COMMENTARY: Elston’s trip demanded more punishment

Derek Elston tripped Alex Marcotullio.

With the game all but over and Indiana on its way to a sixth-traight loss on Sunday, Elston saw Marcotullio coming across the lane, stuck out his left foot and tripped his opponent.

Maybe he immediately regretted it. Maybe its totally out of character. Maybe the devil made him do it.

But he did it — it’s plain as day, right there for everyone with access to DVR or YouTube to see. And the only person buying Elston’s excuse — that his left foot somehow moved just as Marcotuillio was coming across the lane — is Tom Crean.

“It would be highly out of character for Derek to be dishonest or do something of that nature in a negative way,” Crean said during his radio show on Monday. “It would be truly out of character, and if he did it would be a mistake.”

Maybe it is out of character — one of the negatives with Indiana’s decision to close practice to media during recent sessions is that myself and every other member of the Indiana media do not really know these players.

We know their public personalities, the ones they show for the few minutes they are shuffled in and out of the media room once or twice a week. During those precious moments, I’ve never gotten the impression that Elston is the kind of guy who makes a habit out of tripping his opponent. So I can go along with Crean’s assertation that it would be an out-of-character mistake.

But it does not erase what happened: a person representing one of college basketball’s proudest programs — a program that blew the whole damn thing up because the last coach made too many phone calls — decided, for that second, to be a goon.

Can’t happen. Not here. Not anywhere, but especially not at Indiana.

The Hoosiers are not a good basketball team. They’ve lost six in a row for a reason: the effort is lacking, the team defense is woeful and the offense is a mess.

But up until the moment Crean decided that he would not punish Elston — that he would not even say the matter would be handled in-house — it was at least a program that could say its integrity was intact.

Crean’s reasoning for not punishing Elston (“The last thing I’m going to do is break down a trust by accusing a player of something that he says he didn’t do on purpose.”) rings false.

There’s only one reason to not sit Elston for Saturday’s game against Michigan, to explain to him that you believe it was a mistake but that it also happened and can’t go unnoticed, and its because you believe you have to have Elston on Saturday.

Elston is a good player. He can be an important member of the program going forward. But no player is above the rules, and two Northwestern free-throws and less than four minutes on the bench do not count as that.

76 comments

  1. Sorry… but gotta disagree and say you’re going overboard here. People make mistakes (whether intentional or not). Elston is not a habitual offender. If this were a common occurrence then fine. Move on..

  2. I also disagree. This is getting over examined and getting a little tired of hearing these hoosier journalists blab about it. Get over it, please.

  3. Hugh I totally understand why CTC don’t care for you or your writing. You continue to go against everything he does. This is no different than anything that use to happen all the time when Coach Knight was the head coach. Whether it was Jadlow or Lewis throwing the ball off someone’s face or Fife biting someone, it’s all in the heat of battle. Who are you to say that Elston is not being punished in practice behind closed doors. That’s is how you take care of these things in-house. I see why people are reading you less and less

  4. Hugh, lay off a little bit. You seem to be getting somewhat “preachy” in your latest sermon. It’s not that big a deal. It was not an elbow to the head away from the ball. Not that different then sticking your butt out while they are crossing the lane. Write something people are interested in.

  5. Sounds like Hoosier Freak and iu ball want to buy in to the dumbing down of Indiana Basketball where unsportsmanlike conduct WILL BE TOLERATED.

  6. For all the IU fans who have repeatedly said, “This type of thing cannot happen at Indiana, Indiana is too good for this. Etc” They need to realize that this type of behavior isn’t allowed, expected or encouraged anywhere. Not Purdue, not Miami, not IUPUI, not Florida State. There is no school where this behavior is commonplace or acceptable. Some IU fans really sounded pretentious, making it out to be something that everyone else does; but ‘oh no not at our precious IU.’ Wake up, this isn’t accepted anywhere.

    The person Crean really let down here is Elston. When you make a mistake like this the only way to make it right is to apologize and openly take blame, it helps you take responsibility and it gives you a chance to ‘man up’ and make it right. For Crean to “take Derek at his word” was not the right coaching move on his part. You are dealing with young men who still occasionally behave like kids, as a 45 year old man Crean should’ve known that deep down Derek knows he did wrong; have him apologize, miss the first half of the Michigan game, and then go on from there. Instead Elston is now labeled a dirty player who lied and didn’t take any punishment; that is a cheap way for Crean to leave Elston hanging both with our fans and fans across the Big 10. Sure Crean had a chance to make a statement by punishing a player, but his real responsibility of helping character development was his biggest oversight. I feel bad for Derek because there is no doubt he knows he did wrong, no he has no real chance to apologize or take the blame because that would then put Crean in a tough spot…..

  7. If character is what you build a program on, letting Elston go with out at least a one game sit down is a mistake. Elston is not a bad kid but I have thought for awhile he get’s too pumped up during his play and has very little focus on the floor. Not the message you want. You’re the Coach and it’s your team to run. Just say’in!

  8. Let me preface this by saying that I support CTC and I am offering my opinion here ONLY in regards to the “trip.” That said, I do think Elston tripped Marcotullio intentionally and I do think it would have been appropriate for CTC to punish Elston for the trip. Some others have pointed out that CTC may be punishing Elston in a non-public manner, but if we, as fans, were to understand that, CTC should have said that.

    Again, I completely support CTC and I am not trying to criticize his “body of work.” I am simply offering my opinion on a particular, narrowly-defined, issue… I agree with Hugh that Elston should have received some sort of punishment for his actions.

  9. Chris,

    If it was being handled internally, Crean should have said that. That’s acceptable. But he said the two free-throws were enough punishment.

    There seems to be this idea that because I asked a question that Crean did not care for that we are now “at odds” or that I am holding a grudge. I imagine part of that is due to Hutch writing that we had a long, private conversation and that certainly is a conglomeration of words that seems to indicate the conversation was unpleasant. That conversation was off the record and is going to stay that way, but it wasn’t about him and I; it was about the question. We parted amicably. You’ll notice I have not written one word about it, either.

    I held off initially writing about the trip because I didn’t see it live: it happened away from the ball. I couldn’t see a replay, because there are no replay screens inside Welsh-Ryan Arena. I didn’t see it until yesterday afternoon, digested Crean’s radio show comments and decided today I needed to write about the issue.

  10. Why does TC have to tell anyone if something is being handled “in house”? Do you know if there was something going on before this happened ?? DE has never done anything like this in the past, and TC did say that they had a long discussion about it. The officials handled it–just like they do for tripping in football or any other sport. To write something like this is way of base. You need to spend more time writing up the motion or flex offense that you suggested and worry less about this!

  11. Hugh,

    Dont let the negatives get to you. You’re a professional, so I dont have to tell you this. but its not a journalist’s job to sugar coat or simply be a mouth piece. personally, i’m a bit curious as to Crean’s stance on the situation too. and im not the only one. Not calling for the man’s head, just curious as to how we can proclaim we’re elite in all ways while seeming to allow public perception that we allow dirty play.

    Whats also funny is how little national attention this is getting, which is a true showing of where we register on the college basketball barometer now.

  12. Hugh is a human being, so he is allowed to ask questions that actually matter. IU fans are smart people so they are allowed to have thoughts and opinions about something they’ve known their whole lives: Basketball. This seems to rub Crean the wrong way. His post game interviews are awful. He always makes sure to do 3 things. 1)Lay out all the excuses of ‘being too young, too inexperienced, freshman mistakes.’ 2) Overly praises his opponents, he makes it sound like everyone IU plays is going to the Final 4. 3) He covers his own tracks, “we don’t practice that way.” “it wasn’t how I expected we’d play.” But what he doesn’t do is answer questions with any kind of meaning or honesty. He wants to talk around and over the question and the reporter and thus the fans as well. Someone posted on here earlier and made a good point. Crean does not analyze the game at all. He says things like “we got out-toughed.” Or “we didn’t try hard enough.” That is not ‘coach’s speak.’ Real coaches bring up actual basketball information and break down the game. Anytime reporters push Crean for some legit information Crean immediately balks at it and talks around it. I know of at least 4-5 coaches in the Big 10 who would’ve loved Hugh’s question, it would’ve given them a chance to elaborate on what/why they run what they do. Crean was not able to answer it because the proof is in the pudding at currently the offense is a joke. Crean was accused of this same stuff at Marquette too, the media/fans there did not appreciate his ‘politician-like’ answers, always saying what sounds good instead of anything truthful. Even Crean’s biggest quote here “It’s Indiana, It’s Indiana!” does anyone believe that? What he meant to say was, “Its a huge contract, Its a huge contract!” Crean would’ve stayed right where he was had IU not offered him double the pay….Its Indiana…my ass.

  13. Good for you, Hugh. It’s your job to ask the unpleasant questions, consider the response (or lack thereof), and write what you think. You did your job. Those that suggest that you’re writing this column out of boredom or some personal agenda against CTC are being asinine.

    Moreover, I agree with your take on the subject. Dirty play by Elston. Disingenuous, evasive response from Crean. I’m surprised and disappointed at both.

    All that said, the sky is not falling, and two bad decisions don’t ruin Indiana basketball.

  14. it’s all opinion in the end. I am scared to comment my feelings on this or Hugh’s comments for fear of backlash I recieved for my opinion on Pease. I refuse to make anyone mad any time soon on here so I will tread carefully. I will say that I think Elston stuck his foot out a little but I am giving him a free pass after losing a grandparent a couple days prior…just my opinion, no more no less.

  15. Great comments Hugh! Good job and keep the pressure on as it’s your job! I’m sick of the media throwing softballs at Crean and it’s time for some stronger questions which you are providing.

    Thank you!

    Long time IU fan

  16. Journalistic overkill if I’ve ever seen it. Let’s just keep perpetuating shortsightedness. Some are arguing that if Crean is punishing Elston in a non-public manner he should indicate such. Um, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of the non-public punishment….if you announce it publicly? I think Crean is getting a lot of fair and unfair criticism that is being amplified by the recent results on the court. This particular incident should not continue to be exploited by the media two days after the incident….unless the player in question has a history of dirty play or there are known facts that indicate Crean condones the dirty play. Coaches cover for their players to deflect away negative attention all the time. It’s what good coaches do to avoid the player having to undergo any additional scrutiny and public scorn.

  17. You gata relax! He was frustrated of losing so much as is every fan. I love that he tripped him. As does every other fan

  18. A NON-issue!

    I’ve heard about more mayhem perpetrated by an 18 month old at a daycare center.

    Damn sure is not hard to understand how practices became closed.

    I imagine having your stones handed to you makes you vengeful.

    Only supports my long held decision to not buy newsprint.

  19. I’m a big Hugh fan, so don’t take this the wrong way but its hard from the outside not to draw a line between Crean’s terse answer to your suggestion he scrap his offensive approach to the basketball and the suggestion that not punishing Elston for the apparent trip is in any way suggestive of Indiana losing its integrity. I hope you continue to be critical when it is your job to be so, I’d criticize you just as quickly if I thought you were rolling over and asking CTC to scratch under your chin and writing about the talking points from the last presser.

    However, putting aside the question I suggested might’ve led to this type of commentary I see two major problems with your observations here. First and most obvious, this trip (assuming it was as it appeared) is not as nasty as people who haven’t played the game suggest. If it is a threat to IU’s integrity, IU has long been without integrity. Many of your esteemed critics on this blog have pointed out much more egregious incidents which went unpunished and never threatened IU’s integrity. Many of the most celebrated players for IU and the rest of the conference have had more blatant offenses and most of the time it is celebrated. In the interest of not belaboring the point, if the incident happened just like it looks to you and I it still isn’t that big of a deal and certainly doesn’t approach this level of criticism. This is the coach that punished a more important player at the time (Dumes) for unacceptable actions. This is the guy who sacrificed a lot to hold this program’s integrity up when he could’ve cut corners to keep Crawford or Bassett with a less demanding (off the court) pitch. This guy has questions on his resume, but none involve being anything other than a strict disciplinarian.

    And the second criticism is more subtle, but closer to the point. It looked to me like a trip. I’d have a hard time believing otherwise. Sure I didn’t hear the reportedly hour long conversation Crean and Elston had about this question, so its possible I could be convinced there is actual doubt to its veracity. But from what I’ve seen and not knowing Elston personally I’m on board with personal skepticism that it occurred. You were kind enough to show a snip of Crean’s comments about the incident, but if you included the entire commentary about the incident it is clear something else is going on entirely.

    Our dear and spectacular Mr Kellenberger is the fortunate and no doubt expert parent of at least one young child. He knows that you have to demand the truth and confront a lie so that the child knows lying is unacceptable and is less likely to repeat the incident. When that child is much older things will become more complicated. There will be a time when you look at your high character child and know the child is telling you something that is not true. You may even be able to prove it, but it may not be the right thing to respond the same way you did when the child was younger. You might refer to how important that trust between you and the dear child is, you might make it clear that from your seat it is really hard to accept the wayward but spectacularly splendid future leader of men’s story. But sometimes it is more important to expose yourself to the possibility of taking a position that appears on the surface as foolish in order to really emphasize how important that trust is. If the kid is worth it, it may be the right thing to do to let the kid’s well formed conscience do the damage. You have to accept his word if you want to get that deeper lesson across, which may be hard and require an hour long conversation to make it palatable enough, but your trust is required to hammer this point home even though the reality is you know this version of reality is skeptical.

    You certainly can’t operate that way often at any age, and if the kid takes advantage of your trust instead of valuing it even more and regretting the mistake then your effort was wasted. If we were talking about a coach here who had any hint of past discipline problems on the court or had even an average reputation for demanding accountability from his players it would be harder to extend trust here. But if you look at Crean’s extended comments, he pretty much says it looked bad to him and they talked a long time and he decided to take the kid at his word because the value of the trust is too important. Look at how he words it, he even lays it out from the kids’ perspective. That’s what happened.

    Crean’s probably wrong if he really ended up selling himself on Elston’s version of events. You and I can’t be sure, perhaps Elston had an improbable but truthful explanation for why he clearly put his foot in the path of that kid that made sense. I’m personally doubting it, Crean’s comments on the matter point to another conclusion. If you look at the longer version, I think you’ll know what I’m talking about.

    But in the end, this incident wasn’t that big of a deal to begin with. It pales in comparison to the trust issue Elston and Crean are negotiating, and it pales in comparison to the experiences past IU fans have witnessed from our own players and from our opponents. Brian Cardinal and Dane Fife never played a game where they didn’t push, trip, pull, undercut, or otherwise cross and walk the line you suggest Elston threw to the wind.

    I hope your perspective on this isn’t in any way guided by the gentle (by coaching standards) but snide way Crean showed you up for the question about running someone else’s offense instead of his own. That question made the celebrated Hugh sound a bit inexperienced, which is fine since it is true and you navigate that quite expertly normally. I suggest you google some of the press conferences that used to take place in Assembly Hall if you feel wounded by that enough for it to alter your normally sound judgment I fear the future utility of reading your work may suffer from my perspective. IU fans don’t ask you to know the history of our players, to have been a former college player who understands how common stuff like that trip may be, or to like Crean. We all know he’s a bit of a psychopath. But you’re losing the forest through the trees. Crean’s personality might rub you the wrong way (it would me too if I worked closely with him) but you need to take a tour of other high major college basketball programs and take a look at how they recruit, how honest the coaches are, how many of the players actually earn their grades, how many of them get away with murder on a regular basis. At IU we have a little of that kind of thing, but we’ve got a coach who makes damn sure that the big picture sends a different message. If you throw pebbles at him all the time you can have more hits than misses, but you could do that to anyone. It will ensure you miss the point.

  20. Man, you guys would having been calling for RMK’s head around, oh, 1979. There was a guy that would have given you plenty of fodder for commentary.

  21. DE’s tripping clearly looked intentional. That is not acceptable conduct by an IU athlete.

    Let us propose this in the future: When an IU FB player gets penalized for grabbing a face mask, hitting a player out of bounds, or running into a kicker, let’s ask the IU FB coach(es) if this is intentional. Then Hugh(or Dustin) will write about the reply. By the way, these are major penalties designed to improve the safety of players.

    For Now: The IU BB team must make a major commitment to DEFENSE, DEFENSE, and DEFENSE. If not, our chance of success is very, very limited. Defense is the part of basketball that should and must be a constant of every game regardless of talent. Your can always control defensive effort. But some nights your shots just won’t drop, regardless of effort.

  22. Bob Knight does not care about any of you… And that message is to the people who are insistent upon living in the early 1990s.

  23. Enough already. I love Hugh’s work, but IMHO, he’s overboard on this one.

    I watched the tape several times and it didn’t look great, but I couldn’t testify one way or another as to intent.

    And if Elston says he didn’t do it on purpose, I guess of necessity, your comments can only be interpreted as calling him both a cheat and a liar, right? Pretty harsh!!

    Remember, under English common law, even a dog has to bite two people before the owner is liable.

    I would hasten to add that, under that theory or some extreme permutation thereof, RMK got about 20 bites before “his owner” was liable, i.e. took action.

    So, Hugh, if it happens again or something else shows either that Elston is a repeat offender or that Crean is not handling discipline well, let’s talk.

    Until then …. next issue!

  24. █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ C O M M E N T A R Y █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █ █

    Why didn’t I need a subscription to pay for this piece like the lollipop stuff?

    I have learned one thing these last ten or so years at IU…We have quite the new craving for crucifixions. Welcome to the party, Tom Crean. If integrity mattered so damn much as Hugh eludes, we should have fallen back on its secure foundation when video evidence surfaced of a coach gripping a players’ throat during a “closed off” to media practice twenty years ago. Shame on Herald Times for not letting Hugh know what he was getting himself into when covering Indiana basketball. I’d like to crucify that SOB that brought Hugh to Bloomington. How horrible of Chris Korman to so deceitfully rip away Hugh’s virgin innocence in covering sports and place him helplessly in the middle a hoops orgy full of beer-bellied rotting souls in polyester crimson vests corrupted to the core by the most perverse hunger a perfect motion offense. They took you, Hugh…they took you… and TOOK YOU…and TOOK YOU! Welcome to the Yacht Club. Go have a cigarette. Get drunk with the Cutty.
    Yes, Finkle was Einhorn. Tom Crean will still love you in the morning..What happens in B-town, stays in B-town. I’m sorry they didn’t tell you the pirates are in charge the oak barrels full of your $5.00/month words of rum on this ship. You either join us or walk the plank.

    Maybe you should have given Derek just a little bit more window of opportunity to own up to this. I won’t crucify you. I’m no expert in such matters. I thought the Sampson kids weren’t necessarily beyond forgiveness. Most I sailed with on dusty old blogging ships have never liked me since the day.

  25. Great commentary, Hugh!!

    We don’t need that goon play at Indiana.

    That no-class BS can stay in Kaintuck.

  26. <>

    The quote above from a prior poster is at the core of the current problems. CTC tends to talk in intangibles and other coaches prefer to talk in “x’s and o’s” in post game interviews. Lately we hear that we have to “play with more maturity” and “play with desperation”. Do the players even know what this means? Can’t say that I do.

    I believe that CTC was absolutely the right guy to hire to coach the Hoosiers though. The problems required someone with good marketing (recruiting) and public relations skills – he’s excellent at both. Problem now is that the skilled marketing/PR guy has to run the production plant – which is why we don’t hear “coach speak” from him. This can work if the marketing guy surrounds himself with assistants who know how to make a good product, suspends his ego, and lets them work the details. Can that happen here?

    By the way, Hugh does a good job. IMHO all that would really be required here would be to admit the tripping was a serious judgment error, apologize publicly, and move on. Not sure why the denial approach was chosen.

  27. Chris M is wrong on 2 big points:
    1) Listen to Don Fischer and Dan Dakich say the exact same stuff(that Hugh is saying) and more as they hold nothing back in bashing the whole Elston debacle; it isn’t just Hugh who is saying this, are you ready to throw Don and Dan under the buss too Chris? http://www.1070thefan.com/dakich/podcast.aspx

    2) Crean owned no one in that interview you are talking about. He pettily attacked Hugh’s question without owning up like a real coach and answering the question. Crean is agitated whenever he isn’t served with a silver spoon. You call that style of response he gave Hugh as ‘showing him up’ haha that is hilarious. If he showed Hugh up why did he then pull him aside and talk with him off the record? Clearly Crean was the one who was showed up and his highness, he of a 9-8 record with 0 wins against non laughable opponents, isn’t ready to look in the mirror yet and see that he(Crean) is to blame a bit; he deflects all the attention away from himself constantly and in the one instance when Hugh didn’t let him get by the easily it ruined Tom’s day….

  28. Wiz,

    I’m not suggesting that Hugh is alone in his perspective. A lot of smart people can come to the same easy perspective there. I love Don and Dak as I indicated that I’m a fan of Hugh as well. As I said earlier, it looked like a trip to me too and not knowing the kid it would be pretty hard to convince me otherwise.

    But anyone who suggests this gives away Indiana’s integrity is not dealing with this realistically at all. Its a mountain-molehill thing.

    My perspective on how to handle this isn’t governed by the easy, lazy thinking you subscribe to. Dan and Dak didn’t say Indiana has given up its integrity, you are making false lazy equivalencies.

    Crean can be criticized for many things, but letting down Indiana’s integrity is not one of them. He’s going to do a few things differently than I would or you would or anyone would. It is easy on talk radio or on the internet to jump up and down and throw around hyperbolic generalities anytime someone interprets a right/wrong situation differently than I do but I believe it waters down my soul and integrity to play that game.

    I respectfully disagree with your characterization of Hugh showing up Crean with that question. When I heard it, as a fan of Hugh as a seemingly really good dude I cringed a little bit. There isn’t anyone looking over his shoulder, Crean isn’t Knight (“Coach Knight, your offense has struggled quite a bit have you ever thought of running the flex?” would’ve been Hugh’s last words) and there isn’t much of a spotlight on Crean’s q and a stuff right now so no harm done I’m sure. But seriously, can anyone imagine a B10 coach responding in a serious manner to that question? I’m sorry I didn’t get that.

    However, I’m sure Hugh looked at it in a way I have not considered. I didn’t get on here and talk about how he’s ruined the HT’s integrity. I understand that good competent people approach things from different angles sometimes.

    Which brings us back to Elston’s actions. Not knowing the kid I’m not saying I would believe him if I was Crean or that I wouldn’t. Its hard to imagine believing that was an accident, it would have to be a heck of a tale for me to honestly believe him.

    But my willingness to trust the player telling me something I knew sounded improbable would be affected by my opinion of that kid’s character and what that kid needed.

    And that perspective could vary depending on how many hours its been since he put his grandfather/hero figure in the ground.

    So I would be likely to hear nuance even if I didn’t expect to come to it myself.

    And I wouldn’t get on the internet and impugn anyone’s integrity for coming up with a different read on it.

    Keep in mind the scale here, it was a trip. Its not a big enough thing to make a big deal out of. You don’t kick Fife off for biting the ankle. You kick Sherron off for throwing his girlfriend down the stairs. It isn’t an easy line, but its there.

  29. Chris M-
    I haven’t mentioned a word about IU losing its integrity. No one on here is reacting like “Oh no Derek needs to be kicked out of school and never play ball again!” No one is saying anything close to that. We all get that a trip is a trip, not a huge issue. The disappointing part is how both Crean and Derek dealt with it. And yes I do believe there are NW fans and other Big 10 fans who are surprised that Elston will issue no apology or be dealt any discipline. The fact that instead of reading a statement of apology, or ‘dealing with it in house’, Crean instead insults us all by saying he has ‘sat down with Derek and had a lengthy conversation’…yada yada. That doesn’t change the film, dude tripped someone for no reason. Watch the tape, imagine it not being an IU player and there is no way anyone defends it, not Crean either. Your idea that Crean has some higher moral code or a plan that is above our understanding is laughable. I do not bow at the feet of basketball coaches. People think these guys are gods or something. Crean didn’t give anything up to come to IU, he is making almost 3million a year to coach a handful of 18-21 year old kids in a sport. He isn’t saving the planet. Some people revere coaches and think that they can do no wrong, it is comical really. For instance a lot of NW fans are really upset that Carmody called Derek Elston an “f-ing a-hole” after that play, and I think thats cool, just because you are a coach doesn’t mean you live above the rest of us. Hugh’s question was completely valid, Chris M, have you been watching the games? Checking the box score or the highlights doesn’t do it justice, if you are actually watching the games their offensive structure has been laughable and it is clearly a frustration point for the players, so Hugh has legit reasons to bring it up. As far as saying that Knight would’ve done this or that…Knight is a joke and was fired and hasn’t had a good team in almost 20 years. Knight might’ve been feared but he wasn’t respected. If you confuse the two that’s on you. You bring up Dane Fife, he was a favorite player of mine when I was in HS, I tried to play like him. I don’t think Dane Fife tripped people and if he did he’d apologize and not hide it. Dane Fife played hard and never gave up, comparing his effort/toughness/defense to Derek tripping a kid in the open court during a meaningless blowout is invalid and demeaning towards Fife’s career. You seem like a smart dude, I don’t think you need to live in awe of Tom Crean’s alleged infinite wisdom. Hugh is just as human as Crean, don’t be afraid of Crean so much, and don’t be so afraid to support people who don’t have a flimsy title of ‘coach’ in front of their last name.

  30. Wiz,

    I still think the Elston punishment thing is misguided a little. But I think you are more right than me to a great extent about Hugh’s questioning of Crean.

    Hugh’s ready to ask uncomfortable questions, that is a good thing and one that I admire. There is probably a good answer for his question out there if delivered a touch differently or in a different setting. That is a balance for our good Mr Kellenberger to set, I’ll keep reading.

  31. Some fans say the trip was no big deal and that things like this happen all the time in basketball. Other fans think it was classless, especially since it came at a time one wouldn’t consider “the heat of the battle.”

    I can’t say either way, but my personal opinion is that it was classless. I am not as certain as Coach Crean that it was totally out of character for Derek, either. Derek, it seems to me, often behaves immaturely on the court — he frequently plays a bit out of control and he almost always argues with the refs about fouls called on him. Dan Dakich and Don Fischer talked about Derek on Dan’s show and they both thought the trip was seriously inappropriate. Fisch went on to say that he witnessed Derek react inappropriately to a situation before a game recently. I am not saying that Derek is a bad kid or that he is a problem. I think he is a good kid. But I think he has some growing up to do. In my opinion, trying to trip a player who is looking the other way is classless and not what I expect from IU. Thankfully the player wasn’t hurt. I understand that basketball is a contact sport and that it is played tough. There is still room for sportsmanship in that, though.

    I respect Coach Creans’ decision to handle this as he sees fit, but I am disappointed with his decision.

  32. Find something else to write about….PLEASE. You guys do a lot of hard work on here and pride yourselves on the depth of your coverage. Give me that instead of the knackering over this. It’s over. It’s not being retread, except by the media. Bill Carmody has no problem with it. I think you can let it rest with that.

  33. Find something else to write about! This is getting old- you already said what you thought-OK. We arent 4 graders and dont need to hear and hear this over and over! Its done get on with it!

  34. I’m not sure all this negative backlash against a kid that just lost a loved one is fair. The trip looked intentional. If intentional(the video clip making it hard to conclude otherwise), I tend to believe Elston is thoroughly embarrassed by the wrong. I hope Hugh’s article makes him reconsider a public apology. Hugh has possibly done the kid a great service by opening the door to a second chance to do just that. I hope in my heart Derek seizes the opportunity and saves himself from any unlikeliness a future day he’s covered each misstep to one night sadly sound just as blindly arrogant a hideous judgmental and nameless blogging soul all the conveniences a hiding place for perfection behind a typed word.

  35. If we were 14 & 5 this story would not cause nearly as much heated debate. Yet I for one would still hold the opinion that the tripping was intentional.
    DE’s left foot did not move out inadvertantly to cause the trip. It was obviously a blatant and purposeful move. Watch the video carefully and think it through. No way any camera angle could have caused it to appear that way. He was standing flat footed, not on the balls of his feet. Watch him shift his balance so he can kick out the foot. He stuck out his left foot and brought it back. His body did not change its center of gravity one bit until after the trip when he started to go into a defensive position and guard his man.
    Not even a drunk contortionist moves their leg out away from their body in that manner without it being an intentional move. I’m not calling for Elston’s head. Just think he should have had to apologize publicly and also should have his ass run off in practice to set an example to him and to the other players. There is no parallel from this to Cardinal or Fife playing tough-nosed defense, setting solid picks or making a firm block-out on the boards.

    As to Hugh: he is a big boy and can call them as he sees them. It’s not his job to placate us or Coach Crean.

  36. Hugh – how do you even begin to think you know what Indiana basketball is? You haven’t been around long enough to tell us what is and is not Indiana. Start by watching some tapes of Dane Fife. Please stick to being a beat writer. For those of us who’ve been at the scoop a while, the drop off from Korman/Wilson to you and dustin has been dramatic and more noticeable each passing day.

  37. for 20 years i taught my bigs that when a cutter comes through the lane, you step in his path and give him a forearm shiver. in the mouth, the ribs, whatever. that’s the way it was done in the day. if you couldn’t take it, stay the hell out of the lane. that changed about 5-6 years ago. now you have to let them run amok through the lane unmolested. i prefer the old way.

    and jpat, you’re really pissing me off with all your ass kissing.

  38. Hugh,

    I understand that you think the trip was intentional and thats OK to write about, but it seems like your on a vendetta against Coach Crean, possibly because practices became closed, which you mentioned in this article. I know that you have your opinions but coach crean still has fan support, so at this juncture it is unwise to write negatively about him.

  39. “coach”v–

    A jab to the ribs is not the same as tripping someone as that can easily cause a bad injury.

    And I don’t think it’s “unwise” to write about him at all. God forbid the press becomes Crean’s lap dog like some did with Knight.

    Are you saying the press has to smooch the coach’s butt if he “has fan support”?

    Stupid.

  40. Blah, blah, blah, blah….At least Coach Crean gave you the time to have a private conversation. Knight wouldn’t even bother going that far. Oh, his practices were off limits too. Heck, you guys wouldn’t even be allowed in the press room if Knight were here. Obviously, Coach didn’t feel “the trip” called for the same action that he handed out to Devan last year. His call, like it or not. Don’t blame him for his response about the offense question either. This teams two biggest problems are defense & rebounding. As far as anything being handled internally with the team, Coach Crean owes nobody an explanation about “the trip” or anything else. The only people that are on a need to know basis are the players, their families, and the administration/athletic director.

  41. I agree with the writer. What Elston did showed incredibly poor sportsmanship and the coach compounded it by letting him get away with it. This is just plain wrong.

  42. The most insightful thing I’ve read in this entire thread — including Hugh’s article — is Chris M.’s 6:30 post.

    It’s easy to stand from a distance and treat this situation like it’s black and white.

    Crean has shown in the past he’s not scared to suspend, or even dismiss a player. Arguing that he’s compromising the program’s integrity, or anything of the sort, is ridiculous. It was a stupid little play that will flee the minds of 99 percent of IU fans one day.

    The fact that we’re even discussing this still seems ridiculous to me. I’d love to see what Hugh’s column looked like if he were covering Minnesota basketball right now.

    But as Chris M pointed out, Crean has no obligation to inform the public that this matter is being handled “in-house.” In fact, that would seem to go against the whole point of handling something internally.

    Think back to when you were younger — did your parents ever give you the benefit of the doubt even when your story didn’t seem likely? They probably did. Did you ever feel guilty later knowing you hadn’t been entirely honest? Did you make it a point to try harder not to replicate that in the future? You probably did.

    Crean hasn’t given us a reason to doubt him when it comes to keeping his players in line. At the end of his time at IU — whenever that may be — if the worst thing one of his players ever did was trip or elbow someone in the heat of the moment during a game, I’ll be just fine with that.

    Let it go, Hugh. Sometimes I think journalists get so caught up in not sugar coating things that they end up being excessively antagonistic with their content and questioning. Just because you aren’t supposed to ask feel-good questions doesn’t mean you necessarily have to bury someone either. It’s a tightrope, for sure.

  43. I do not care for a blatant trip like that on one hand, but on the other, I’ve been wishing the Hoosiers would toughen up on the defensive end and stop letting opposing players just do whatever the heck they want to do. I was hoping someone would go out there and drop Battle and the other dude from PSU and make them earn 3 free throws with a little fear of someone coming to get him for the rest of the game. I wished someone would land one in the gut of that greasy center from NW we made to look like Wilt Chamberlain. I have looked for a hard foul on someone trying to go up and dunk on us again or shoot yet another open three. Someone, anyone, toughen up and play harder, angrier, chip-on-the-shoulder defense. Even though Elston’s play was dirty, and if he wants to play dirty, he has to do so much more subtly than that, I say, bad execution and too visible, but, the right idea not to just let anyone do anything they want against us for once!

    The other person that needs to toughen up is Crean. I sensed an all-night run and practice coming since they supposedly quickly dressed and returned to the bus/plane for Bloomington. I hope they can do that. I think I would have made those guys long ago run until they puked and otherwise sought to humiliate them – because they need to fall in line and play with some heart, some passion. Someone on that team has got to step up and lead and one way to get that leader to step forward is to put them under a lot of discipline and pressure until the team begins to self-regulate itself to avoid more discipline and pressure (such as running until puking or doing other such humiliation).

    I saw some show once where Bo Ryan makes his guys run some nasty hill outside somewhere up there in preseason until every single guy runs it to his satisfaction, and the leaders on the team thus have to get the other guys to get their butts in gear to end the nasty running. These things lead to leaders coming forward and cohesion as a team growing. This is what we need and do not do. These guys are too pampered.

    Offensively, they score plenty, but when it doesn’t count. They need to score more consistently and have go-to plays they know they can go to for a bucket or an open look, I don’t care the style – they have to get the confidence and leaders to get them there. No more long stretches of not scoring.

    Defense, toughen up. Play hard and angry. Pressure the ball and use good fundamentals. They all need a class on RMK’s helpside rules.

  44. What about when Rivers was hit in the nose and was given a nosebleed…who disciplined the NW player for that? I dont think anyone called a foul on that, but it happened! Also, the TV cameras went to a closeup of the NW coach who called DE an F’ing Ahole…was he reprimanded or asked to apologize?

  45. The other person that needs to toughen up is Crean. I sensed an all-night run and practice coming since they supposedly quickly dressed and returned to the bus/plane for Bloomington. I hope they can do that. I think I would have made those guys long ago run until they puked and otherwise sought to humiliate them – because they need to fall in line and play with some heart, some passion.

  46. Watch the tape, imagine it not being an IU player and there is no way anyone defends it, not Crean either. Your idea that Crean has some higher moral code or a plan that is above our understanding is laughable.

  47. blah blah blah. People – get a grip. Whether Derek Elston tripped the player intentionally or not – these things need to be handled internally – PERIOD!! Coach Crean owes nobody an explanation. He currently is in the seat – like it or not!
    Get back to the team/game – take a look at Penn State – all their talent knocked off the boys from across the border last night! We can hope they continue to spoil other teams hopes!
    Come on Hoosier team – wake up a little and win on Saturday!!

  48. I would only ask how many intentional fouls have been called in college basketball this year, and how many suspensions resulted?

  49. I’m with DM and Outanames. It was an intentional foul, like a thousand others so far this season. Duke had one the other night. Coach K has gotta go! Ninety nine times out of a hundred we don’t even know about trips like that because the refs don’t see them.
    What a bunch of hooey about nothing.

  50. coachv, your post about dirty play is pissing me off!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  51. So coachv, you are telling us you taught your big men to take cheap shots and foul other players on purpose?

  52. This is a microcosm for everything wrong with our program. Bad attitudes, celebrity recruits that can’t play D, and a recruiter (NOT A COACH) at the helm. Too bad. Time to move on.

  53. Hugh—the fact is that you cannot possibly tell for sure whether Elston intentionally tripped the other player. It’s the referee’s job to make snap decisions on things like that. He did so, and meted out his punishment. Elston’s coach, based on all the information he could gather, determined that no further action was required. Your jumping to conclusions and over-dramatizing this incident calls into question your judgment, and, frankly, makes you appear a sanctimonious creep.

  54. $2.3 million dollars a year and he can’t handle a little heat from the press. The reason we have an underachieving team is that we underachieving coaches– plain and simple. Playing hard for 40 minutes and executing fundamentals is directly related to coaching. This team has absolutely no control over a game–whatever the other team choses is the way its played. I’d have more respect if the walk-ons start the next game. CTC made the major mistake by saying once the players are fragile–that sums it up.

    As for “the trip”- let it go.Only Elston knows. HE will live with it at every opponents home game-that’s punishment enough.

  55. mike p and clarion

    that was neither a foul or cheap shot. just how the game was played. thatnks for pointing out you never played the game.

  56. Much has been said and written about 2011,2012,and 2013 and thats all fine and dandy and we all hope those dreams come true.That does not give this present cast of players and coaches a license to sleepwalk through this season. Is it too much to ask that they at least make a honest effort to play up to their potential and to play like they have some heart? How is that an unreasonable expectation?

  57. Clarion, Not sure if it is even worth it. You know the old saying “never argue with an idiot, he will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience”.

  58. Elston is frustrated he made a bad choice based on his frustration. Overall he is not malicious that would have showed up much sooner. Remember Demarcus Cusins elbowing Jared Swopshire in the head as he pinned him to the ground? Or Devin Dumes low blow to Goran Suton? Give Elston some slack.

  59. It’s always about you guys. The media. Boo hoo. Somehow, you make a tripping incident about you. Maybe he should discipline him due to the appearance alone, but hopping on this moment to gripe about Crean shutting you guys out is silly.

  60. Hugh, you are way off base. Yes, Derek tripped Marcotullio. The officials called it “intentional”, awarded 2 foul shots and the ball out-of-bounds. NO ONE, including you, will ever know what Derek’s thoughts were. It was NOT a dirty play, it was NOT intended to “hurt” anyone, it was NOT a very smart play. But it requires NO further discussion or punishment! If Derek had been tough, like Draymond Green at MSU, he would have fully stepped out and let the charge/block call go as the officials wanted to call it, probably loosening some of Marcotullio’s teeth in the process, and everyone would compliment Izzo’s “tough team”. You obviously have not played much basketball. EVERY foul is the result of intentional, purposeful, physical action! “I am not going to let you get that shot off, I am going to beat you to the spot, I am going to have my nose 3 inches from your nose, if our bodies hit, I am going to be prepared to deliver the blow and to defend myself. You are going to hurt and to hit the floor. If I do it quickly enough it is a charge on you, if I don’t it is a block on me. The referees will call the play and we both will adjust. So let’s play some ball”. That is always your “intention”!

  61. Can we get Hugh an all expenses paid vacation to Minneapolis to guest write a column? Tubby Smith, a well respected Coach, suspended a player who had just been cleared to play this season because the DA in FL agreed to a diversionary program rather than prosecution for a felony, when that player broke the law in MN, a second crime all-together, by violating a restraining order against him in MN, by not playing the guy for the first 2 minutes in the important home game versus Purdue last night. Where is the “moral outrage”?

  62. I have always had respect for Crean because when he came in, he cleaned house. He didn’t want the attitude and trouble makers on the team. I live in MN and am appalled by what is going on at the UofM. That stupid lose Trevor M. had violated another no contact order after what he did in Florida. And BeatPurdue, you are right on. His punishment was to sit out for 4 minutes and some odd seconds. Having him in for the game against Purdue was more important. The “fans” of MN are blaming the woman he contacted. Tubby isn’t doing crap here. I have said from day one with him that he needs to do what Crean did when he came into this mess. I haven’t heard of arrests, restraining orders and other problems with the players at IU. It sucks to lose, but I would rather have a coach with some balls and integrity and keep things clean. Things will get better for IU basketball. The tripping incident is being handled by the Coach. It was not illegal. It is up to Crean to decide a punishment and he does not owe it to us to explain his actions. The only time I want an explanation is if we have players getting arrested time and time again.

  63. In defense of Tubby Smith, he came from UK. In Lexington laws don’t apply to Kentucky basketball players. Players are not expected to go to class. In fact, it’s an aberration if they do. Money doesn’t have to be under the table, it’s attached to videos. Every few years the NCAA pretends they care and slap them on the wrist, but not too hard. Don’t want to lose TV revenues and the ‘Cats are a big draw. It’s got to be a tough learning experience in a place where the laws apply and players are also expected to be students. But then, they knew that when they hired him.

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