Crean wants conference season to start earlier in December

We’ll get the basics out of the way first. Indiana junior guard Verdell Jones is still day-to-day with the ankle injury that kept him out most of the second half of Saturday’s game with Kentucky. Second, Indiana coach Tom Crean said finals week practices have been productive, and that rebounding and boxing out have been the focus. Third, his biggest concern about Southern Illinois-Edwardsville in today’s 7 p.m. game is its ability to put a full squad of shooters on the floor.

With that out of the way, let’s get to Tom Crean’s suggestions about altering the Big Ten schedule so there aren’t league games during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day.

Crean was asked during Thursday’s media availability session if he believed all conference games should be played after Jan. 1. He said first he thought the conference should shorten its schedule from 18 games to 16, but if that isn’t an option, he’d rather see a game or two played at the beginning of December sometime before the beginning of finals when the students are still on campus.

His rationale follows:

“I’d prefer to play in December,” he said. “I think that playing in December when your students are on campus would be a great way to start it. But that’s just a personal opinion. Rather than playing around Christmas time. I always thought Christmas time should be used to give you a chance to go home. Then you come back and you play some non-conference games, then you get ready for the conference season. I still wish we were at 16, and I’m not quite understanding when we’re not when some other conferences that we compete against are at 16 games. If it’s going to stay where it’s at, I’d love to see us get to where we play a home and road game in December where everybody could kind of get that juice a little bit on campus. I don’t think it would take anything away from football. It’s certainly not going to take anything away from football in the Big Ten. Big Ten football is always going to be a major topic of conversation.  To add a couple of basketball games in December, I think it would make a lot of sense. There’s too many games on Dec. 27. Somebody could look at that and say, ‘Well, you chose a tournament.’ Other people choose tournaments at Christmas time too, before Christmas time. Optimum thing to me is to play the 22nd or 23rd and give them some time off for Christmas, come back the 27th and play the 29th or 30th. I would prefer the games after Christmas were non-conference, then get into the new year and play your conference. I know we can’t do that now, because there’s too many games, but let’s look at moving them to December.

“I don’t know if anyone else shares that opinion. It’s my opinion. I’ve never brought it up to anybody else. But it makes sense to me. I would hope it would make sense to others. If we’re trying to make sure that we’re putting our best foot forward, if we’re trying to drive up attendance and awareness, which seems to be the mission at most major conferences, how do you keep driving up the awareness of your conference? Let’s play in December. Let’s play in December. Let’s get everyone an opportunity to play home and on the road, but only when the students are there, so that you have big-time student games. Think about it, we’re playing the 27th and 31st with no students. I know you can look at it and say everyone else in the Big Ten is going to have that situation and they are, but that doesn’t mean it makes sense. I’d rather see it when it could be at a fever pitch in December, I think it would even help sell your non-conference games that much more. We don’t have student ticket issues. We gotta get them here a little bit more, but let’s have someone they can really look forward to in December. If you have a league home game and then one or two good home games like what we would have next year with the marquee games, that would be a big move for your program in the non-conference season.”

It’s an interesting idea. The last league I covered, the Colonial Athletic Association, usually played one conference game the first weekend of December. It was obviously a little awkward for teams to gear up for that and then go back to non-league games for a month and there were still games in the first week of the new year that didn’t have students, but it obviously lessened the effect. It successfully avoided having conference games during finals or the week after Christmas.


  1. All I read was ‘blah blah blah’ and ‘complain complain complain’.

    Ultimate control freak and ego-maniac. Hopefully with good reason (someday).

  2. And you never complain, right? All we’ve ever heard from you is blah blah Penn State blah blah blah.

  3. BTW, did anybody see peegs video of Ron Patterson.

    He is going to be a good one. Defensively he is a monster.

  4. Hugh-

    What plant’s leaves and berries are a popular choice for festive decoration during the holidays? Here’s a suggestion for a Hoosier Morning song choice…Gotta love seeing Graham Nash as a youngster.

  5. Of course, there are a lot of football games coming up during the holly days…Do you even know who Frankie Avalon is?

  6. I listened to a friend of mine in early fall telling me how Crean had a huge ego. I just don’t get it, I really don’t. Knight and Sampson….huge ego but Crean, give me a break!

  7. Bobbie Sue,
    I don’t really want to get into whether or not Crean is a control freak or ego-maniac here. (Not that it’s necessarily a bad thing considering his position sort of requires that kind of personality, but it’s debatable. He’s not Bobby Knight in that category, but he isn’t Bill Lynch either). But if this came through as Crean complaining, then I’m not sure if the nature of the conversation came through correctly in this blog. He didn’t launch this idea. He was asked about what he thought would be the ideal way to handle the scheduling and this is what he came up with. He wasn’t belly-aching about IU being screwed over, he was just presenting a logical alternative to the current situation. I’d say if you asked the rest of the media that were there, they wouldn’t tell you that he was complaining but that he came up with a useful idea that might be worth taking to the Big Ten. Considering the game this leads up to, I thought it might be something interesting to read about.

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