Crean: Hoosiers might use bigger lineup

If Indiana continues to struggle to rebound against bigger teams, Tom Crean said, the Hoosiers might just use a bigger lineup.

IU has had three guards on the floor in most occasions this season, typically starting Jeremiah Rivers at the point and Maurice Creek and Verdell Jones at the wings. He might not necessarily change that starting five, but he threw out the possibility of using three forwards — Christian Watford, Derek Elston and Tom Pritchard — elsewhere in games. That would mean Watford playing small forward, the position Crean hopes he will eventually move to, but that he hasn’t played yet.

“There’s no question I’ve thought about that,” Crean said on his radio show Monday night. “There will be times you’ll see that lineup. I don’t think there’s any question. But I’ve also thought of a four-guard lineup at times. There’s a lot of different ways to play, and you’ve got to try to be as matchup-oriented as you can, but there’s no doubt you’ll see a lineup like that.”

It would be more necessary, Crean said, if the Hoosiers don’t get better rebounding from their guards. He called them out for not crashing the boards against Kentucky and said there will have to be lineup changes if it doesn’t get better.

“The three-guard lineup is a good lineup except in the rebounding area,” Crean said. “It’s been nothing short of atrocious going into that game, with consistency. One night Verdell might get 10 or Maurice might get seven or Jeremiah might get seven, but we’ve gotta get those numbers across the board. There’s really no reason for us not to do that. You’re not going to have the numbers every night, but you’ve gotta have the effort every night. Those guys have been consistently grading very, very low in the blockout and offensive rebounding attempt department.”

Crean was also asked about recruiting to get a better rebounding team, and said that right now he’s just looking for the best player available. For the first time publicly, though, he threw out the possibility of not filling his open scholarship.

“We try to sign size because when you’re rebuilding something, basically from scratch, you have to address every need,” Crean said. “We still have to address those needs. We have to address a lot of needs. There’s no doubt that if we do take somebody else this year, we’re going to try to make it the absolute best player that could come in and impact our team. Preferably, it would be somebody that could play along the front line, but if it’s not there, we’re going to hold on to it and wait.”


  1. I’m confused – aren’t the 2010 offers we’ve been reading about for a PG or another shooting guard? It seems like a good idea to recruit some front line players for the immediate future until the project centers develop, but not sure how you do that for next year when the push is for Selby.

  2. If Watford, Elston and Pritchard play together I wonder if coach will be satisfied with the speed of play and also scoring efficiency. I think maybe we’ll be a little short in both departments. But maybe putting more pressure on these three to give us points is a good thing.

    I’m coming around to the opinion that, for the near term, the only way to solve our interior size problem is with a JUCO transfer. I’m not aware of anybody available from HS next year that I see as helping.

  3. As usual, Tom Crean has no clue.

    Without D. Wade being academically shut out of places to play and landing in Crean’s lap, Tom Crean would be coaching somewhere at a D3 school in a far away place.

    He’s recruited stiffs to play underneath, and he’s always been lacking in ability to develop a big man.

    And if Crean were smarter he’d be going after bigs that can play.

  4. he did sorta build a not very good program into a respected one. Wade wasnt his only player. If you remember last year, which was Crean’s team, the Golden Eagles played some great basketball despite their best player being injured…

  5. We need a big guy to go along with Pritchard. The only time that not having a big guy truly hurt us from what I saw really hurt us was Kentucky. It is going to be hard for teams to be able to play against Cousins and Patterson. Heck, two lottery picks next year in Davis and Thompson at UNC could barely do it. I think that if we just get one big guy that can offset what Pritchard can’t do(which could be asking too much) would benefit us. We don’t need guards. Creek and Watford will both be here next year and probably the next. From the way they have played this year, they can take a bulk of the minutes and lead this team. I am not saying that I don’t disagree with Crean’s recruiting but he better be going very hard after four guys. Josh Selby, Tyler Zeller, Marshall Plumlee, and Marquis Teague. No more, no less. Those are the guys to build the team around with the current squad.

  6. I say that being tall can give you an advantage in rebounding but it is not the only thing that makes you a good rebounder. My kids would say coach you are the shortest widest person we have ever tried to get a rebound from. The drill was you try and get the ball before it hits the floor. Blocking out, knowing where the ball may go if the shot is missed, getting a quick jump for the ball and knowing where your man is are more important than being tall. Look at the last game in 22 minutes Jordan Hulls had 7 rebounds and was the shortest player on the court. I don’t see our big guys using their bodies enough to block out making it difficult for the other team to get to the ball without trying to jump over their backs causing a foul. I am sure the coaches are teaching these kids good rebounding skills but it takes a while to sink in. A lot of our players were the biggest players on their high school teams and they didn’t play against the bigs they are seeing in college. They will get better or you may see some of them getting a little time on the pine.

  7. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Crean would love to find some talented big men. My question to those bashing Crean for not having brought in/not recruiting talented bigs is this:

    What big men has Crean passed on since being at IU that he shouldn’t have?

    Also, who should he be recruiting now?

    I think we all agree that we need good, tall, strong, athletic players. The thing is, there just aren’t that many great big men in any given class in any year. And think about it — the four or five that are actually good are being recruited by 20 to 30 schools on average. It’s easy to say we need a big man. Actually getting one is a much more daunting task.

    Finally, Elson and Watford are both 6′ 9″ — not short, and I think we can all see that they’re going to be very valuable players. Imagine them with a year of Big Ten play and another summer of lifting under their belts…

  8. crean is clueless? how about you tell us how to build a program from ruins and get every 5 star 7 footer? you are the clueless one

  9. Tom Crean has never recruited and developed big men, What leads you to beleive he will start now?
    Van Treese was begging to come here, but Crean thought Bawa would be a better choice so Pitino licked his lips and scooped him up. We sure could use his size and rebounding this year.

  10. Van Treese? You have got to be kidding? He can’t play the five spot, and probably not the “4” spot very well. He is a “3” that would be lucky to get any minutes at I.U. because he would be playng behind Watford.

  11. From what I can tell, we’re still at the point where coaches from other schools tell bigs “Come here and win championships…you’ll never have that chance at Indiana because they’re rebuilding.” Let’s also remember that, with Marquette, Crean was trying to recruit for a middling Big East team…when I look at the Big East, it seems to me like the only team that uses very big guys consistently is UConn. Crean should be able to adapt to the way the Big Ten works as far as big men.

    Oh, and New Mexico has no players over a listed 6’9″, so let’s not cast TOO many stones.

  12. XYZ,
    Van Treese is listed as 6’9, 230 lbs.
    He is a legitimate 4.
    He is more of a post player than Elston who plays the 4 for us.

  13. Lets see the facts: Van Treese averages 0.9 rebounds and 0.8 points on a Louisville team who is and average Big East team at a 7-3 record. He gets 3.8 minutes a game. Elston is averaging 4.6 reounds and 7.2 points playing 16.9 minutes a game. How is it that this superstar Van Treese is riding the bench? Is Pitino clueless or is it that Van Treese is a less than average big man like most of us who watched him play in High School knew. I am glad IU did not go after him and at this point he dose not have an upside better than Bawa.

  14. Van Treese would school Bawa. It is not even close. He rides the bench at Louisville because Louisville is a much more superior team than IU.
    Also, I am not saying he is better than Elston. Elston is a stud in the making, but Elston is a 3 and Van Treese is a 4. What I am saying is that Van Treese is twice the player as Muniru and could help this team in the paint.

  15. Van Treese is also better than Capo and Jobe.
    Van Treese was the heart and soul of that Lawrence North team, while Bawa wasn’t even good enough to start half his games as a senior.

  16. It seems that many teams these days are starting the game with three guards and two ‘talls’, one of these being a forward and the other a kind of center, kind of another forward. I guess it also kind of depends on how much bench support and/or rotation can be used, and then maybe also how much the coach wants to consider match ups with the other team.

    And then there’s always the hope that the guard will have a growth spurt once he gets to college and grow ten inches and add forty/fifty pounds of muscle and have all those ball skills guards usually have.

  17. Van Treese, you have to be kidding me. Where were his other high major offers? That is right they didn’t exist. The reason he took Van Treese is because of all of the LN guys he has/had committed at that time.

    Bawa’s potential blows his out of the water. Here is another news flash, not all freshman are ready to give major minutes right out of the gate.

    Also, Crean is laying a nice foundation with A-hope that could pay off big time in a few years. Alford, do yourself a favor and read up on guys like Peter Jurkin.

  18. wow….it is amazing the lack of memory some on here have….kind of embarrassing to read some of these comments and know they come from so called “fans”….how about we give Crean at least 2 seasons to take the program out of the toilet…being placed there by the antics of Bob Knight, the incompetence of Mike Davis and the sleaziness of Sampson..

  19. For whatever reason Stephan’s stock dropped in the last year of his recruitment. Here is the link to the ITH discussion:

    To summarize: Van Treese dropped out of the Rivals 150. The article also notes that UCLA, Kansas, Ohio State, along with IU, were schools that backed away from him.

    Crean wasn’t the only one not interested.

  20. I would like to see Pritchard, Elston and Watford start 5 or 6 games and play the majority of minutes together. Elston may not yet be a 4 but he is capable at that position and with Watford being a natural 3 that may give needed support to a left-handed center and give all three a game long consistency. Creek at the 2, and having one less guard maybe would relieve Rivers of being so offensive minded and possibly decrease turnovers. Elston makes things happen and can give Pritchard rebounding help. Jones as the sixth could be a real sparkplug with a change of pace. I know it is a guard oriented team but I don’t see the right chemistry to run a full time three guard offense. Their talents just haven’t matured yet.

  21. I’m intrigued by the Pritchard, Elston and Watford group being on the floor together.

    Elston has shown some explosiveness in getting from the perimeter to the hoop. I’d almost like to see him play that 3 and see what happens.

  22. Along with Knights antics he ran a clean program and recruited good student athletes to build the program to an elite tradition. Hardly toilet bowl action.

  23. At this point it is to early to tell how these guys will turn out. You have your opinion of players and coaches and I have mine. Time will tell but I do have one question. How many Lawrence North games did you attend last year to watch Van Treese? Surely to get such a high opinion of him you would have to watch him play a lot to call him the heart and soul of his team. I sure hope you saw him play more than I did otherwise you are just blowing smoke to berate our good coach and players.

  24. incompetence of Mike Davis and the sleaziness of Sampson..”

    That’s name-calling…The commenter should be banned.

  25. I have seen Van Treese play numerous times (at the high school level). He was the glue guy and best all around player on that team (at the high school level).

  26. I believe Chris was talking about calling each other names when we reply or post. I sure wish I knew what you looked like and your age Stevealford. I can’t think anyone who watched Lawrence North play last year,including their coach, who would say Van Treese was the glue for their team. At this point who cares he is not at IU. Lets praise and try and build up the players we do have. The team and coaches need our support. GO Hoosiers win by 20 today!

  27. Not sure why he would call out the guards on rebounding. Rivers, Creek, and Jones all average more rebounds a game than Pritchard does.

    Who does Crean expect to stay back if he wants the guards attacking the offensive boards?

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