Live chat transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good afternoon, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thank you for joining us.

JEREMY PRICE: Hello everybody. Nice of fall to join us for the chat today. Let’s get to it.

MIKE MILLER: Hey, everybody. Let’s chat.

ANDY GRAHAM: Well, if it didn’t feel like football weather before, it’s going to this weekend. Time to kick off … the chat.

QUESTION: ITS has contest to predict how many games IU will in this year in BB. My question is how many does Crean need to win including NCAA to keep his job? Also would another player incident cost him his job? Most of us are tired that schools like Xavier university do so much better than us.

Old Sports Dude, Crown Point

JEREMY PRICE: OSD,

Long time no chat. Good to “see” you again.

I think I’d go with 21 or 22 wins in the regular season if I was making a prediction, but whether that number is one or two higher or lower isn’t going to determine Tom Crean’s future. I’m not even sure you can say if he makes the Sweet Sixteen, then everything’s fine, although that probably would be a fair benchmark.

I think how this team looks and jells, whether there is progress in on the defensive end and obviously how it acts are all significant factors. Would another player incident be the tipping point? Maybe, maybe not, although I think there are plenty of parties feeling fed up with the nonsense that’s been going on, including Crean himself.

Former Hoosier Remy Abell does play for Xavier should you opt to hop on that bandwagon.

MIKE MILLER: Hey OSD,

Been awhile. Don’t be a stranger ’round here.

I think this team has 20-plus wins with the potential to reach at least the Sweet 16 depending, of course, on a couple obvious factors. Cutting a coach after such a milestone would be awkward, but I think the quality of those wins and the quality of the season at large are relevant and important factors to consider. Would another incident cost him his job? I wouldn’t be shocked.

I don’t know how much of this — meaning the Crean era — is salvageable. But it’s clear that he’s going to get every opportunity over the next few months to make it work. Still, by the end of the year, I think it’s going to come back to a question of quality. Where does the team stand moving forward and how did it get there?

ANDY GRAHAM: OSD:

The Musketeers have done well, but I’d stop short of saying “so much better” than the Hoosiers. Their last conference title was 2012. They made the Sweet 16 last year and have had some good success under Chris Mack and, before him, Sean Miller, but have never won a NCAA title nor made the Final Four. Then again, too, Xavier had that horrendous on-court brawl with Cincinnati in 2011 and was obliquely mentioned by a Chronicle of Higher Education/Sports Illustrated report regarding academic fraud in 2014 (“Confessions of a Fixer”)? And then there was the whole Dez Wells debacle. And Xavier is a private, religious institution. So, well, I’m not sure that’s the comparative analogy I’d have chosen.

Anyhow, I’ll let our basketball guys Jeremy and Mike weigh in on the “number of games” and “player incident” parts of your question.

QUESTION: 1. Traffic went OK but looking ahead a couple things still need to be addressed. First of all with this weekends late start those alternate routes on curvy 2 lane roads at night are fairly unsafe for way home and deer car collisions are common. When Basketball starts and these routes are not plowed as well that will not work either. It just seems like Football may work out (except this weekend with late start) but basketball (particularly weeknight games when most people can’t leave work till 5pm or later and games are as early as 6:30pm) is headed for a major problem. I know you have interviewed IU, but how about INDOT’s side and finding out why they can’t open lanes on game days when there is really nothing keeping them closed in most spots to stop work for a few hrs on 6 football days and 19 basketball days. This doesn’t seem like a big deal at least for now and I’d like to hear INDOTS side why they can’t. Reading in between the lines it seems and I have no knowledge of t!

his, that INDOT is not really working with IU to help the problems and with basketball this will come to a major boil.

2. Ok enough about construction and lets talk games games games. I love Jordan Howard. To have a power back who can help you sustain 4-5 min drives with 4 yard runs at a time may be much more useful than having Tevin Coleman get stopped for no gain 3 times than break an 80 yarder for a TD and only have the ball 2 minutes. With our bad defense, Howard’s “run through you style” seems it could help more than Coleman’s “run away from you style” if the offense can hold the ball longer. That was the biggest thing I took away but I still wonder how assignments continually get blown on tight ends. That’s not a talent issue but just incompetent scheming.

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY PRICE: Darren,

1. We’ll give the deer a heads up.

2. I really like the 1-2 punch of Jordan Howard and Devine Redding. I’m not sure it really matters as to running style as long as the end product is the same. The more helpful thing would be for the IU defense to get itself off the field, which would require covering the tight end, as you say. Guessing that’s been talked about this week.

MIKE MILLER: Hey Darren,

Maybe INDOT is a bunch of Purdue fans? It’s a messy situation that will be far from ideal for many months. I still say the best policy is leaving early. That means leaving work early, too.

Agree about Howard. You don’t have the explosiveness you had with Coleman, but you do have a guy that can really, truly grind out yards and beat you that way. Rather than wait for that one big burst, Howard can start taking chunks of yards on first and second down. Last week, he averaged seven yards per carry on first down. Couple that with Devine Redding and IU has the ability to really wear down a defense. We saw some power rushing last week, too, something that might come useful next week when high-flying Western Kentucky is in town. Howard will be tested this week against a really solid FIU front seven, so I’ll be interested to see how he holds up.

Also, yeah, the inability to cover SIU’s tight end — when IU coaches singled him out repeatedly throughout last week — was terrible. Just inexcusable. I think Wilson’s choice to call out his coaching staff on Monday was a partial product of those breakdowns.

ANDY GRAHAM: Yo, Darren:

1. I would add that the I-69 Partners, who are actually building the thing, also must be consulted and be on board with any alterations. Even if all parties do what they can, within practical parameters, there will be issues at times. It is what it is. But basketball crowds are still only going to be about half the size of football crowds, normally, so perhaps that will make the difficulties less daunting. It certainly doesn’t seem unreasonable to ask the I-69 Partners and INDOT to arrange for extra open lanes in conjunction with IU’s football and men’s basketball scheduling, but it isn’t as if IU can force them to comply, and it isn’t as if they don’t have their own interests (and budgets) to consider. But from what I gather from IU people, INDOT and the I-69 Partners have seemed willing to both listen and cooperate, to an extent, thus far.

2. Agree about how Howard, who should form part of a nice 1-2 punch with Devine Redding, is perhaps conducive to IU running more of a power game — especially since the staff seems to like its tight ends, too, and might run more double-tight formations. It might certainly seem advisable for IU to orchestrate a ball-control offense when facing, for example, pass-happy and quick-strike foes such as Western Kentucky (which looked potent last night in moving to 2-0.) As to the blown coverages on the tight end, yeah, that seemed especially lamentable since IU entered the game knowing that SIU liked to utilize its tight end aggressively in passing situations and that the particular tight end in question was a real threat. I don’t think it was “incompetent scheming” — the first big play came on what looked like an all-out, Cover 0 blitz, and sometimes one gets burned when taking that sort of chance but, even there, it mostly came down to a blown assignment on the part of a linebacker who should have still covered the tight end. Blown coverages were the real issue, it seems to me. I’d guess it had little or nothing to do with talent or scheme.

Thanks, as always, Darren.

QUESTION: I just read Andy Staples’ story on SI.com about the HS coach in Arkansas who almost never punts and usually tries onside kicks. Staples said that at some point, a college team is going to be desperate enough to imitate them.

Why not IU? We have a great offense and a weak defense. Why not put the pressure on the opposing defense to defend all four downs and keep our defense off the field? Especially against Michigan State or Ohio State, where IU needs to flip the script in order to be competitive.

Kelvin Sampson, Houston, TX

JEREMY PRICE: Kelvin,

There’s a football coach hidden in there waiting to get out, huh?

There’s something to be said for being more aggressive, particularly if IU is just going to get punts blocked like last week, but I’m not so sure putting the defense on the field more often and with shorter fields for the opponent is exactly a recipe for success. The other thing is I’m not sure IU’s offense is that good that it would be unstoppable with an extra down. As a matter of fact, it was pretty much all or nothing against SIU in the opener — three and out or scoring drive — with the three and outs coming off incomplete passes that left it fourth and long.

I also think it’s a lot easier to take that tact in high school, especially if you have talent that only needs one play to break it big. The playing field’s a little more level in college.

MIKE MILLER: Hey Kelvin,

Thanks for the heads up on that story. Just glanced at it, but plan to read it the whole thing later. Kevin Wilson has made a point of being aggressive at IU, but I’m not sure even he would go this far, even as a math guy. I think there’s merit to this idea in certain situations, but I sure wouldn’t feel comfortable making the IU defense that we saw last week work on any kind of short field. IU did go for it on fourth and short around the SIU 40 last week, but there’s not a whole lot of risk there. Frankly, Wilson’s current level of aggression is probably as far as I’d want to go.

ANDY GRAHAM: KS:

Why not blithely and arrogantly ignore the consequences and just repeat NCAA violations sure to get your program sanctioned and your derriere canned? Oh, wait, you’re not really THAT Kelvin Sampson?

As to your inquiry, I think mathematical theorems have arisen that indicate football coaches on all levels should, generally speaking, be more aggressive regarding going for first downs and thereby punting less. But that can be taken to extremes that stand the math on its head, as is presumably the case with the high school coach mentioned. I would assume that “going for it every time” regardless of circumstances would amount to diminishing returns, mathematically.

Kevin Wilson has assumed a pretty aggressive stance since his arrival in Bloomington because, as you note, Indiana’s offense has outshone the defense, as was obviously also the case last Saturday. Wilson has gone for first downs more than most coaches might, has conducted more than his share of on-side kicks, and will likely continue to do so. And he has shown he’ll be especially aggressive when IU is a notable underdog. But I’m not sure mirroring the all-the-time, all-or-nothing approach of that high school coach is optimal, mathematically or otherwise.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That is all the time we have today. Thank you for submitting your questions. Have a nice weekend. Stay on top of IU sports news on the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

JEREMY PRICE: Thanks for joining us, everybody. Remember to take a moment today to honor and reflect on the lives lost and changed on Sept. 11, 2001. And from a sports perspective on that time, I recommend the ESPN 30 for 30 short “First Pitch” now available for viewing at ESPN.com.

MIKE MILLER: We brought life back to the old H-T podcast — aptly titled ScoopCast — that you can find on the Hoosier Scoop blog. We touch on basketball and also take a look at this week in IU football. Plenty to come over the next few days as IU brings in FIU for a primetime contest on Saturday night. We’ll have you covered from Memorial Stadium. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY GRAHAM: Will be interesting to see how IU’s defense fares Saturday night against FIU, and the Golden Panther defense (especially up front) could constitute a real challenge for the Hoosier offense, too. IU men’s soccer starts B1G play on the road with a key contest Sunday at Penn State.

Thanks, as always, to all who chatted and/or checked in.