Live Chat Transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thanks for being here. You can follow IU sports on the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

Are you all ready to chat?

JEREMY: Ready as I’ll ever be. Let’s dive in.

DUSTIN: That we are. Let’s get to it.

ANDY: Chat is where it’s at.

QUESTION: Good afternoon guys, I hope all is well. Thanks for your continued coverage and hard work, I appreciate it.

1. I’ll start with the Spring Game. The weather was gorgeous on Saturday and I wish I could have been there to see things for myself. It really sounds like it was a well-attended and fun event. I watched the Scoop Talk (great job Andy and Dustin) so I will try to stay away from some of the things you spoke of on that video. Were there defensive players who significantly surprised you with their performance (and changed your opinion about what you expect their role to be this coming season)? How about some offensive players that surprised you?

2. So, you’ve seen a bit of the 3-4 in action. I won’t ask you to predict how good (or bad) the defense will be this season (I always feel optimistic about things and the defense always stinks). I will ask you to predict who’s starting for the defense when the season begins? Which player(s) do you think is helped the most by this formation change?

3. Are you guys hearing anything about Josh Cunningham’s upcoming decision (and does even partially fill the huge need this team has)? I read yesterday that Max Hoetzel is now 6’8″ but I still don’t see him helping IU much in the frontcourt (everything I hear/read is that he is a shooter/wing and nowhere near strong enough to help down low yet). I know IU is bringing in Ryan Anderson for a visit but he doesn’t help next season. Are there any new names coming in for visits or being pursued?

Thanks for the chat and for your excellent coverage. Have a great rest of the week, God bless and go Hoosiers!

TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,

I’ll defer Nos. 1 and 2 to the football guys.

3. Can’t say as I’m hearing anything, but in my mind Indiana may be running third in a three-horse race for Cunningham’s services. He didn’t commit on the visit to South Carolina last week, so there’s that, but he’s got AAU coaching ties at Bradley and sees himself as a wing, not a post, which may or may not make any difference on picking IU. I think the Hoosiers still need one wing like Cunningham or former Marquette signee Marial Shayok (6-6 and now has an IU offer) with the departures of Hollowell and Etherington. You’ve got four guards with the incoming recruits, but only Troy Williams and Max Hoetzel that profile as 3s (both may see time at the 4, depending on how things play out). The newest name out there is Jakeem Yates, a 6-10 center out of Charlotte, who may visit soon. And the transfer wheel keeps turning, along with coaching changes that are leading to releases from letters of intent, so it’s a veritable Baskin Robbins flavor of the day rumor mill now.

DUSTIN: Hey TJ,

1. Don’t know if there was anyone who totally blew me away, simply because the guys who did well were players the coaches have liked since they were recruited. Rashard Fant had an excellent Spring Game and a good spring overall, but as a four-star recruit you had to presume he was capable. Coaches were happy with Chase Dutra, but they’ve always liked him a lot. I’d say David Kenney was probably what you’d call the most pleasant surprise for Indiana fans, not because he wasn’t capable because as a four-star recruit out of Pike he obviously was, but I think it would be fair to call his true freshman season at least a little bit of a disappointment. He was a little bit overweight and lost some explosiveness. He’s gained it back and I think the 3-4 look might help him more than any other player on the team. He’s looking like the player who was advertised now.

As far as offensive players, I don’t know if surprised is the right word, but the guys I think helped themselves the most were Dominique Booth, Caleb Cornett, Laray Smith and Myles Graham. None of those four earned themselves a starting spot, but I think based on what they did in the spring, they’re all going to play at least as part of the main rotation. Booth is going to be a heck of a player, and I’m not sure how much of that you’re going to see as a true freshman, but I’d be stunned if he isn’t in the wide receiver two deep. And Indiana plays six receivers in shifts of three, basically, so I think he’ll be one of those. Cornett looks like he can fill the void of a big receiver left by Cody Latimer and Kofi Hughes. Not saying he’s going to be as good as those two, but he can play. Laray Smith already had home run threat speed, he now seems to have a clue what he’s doing. And I think Myles Graham looks like a really good short-yardage back.

2. I’m going to go Darius Latham, Ralph Green and Bobby Richardson across the defensive line with Adarius Rayner, Chris Cormier, Jordan Heiderman and Shawn Heffern as the primary backups.. Nick Mangieri at the rush outside linebacker spot followed by Zack Shaw and David Kenney. David Cooper and T.J. Simmons starting at the inside linebacker spots with Marcus Oliver getting just as much action as they do. Clyde Newton and Flo Hardin will play that other linebacker spot and they’ll rotate.

I think Tim Bennett and Michael Hunter hold on to starting cornerback spots but just barely, and Fant and Padmore both play. Kenny Mullen gets the nickel spot when they use it. Antonio Allen and Mark Murphy will end up starting at safety, but Chase Dutra will play a lot and be the third safety Allen was a year ago. This sounds obvious, but I think the alignment most benefits the linebackers (I know, really going out on a limb there). But I think it’s great for Mangieri and Kenney and I think it helps Newton and Hardin second most.

3. It doesn’t help the center situation at all because Cunningham is nowhere near big enough, but the departure of Jeremy Hollowell and Austin Etherington plus the graduation of Will Sheehey actually means the Hoosiers could use some wing depth. Last year it seemed like all Indiana had was wing players. All of the sudden, the only real wing in the program is Troy Williams, plus I guess you could say Hoetzel. So Cunningham doesn’t fill THE hole, but it fills a hole. And I haven’t been really plugged in on that one, but I would say that the fact that he hasn’t committed to Indiana yet is a bad sign.

The new name on the street, according to the recruiting guys (Rabjohns, McCarthy, Albers) is Jakeem Yates, a 6-foot-10 player from South Carolina. He’s not the most coveted big the Hoosiers have ever gone after, but he’s 6-10, and they need 6-10. Word is he’s coming for a visit.

Thanks as always TJ.

ANDY: Yo, T.J.:

1. I wouldn’t say Rashard Fant “surprised” in that I’ve always heard good things about him and he came in highly-rated, but that was still an impressive performance. Same thing goes for David Kenney. The guy who really kind of surfaced for me was Nate Hoff. He looked really active for a kid his size, as his 7 tackles would attest. I thought Noel Padmore looked pretty good, too. Offensively, I might cite Myles Graham, and not just for the surname. His numbers weren’t all that great, but I thought he ran with authority.

2. Gracious. Frankly, that’s a lot to ask of lowly scribes after their having just seen the 3-4 in a single game-situation intrasquad scrimmage. I guess I’d say I expect the defense to be more creatively aggressive but probably still prone to giving up big plays, which is only to be expected during a set transition period. A big key is stopping the run, but I like the look of IU’s defensive frontliners. But the biggest questions are perpetual. Can IU’s defenders get off blocks? Can they make plays in space? They look like they have the size, but do they have the speed? As for projected starters at this juncture, jeez, I’ll go with Green, Latham and Robinson up front, Cooper and Simmons at MLB, Mangieri and Hardin at OLB, Bennett and Fant at CB, Allen and Murphy at S. Kenney, Oliver, Hoff, Dutra and others are clearly in the mix, and don’t be surprised if some freshmen linebackers (Scales, Gooch, McCray) and DBs (Fields comes to mind) are in the picture this fall. Mangieri, Kenney and Latham are three guys who seem to really benefit from the formation change.

3. Given he delayed his announcement to work in a visit to South Carolina, that wouldn’t seem to bode well for IU, but who knows? Maybe Dustin and Jeremy do. As for new names, the one that seems to currently stand out is Jakeem Gates, a 6-10 kid and 2014 recruit from Charlotte. He reportedly says he’s going to visit IU and Oklahoma State. Georgia Tech and Marquette are among the others interested.

Thanks, TJ.

QUESTION: One and done in college basketball seems to be coming to Indiana. We seem to be going after guys with one year of eligibility left to fill vacancies on our roster. Some of them we never recruited and that in itself makes me wonder if this is the way to go. Personally, I don’t agree with what we are doing. Why do we spend so much time, effort and money to recruit all over the country to ultimately settle for a guy who transfers from another school or has one year of eligibility left. Sort of a band-aid fix to something which needs more attention. I might be one of the old basketball fossils out here who appreciates the young players we build relationships with during the recruiting process. And in this process we not only help them develop their games, but their character as well.

1) Can we be competitive this coming season by bringing in guys with one year of eligibility left? Seems to me it would take some time to be effective in a new system.

2) The 1-5 star rating system has always been a debatable issue to me. We have had some success with 3 and 4 star players, but it seems like we are not as aggressive as we used to be going after the blue chippers. Are we backing off?

3) Perhaps I wrong, but I thought Noah’s rebounding and scoring numbers went down as the season progressed. Same thing with Troy, Jeremy and Hanner. Are the guys we are after doing the math? Is this a contributing factor in their decision making process to attend or not attend Indiana?

4) Finally, do you think Yogi will return to full point guard mode with Robert J and James B coming in? Will he give up his points and get the ball to them or will he continue to play the way he did last season? If he does, I can’t see Robert or James being too happy.

indianavelt, Fort Wayne

JEREMY: indianavelt,

I see where you’re coming from, and I don’t think that aspect of recruiting is completely dead at IU or elsewhere. However, the immediacy of college basketball these days – the must-win now pressure on coaches/programs, the must play now desire of players and must move up the ladder now approach from coaches – conspires to force unlikely and unknown bed fellows.

Indiana is in a position where another 17-15 record with no postseason tournament means heads will likely roll, and all the guys it has put time and resources into are headed elsewhere. Which leaves no choice but to dig under every rock and explore every available option. Yes, it is a band-aid, but the long-term fix was to get production from Peter Jurkin’s scholarship and not lose Luke Fischer after a semester. Not saying either of those is necessarily anybody’s fault, but what’s happened is the way it is, and now IU has to find a way to overcome that deficiency.

1. Yes, I think IU can be competitive with a one-year fix. The reason is that whoever comes in doesn’t have to be a double-double every night or average 15 points per game. The Hoosiers need somebody or two somebodies who can set screens, rebound, defend and commit five fouls, preferably over the course of 20-plus minutes. Add them to Perea and Davis, and you’ve got enough to let the shooters and slashers go to work.

2. From what I can tell, there’s no shortage of blue chippers Indiana is looking at down the road, but it seems like fewer of the players who fit that profile are keeping Indiana on their short list. Clearly, the number of stars isn’t all there is to recruiting, so that may or may not matter. The question is whether the luster is coming off IU’s shine. That will be better answered when the November signing period rolls around.

3. Noah’s numbers were down, in Big Ten play, but he still led the conference in rebounding. Now point production was a little more inconsistent, and we’re not sure how much the late-season foot injury played into all of that either. Hanner had that big game against Ohio State late in the year and was pretty much never heard from again. But Troy played his most productive minutes of the season down the stretch. So all that to say it’s more of an individual thing than a collective one, and I’m not sure that’s the equation that recruits are finding problematic.

4. Do I think Yogi’s going back to averaging eight points a game like he did as a freshman? No, and that wouldn’t be good for IU either. But I think this stat is interesting: Yogi averaged 4.2 assists as a freshman and 3.9 as a sophomore. So despite a nearly 10 points a game increase in scoring, the assists dipped only marginally. So I think you’re still going to see Yogi in the 15 ppg area and it’s possible his assist numbers bump up to five or so per game. I think considering the lack of a significant post scoring presence, there will be plenty of shots to go around for the guards.

DUSTIN: Indianavelt,

Obviously, going after four-year players is optimal and that’s what everyone likes to do, but Crean is going after transfers because that’s what’s available and he’s in a bind. This wouldn’t be happening if the four-year player the Hoosiers had, Luke Fischer, hadn’t transferred out in December. If the Hoosiers knew they weren’t going to have Fischer, they would have invested a lot of time going back years on big guys for the 2014 class. Because they had him, they went after what they needed for the fall signing period, which was shooting, and by the time Fischer transferred, most of the frontcourt talent had committed elsewhere. There’s more transfer talent than high school talent available in the spring because, again, most of the high school players have already picked a school and the transfers don’t usually declare their transfers until the season ends. And if the benefit of taking a one-year player is that he only holds up a scholarship for a year and you can go after a four-year answer in 2015 instead of taking a multi-year transfer who takes up a scholarship you can’t use for the next class. This isn’t a philosophical change that Crean is making here, it’s a response to the situation that’s facing him. The bigger problem is that he can’t get anyone to actually commit.

1. Well yes, because in most cases you’re dealing with seniors who have already been in a college basketball program for 3-4 years. It’s not easy to pick up even for those guys, but they have a better chance of pulling it off then the true freshmen, and well, having a big guy who takes some time to pick up the system is better than having no big guy at all.

2. Well, two things here. No. 1, you can’t view the rating system as something that basketball coaches actually use as a guide. The rating system is for the fans. Coaches don’t say “I need this many three stars, this many four stars and this many five stars in my program.” There’s not a formula for that and any coach who bases his recruiting on what a recruiting service says is abdicating his job. Basically, the five-star system is what was concocted by a bunch of reporter types attempting to answer the fans’ question of “So, how good is that guy we just got supposed to be?” It’s objective, but it’s not necessarily scientific, and it mostly exists to give fans some more perspective of what they’re watching in terms of recruiting. Sometimes it ends up being accurate in the long-term, sometimes it doesn’t, but mostly it’s to provide a snap shot of where guys stand when they graduate high school.

Is Indiana backing off five stars? I don’t think so. James Blackmon Jr is a five-star, and he’s the fourth McDonald’s All-American the Hoosiers have recruited in four years. Outside of Kentucky, North Carolina, Duke and Kansas, and possibly UCLA or Arizona, I’m not sure there’s another program who can make that claim. And Blackmon was one of I believe nine five-star recruits the Hoosiers were involved with at one time or another in the 2014 class and five that they were either a finalist for or had committed at one point (Trey Lyles). So I don’t think that’s evidence they’re backing off. Now, will they actually get anybody in 2015, that I don’t know, because they’re not recruiting from as much of a position of strength as they have been. They have offers in to several top 20 players including Stephen Zimmerman and Carlton Bragg, but I don’t know if they have a real chnce at those guys.

3. Most people’s numbers go down as the season progresses, and Troy’s actually went way up at the end of the year. I don’t know if it’s math, but I’m sure that coaches who want to do some negative recruiting have a lot they can throw at guys right now. Failing to earn even an NIT berth doesn’t so much help a coach on the recruiting trail.

4. I think so. I mean, Yogi’s going to score because he can and he does still have to. You’re not going to see him average four points a game. He’s going to go to the rim because he can and he’s going to shoot because he can, but he’s not going to have to shoot as much because he will be able to drive and kick to people who can actually make shots. I’d say he averages in the 13 points per game range. If he’s at 17 or 18 again, it probably means trouble, but I don’t think being a point guard means you don’t ever look for your own shot. He’s still an offensive weapon.

Thanks as always Indianavelt.

ANDY: indianavelt:

What makes you say that? Noah Vonleh? How many other “one and done” guys has Indiana had? Who among their current recruits or prospects seem likely to be one and done? Not very many, if any. Sure, there are some 5th-year graduate transfer guys, but that isn’t the same category. And it’s just one of the avenues for elite competitiveness these days. Most coaches aren’t going to turn down a prime “one and done” periodically, but are still looking to build programs through guys that’ll be around longer, and IU is no exception. Tom Crean didn’t want Luke Fischer to leave, and was counting on him to be a three- or four-year fixture up front. But when unplanned transfers like that happen, coaches will naturally look at a stop-gap measure or two in addressing it. Not saying one-year guys are optimal, necessarily, but sometimes it makes sense for all involved.

1. Again, as noted above, most of the guys IU is bringing in or looking to bring in aren’t one-year dudes. So I don’t know your question is valid.

2. This seems contradictory to your previous inquiry. You say IU is going after “one and dones” but now isn’t pursuing “blue-chippers?” I would presume Indiana is going after the best players it can get who it feels fits its system and plans well, and that will involved a range of star ratings (and, like you, I’ve never been a huge fans of the star-rating system as anything more than just a very general guide.) I doubt, however, IU is “backing off.”

3. Noah’s numbers fluctuated a bit, and he missed time late, so perhaps you’re right on that, but Troy’s numbers went up. Jeremy and Hanner just didn’t play very much down the stretch. Wouldn’t imagine those things would affect recruits’ attitudes at all. Other things might, but not that. Players understand that playing time fluctuates on any and all teams (though most self-confident young prospects don’t think it’ll happen with them.)

4. Sure. I think Yogi understands as well as anybody IU needs more dudes to comprise a perimeter threat. He’ll still look to score, as he should, but he’ll not ignore the additional weaponry. He likes to pass the ball, too.

QUESTION: Hey fellas,

Well, it looks like the beer led me to attend the spring game over the IU baseball game. What ever happened to the Tracy’s Terrance from Sembower Field? Didn’t carry over to the Bart? Sometimes you just want to get outside, eat a dog, drink a beer, and watch some baseball. It’s America.

Am I going to see you guys at Dyngus Day? Andy, Dustin, Kevin Wilson, and myself will do a shotski. Sorry, Jeremy. Football dudes….

From your favorite,

I like soup!, Blooomington

JEREMY: Soup,

Pretty sure Dyngus Day isn’t an official H-T holiday. Maybe we should look into that.

DUSTIN: Sadly, Soup, it did not carry over to the Bart. Once you start charging admission, you’ve got liabilities and such when it comes to alcohol. And Tracy’s terrace at Sembower was in left where there’s now a bullpen. However, baseball tailgating is also becoming a thing.

Dyngus Day? I’m in. The bosses will love me taking off a Monday for that. Good call Soup.

ANDY: Souper:

A prominent IU official (who shall absolutely remain nameless) recently and very jocularily “proposed,” in the presence of some of us media folk, that IU create a “Hoosier beer garden” of sorts on the grassy hillock that marks the south end of Memorial Stadium — with the basic concept being putting in a fence and just shifting the bacchanalia seen across 17th Street to the very borders of the stadium where opposing teams (whose locker room is at that end) can get a real good gander at it.

This was meant completely in jest, of course. But a brilliant concept, I thought, nonetheless.

First Dyngus shot is on me.

QUESTION: Good afternoon fellas,

I was wondering if you all had any new news on any Big men that Crean might be recruiting for next years class? Also, will the IU baseball team have to win the Big Ten regular season and tournament to host another regional? Thanks again guys for all your hard work, love reading all of your articles.

Chris, Bloomington

JEREMY: Chris,

As mentioned above, the latest big man is reportedly Jakeem Yates of Charlotte, a 6-10 center who reclassified from the class of 2013 to attend prep school a year. Indications are he would like to visit IU, so we’ll see if that happens. Beyond that, the Hoosiers have allegedly shown interest in a number of other big men, but offers and reciprocation of interest have been elusive. More transfers or releases from letters of intent coming every day, so I’m sure the picture will look different tomorrow, let alone next week.

DUSTIN: Only what you have seen elsewhere. Jakeem Yates of South Carolina is the new name out there per the main recruiting dudes (Rabjohns, McCarthy, Albers). So we’ll check in to that one. As far as 2015 is concerned, I know IU has been involved with Stephen Zimmerman and Daniel Giddens, who are top 30 players, but so are a whole ton of other teams.

Great baseball question, and I’m really not sure. Indiana’s RPI number is great right now at No. 9 and that’s going to help a lot, but there’s a good chance that RPI number will come down even if IU doesn’t lose all that much. Illinois is the only remaining team they’ll play in the Big Ten before the tournament with an RPI in the top 100. Meanwhile, everyone in the ACC and SEC and Pac 12 will be playing each other and their RPIs will go up through that alone. So I’d say they probably have to win the regular season title to host and they should at least show up well in the tournament. Winning it might not be a necessity, but I don’t expect them to have a top 10 RPI number by the time of the conference tournament in Omaha.

ANDY: Chris:

Jakeem Gates, a 6-10 kid from Charlotte in the 2014 class, now apparently intends to visit IU and Oklahoma State. Georgia Tech is on him, too, among several other schools. Bit of a late-bloomer, it seems, but I watched a five-minute clip on him last night and he seemed a potentially useful player. Moves well. Can shoot it a bit. Will likely need to add strength. But he looked like a guy who could supply some needed minutes next season. Josh Cunningham, the 6-7 kid from Chicago, announces his choice tomorrow. And if Max Hoetzel is actually 6-8 now, that helps. He talked with people yesterday about potentially developing into a “stretch four” a-la Watford at some point. Also, Ryan Anderson, a 6-9 transfer who has a year of eligibility remaining but who will have to sit out the upcoming season, is also plannnig an IU visit.

As for baseball, well, it obviously wouldn’t hurt the cause to add B1G titles. IU’s starting pitching will have to hold up after Hart’s recent loss to Tommy John surgery and Coursen-Carr’s recent struggles, but last night’s shutout of Western Kentucky wans’t a bad sign in that regard. And since IU had a No. 9 national RPI this week, I’d say the Hoosiers are currently in the regional-hosting picture. Can they stay there? The RPI will go down some even if they keep winning, because some of the upcoming league foes aren’t particularly highly-rated. But I’d say, for now, IU has a fighting chance to host again.

Thanks, Chris.

QUESTION: Hey guys,

Soccer dudes, in my opinion, IU had an up and down game last night. The trio of Femi, Thompson, and Vollmer gives IU 3 very dynamic players. Each one of these guys can break down a team on their own but I saw two major problems last night. I’m not very familiar with the roster but in my opinion, we’re missing a ball mover like Petts who can control the flow of game and keep possesion in the middle, and our defense had way too many lapses. They seemed to be constantly losing the runners off the ball. So my questions are about how was the lineup last night compared to what we should expect next season (I noticed Oliver didn’t play)? And what do you think this team can accomplish come regular season?

Also, is the much of a chance Kenny Johnson stays at IU? Reports I have read have said that he has been offered the top assistant job at quite a few good programs and when you combine that with the negative momentum IU seems to be riding at the moment, it doesn’t seem like he has much incentive to stay.

Thanks.

Yes, Bloomington

JEREMY: Yes,

As is often the case in spring, the games are about seeing who can play where, and that wasn’t necessarily the optimal lineup for IU. As you noted, Andrew Oliver did not play. He has a leg injury, or “knock” as Todd Yeagley called it, and has sat out the last two games. Yeagley said he hopes Oliver can come back for the Mexico game in Indy on April 27 to pair up with Femi. Also, Kerel Bradford didn’t play due to injury on the back line. But incoming freshman Jack Griffith, who enrolled in January, filled in nicely along with Derek Creviston. Vollmer has been playing in the back some, but was in the midfield last night. Yeagley said he’s trying to figure out where the pieces fit, particularly Tanner Thompson, along with Akron transfer Matt Foldesy. Another incoming freshman, Michael Riedford, played some last night and has impressed this spring. And there are some more incoming freshmen that could be impactful, particularly Grant Lillard in the back, and Cory Thomas up front.

Well, Kenny Johnson is certainly a hot commodity, but I’m not sure that there are actual offers yet. The IU situation is a factor, but one of the options is allegedly Maryland, Johnson’s alma mater. However, the Terps are coming to the Big Ten and head coach Mark Turgeon isn’t riding a wave of positive momentum himself. I also imagine IU might offer him a little extra incentive to stay. We’ll see what happens.

DUSTIN: Yes,

The people I’ve spoken to — who, I should point out are about a step or two removed from the discussion and certainly couldn’t be considered in Johnson’s “camp” if he has such a thing — don’t think he comes back, but who knows. If there’s an offer from Maryland, that’s home, and his current job isn’t as appealing as it was a year ago. But maybe IU gives him an offer he can’t refuse and he stays. We’ll see.

ANDY: Yes:

Jeremy saw last night’s game and I didn’t, so I’ll let him offer pertinent observations in that regard, but I did see IU against Indy Eleven and would agree with your point about midfield. The defense actually held up pretty well against Indy Eleven, I thought, especially given the number of new faces. I don’t know why Oliver didn’t play last night, but I would think he’d be in the plan for next fall. It’s reallly tough to predict how IU will fare next fall, given the number of new players on the pitch. I think the talent level will be sufficient, but who knows how the chemistry and cohesion will come along?

Coach Tom Crean apparently has said that he doesn’t look for Kenny Johnson to depart for anything other than a head-coaching job. But Johnson is clearly coveted as an assistant by other prominent programs, including Maryland, his old stomping ground. I would think, at this juncture, IU might well find a way to add some financial and/or status incentives for Johnson to stay. It’ll be interesting to see how it shakes out.

QUESTION: 1. What’s the scoop on Casey Smith? I understand he was/is hurt? Will he be back?

2. Baseball is a funny game. Sunday IU looked pretty good at the plate but was hitting tons of “atom balls” and lost…then last night they have a noodle-armed lefty with 10 innings under his belt make them look awful, but they won. Only comment there is I hope that the good approaches we’ve been taking at the plate haven’t left us suddenly.

3. I understand not a fair comparison, but just for fun, who wins more Big Ten games next year…..Tom Crean’s Hoosiers or Curt Miller’s Hoosiers?

Snarky Hoosier, Ellettsville

JEREMY: Snarky,

I’ll skip right to No. 3. I think Curt Miller’s team could be better next year and not see much different of a record with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten. So I think I’ll still go with Crean’s Hoosiers.

DUSTIN: Snarky,

1. Good question on Casey. Did see him on crutches and haven’t had a chance to ask about him yet. Even if he does come back, he’s going to have a hard time winning back the starting job in left. Hartong’s been playing pretty well and Casey was slumping before the injury.

2. They didn’t have great approaches yesterday, but would point out that the kryptonite for this offense is in fact, noodle-armed lefties. (See the Mississippi State game). Lefties that come out and throw a bunch of junk and can get breaking balls to go for strikes tend to cause them problems, because the IU approach is sit fastball, spit on breaking pitches. I don’t know that the approach has left him, but if you’ve got a lefty who can do what Thurston did yesterday, that’s a good way to beat Indiana.

3. I’m still going to say Crean. I could be very wrong.

ANDY: SH:

1. Dustin is the dude to potentially address this one.

2. This team can hit.

3. Good question. Probably depends on which day you ask me as to what answer I’d give. Today, and I could be completely full of prunes saying it, I’m going with the IU men. I think (what will likely be low) expectations might get exceeded there. I do think the women will continue to progress, will continue to build, but like the IU men still need to add some capable big folks up front.

QUESTION: Public opinion has shifted against Crean rather quickly. The biggest surprise for me has been regarding the culture of the program. My perception of the 2012-13 team was they had an incredibly strong culture within the program. Highlighted by excellence in the classroom, the bench mob, not getting in trouble off the court, recruits wanting to play for the Hoosiers, and roster stability. My instinct was to give Crean a lot of credit for building this culture. Today, that perception seems to be completely off base. Players get in trouble off the court (2 game suspension?? come on!?!?!?!), mass exodus of players, recruits not wanting to play for Crean despite success in NBA draft, and former players saying negative things about Crean.

Am I correct that IU basketball has a culture problem? What does Crean need to do to get the culture of the program back on track?

Thanks!

OLD

Overton’s Limo Driver, Bloomington

JEREMY: OLD,

I’m not sure I can say there’s a culture problem, because I’m not privy to the inner workings of that culture. At the same time, maybe the culture previously perceived as being established didn’t take root as much as thought, but again, we don’t know that for sure.

So all that said, what I feel safe in saying is there is or has been a chemistry/leadership issue that must sort itself out if next season is to be any more successful than the previous one. Part of that means the players have to take ownership and invest themselves in a better outcome, which requires discipline on and off the court.

DUSTIN: Let’s put it this way. If I say there’s a culture problem at Indiana, that’s kind of like a prosecutor filing charges. I darn well better prove that beyond a reasonable doubt and I can’t do that right now. So I’m not going to say you’re right, but I’m not going to say you’re wrong either, because I also can’t prove they DON’T have a culture problem and you’ve certainly mentioned some evidence that could lead to that conclusion.

And if he does have a culture problem, I’m not sure what exactly Crean needs to do because I’m not in his office and I don’t see how he deals with each player individually on a day-to-day basis. But I’d say generally that any coach who has a culture problem in his locker room first has to take the step of looking in the mirror and asking what he’s done to allow that culture to develop and go from there.

Sorry for the vagueness, as this is certainly a great question and the one everybody’s asking, but it would be irresponsible of me to answer flippantly.

ANDY: OLD:

I’d say at least the “public” public opinion has shifted, among those who make their opinions overt in chat-rooms, internet boards and radio call-in shows, but that doesn’t necessarily or automatically equate to a huge shift in the fan base as a whole. Maybe it does. But, for me, it perhaps just means the loudest or most passionate folks are honked, and they are the ones most naturally prone to impatience and what-have-you-done-for-me-lately reactions. I think a lot of quieter IU fans remain appreciative of what Crean did in terms of rebuilding the program quickly and remain at least nominally supportive, depending upon what direction things take from here. Even among the supporters, however, I’d say next season looms large.

Not saying your concerns and observations, about culture and overall program cohesion, aren’t valid. Few of us are privy to what is actually going on behind the scenes, but the signs (many of which you cite) haven’t seemed good in recent months. Some of that comes from the natural grumpiness that comes from a disappointing season — one that could have gone well but didn’t. Coaches aren’t happy with players. Players aren’t happy with coaches. That’s just a natural byproduct. Is there currently a cultural problem? Could well be. If so, what is the magnitude of it? Hard for outsiders to say.

I will say this, however. I think had the culture completely collapsed, I think we’d have seen more signs of it on the court. After the Penn State/Purdue debacle, the team came back to win a couple of big games at home against (then) Top 25 foes. Even the last week of the regular season, Indiana was taking Michigan absolutely to the hilt up in Ann Arbor. So I didn’t see a complete unraveling. I did see a young team struggling, with shooting and other basic elements of play, but not necessarily a lack of effort. Vonleh’s situation troubled me some — and I do think there were some issues behind the scenes — but, again, I’m not sure things are quite at the nadir some people might think.

I do think the coaches, as well as the players, always need to look to improve. That includes the head coach. He has to make sure he’s doing everything he can to make players want to play, and play hard, for him. Sometimes coaches need to take a step back, consult with trusted peers, and re-evaluate approaches. Steve Alford did that after his Iowa situation unraveled and I think he got better as a coach. Not saying Tom Crean needs to totally revamp, by any means, but to simply be reflective about approaches. And I think that goes for all of us in our varying professions. We can retain our core convictions without being totally set in our ways.

QUESTION: Guys, Where do you think Fred Glass stands with Crean and the poor performance of the men’s basketball program this year? Fred has publicly said all the things an AD has to, but do you get any sence he is well aware of the fan/donor/alumni frustration with how things are going on and off the court?

Silas, Lafayette

JEREMY: Silas,

I feel confident in saying that Fred Glass is quite aware of public sentiment and most certainly the trends as they relate to donations and the like. I think, as Glass has stated publicly, he’s still on board. I’m sure he’s aware of both sides of the issue, but also realizes that Crean’s body of work deserves more than a knee-jerk reaction.

DUSTIN: The impression that I get (and this certainly doesn’t come directly from him because like you said, he’s saying all the right things) is that Glass’s is disturbed but he’s not ready to give up on Crean because he was genuinely very pleased at what he saw from the program the previous two years. He’s thrilled to death with Crean’s academic record, he thinks Crean deserves a lot of credit and even more than he gets for leading the program back from the abyss after the Sampson situation and he legitimately doesn’t hold the Syracuse loss in the Sweet 16 against Crean as much as the fans do. He likes a lot of Crean’s philosophies and what he stands for. But I’m sure he’s aware of the frustration because I’m sure he’s getting calls and e-mails. He doesn’t want to make a move, but he also knows that if the trend continues downward next year, Indiana is going to run into problems on a lot of levels from recruiting to fund-raising that could hold back not just the program but the department. He admittedly doesn’t have a coach-level understanding of any sport he oversees, but he is a smart administrator and has shown with the Lynch firing that he will go with his head even when it goes against his heart. He’s going to give Crean his opportunity, and if he wins in 2014-15 he’ll be forcefully public with his support. If Crean doesn’t win, he will obviously evaluate the alternative.

ANDY: Silas:

I think Fred is well aware of the sentiment, but is also aware of what the program did the previous couple of years. If Indiana didn’t meet expectations last year, it exceeded them two years ago and spent most of the following season ranked No. 1 and winning the school’s first outright Big Ten title in 20 years. I think he isn’t going to over-react.

Next season is important, though.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us.

What’s on the agenda for the rest of the week? weekend?

JEREMY: Well, I’m putting together a feature on IU water polo’s Shae Fournier for Friday’s paper, then Dustin and I will be checking out basketball recruits Robert Johnson and Max Hoetzel at the Derby Festival Classic Friday night.

DUSTIN: We’ll be heading down to Louisville tomorrow night to cover the Derby Classic. Will be my first live look at Robert Johnson Jr and Max Hoetzel. Mike Miller will take Friday night’s IU-Michigan State baseball game and I’ll take the rest of the series. And we’ll be monitoring all kinds of other stuff, including the Kenny Johnson situation. Thanks as always.

ANDY: Should be a nice weekend to go catch the Hoosier baseball team hosting Michigan State. Thanks to all those who chatted and/or checked in.