Crean decries IU’s lack of accountability, leadership

INDIANAPOLIS — Indiana’s recent string of off-the-court incidents has pushed the Hoosier locker room toward a tipping point.

Speaking at a fan event Thursday at Lucas Oil Stadium, Tom Crean responded to the latest alcohol-related misstep involving his players by saying the responsibility of their behavior ultimately comes back to him. But the IU coach appeared exasperated with the lack of accountability surrounding the sixth off-the-court transgression involving his program over the last 18 months.

Crean slammed the lack of leadership in Indiana’s locker room six days after sophomore Emmitt Holt, 19, and freshman Thomas Bryant, 18, were cited by Indiana State Excise Police for illegal possession of alcohol.

“Our internal team leadership has been less than poor for the last two years,” he told reporters at the event.

Crean said internal discipline has already begun, adding that any announcement of further punishment would be forthcoming. He did not indicate whether Holt, who was also involved in the alcohol-related accident with former IU teammate Devin Davis last November, was facing dismissal from the program.

There would be precedent for such a move after Crean kicked off Davis and Hanner Mosquera-Perea in May after Indiana University Police responded to a marijuana complaint at a campus dorm occupied by the two forwards. Davis was cited in the incident and Mosquera-Perea was not, but both players were dismissed two days later on May 14.

Indiana’s recent spell of run-ins stretches to Mosquera-Perea’s drunk driving arrest in February 2014. Crean reflected on that incident Thursday, saying he should have booted Mosquera-Perea at that time.

“You’d always like to make a different decision,” Crean said. “It’s really easy to say, ‘Well, if you’d suspended Hanner longer…’ You know what I wish I would’ve done when Hanner got in trouble — and I love Hanner Perea — I wish I would’ve removed Hanner from the team when that happened.”

Although he did not call out senior point guard Yogi Ferrell by name, Crean directed much of his anger and frustration at a group of upperclassmen that have yet to take leadership seriously. Crean repeatedly decried the program’s lack of a true leader since the end of the 2013 season, and said sophomores and juniors who have logged substantial minutes during the interim share the blame.

“We’ve got to get a team of guys that understand ultimately that they are playing for Indiana and not at Indiana,” Crean said. “Even some of our Indiana kids have got to understand that.”

The IU coach said he was listening “loud and clear” when university president Michael McRobbie told the school’s coaches and staffers during an annual department-wide meeting Tuesday that student-athlete misbehavior embarrasses the school.

Crean typically tries to begin basketball workouts during the first week of classes each year, but said that the team was unable to get started until Thursday while he dealt with the ramifications of Saturday’s alcohol citations to Holt and Bryant.

Crean reported to Cook Hall at 4:30 Thursday morning, followed by his staff 45 minutes later. He spent a portion of his day on the phone with his friend and counterpart at Michigan State, Tom Izzo, and finally put his team through its first basketball workout of the semester three days after the new school year had begun.

“Playing for Indiana is not just when you go to practice, it’s not just when you shoot, it’s not just when you play the games, not just when you do an interview,” Crean said. “It’s a 24-7 deal. There’s nothing like it at the university when it comes to athletics. It is what it is. There are very few programs in the country that have the 24-7 identity that Indiana basketball has. We’re struggling right now with understanding what that means and what that entails.”

26 comments

  1. I know I’m an old fashioned fan but Knight used to insist upon senior leadership. I recall Michael Lewis getting into RMKs face about what was going on out on the floor when coach yanked a younger player out based on team captain’s complaint. There were many more Situations like that, but that one sticks on my mind. IU hasn’t had good upperclassmen leadership for years. Maybe because IU hasn’t had too many seniors. Players come and go too rapidly in today’s college game. Don’t I wish IU had leaders like Buckner. Woodson, Kitchel, Wittman, Alford, Fife, White, and on & on. The world is always seeking leaders. Say what you want about RMK but he usually made sure his teams had leaders. I don’t mean the best player talent wise, I mean someone who sees the bigger picture step forward. Sadly, it’s a different day and a different society.

  2. Wolfer, the difference between Knight and Crean is that Knight would recruit a less talented kid based on work ethic and emotional maturity, while Crean likes to recruit immature kids with less developed work ethics. Bob’s way didn’t always work out, and Crean’s hasn’t worked out yet. TC has gotten solid people into his program – Hulls, Oladipo, Zeller, and others, but he’s gotten others who just haven’t seemed to mature. Time to see if #11 has it in him to become a respected leader.

  3. Wolfer, when you wrote, “Sadly, it’s a different day and a different society,” you hit the nail on the head. In relative terms, the big differences are 1) the pervasive media coverage of today’s athletes. And 2) there are fewer kids today who were raised to embrace the responsibility and burden associated with being leaders. In today’s culture, that behavior is often condemned as “intolerant”, “judgmental”, or simply not cool. Exercising leadership with regard to their peers’ behavior has been discouraged in this culture. It used to be a good thing, but not so much any more. These young men were raised in the “it’s all about me” society, in a culture where nihilism is more prominent than ever. In fact, it’s frequently considered downright inappropriate and politically incorrect to attempt to impose standards of conduct or hold people accountable in this “I do what I want” culture. These kids were raised with too many examples of “who are you to tell me how to behave,” not to mention the stigma attached to them if they choose not to “party” with alcohol and other intoxicants. Hey, if you don’t drink or get high, you’re just not cool! A couple of years after they arrive on campus, these young men are expected to exercise a skill that has never been encouraged and they’re supposed to discourage behavior that has subtly been encouraged and rewarded? I’m sure Crean is guilty of many things, but one of them appears to be that he lost touch with how our culture has changed, and the impact those changes have had on a young man’s willingness to embrace leadership roles. Knight made that mistake too. The big difference is that Knight won championships, was known as a disciplinarian, and was therefore given the benefit of the doubt regarding the off-court behavior of his players, many of whom were guilty of the same or worse behavior while “playing for Indiana.” I was there. I witnessed and participated in some of that behavior on numerous occasions. Nobody made a big deal of it. It was college kids doing what college kids do, and in the vast majority of the time, it was not reported in the media.

  4. Message to Tom Crean ; when I was in military an Unwritten rule of management was : IF the General had to leave his office to do the work of a sergeant, the sergeant wasn’t needed. IF The IU President has to leave his office to tell the BBall players AND Staff to get their act together then maybe the coach isn’t needed.

  5. McRobbie should follow-up his public admonition by announcing a zero-tolerance policy. I wish him luck with that. For crying out loud, these are teenagers. People can talk all they want about scholarship athletes being held to a higher standard, but the fact is, these guys are still just teenagers. They’re going to do stupid things. They’re going to test the boundaries and break the rules. And no coach or college administrator is ever going to stop it entirely. And if they try to, by implementing harsh penalties, they’re going to find it very difficult to recruit players and coaches. IUB is not a monastery, and I’m not sure it’s reasonable to expect young men not to party during their entire college experience. So when they get caught, fine, suspend them, make them run the steps until the puke, etc. But let’s not act like they were caught in the act of committing a felony. And let’s be honest, if they were not IU basketball players, no one outside of their parents would have ever heard about them getting busted. My daughter was a varsity athlete on scholarship, and she got a ticket/fine for having a beer in her hand while standing on the front porch of an off-campus house during a party her sophomore year. It was not soccer season, she was not driving, and she was not drunk. Her punishment from me was that she had to pay the fine from her own pocket. Her punishment from her coach was a warning that if she was stupid enough to get caught again, she’d get suspended. He told her, “your mistake was having the beer in your hand outside the house. Don’t get caught with alcohol anywhere on campus or outdoors.” Neither her coach or I were naive enough to think she was never going to drink another beer while at college. And for some reason, the local news agencies did not find her offense worthy of coverage.

  6. Not sure what any of that “puking” apologist mess above does for Hanner Perea and Devin Davis.

  7. I don’t think I can buy the generation or teenager theories. I was a scholarship athlete at IU, not football or basketball, but a very successful sport at IU at the time, back, to back, to back, Big Ten Champs, NCAA’s all that stuff. And yet, I saw similar things, including a teammate of mine who was accused of rape (Innocent. Charges dropped). One year while traveling, a young girl on our women’s squad, who I had a crush on, didn’t make it back to the hotel. I was informed later that she was arrested for shoplifting and wouldn’t be coming back with us.

    This all starts at home gentlemen. Putting the values you’ve learned into practice. Obviously parents play a huge role. I partied too much my freshman year. Got on academic probation. My mom sent me a letter simply stating two things; No sex before practice, and I had to do better. That was enough for me. I was never in academic danger again.

    It’s all about choices, and why you make those choices. When you’re on a team, you don’t look for a leader, you recognize them. And you don’t follow them, you strive to mirror their standards. However, you have to know what you’re looking for. That’s where your parents, teachers, and coaches come in.

  8. Crean may actually seek out too clean-nosed kids…Once they get to the IU campus candy store of booze, drugs, and non-stop parties, they bust out of their puritanical chains of an overly righteous and strict home life and go berserk. I saw a lot of this in high school in my home town …Perfectly normal kids in public junior high sent to the local christian academy(it was called Fairhaven in my home town) rather than the public h.s. were getting into far more trouble. Some young kids never get a chance to make mistakes before they get to college..They end up having more problems with exercising restraint and they don’t know the boundaries of smart decisions.

  9. “We’re hoping to see Holt go more regularly to the glass inside, make better decisions with shots, learn to deny rather than just park himself in a bad position for the sake of convenience…show better awareness on the road ….Be a presence while also knowing that good things can happen when you’re a bit more elusive in the moment of anticipating knocking down big shots….We’re also hoping his game of basketball improves at a similar pace to summer vodka workouts,” Crean said.

  10. oops…(forgot a sentence)

    “We’re hoping to see Holt go more regularly to the glass inside, make better decisions with shots, learn to deny rather than just park himself in a bad position for the sake of convenience…show better awareness on the road …Be a presence while also knowing that good things can happen when you’re a bit more elusive in the moment of anticipating knocking down big shot. If things get bottled up, look to throw it outside.….
    We’re also hoping his game of basketball improves at a similar pace to summer vodka workouts,” Crean said.

  11. Excuses. This guy hasn’t won for IU and the fanbase (most of the fanbase) is so traumatized by what happened after the knoght era that you’ll put up with this garbage. Not winning and problems galore. On a more realistic note: Indiana university has been approached numerous times to help install a drug awareness program and declined numerous times. This universities police force won’t even get on board with harm reduction legislation that the state has passed or treatment for drug abusers In their general student population. They have kids getting hit by cars by basketball players causing brain injuries to other basketball players, kids on the basketball team driving down a one way street drunk off their tails, kids on the team getting cited for illegal consumption and football players slangin heroin on campus. The general population is even worse. And I’m sick of people saying their college students and that’s why. So did you a slang heroin on campus? If so you were really sociopathic. Indiana university needs to step up and admit theirs a problem. Get some solutions on campus and be proactive. And yes win games. We all forgot about that part huh? We will win some this year and probably go to the sweet 16 as always and next summer more arrests and everyone will be okay for a year or two and accept NITs and first round exists and come on these boards and say “man these are kids, all kids hit other kids with cars in college and slang heroin, give em a break, we’ve been to 3 sweet 16s in 10 years” smh

  12. Drake
    I’m not so sure any university should be in the police business.Look what happened recently in Cincinnati.Law enforcement should be left to the local, county and state police. IU brings in enough tax revenue in that area to pay the tab.

  13. 1. These are still the type of issues that can be corrected. The kids are gonna drink arguments should have applied to Hanner and Devin as well. They were cut because their rates of progression in basketball were in the unfortunate crossfires of exaggerated hype via a coach that has never shown an ability to fully develop and utilize post play…. “The weaves of purposelessness” in a Crean offense contributed to the lost potential of Hanner. The tragic events prompting many of Devin’s tough days will require Devin to muster a maturity that very few adults can sail smoothly through. Both of these young men should have received no less the “typical college kids” argument. They are gone because even a bad coach had no more use for them.

    2. Crean has had his moment in the IU opportunist sun. He’s had his platform to sell his faith. He’s had his witch hunt to pull thorough observation away from his own coaching shortcomings….He has had the hype of a school with great basketball tradition(though “Because It’s Indiana” arguably completely faded to any outsider that lives in the present day). He had his shot with one of the top centers in a class, a preseason #1 ranked team, and the “floodgates” of positive momentum and style points that such Schwarber-like recruiting home runs can bring.

    3. Fred Glass has time to save this sinking ship. Crean can walk away a very comfortable wealthy man with faux reputation still intact. Glass and Crean should be thanking their lucky stars that this is all they have to deal with. Devin could be forever resting below a different sort of limestone. Hanner could have plowed his car into a tree or an innocent bystander. Holt was caught before something far more embarrassing or repeatedly tragic could result…..Here is the chance to do exactly to Crean what he’s done with every recruit that has lost his usefulness. Crean will be viewed by his next hire as a new force of energy and change, a coach with an eye for talent, that was merely a victim of a school in need of a scapegoat still living in the dusty memories of traditions that require more than the “typical” college kid or “typical” coach that can’t watch everyone at every moment of every day. Dear Fred, THIS IS YOUR OUT. The secret is safe in Bloomington…Only those of us on Scoop that passionately dissect games, eat, sleep, and drink the whole forty minutes of every contest, know the guy on the sideline is a coaching farce.

    4. Eight years is enough. It’s more than enough in these times of far faster coaching changes and revolving doors than Crean has been granted to get it done. We are living in the era of instant gratification that all sports plays to….Why should we crucify ourselves when eight years is enough and We, the faithful that witnessed the grandest “We’re Back!” hype bubble in IU basketball history burst in our faces have the opportunity to seek a quality X’s and O’s coach without the whole place burning to the ground…Tom Crean has the opportunity….Fred Glass has the opportunity…McRobbie has the opportunity ..And the typical college kids that can’t live by the unrealistic commandments of their entire removal from every sin also have the opportunity to stay under a new coach that will make it about basketball first.

    You have a chance Fred…..But I have a feeling you’re going to blow it. I think we sorta evolve in reverse and we fall into the narcissism of desires contrary to what’s the healthiest solution for all. We seek the headlines of torches and blame rather desire accepting the truth even when it presents itself with the easiest an out. You know the truth, Fred. We all know the truth. Crean knows the truth. We’ll keep his secret safe as he moves on to the next place and next podium with his stellar resume and his exceptional understanding of the game of basketball intact.

    Let’s do the IU fan base right for once..Can we? Can we part ways without the burning of the castle? Can we leave a program that hasn’t seen a championship banner in almost three decades, at minimum, appearing as if it hasn’t gone completely off the tracks again? You might be surprised just how quickly IU will get back to that big stage. Indiana is still a state with a plethora of talent. The candy stripes don’t need to be reborn…They simply need some polish; polish that begins with competence over getting drunk on hype or the mistakes of “typical” college kids unknowingly absent a passion that comes with mature examples and true leadership. I think most coaches could live walking away with 80 million dollars in their wallet and reputation intact. Closed practices were closed for a reason under Bob Knight. How long do we live the lie? How long do we lock the practice doors for all the wrong reasons under Tom Crean?

    There is no better time for change than now. Grown men can also be Devin Davis and Hanner Perea. They can walk quietly into the sunset with “typical” stamped to their 80 million dollars in earnings.

  14. IUal88, when you wrote, “This all starts at home gentlemen,” you were correct. But even the strongest home environments and best parents struggle to keep today’s corrosive culture from influencing their teenagers. You don’t have to look too hard or too far to understand that. Not saying that there aren’t a lot of great young people out there. Of course there are. But even great kids, coming from the best homes, are going to do stupid things and make bad decisions on occasion. But let’s not suspend common sense or judgement in favor of zero tolerance policies that do more harm than good. A kid get’s caught with alcohol on or near campus is nothing new at IUB. It’s been going on for many decades at every college campus in America, and I dare say that some scholarship athletes have been involved the entire time. In fact, I’ll bet McRobbie, Glass, Crean and Wilson raised a little hell and broke a few campus rules when they were that age. I don’t want IU’s top administrators to ignore or accept bad behavior and/or immature mistakes that can put people at risk, but I also hope they don’t lose their perspective and common sense. The two IU basketball players who got busted for possessing vodka are not felons, they’re teenagers.

  15. Former IU President John Ryan once told me way back in the ’70s that one of the primary reasons major universities have their own police departments was to protect the students from excesses on the part of municipal police departments.

  16. Chet, That is an interesting thought from an angle I’ve not pondered but it does hold merit. Also I can almost hear Mr. Ryan expressing it.

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