Thoughts on the schedule

Might as well make this a three-part series.

Probably the first thing that jumps out at you on Indiana’s non-conference schedule is that it was obvious Tom Crean obviously thought he’d put just about enough tough games on his schedule by the time he signed up for the IBN Las Vegas Classic, where he could play Northern Iowa and either New Mexico or Colorado. He already knew he had the road game at Kentucky as part of that annual series as well as a road game in the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which turned out to be at Boston College. The Wright State game on Nov. 14 could be a challenge, as WSU finished 20-12 last year and has annually been Butler’s biggest obstacle in the Horizon League, so that makes five legitimate challenges.

Florida Gulf Coast, Mississippi Valley State, Evansville, North Carolina Central, Northwestern State and Savannah State definitely fall into the cream puff category, however. Those teams finished a combined 53-118 last season. Savannah State had the closest thing to a winning record at 11-15, and those 11 wins came at just as low a level as you’re expecting. Several non-Division I teams on the list. The two home games that came along with the Las Vegas Classic weren’t exactly brutal either. SIU Edwardsville was 5-23 last season. South Carolina State was a strong 18-14 including 10-6 in the MEAC, but the MEAC isn’t as highly regarded as the MAC or the MAAC let alone the Big Ten.

The Big Ten was a bit harsher on IU than last year. Last season, the Hoosiers had back-to-back road games just once and rotated home and road games for almost the entire season. This year they have three sets of back to back road games.

42 comments

  1. You give Wright St too much credit without their Coach and 2 of their best players.
    The majority of teams play SOME cupcakes, but we went way too far. This schedule is a joke.
    I feel sorry for the season ticket holders.

  2. Our players can’t prepare for the size and athleticism of the Big 10 without some early shock treatment. I would have rather seen stronger opponents early to give our new post player a true test right out of the gate.
    When November rolls around, these young men are ready to get it on. And now that we’ve labeled many of these teams as “cupcakes”(I seem to remember Knight losing to Cleveland St and many other “cream puffs” in some first round NCAA games), I’m not sure what it does to confidence if one of these teams march into Bloomington, play their guts out and, god forbid, knock us off. Don’t kid yourself, 4guards..Many of these cream puffs still look at beating Indiana as a supreme highlight reel in the history of their programs.

    I like being the underdog and challenging our guys(and Guys)..I’m not an advocate of baby steps. If think it’s time for Hulls, Elston, Watford, Jones, and Rivers to take off the diapers and show some leadership. I think we should have showed them we felt they were up to the task.

  3. Good points, New Coke.

    At the same time, I think there’s an equally rational thought that we don’t want to repeat what happened with last year’s brutal and demoralizing losing streak. Several close calls (and some blowouts, for sure) to better teams seemed only to discourage the team more. Coming close repeatedly can be more demoralizing than many think. At some point you stop saying “at least we played hard and stayed in the game,” and start saying “damn, what do we have to do to get a win?”

    After suffering through so few wins in the past two seasons, maybe what the core of this team needs more than anything is just to win some games — regardless of the opponent. Just think, we could feasibly equal our win total from all of last year before we even hit conference play.

    In a game affected so much by confidence and swagger, maybe it’s what the team needs right now — even if beating Evansville doesn’t look too glamorous.

  4. 4guards — please note that you are not allowed to use the word “we” when speaking about Indiana Hoosiers basketball. You’re not an IU fan, therefore, you are not part of the “we” that is.

    Also note that people like you in general, and you yourself very specifically, are also not invited or wanted or needed to be part of the IU “we” club. With your intellect and incisive basketball mind, you should go be a fan of Ohio State football or Purdue animal husbandry. I think you’ll fit in much better over there.

    That is all.

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  6. I have never in my life thought I would agree w/ 4guards but the schedule is really weak. If you dont think so then your not in the real world. Lets go IU! I’m a die hard fan but facts are facts!

  7. Fine — let’s reschedule and put Duke, Syracuse and Texas on the pre-conference schedule, get absolutely demolished, and enter Big Ten play completely demoralized.

    Or, we can notch some wins, build up some confidence (a feeling I don’t think this team has yet experienced), and feel loose and in sync heading into the conference season.

    Look, I don’t think anyone is claiming this is a super-difficult pre-conference schedule, but it presents a few healthy challenges, and will get our team feeling good and positive. I’m all for that.

    We had enough close calls last year to last a few seasons. At this point, I don’t thin an “almost” victory really benefits this team anymore — not as much as remembering what it feels like to win a good string of games again.

    Regardless of who they play, I’m excited to watch the team play this year. The schedule is set. It won’t change, so let’s move past it and be positive about the upcoming season for a little.

  8. Great post Casey.

    There’s this misconception out there (among IU fans anyway) that we’re this grizzled, veteran team…in reality, 10 of the 12 scholarship players have played ONE YEAR OR LESS at IU. Think about it: Roth’s injury means that Verdell and Pritch are the only 2 guys on scholarship who’ve been out there the last 2 years.

    Absolutely what this team needs more than anything is to string some wins together. I don’t care against who. We *should* have 6 wins in November alone; in other words, this would match our entire win total from ’09, with a shot to get to 10 before Big Ten play starts. To me, that’s significant.

  9. Although I’m not happy with this weak schedule, I agree we need some confidence boost going into B10 season. As a season ticket holder I’m certainly won’t be making the 4 hour drive to see us play all these cupcakes. I also disagree with Glass when he says he wants us to play 20 games a season in the Hall. I don’t think in the future we need to have a Notre Dame basketball schedule every season, almost all home games prior to conference play. I don’t think that will prepare us adequately for B10 play or tournament play. 15 to 17 home games is about right. I really hope this type of scheduling does not become the norm as I have always taken pride in the fact we had a good mix in the pre conference that helped us prepare for later in the season. This season I hope will do what it is made to do; win games early, build confidence and get us going. Having so many home games will only make the B10 road games even more difficult and more cruel and that could do a lot of damage to the egos and mind sets of the players. I worry about a false sense of being better than we are and when B10 season hits, we get smacked down and lose all the confidence we had and start questioning our ability to compete. I hope I’m wrong and just my typical worrisome self. Let’s go IU!!

  10. And another thought…

    Who cares about the non-conference schedule and how it stands on its own? Look at it in the context of the entire season. It’s not as if our whole season schedule is a cakewalk.

    Per the final AP poll of the 2009-2010 season:

    We play #4 Michigan State at Michigan State.
    We play #11 Ohio State, twice.
    Number #12 Purdue, twice.
    Number #24 Wisconson, twice.

    Now factor in that we’ll also play #5 Kentucky, and potentially #16 New Mexico.

    That’s eight definite, and nine potential games vs. ranked opponents.

    Now factor in two games against Illinois, two more against Minnesota, two more against Northwestern, one against a tournament team in Northern Iowa, and one against Boston College, and suddenly our schedule doesn’t seem like such a breeze.

    Calm down and look at the big picture. This will be a challenging year, regardless of our non-conference schedule. We’ve undoubtedly improved, but we haven’t suddenly turned into some sort of powerhouse. Let’s get some wins under our belt and see where it takes us.

  11. I totally agree with New Coke and Casey. Two things to consider. Not only was the schedule created to help us achieve more wins going into the Big 10 but every college has five or more cupcakes on their schedule for the SAME reason.

    As Dustin stated, there were a few pre-scheduled games (as well as other schools) that CTC had nothing to do with.

    It doesn’t take much common sense to know that this will not be the norm year in and out. Knight had many years where I complained but that is just the way the ball bounces at time. Good thing it happen this year.

    Take a look at few top seeded teams in 2009/10 pre-season schedules for this year:

    Syracuse: Kutztown, LeMoyne, Northern Iowa, Canisius, Detroit, William & Mary, Cornell Colgate, Iona and Drexel.

    Kentucky: Pikeville, Dillard, ETSU, Portland, Miss Valley St and Winthrop.

    Kansas: Washburn, Emporin St, Longwood, N Texas, Ohio.

    PUke: Indy, Midwestern St, Howard, Alcorn St, Oakland, IPFW and Austin Peay.

    As you can see every school “purposely” schedules at least five or so “cupcake” schools every year for the same reasons…to increase confidence and bust overall record.

    So to really complain, especially in a re-building situiation as ours, about the cupcake schedule is really just beating up on the Coach and staff just for ….aahhh…you fill in the blank.

    BC

  12. I have to say I’m somewhat fine with the schedule and agree with Casey. IU will get its fair share of lumps in the tough Big Ten.

    As a program right now and where we are in the rebuilding process this schedule probably suits our current team best. We are not ready to make the jump to playing the Texas’, Duke’s and Syracuse’s yet. In fact, their respective fan bases might view us as a “cupcake”.

    Again, fine for now. Next year based on our 2010-2011 progress, let’s make that schedule jump.

    Best,
    PB

  13. I agree our non-conference schedule is not full of overachievers and resembles something similar to the Mountain West conference schedule.

  14. There is no logic to people who bash the schedule. These are the same whiners who would be blubbering and throwing tantrums if we had a more difficult schedule and started the season 6-6.

    You can’t win with these people. If the schedule is too easy, Crean sucks and Zeller is going to Butler or UNC. If the schedule is too hard, Crean sucks and Zeller is going to Butler or UNC.

    What’s even funnier is that the same people (4tards and Remora) insist that they “love Jordan Hulls” who ” came to IU because of the IU brand,” and that “the players, not the coach, will ultimately lead IU back to greatness.”

    Jordan Hulls had a Duke front license plate on his car in high school. Duke was his dream school during the Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson years. It was Crean that changed his mind.

  15. Who is going to feel good beating teams like Fl Golf Coast, NC Central, NW state, MV State, etc…? If we feel good about beating teams like that than we have more problems than I thought.
    All it does is leave us unprepared for Big 10 play.
    Not to mention, season ticket holders are basically getting spit in the face.

  16. If IU wins over Wright State, Boston College, Northern Iowa and New Mexico (or Colorado if they beat New Mexico), and loses only to KY, then entering the Big 10 season at 12-1 will be GREAT! But the test is to be #6 or above in the Big 10 with a record of 9-9 or better. 16-18 wins should mean an NIT invitation, 19 and above should mean an NCAA invitation if IU is 6th or better in the Big 10 (MSU, Purdue, WI, OSU, IL will all be very good and in the NCAA, IU must place ahead of NU and MN while MI drops down with Iowa and PSU). I am excited to watch ANY Indiana game this season! I want to see WINS!

  17. Jordan Hulls’ grandfather was an assistant coach under Knight in the 1970s. Duke and IU both got interested in Hulls at the same time: after the AAU tournament in Pittsburgh with Indiana Elite. Crean couldn’t see him because of Greenspan self-imposed sanctions. Tim Buckley was there and he was the one that convinced Crean to make an offer. When IU made the offer Hulls wanted to accept immediately. His father told him to wait a week. Jordy got mad because he couldn’t wait. It was Crean who needed convincing not Hulls. Right up that tourney in Pittsburgh IU had no interest whatsoever in Hulls. After that tourney IU wasn’t the only one interested. Hulls wouldn’t have gone somewhere else. What’s funny is the same people who claim Crean is responsible for bringing Hulls here at IU are the same who last year were calling him a cupcake after seeing him play against Ole Miss in Puerto Rico last year.

    Crean is the last of IU’s self-imposed sanctions, I tell you.

  18. The non-conference games are used to gain experience and confidence nothing more nothing less.If Crean”s recruiting has been as bad as 4skin claims then IU should not be able to beat any of these teams. Hows the weather in West Lafayette 4skin?

  19. It appears someone who talks a big game is not a season ticket holder but would pretend to speak for them. Laughable on both counts.

  20. THE PRICE OF A CUPCAKE I’M WILLING TO PAY

    Just a random thought…Could this schedule have been purposefully constructed light so Crean did not feel a need to push Maurice Creek’s recovery too fast? Creek is a great talent..His game is smooth as butter…These cupcakes our butterCrean frosted! Could this allow Creek to filter back into prime playing form while still allowing some of the new blood to get valuable minutes and play an integral part in some close games and early victories? Every time I hear discussions about Creek’s progress I sense a bit of guardedness(no pun intended). Our success in the Big 10 will rely heavily on Maurice being 100%…Maybe I’m way off base..I’m not even sure when these scheduling decisions are made. Based on realistic assessments of Creek’s recovery, is it remotely possible that this was a strategic move by Crean? Did he feel our top player’s recovery was paramount despite the negative perceptions that could come from the scheduling a few weaker- than-normal opponents traditionally seen on an Indiana basketball schedule? Could the “cupcakes” sweeten chances down the stretch because coach Crean didn’t want the star on the team to feel the need to push himself beyond the state of his recovery? I have a hint of suspicion Maurice may be experiencing a load off his shoulders and knee after seeing a schedule that allowed him to gradually get his wheels back and take things at a smarter pace before going full throttle against top-tier guards/teams. Either way, I’m pleased the schedule may have the hidden benefit of not pushing a young man of good character and exceptional basketball skills too hard. I’m confident that if it was Cody Zeller coming into his sophomore year after a blown out knee in his debut season, 4guards would still be too blinded by his Crean hatred to see the silver lining and the concealed enormous positives for an individual and team.

  21. I don’t like playing the cupcakes.

    IU lost Creek against Bryant (major cupcake).

    That’s after they lost to Loyola (MD) at home with Creek as a starter.

    Recall the game against Loyola (MD) with Jeremiah and Verdell refusing to pass to Creek?

    Cupcakes are no good. Hard games build character.

  22. I think the worst part about our schedule… is the fact that we don’t get MSU as a Home and Home and only play there this year. It’s always a good game and MSU plays unlike anyone else in the Big Ten and is presumably what Crean is at least trying to model a little bit. It’s good we won’t have to lose to them twice this year, but for the past 10 years at least I have never not enjoyed the IU v. MSU games, especially when both were towards the top of the conference and they really meant something. We are being deprived of good basketball.

  23. Hulls came to IU because of Crean. Period. With Davis here, he wasn’t interested. Sampson wouldn’t even recruit the guy because his grades are too high.

    You can’t have it both ways, Chris.

  24. I think Hulls decision to wear cream and crimson was heavily influenced by the passions unleashed during a Brokeback Damon Mountain locker room encounter with Daniel Moore during a recruiting visit.
    Watch closely…Watch how Mr. Basketball and Mr. Carmel Walk-on manipulate the affections of Crean to stir the jealous fires as they fight for embraces, claps, and love-taps on firm round bottoms from Coppertone Tom. There is far more to double-dribbling, knee burns, lane penetration, and diving extra hard for loose balls than meets the untrained basketball eye.

  25. I love it when people talk about Jordan Hulls especially when they really don’t even know the story…… it is quite funny for us who do know.
    rock on Jordy

  26. I love it when people talk about Jordan Hulls especially when they really don’t even know the story…… it is quite funny for us who do know.
    rock on Jordy

  27. Maybe you guys want a top ten list: top ten reasons Hulls chose Indiana. Hmm…

    Hulls came to IU in spite of Crean being here, certainly not because Crean is here.

    Like most of us he is stoic about it.

    Crean is the last self-inflicted wound of the Greenspan regime.

    We’re stuck with him. But we will survive him. Maybe he will even become one of us, eventually.

  28. Top ten reasons Hulls chose to play for IU:

     _____ _    _   _    _  ____   ____   _____ _____ ______ _____   _____ 
    |_   _| |  | | | |  | |/ __ \ / __ \ / ____|_   _|  ____|  __ \ / ____|
      | | | |  | | | |__| | |  | | |  | | (___   | | | |__  | |__) | (___ 
      | | | |  | | |  __  | |  | | |  | |\___ \  | | |  __| |  _  / \___ \
     _| |_| |__| | | |  | | |__| | |__| |____) |_| |_| |____| | \ \ ____) |
    |_____|\____/  |_|  |_|\____/ \____/|_____/|_____|______|_|  \_\_____/ 

       1      2        3      4      5      6     7      8      9     10

    Meanwhile Husky had to be rejected by all PAC-10 grad schools to find out how good IU really is!

    You’re welcome, Husky!

  29. Number one reason Hulls chose IU: Coppertone Tom Crean!!! Otherwise, he’s be modeling his game after J.J. Reddick and hanging with Mason Dumblee on the bench!!!

  30. Ominous cupcakes. You said “Hard games build character.” But wins justify post season invitations! Especially when you place 6th or above coming from a top 1-2-3 conference! If you don’t think that 18 games in the Big 10 plus five good non-conference games: Wright State, Northern Iowa, New Mexico (or the team that beat them-Colorado), BC and KY, for a total of 23 tough games, is enough of a test, then no team in the country can meet your standards.

  31. BeatPurdue,

    Your point is very well taken. But in that case I hope that you too expect them to be 8-0 before going into Rupp and play to win there. Let’s hope we’re never led by 24 in the first half again, at home, like we were last year when we played Loyola (MD) in Assembly Hall.

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