Crean discusses using the bench for lessons

Tom Crean wishes using the bench was more of an option.

If he could, the Indiana coach said, he would be much quicker to pull players who weren’t performing up to his standards so that they really understood that they had screwed up and what the consequences could be.

“There’s nothing that gets their attention more,” Crean said Wednesday in media availability for Thursday’s 9 p.m. game against Wisconsin at Assembly Hall. “There’s nothing. … There’s no tool, and I don’t think you really understand that until you’re a head coach.”

But Crean argues that on this team, that isn’t nearly as much of an option. The depth, he says, simply isn’t there, and the facts seem to back him up.

When he starts three guards, his first guard off the bench is senior Devan Dumes, who has been known to make the occasional questionable decision that requires him to take a seat. After that, he’s dealing with walk-ons, starting with sophomore guard Daniel Moore.

In the post, he has similar problems. For freshman Christian Watford and sophomore Tom Pritchard respectively, his options are freshmen Derek Elston and Bobby Capobianco, who are in just as much of a learning phase as the previous two.

“We don’t have enough developed depth for me to do the kinds of things I need to do sometimes in minutes and sitting guys down or guys playing through things,” Crean said. “We’ve just gotta keep developing our depth so there’s a time when we can do those kind of things and lessons can be learned rather than just on the court and playing through it. That’s where the injuries have gotten us a little bit and frankly, we haven’t had a lot of the young big kids, and I include Tommy in this, separate themselves. We have four freshmen and a sophomore playing the bulk of the minutes other than Tijan, up front. There’s times when guys play above and beyond, but we haven’t had that separation. That’s what we’re going to have to get over a period of time to be better.”

When he does, he said, no one will be above being pulled to learn a lesson.

“There were times we sat D’Wyane Wade down,” Crean said. “There was one time, his first year playing, we were playing St. Louis and they were guarding him very well, they were tough and physical with him. … There were six minutes left in the game, and I said, ‘You know what, my man, we’re going to find out if we can win without you.’ He said, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘You’re not going back in. You’re not going back in. We’re going to win without you, or we’re going to lose without you. Either way you’re not going back in.’ We didn’t. Travis Diener hits a three, and we end up winning by four and I go ‘phew.’ (wiping sweat off his eyebrow).’ But you know what, if you can make that lesson known with a guy that turns out to be one of the best players in the world, then you can do it, but I had a guy like Travis Diener who can make threes.”

AUDIO: Verdell Jones talks about preparing for Wisconsin and trying to gain weight back

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls talks about converting practice to games

AUDIO: Tom Crean discusses the bench and Wisconsin’s offense


  1. So when we’re getting already getting shellacked less than 10 minutes into the game, what’s the point of having guys play through it and not sitting them down? Whether it’s a loss by 20 points or 45 points, it’s still a loss, and there’s still no excuse for guys not playing their best just because the next guy off the bench is so far behind them in terms of development. #FreeBawa #UnleashTijan #StartElston. And that’s my $.02

  2. And likewise 4guards, you always revert back to talking about the same things in every post. I think at this point, we all understand your stance.

  3. These kids are already down in the dumps and now you want them to lose by 45 so the kids that play like Bawa, Tijan , Elston can get their butts kicked. What will they say,” put me in coach I want to lose by 45? We will show those starters how to lose correctly. This is a problem for any team that has no depth, not an excuse for losing. Someone posted in the Indy Star that he wished some of our freshman had gone to Butler so they could start. Butler is a great team right now because they play tough defense, rebound and share the basketball. There coach will set you down on the bench in a minute if u don’t do those things and he can bring in kids off the bench who will step up. We have great kids and they will improve but building bench depth takes time and to be honest our bench players would not see game time at Butler right now. In a couple of years then yes we kick their butts. Put them on the schedule and put me in Coach

  4. I am so tired of hearing about D. Wade and excuses about a lack of depth. Why not play all the fine men he recruited. Give them all a chance including Bawa. Why not and then evaluate the team at the end of the season. I think Crean needs to be evaluated for his coaching ability. He seems to continue to make too many excuses and he is resonsible for bringing in the recruits. Let’s put him on the bench if he doesn’t perform better. He should have to take the blame too.

  5. I think 4guards makes some decent points at times, with the exception that Alford is Lord and his underestimation of the lack of talent/depth Crean has to deal with.

    Other than that, some of his other criticisms are fairly accurate. There are line-up questions, development questions and recruiting questions that are fair. As far as this post is concerned, I think using the bench as a lesson and losing worse is probably not the best to do very often with this team, but I don’t think losing once by 50 and getting a point across would have been the end of the world either. In fact, it may have been a decent idea at some point. Of course, I’d have to think somewhat that some people on here would then say he’s giving up. You can’t make all the people happy all the time.

    I just think 4guards and those who agree with him are too impatient. That’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it. But, opinions vary and sometimes people can’t accept that. And, while I would not have been against hiring Alford and would not be necessarily opposed to it in the future, I don’t think he’s hands-down, bar-none, without a doubt the best coach ever and the answer to all of our problems.

    Like I said, what I just said is an opinion, and it’s mine. I think it’s reasonable, but maybe I’m wrong. But, either way, I expect an attack on how ludicrous it is to be patient any longer or something along those lines.

    I still say RMK himself could not have won 10 games last year. While this year has been disappointing at times, injuries haven’t helped and I really didn’t expect too many more wins than we have. If we’re 9-19 at this time next year, there’s a serious problem and concern. And anytime after that, it’s time to hit the panic button. For now, I get that we have 5 freshman to go along with returners from last year that included two decent freshman, some walk-ons and baseball players and our star, a transfer from the great Vincennes. We were lucky to even have a team and were not far away from going to the HPER to recruit.

  6. Let me ask you all this: When does age stop mattering? Certainly not at the 18 and 19 level. In any sport international type of sport, be it baseball, soccer, or hockey, age group distinctions are made between 18 and 19 year olds and under 21s. World championships are competed for with age group distinctions up unil players turn 21.

    Its expected that the under U21s are better than the U18/U19s. They’re older and stronger and more experienced. IU is basically fielding a U18/U19 team and is playing up into the next group. Why is this so hard for some of you? Gee, let me guess. You have an agenda, not an argument.

  7. For those of you categorizing these remarks from Crean as “excuses,” are you saying you disagree with what he’s saying, and that we in fact DO have depth on the bench?

    Hell…we don’t even have depth on the court. It’s not an excuse — it’s just the truth.


    What you’re essentially saying is that since Crean recruited a great class this season, ALL of those players should immediately be able to step in and contribute heavily? As freshmen? That doesn’t happen very often anywhere in the country.

  8. GFDave,
    New Mexico has 1 Senior on their roster, IU has 2 (3 if you count Gambles), New Mexico has 2 Juniors on their entire roster as does IU. Rivers is actually older than most Juniors.
    My point is IU has more upper classmen than New Mexico does , but they are ranked in the top 10 in the country. Why is that if age is so important?

  9. Say, anybody catch that Colorado State game yesterday? That floor design they’ve got is really wild/ weird. Are there really any good teams this west of Kansas, besides Gonzaga?

  10. When people start to agree with a guy that only loves Bob Knight and Steve Alford and is stuck in 1987, then I find it hard to believe you people have even watched any basketball in your lives. If you can not comprehend what is happening here thats fine, but please refrain from making ridiculous comments about things that you apparently have no clue about.

    It’s times like these were you find out what teams, players, and even fans are made of. Its easy when your winning and your on top, but when faced with adversity is when you truly find the measure of a man. Weak minded, band wagon, unrealistic, overconfident, coattail’s of a legacy are just a few thoughts that come to mind when reading some these embarrassing comments. This losing streak has nothing to do with it either, these same people were saying the same things when IU was 9-10 and 3-4 in Big Ten Play. So its just another excuse to wine about a coach that you don’t like. TC could care less about you 4guards. He doesn’t read your stupid blogs so quit writing comments like you think he reads your nonsense. You of all people are going to tell him to quit talking about DWade?? This is the first time I’ve even heard Crean talk about him, yet you talk about Steve Alford everyday. I use to like Alford, but really cant stand him now because of you driving him in the ground like a jackhammer. By the way you talk you would probably like to drive Stevie like a jackhammer wouldn’t you? If Steve Alford could read half of your b.s. he would laugh and call it like it is – MORONIC. Your annoying and embarrassing, so do us all a favor and start blogging on New Mexico’s Web, PLEASE!!!!

    For the rest of you. Sorry that TC couldn’t turn around the program in his first real year of recruiting a boat load of freshman. Sorry he couldn’t snap is fingers and have us at .5 in the Big Ten. TC WILL turn this program around but its going to take some time and patience. If patience is not a virtue or if its that you cant stand our head coach, which several of you have made perfectly clear, then maybe its time for you all to be evaluated as some crybaby, spoiled rotten fans that as far as I’m concerned can hit up some of these teams that you all talk about so frequently. So go away, bother someone else, but I dont think you will cause misery loves company and you trolls aren’t happy unless your shooting someone else down. It is getting so old, having to listen to these blame game wanna be’s constantly cry. If you can do so much better why dont you all run out there and give it a try. Backseat coaches, it’s not 1987 anymore Dorthy!!!!

  11. 4guards – hard to argue that having the 337th youngest team out of 347 division 1 teams doesn’t say you are very inexperienced – maybe NM is 338!

  12. Play Bawa 20 min in a game and play Elston 20 min in the same game with Hulls, Jones and Watford on the court with them. If they are down 45, or even 25 points, then I will SHUT UP! I think that we will be up by 10-15, AND that next year we will have DEPTH at the BIGS.

  13. New Mexico has played five ranked teams all year. Three of which are no longer even ranked, UNLV, Texas Tech, and Cal. Those teams at the time were respectively ranked 24, 24, and 25. The have won one road game against a ranked opponent all year, that was then #25 ranked UNLV. By the way they have one senior, two juniors, and 4 sophomores. They are anchored by the JUNIOR from Elkhart that originally committed to Iowa. He has been in Alfords program for three years now. You are comparing apples to oranges there 4guards. No comparison….. They have visited the NIT in 08 and 09. Why dont you ever talk about that?? You always slam Crean for not making the tourney, but NIT is good enough for Alford though right?? Im glad he is having a good year, just tired of hearing it from you.

  14. IU has played ranked opponents four of their last six games. They have played ranked teams all year, non conference and conference play.

  15. GFDave-your theory does not work in many sports and for many world class athletes: swimming, gymnastics, figure skating, X-Sports, basketball (Kentucky, Mich-Fab Five), many world championship soccer teams have played under 21 players. Men and women are different, 14-15 year old women athletes are frequently better than 22-24 year olds in many sports. But a combination of peak athletic ability, experience, incredible work ethic, and a high sports IQ is always best.

  16. IU is losing most of its games anyway, not sure why record matters anymore, I think the “lesson” is more important.

  17. *RHF,

    Thanks for doing the research and shedding the light on the miracle that is New Mexico that the SA clone leaves out.

  18. Crean needs more time. Two or three years from now when he will get closer to 220 total career wins his incompetence will be absolutely obvious to all and he will have to go away. But for now it’s still not very clear. He might actually be a very good coach. What we need to do is watch him closely when he comes out of the tunnel against Wisconsin. If he sees his shadow: at least three more years of misery in Bloomington. If he fails to see his shadow, then … well, you know it … it’s because he’s so darn busy clapping.

  19. Sorry CC, Bawa should have seen significant minutes in the MSU game. IU was getting killed in the paint early, so what was the big dilema getting Bawa into the game to see if he could have stopped some of the bleeding? BTW, Abraham would be a great get this late in the ’10 recruiting game, so let’s hope that he actually makes his scheduled trip to Bloomington on 3/6.

  20. New Mexico is 5-0 against ranked teams. IU gets beat like a drum by ranked teams. Not sure what your point is.
    It is all in the coaching.

  21. Does anybody REALLY care about what New Mexico does or doesn’t do, if they win or lose, or even exist on this planet? Give it up already

  22. Thanks, Rob. It’s to the point where I will be rooting against Alford just for the viewing pleasure of one person, his biggest fan.

    I think 4 is a Purdue fan just messing with us. There’s no way someone could be so unreasonably committed to their position without even recognizing possible alternatives, no matter how likely or unlikely they may be. I sure hope those analytical/reasoning skills weren’t honed at IU, or any other post-secondary institution for that matter.

  23. I am just as frustrated at times as many of you are. With that I think Rivers started to believe all of his hype, and from the bench he may wake up a bit. I also would love the see Watford and Elston re-discover the art of a balland/or shot fake in the post. But looking back this team had some chances to come away with at least 2 to 3 more wins. That could have changed alot of things just think we don’t overlook Iowa at home, we beat Illinois, then Purdue. That would have put us 12-9 overall and 6-3 in the Big Ten and heading into Northwestern on a five game win streak. Those wins build confidence and could of made the difference in these “dog days”.
    I have to agree that I wanted Coach Alford to come home to Bloomington just as if not more than anybody. Thanks to Hubert, Sampson, and bunch even if Steve Alford did take IU’s coaching position who knows where we would be. Some may be saying what a mistake it wasthe bring Alford back to IU or may be the best thing since sliced bread…Who know’s? Most of the “what ifs” being played out I will still watch and support what we have in place and look forward to next year hopefully that Abrams kid can bring us some size to help Derek, Bobby and Tommy.

  24. Wisco,
    I actually can’t stand Purdue, never have been able to. I regretfully must admit though they are doing things the right way there by hiring one of their own and recruiting the state.
    I am a graduate of IU (did not attend all 4 years) and have been an IU fan my entire life. That is why it is so disheartening to see Tom run this program into the ground when we have better options.

  25. I’m sorry to hear that.

    I just think it’s unreasonable to say he’s running it into the ground. It was ran into the ground, about 50 feet deep with concrete poured on top, before he got here.

    I think Purdue has obviously done a great job recruiting the state and I hope we can continue to improve in that area. I’m not, however, sure that doing things the right way=hiring one of your own. That may be one right way or one possible way, but to say it is THE right way implies that no other possible way is reasonable. And that is foolish.

    Look, I’m an IU guy, I’ve always liked Alford. I’m beginning to like him less. I think a lot of the stuff at Iowa probably wasn’t his fault and he’s a pretty good coach. But, I’m still not convinced he’s THE answer to everything and really an elite coach. The numbers just aren’t there. I mean, I’d give him some benefit of the doubt. Everyone says he had a difficult situation at Iowa. But, just because he’s having his best year in 12 or so seasons, it’s convenient for you to pretty much say he could solve everything and is a genius coach. He may be, I don’t know for sure, but the record to prove that point indisputably does just not exist, so it’s open to debate.

    Crean may not be great either, but I think he’s not had much of a chance to this point. No one could have done well last year. This year, we have about nine legitimate Big Ten players on the team, and that’s being generous. Of those, 6 are Freshman, 3 are sophomores, 2 are hurt, 1 doesn’t seem developed enough to play, and the 1 junior has really been a little disappointing. So, that’s a basic rotation of 4 Frosh, 2 Soph’s and 1 mistake-prone Junior. Of those, one might be NBA talent but has a long way to go. And while it’d be nice if they were Frosh and Soph’s like UK, they are not. Should we have a couple more wins? Probably. Should we have 10-15 more wins? Hell no. Are there some questions at times? Sure. Any coach is rightfully questioned at times. But, given the entirety of the situation, I’m willing to give him time before I claim him to be the worst basketball coach in the history of the game.

    I think you’ve wanted Alford as long as you can remember, and so it’s not so much about Crean. You probably never gave him a chance at all.

    Essentially, my only problem with your posts is that your theme that Crean is the worst coach of all time and Alford would have/still could solve all of our problems is your opinion. And, that’s fine. But, I don’t think it’s fair to reach either of those conclusions at this point. You state them as if they should be accepted as fact and not to do so would be ridiculous. And, most of the time, you pretty much refuse to accept any other opinion as having any possible validity whatsoever.

  26. Yeah, I don’t think Purdue would want 4 either. Sounds more like a Kentucky or Rich Rod fan, or maybe relative.


    What do you expect? This team is 2 years removed from being completely decimated thanks to KS. Name me one other program in recent hisory that has had to endure the same sort of overhaul, and 2 years later was competing for a division title. Go ahead, I’ll wait… It just doesn’t happen.

    And to say there is no development is completely bogus, and those who say that must not be watching the games. VJ3 is going to be an all Big Ten guard, Watford is coming along nicely and has all Big Ten ability, Hulls looks like he could be a floor general, Elston will be a solid Big Ten player, I could go on.

    And as far as recruiting, again, it’s not easy to sway someone to come to a school who is in rebuilding mode. The addition of the new practice facility should help, but guys want to win and make the tournament. This squad is on the verge, but may need another year or two. Yea we need post help, but the Demarcus Cousins of the world don’t wanna come to Indiana right now when they could go to Kentucky and compete for national title this year!

    And don’t give me some BS about this is Indiana and kids should automatically come here because of the history… Well umm last time I checked, this team last won a national title in 1987. Before these kids were even born. It’s not as easy of a sell as you would think, obviously.

  28. 4guards,

    You belong on the Rivals message boards. Go over there and check them out. Do you realize you are ruining a good message board.

    Ok, ok. I know what you are thinking “hey, just because I’m being negative about Crean doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be here.” That isn’t the case. The question is, “This is an Indiana message board, why are we talking about New Mexico?”


  29. Thought you guys might be interested. I heard it through a decent source that we are not leading for Cody Zeller, but we are still near the top. But the kicker is if we can land him, Tyler may be considering a transfer into the candystripes. Not saying it will happen, but just thought some of you may be interested.

  30. Some of you IU fans never cease to amaze me…Get off the IU wagon and go root for the UK wildcats where they will hang their banners with velcro..
    What did you all expect a national championship in coach Creans 2 year? Give him and these young man a chance. Sure it’s tough watching them struggle,but through thick and thin I will support the Hoosiers no matter what !!!

  31. 4guards,

    That actually would make sense, but I find it unlikely.

    BTW, how bad is North Carolina for having 7 Mickie D’s. If TC had 3 MCD’s and didn’t make the tournament, I’d even be calling for his head.

  32. Why do you all even respond to the little twit? What’s next, Sarah Palin’s theories on quantum mechanics? Shoot, she knows as much about that as basement boy knows about basketball. Ignore his posts.

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