot. On any given night a team can gel like never before. And on any given night, even the most talented team, can fail to find the key to victory door. Your best matchup is to never sacrifice ounce of heart for pound talent on the floor. Play disciplined in any storm. Play unselfish and true to form. Hey, maybe even play for the love of the school, desire for a first-rate education, and the castle of great memories you’ll cherish a lifetime that retreat every night to the pillow in your tiniest of dorm…Watching coaches jump from program to program, and the yearly increasing trend of one-and-done players catapulting to professional sports, God only knows how far winning has taken the ship of priorities from honorable course, lost and adrift from what should be our compass norm.

    We should be grateful to have a coach that still wants to captain such an unpopular ship.



  12. Husky,

    I also don’t care much for Nickelback..Just liked the blogging name…Can I have a second chance on the music selection?

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