BORDEN — Tom Crean declined to confirm whether or not he had hired former Marist coach Chuck Martin as an assistant coach Wednesday at the IU Tailgate Tour event at Huber Farms Winery, saying he would not talk about personnel.
He did confirm, however, both the reported game against Georgetown at Madison Square Garden on Dec. 27 and a foreign trip to Montreal in August.
Indiana’s schedule was widely criticized last season, and IU athletic director Fred Glass lamented the lack of a marquee home game. This game, however, is one of several that have been announced against major conference opponents. The Hoosiers will play Louisville in the Jimmy V Classic on Dec. 9 at Madison Square Garden, they host Pittsburgh on Dec. 2 in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge and Southern Methodist in an exempt tournament at Assembly Hall. They also play Butler in the Crossroads Classic.
“In a perfect world, one of those games would’ve been shifted to this past season,” Crean said. “Especially one of the home ones, but it didn’t work out that way. … This year, it’s all coming at once.”
The Hoyas are coming off an 18-15 season and an NIT berth. They lose second-leading scorer in Markel Starks, but return leading scorer D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera (17.6 ppg), a former North Central Star. They also return forward Josh Smith and guard Jabril Trawick.
“It’s a unique opportunity to play there right after Christmas in the Garden against a great team,” Crean said. “It’s certainly not what you’re used to doing in the sense of playing somebody that strong right after Christmas, but it will be really good for us to go into the league.”
Crean said the Montreal trip is designed to try to bond together what is still a young team coming off a disappointing 17-15 season that did not include a postseason bid. The trip will run from Aug. 7-13 and will include five games against Canadian schools in six days. The Hoosiers will play at Concordia University on Aug. 8 at 7 p.m. They will play three games at McGill University, playing Ottawa University there on Aug. 10, Carleton on Aug. 11 and McGill on Aug 12, all at 7 p.m. They will close the tour at the University of Montreal-Quebec on Aug. 13 at 1 p.m.
“The bottom line is, we’ve got to have guys come together during the summer,” Crean said. “… We’ll play some very good teams in a (small) area. At the same time, we’ll get the chances to practice. … The key is that we get really good competition and we feel like this competition will be pretty substantial for us.”
Jurkin’s status reaching tipping point
Rising junior center Peter Jurkin has played a total of 18 minutes in two seasons thanks to injury problems to both of his shins. Crean said that the 7-footer recently had surgery and that the time is coming soon when the decision will be made as to whether or not he will continue to play or take a medical redshirt.
“That’s an up-and-down situation,” Crean said. “There’s no clear path to that right now. He had his surgery. The poor guy has never been in any kind of consistent health situation since he’s been there and that goes back to his high school days.”
Crean said he’s continued to try to rehab and that he is enrolled in summer school, but that doesn’t necessarily suggest he’ll return to the floor. Crean actually said in his speech that the Hoosiers have two scholarships to work with in recruiting
“Is he going to play or is he not?” Crean said. “That’s really what it’s coming down to. We’re in Year 3 now. He’s a great kid and we want him to be successful, but you have to be healthy to have that chance to be successful.”
Crean demands more maturity, leadership
In Crean’s postseason assessments of last year’s team, he’s talked at length about a lack of maturity and poor decision making. He extended that assertion off the court in a press release when guards Yogi Ferrell and Stanford Robinson were arrested for underage drinking and possession of false identification in April.
He reiterated that lament Wednesday in both his meeting with the media and in his speech to the fans and boosters.
“We had guys (in the 2012-13 season) that were mature enough to put people in their place when they needed to be put there,” Crean said. “Our guys last year spent too much time being buddies then being absolute comrades. Comrades and even friends, they don’t let you make mistakes. It’s not just what goes on on the floor, it’s off the floor. Buddies are afraid sometimes to tell people what needs to be done. We’ve gotta outgrow that.”
Crean said much would be required of Ferrell, who goes into his junior year coming off a second-team All-Big Ten season, but also others, even though Ferrell is the presumptive captain.
“You’ve gotta have it come from more than one person,” Crean said. “… This is not a situation where it’s Yogi’s team or it’s the juniors’ team. There’s no seniors for it to be their team, but it’s gotta be a team that really comes together in a lot of different ways.”
Wilson supports early signing period
Indiana football coach Kevin Wilson said he supported the idea of an early national letter of intent signing period for football for basketball that would be earlier than is currently being discussed.
“Why don’t we have an Aug. 1 signing day?” Wilson said. “Now, this, ‘I’ve offered you,’ or ‘I’ve committed,’ well, it’s really for real. … With all these kids making their early decisions, my thing is, why don’t we just have an Aug. 1 signing day? Get you in now. If you don’t want to sign, you’re really not committed. If I don’t want to send you the scholarship paper, I really didn’t offer you. Now if there’s a coaching change, with an early signing and a coach leaves or gets fired, hey, let’s tear that paper up and you’re free to go somewhere else.”