Indiana flat in 75-63 loss to Michigan

A season of slow torture became much worse Sunday, putting Indiana’s NCAA Tournament hopes in peril.

In a must-win game inside lifeless Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, another flat performance doomed Indiana to a 75-63 loss to Michigan.

It was the kind of effort that afterwards had IU coach Tom Crean lamenting the ongoing lack of leadership on the court and the struggles of a backcourt that failed to steer the Hoosiers in the necessary direction.

The Hoosiers needed at least one win this week against the likes of Big Ten title contender Purdue and Michigan, a team also fighting to get off the tournament bubble.

Instead, Indiana (15-11, 5-8) received nothing for its troubles, putting itself in imminent danger of missing the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four seasons.

“I’m trying to be proactive, and I’m not shirking responsibility one iota. It falls on me,” Crean said. “One thing I’ve learned in nine years, it all falls on me. But the bottom line is that we’ve got to do something to get communication up.”

Though the Hoosiers have five regular-season games with which to work, it’s a daunting stretch that features four contests away from Bloomington. After going 17-0 at Assembly Hall last season, the Hoosiers have enjoyed far less success at home this year.

They’re 4-4 on Branch McCracken Court, and have now lost back-to-back home games for the second time since the start of conference play. Michigan’s win was only its second in Bloomington in that program’s past 19 trips.

Derrick Walton led the Wolverines (16-9, 6-6) with 25 points, while Mo Wagner posted a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds.

After falling to the Boilermakers on Thursday, this was a much needed opportunity for Indiana to salvage the homestand and keep the NCAA Tournament within reach.

Now, with three consecutive losses and five in their last six games, the Hoosiers are barely staying afloat in the tournament conversation.

“It all falls on the upperclassmen, me, James (Blackmon Jr.), guys that have been here,” junior guard Robert Johnson said. “We have to come with a consistent level of effort, communication. Those are things that we always have to have within the game. And I think we’ll be good if we do those.”

IU never led Michigan and twice trailed by as many as 13 points on a day Blackmon and Johnson struggled to get going.

Blackmon, who played in his second consecutive game since returning from a leg injury, Johnson and Thomas Bryant combined to shoot 7-for-22 from the field.

The struggles of Blackmon and Johnson, who each went scoreless during the first half, led to a paltry shooting performance from 3-point range, where IU made merely four of its 19 shots.

Indiana didn’t make a 3-pointer until the 13:28 mark of the second half. Blackmon hit the shot, which also accounted for his first points of the game.

Blackmon didn’t attempt his first field goal until more than eight minutes into the game, while Johnson didn’t take one until the final minute of the half. Johnson didn’t find his first points until a 3-pointer nearing the midway mark of the second period.

For Indiana to shake its funk and author a more encouraging end to the season, Blackmon, Johnson and Bryant need to be the players their teammates lean on.

Sunday’s performance didn’t cut it.

“Immaturity in the back court,” Crean said, pointing to the central reason for IU’s struggles in the wake of injuries. “We don’t play both ends of the floor with the same purpose that we have to play when our shots aren’t going. And we’ve had injuries in there, too. But that’s got to change. … Thomas Bryant is playing his tail off to become a leader of the team. And he needs a little more help.”

Meanwhile, Indiana’s offense relied mainly on the contributions of De’Ron Davis and Josh Newkirk to function.

Davis was in control and consistent in the post, scoring a team-high 13 points for IU, which travels to Minnesota on Wednesday. Newkirk and Juwan Morgan each added 11 points.

“I loved the way he played,” Crean said of Davis, who helped IU score 42 points in the paint.

But the Indiana coach saw little else in a positive light.

The Hoosiers committed 15 turnovers, helping the Wolverines to 20 points off those errors. At one point midway through the second half, after Morgan misfired an entry pass to Bryant in the post, Crean looked at Morgan with incredulity, as if he couldn’t understand how the mistakes and poor play could continue to pile in a critical game.

“Our maturity has got to raise,” Crean said, “and I’m in here as far as I need to get to work and continue to figure out more ways that this team can compete on the defensive end and find easier ways to get them baskets.”

37 comments

  1. I watched (on T.V.) as Coach continued to fight, continued to Coach, even down 10 with 10 seconds left!

    Therefore, I am forced to ALTER my prediction (that we would decline an invitation to the NIT).

    I firmly Believe that we WILL participate in the N.I.T. and WIN IT!

    I see another Banner coming to Simon-Skodjt Assembly Hall, this time for a team that wouldn’t quit.

  2. Ron, I stand corrected, and thank you.

    the Banner forthcoming will be for a COACH who wouldn’t quit! (and he’s dragging out team along with him).

    I forgot…it’s all about the Coach now.

  3. If you listened to Crean’s postgame comments, he was also watching a different game. He actually apologized to the fans….for the lack of fight. At least he finally took an ounce of ownership.

  4. A “season of slow torture” is what we’ve been through here (as a matter of fact season after season for about 6 or 7 out of the 9 years of Crean’s tenure) reading Dope-[p]unke’r s wordy trolling in support of Crean … who by the way got what he deserved when the Panzer Wagner knocked him down… maybe that will teach him to stay away for the court … where basketball is being played …

    Let the record show that injuries or no injuries Crean is a superbad coach. He didn’t have Blackmon when we played Penn State on Feb 1st, and it took us three hours to down them. Oh if Crean could only used JBJ’s, Crean’s magnificent weapon on offense!… But, alas, there was no James Blackmon at Wisconsin either and we lost respectably to a team we always lost under Crean regardless of where the game was being played … or how Chet likes to say … iregardless …

    But Blackmon made it back this week … what a relief … and little did it matter … eh?! … with him on the floor we got back to back losses to Purdue and Michigan at Assembly Hall … that’s how much JBJ’s absence mattered… That’s how bad Crean is as a coach…. Tumbling Tom, formerly known as Twenty-Losses Tom, formerly widely known as Twenty Turnovers Tom, a man with a unique sense of balance, whose team started the season ranked in the top 5 and is currently stuck at 15 total wins after playing 10+ cupcakes.

  5. Indiana was really never in this game. A mediocre Michigan team controlled from start to finish. The rude awakening for IU fans is that after watching teams, like Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State and Northwestern play, there is not a talent gap between IU and those schools. In fact, they utilize teamwork and are better coached. Crean has officially worn out his welcome. Time to move on. Fire him after July 1, pay him his million , and on we go!

  6. karma enlightens, Hoosier Hopeful lays out the plan, Hoosier Clarion sums it up and Ron points out the reality. Makes for enjoyable commentary given our shared experience this season.

  7. I watched the game in person at Assembly Hall, a lot of empty seats, the Hall was almost empty when the final horn sounded. Hoosier Clarion only one more home game than you can turn the lights off. I U players seemed to lack real emotion something not right with the players. For a team that was run out of the gym at Michigan there wasn’t any real effort to let’s get even, there’s something that has drained the spirt out of the players that was there early season games. This season’s swoon is not going to help on the recruiting scene, the New Albany player will be a senior next year, and I was told by a friend of the family last summer that I U was in the mix. I wonder if this true now?

    1. Precisely. A prior 30 pt. shellacking should be all a team needs get motivated to win a ballgame. No heart, no fight, no passion. Literally nobody cares on this team & it really showed today. And so, nor do I. We have 0 leadership, with nobody to stand up on or off the court and put a stop to this embarrassment. The players do not believe in this coaching staff. Think about that. When was the last time you heard any of them praise the work, play calling or strategies the staff puts into the preparation for a game? When was the last time you saw a bounce pass by this team come to think of it?

      Davis dominated the paint, and probably didn’t play 10 min. in the 2nd half. He owned them & the bench clowns didn’t seem to notice or magnify that in this game.

      Frees up my the rest of my Feb. and all of Mar. now.

  8. I wouldn’t say Michigan is a “mediocre team.” More talent top to bottom..Much higher b-ball IQ in all of their players….Far more active defensively. Probably the best team in the Big 10( Certainly not a designation I’d give PU or Wisconsin).

    It’s no coincidence that picking up a Michigan grad transfer, Bielfeldt, saved Crean’s hide last year.

  9. IU South you are correct about the emotion/motivation . Like others have voiced,Tom Crean’s days at IU are over. it seems as the team doesn’t HEAR or REACT to his “voice”; they have become “tone deaf” .Crean has reaced a plateau and its been there for a while. Ive noticed he cant get team to learn defense (any time you have to take a Man-to-man team and insert Zone…that’s a problem. He said there was immaturity at guard..yet he has 3 JRs. basically stating. in my opinion, the returning players have REGRESSED in their skill abilities…for whatever reason TB thinks he’s a guard. Turnovers and matador defense have plagued IU even from the glorious Zeller days….Time to get a coach that’s serious about Indiana basketball and the Heritage.

  10. Davis’ line….& he’s had similar games this year. This coaching staff sucks!

    BENCH MIN FG 3PT FT ORB DRB REB AST STL BLK TO PF PTS
    D. Davis F 14 4-5 0-0 5-6 2 1 3 0 0 0 1 1 13

  11. IU basketball system has been, is, and will be broken until regime change. An incompetent coach and coaching staff leads to not recruiting enough competent players for an elite program (it can be seen in there bb IQ, bb ability, mannerisms, emotions, inner self feelings that are apparent outward from players).

  12. Unless there is a major league coach possibility (and I do not think there is) Go after Gregg Marshall @ Wichita State. Give him the opportunity to do things his way and don’t do to him like was done to K.W. because G.M. will have disciplined expectations for players and yes, he can teach, prepare a game plan and coach. I think he would do well recruiting Indiana and midwest. If IU has a really good coach Indiana University should be able to sell its bb program and get its share of Indiana and midwest HS recruits rather traveling to the extent they are to get lesser recruits.

  13. besides Gregg Marshall…..any opinions on Jeff Capel from Duke? he replaced Coach K when he had his back surgery.

  14. Halftime on BTN Wisc/Northwestern was the news that Crean has called our Juniors “immature” (the “most immature” of his coaching career, and that includes the 4-20 teams).

    Calling a Black Junior “immature” is one step from calling him a “boy” and is the death knell (I would think) for recruiting any self-respecting Black Players in the future.

    The Black commentator on BTN suggested that the players might “shut down”…the White commentator said “this language might be what is needed to wake them up”.

    This next road trip (Minn and then a week later Iowa) is going to be fascinating stuff.

  15. Pressure could be evidence of the demise of a head coach plus staff coming to a head and time @ Indiana coming to an end.

  16. I.U. Basketball Juniors who were labeled “the most immature” that Crean has ever coached:

    James Blackmon, Jr.
    Josh Newkirk
    Robert Johnson
    Freddie McSwain
    Tim Priller
    O.G. Anoube (sorry, probably mis-spelled) —injured

    Look for some players transferring after this dismal season! (and being in the NCAA as Seniors)

    1. OG is a soph. And he isn’t talking about McSwain or Priller.

      The elephant in the room is Blackmon. But he is also Crean’s problem. He only sat him 2, maybe 3, times when he played no D….over the past 3 yrs. No cajones to bench him. No cajones to bench anybody, so apathy sets in.

      Plus I think Blackmon is a little more injured than we think. There’s a cover up in play (“lower leg injury”) to keep his draft stock up. I’m betting on another knee stealth surgery in the off season.

      NewKirk is improving finally, but he’s incapable of leading THIS team. He’s only been around 2 yrs. & it’s Blackmon’s train wreck. Johnson could step up, but he’s one that does nothing on either end if his shots don’t fall.

      I feel sorry for Bryant, and Davis, and those who came before them. Nobody has made a post pass worth a damn in the Crean era.

      I hate people who complain w/o solutions of their own;
      Step 1. Play for performance; start Newkirk, McSwain, Morgan, Davis & Bryant. Pound it inside all night. Build the future. Run Blackmon, Johnson & McRoberts in as subs until they get it.

      Step 2. Fire Crean July 1. (Or demote him if possible & force him to opt out himself. That contract language would be an interesting read.)

      Step 3. Bye bye James at seasons end. Let those tied to this staff go. Start over, again.

      Step 4. Make a good hire whose results and style emulate Indiana basketball. Marshall, Stevens, Whitman, Michael Lewis, Cheaney…..plenty of options available.

  17. When I posted earlier I hadn’t heard Crean’s post game commentary. But they are proof he’s already lost the team. I give him kudos for saying it. Wish he’d get a tech, throw a chair, something….he & his team are not respected by any referee.

    I got a chuckle from the BTN announcer who said something about him losing the team and things could get worse!!! Really?!?! Where’s that dude been?!?!

  18. Is calling your players immature….sort of like calling them soft? Didn’t a football coach get fired for something along those lines? Should Blackmon really be playing? Didn’t today’s announcer basically say it was obvious that JBJ was not playing with his same strength and edge?
    Should there be an investigation….? Are we forcing guys back when they’re not ready? Do we then berate them as “immature” to add insult to their attempts to come back after/during injury?
    I tend to think the toughness of a team is a direct reflection of the “maturity” and toughness in their leader. Also, lines can blur between immaturity and being unprepared. A team not coached to their potential will get frustrated…The frustration that comes with no confidence in the teacher could certainly cause some appearances of immaturity.

  19. I had a job I really liked for over a decade. It was great. Lots of success. Lots of happy people. I was happy with my salary and benefits. Everybody was happy. Things changed. People changed. I realized it was time to move on. I was asked to stay but I knew things had changed. I’m pretty sure they did, too.

    It’s time. Almost everything, and everyone, has a shelf life. CTC has grown stale at IU. He might well have great teams in the future, somewhere, but his time at IU has become ineffective. I wish him the best. He has had some real successes at IU. He has helped some players become good enough for the NBA. I applaud what he has done.

    His time at IU needs to come to a close.

  20. The narcissism sorta kills me….This guy hasn’t been a good coach since Day 1. Five years after he took the job, he was still chasing around a “wrecker” to blame..

    But now the “powers of blogging that be” have now had enough. It’s now o.k to let the ‘good man’ go…Hilarious. Lord, I had enough so long ago….Good guy…? Bad guy…? Who cares? I wanted a basketball coach. I wanted someone genuine to spit in the eye of Establishment meddlers who hold the power at IU.
    One visit to a twitter page decorated with Joyce and Bible quotes amongst the ancillary images of Indiana University and Hoosier Basketball was plenty Pepto-Bismol enough for me. I knew we had no position of strength to begin.
    Most of you rode the same high horse while throwing all the “wreckers” to the wind…..It’s all rather distasteful and so absent of a classy institution. We got the full nine years of “holier than thou” narcissism created.
    We never started from a humble position true to the candy stripes….Marketing and villain-chasing is what you were sold. Most of you were standing in line and couldn’t get enough.

  21. Fred Glass publicly stated he would reject a CBI invite…so he needs to have a coach that isn’t going to put Indiana in the situation to be invited to such a tournament.

    Brad Stevens – probably not coming

    Steve Alford – worth a call…who better to recruit Indiana and sell IU. Bryce is a senior this year and he has Kristen Wilkes.

    Mark Few – probably not leaving his #1 team with no drama or stress

    Chris Collins – he inherited a program that’s never made the NCAA and didn’t go 6-25 his first year.

    Tony Bennett – this is probably the most realistic, but he’s turned down the job once

    Billy Donovan – amazing choice
    Archie Miller
    Sean Miller

  22. CDC SECONDARY ALERT:

    TCDS now in full EPIDEMIC PHASE at HSR.

    Progress to stem the outbreak is now dedicated to containment.

    A last effort to isolate and replicate the immune cells of a sole member of HSR never contracting TCDS is currently in progress. We pray for a TCDS vaccine but time is of the essence …All HSR authorities attempting to locate immune subject who appears to have gone into hiding.

    UPDATES to follow .

  23. Group Thinking:

    “In the upcoming 2017 class, #iubb offered scholarships to 21 out of the top 50 ranked players.

    Commits? 0/21.”

  24. Not just this team, but several Tom Crean teams have demonstrated immaturity under his leadership. That is why there have been several issues and turbulence during his tenure and lacking NCAA tournament competence and unable to dominate in big ten including big ten tournament.

  25. Group Thinking:

    While “some folks” get excited about Crean’s “Big Ten Championships”, let’s show that in those other years, it’s not been good. Projecting this season, he’ll have finished 7th or worse in 3 of the last 4 seasons.

    2011: 11th
    2012: 5th
    2013: 1st
    2014: T8th
    2015: 7th
    2016: 1st
    2017: 10th (proj)

  26. And recruiting has lacked since Zeller (he does not get the best hardly ever). Most recruits in bb come from beating out not the best winning programs but lesser programs. However, several of his players have attitude that IU is a farm system for NBA in their self centered ways and T.C. does not know what to do plus he has a poor staff. It is an incompetent situation if you want to be on national scene.

  27. I U South,
    I was referring about lights as to the agony suffered while waiting to see which side of the bubble IU’s Big Dance hopes end up on. Losing to Meatchicken ended that agony.

    For certain there has been lack of team chemistry many of Crean’s seasons at IU. Either he can’t recruit it or he can’t develop it. I think that has a lot to do with continued lazy defense and all the perplexing unforced turnovers. For sure another season of the same will only set the program another year.

  28. Thanks for the correction on OG being a Sophomore, AWinAZ.

    I think Harvard posted the most important issue: Crean is calling Blackmon and the other Juniors “Immature” (similar to “soft” or “boy”) because they are focusing on their ‘personal issues’.

    I think James has Every Right to focus on his Personal Issue. When we was recruited it was that he would “be a pro” and James had every right to go for his career as he chooses.

    James is risking his career by playing now, with an obviously chronically injured knee. James should take the rest of the season off, re-hab, transfer to another school, prove he’s healthy, and make the money he has every right to make (if he can do it, and I think he can IF he’s healthy).

    The rest of the JUNIORS should transfer and show their stuff in a functional program. O.G. should to pro. Bryant is unhappy here and should go pro.

    I.U. should start over with a new Coach.

  29. I like Ben’s list of coaches as well as adding in Marshall from Wichita State. Any of those would be a vast improvement. I love how Crean is always needing to see “the film” to figure out what went wrong. I don’t and neither do the others that comment on this site. We watch the games and we see promising players regressing. We see that there is no quality point guard on this team. We see a coach pacing the sidelines clapping when an opposing guard drives past Blackmon for a layup again and again instead of taking him out of the game. We see an undisciplined offense with players standing still or out of position. We see one of the poorest defense in the Big10 and one of the worst in the country. We see opponents score on in-bound plays while IU turns it over in the same situation. We see turnover after turnover, game after game. We see a team on the brink of checking out for the year. This is an embarassment!
    Double Down pointed out how the top recruits are now avoiding Crean like the plague. I guess the recruits watched the film.

  30. I’m not sure TB went inside the arc a dozen times in the first half. He hung out waiting to shoot the three. The thing is, he’s almost unstoppable in the paint. The only person who can stop him is himself standing outside the arc.

    So, he’s outside being guarded by some 6’4″ dude while Michigan’s big men are shutting down the lane. Great plan. So far, so good.

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