Crean: It’s just a glimpse of what we want it to be

Tom Crean spoke to the Bloomington Rotary Club on Tuesday afternoon in the Hoosier Room underneath Memorial Stadium and told them the same sort of things he’s been telling the media so far.

He continued to temper expectations for the immediate present, saying that the team still doesn’t have any true leadership yet because the players are so young, and that his guys don’t yet know what it truly means to compete every day at this level.

“Where we’re sitting right now is just a glimpse of where we want it to be,” Crean said.

He continued to dodge talk about goals, and in particular, numerical goals. He talked about putting another banner in the rafters at Assembly Hall, but said that the Hoosiers have to do something else before that.

“When are we going to see those banners? Well, before we hang a flag, we have to plant a flag,” Crean said. “We’ve gotta come in and we gotta have an idea that that’s our identity. We have to form an identity. That’s what we’re in the midst of right now. That’s why we have hard, tough, demanding, tedious, whatever way you want to look at it practices.”

The glimpse Crean provided inside the program was at times uplifting and at times sobering to those in attendance. He reiterated the lack of leadership, but credited junior point guard Jeremiah Rivers for pushing through practice this week without being prodded despite not feeling well. He admitted that he was probably too hard on Tijan Jobe after the senior center picked up two fouls early in Monday night’s scrimmage after Jobe earned the start. His biggest improvement, Crean said, is that he’s now taking basketball as seriously as he takes everything else. Crean told a story about a class Jobe took at Indiana in which he didn’t miss a single point the entire semester. He noted that this class wasn’t “basket weaving or underwater knitting. This was a real academic class.” (Side note, who thinks underwater knitting would be easy? I can’t knit above water, and I don’t imagine I’d be much better at it when adding a degree of difficulty. Same goes with basket weaving, which people also claim to be easy when done underwater. Where did this joke come from?)

“We challenged him this spring,” Crean said. “We said if you’re not the hardest worker, if you’re not working every day, and if you don’t take this a lot more serious … the bottom line is he wasn’t working hard enough on the basketball court, and we told him if you don’t take this a lot more serious, you’re not going to stay. That’s what he’s done.”

Crean again discussed the Hoosiers’ hurry-up style of play and again related it to recruiting. He told a rotary club questioner that he couldn’t address specific recruits because of NCAA rules, but that he was hoping to project to them an appealing style of play.

“We lost a generation of recruiting,” Crean said. “No offense to anybody in the past, but a lot of these kids that we’re recruiting now, they did not grow up looking at Indiana as the place to go. That’s just the way it is. I’m not trying to be the bearer of bad news. We deal with it every day. … We’ve gotta get all these young kids back in to get a feeling again of Indiana basketball. … We’ve been hit so hard by what happened. We’ve been hit so hard by negative recruiting. We’ve been hit so hard by people in our own league and other leagues not thinking that we’re gonna be able to come back. … We’ve gotta show people that this is a style of play that they can relish in and they can be successful.”

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