COMMENTARY: Indiana has not done enough to earn the call

The list reads a bit like a prospective nonconference schedule for the 2011-12 season: Jackson State, Alabama State, Cal St. Northridge, Central Michigan, Arkansas Pine Bluff, Middle Tennessee, Wagner and Denver.

Actually, it is the eight programs in Division I with a worse free-throw rate than Indiana’s 51.7.

The other 10 Big Ten programs all rate in the top half of Division I in free-throw rate (free throws attempted divided by field goals attempted).

In more conventional terms, Indiana’s opponents have made nearly as many free-throws, 533, as Indiana has attempted, 584.

As Basketball Prospectus’ John Gasaway wrote Tuesday, “the 2011 Hoosiers are setting a new hacktastic standard.”

Gasaway is right – poor decision-making combined with below-average defensive communication has led to a shocking amount of reaches, grabs and slaps. Another “new age” basketball state (fouls committed per 40 minutes) reveals that five Hoosiers would foul out if they played the entirety of the game: Daniel Moore (5.3), Derek Elston (5.4), Will Sheehey (5.4), Tom Pritchard (6.3) and Bobby Capobianco (10.9).

That’s all three post players at the Hoosiers’ disposal including Capobianco – who woud, yes, foul out twice.

At this point in the season, with two games remaining before the Big Ten Tournament, there is little coach Tom Crean can do about the actual reason why the Hoosiers commit so many fouls and allow their opponents to shoot 176 more free-throws this season than they have.

That is going to come with experience (Sheehey), a more natural position (Elston) and just time.

All he can do is attempt to work the officials. That, it stands to reason, why Crean was so upset about Ohio State coach Thad Matta meeting with the officials Terry Wymer, Paul Janssen and Bo Boroski at halftime of Sunday’s game.

“My concern is this, I don’t think coaches should get a free conference at the end of halves with officials,” Crean said. “I don’t do it; I don’t think other coaches should. The half is over and the officials need to be off the court just like the teams.”

Crean is correct (especially when Matta’s team is No. 1 in the country in free-throw rate and up by 15 after 20 minutes), but Verdell Jones made an excellent point after the game.

“We haven’t done enough in this league to earn calls,” Jones said.

It is easy to suggest that bias should not matter, and it would be correct. But it does.

The officials Sunday had combined to work 10 Indiana games this season and 9 Ohio State contests. It was not a home team-friendly crew, but it still sent Ohio State to the free-throw line for 36 attempts and Indiana for 20.

Reputations matter. Expectations matter. It is human nature, and that is always going to be the case. Besides, it is not as if Indiana has never prospered from being given the benefit of the doubt.

The Hoosiers have not helped themselves on the court, either by winning or simply keeping their hands to themselves.

(Photo: Chris Howell | Herald-Times)


  1. I also think it is interesting to note that unlike other teams in the league, our players complain about almost every call. My favorite is the Elston look of confusion on his once a game moving screen. He is never set, yet is still dumbfounded every time he gets called for a moving screen. Most of these complaints when viewed with replays are laughable because of how obvious the call really was, yet we still protest.

    I think that especially with the talent discrepancy that we currently have we need to be a team that just plays. Go in to the game thinking the officials will screw us any chance they get and say ‘We are going to win this anyways.’ We need to be tough, gritty, and just come to play and take and receive fouls without a complaint. Whether they would like to admit it or not, that would mean something to officials over the course of 10 games.

  2. Piss poor coaching, if the head coach is a whiner so will be the players. Defense and rebounding are about positioning and using the lower body.

  3. While that is certainly an indictment on the professionalism of the officials, it is also consistent with the impression that a team will never get a fair shake when they play Duke. I admit to not being a Duke fan but I, along with a multitude of others, feel like they get every call.

  4. Crean has done what even Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson could not do– taken the fun out of watching IU basketball. Mike Davis has UAB on top of their league, and Sampson was a good college game coach.

    Admittedly, Davis courtside demeanor and inability to relate and speak hurt him. Sampson and his coaches made some dumb phone calls. Sampson’s biggest fault was the recruiting of some lower character kids.

    Crean on the other hand has ridden DWade about as far as he can. He’s a great PR man and recruiter but is a poor game preparer and coach. He’s sinking the ship. When Crean talked about how fragile his players were– that did it for me.

  5. Yes IU has to do more to earn calls, but that is a loaded statement. They are drawing contact and being treated differently than opponents and it is frustrating the players and Coach Crean.

    This isn’t an anti-IU thing. It is just the nature of the officials in the Big Ten. No conference has a larger free throw percentage from the home vs road team. It speaks to the poor officiating in the conference. I hope it gets addressed.

    When IU is good again, we will benefit from it just as we have for most of the last 25 years that I have watched IU games. IU has never gotten the Duke-level treatment from officials but I think Assembly Hall is up there with Rupp Arena, the Dean Dome and other of the venues where the whistle has favored the home team more than not. Unfortunately officials don’t just give it out. Until IU is good they won’t get the enormous home court advantage that is given in the Big Ten. But no one should, both teams should be forced to play the same game. It just never happens, and in this league at least it never has.

  6. Chet & Chris M Well put! It should not be that way. A foul should be a foul but the refs really do seem to know how each team is ranked! It makes Creans job very difficult. Thing should really change for IU in the next couple years.

  7. To put this on Crean is ridiculous. We are way slower and smaller in the post. Unless we want to give up layups every time we have to be more aggressive and that may lead to some fouls. It is no coincidence that 2 of our 3 wins (Minnesota and Illinois) were games where the officials let us play more physical. That neutralized the height (and talent) advantage that the other teams have had.

    Think about this. Watford gets fouled the most for us, because he’s our best player and he uses his talents to force defenders into bad positions. If we had a team full of top-50 talents like Watford is, we’d draw more fouls. Also notice that Watford is not in that group that would foul out in 40 min. Because he’s talented.

    Give us a couple of years. When we’re full of top-50 talents, we’ll be getting the calls because our talent will force fouls.

  8. To say that IU hasnt “earned” calls definitely calls into account the officials credibility. I’ve watched BB games for over 50 years and this is by far the most inconsistent that I can recall officials being. Maybe the reason some players complain is they are getting tired of being pushed, grabbed, & hit with no call, but when they do it, it’s a foul. Very inconsistent. Used to be, the home team got the majority of the close calls. Not so much anymore.
    Real IU Fan: If IU games arent fun for you anymore, stop watching. Just turn the TV off. Dont like seeing you so miserable and saying so many hateful things.

  9. ive finally come to the conclusion after reading hundreds of blog statements what most of you know about basketball could be written on the head of a pin including crean

  10. …and elmo is the all-knowing basketball guru who can’t even use capitals, periods or apostrophes correctly. Hmmph.

    elmo, your “basketball knowledge” amounts to knowing that you are supposed to throw the round ball through the circle as many times as possible. That is the extent of your wisdom.

  11. Yep, nothing like a person calling out the imperfections of others while hiding behind a computer screen covering up his own insecurities.

  12. Well here I go out on a limb again! Coach Crean has not done enough to empower the players! He is so insistant that they work his system than to adapt a system to the players and talent level he has, Hard to develop leadership when it seems as though the coach will not give that up. Sure the coach must be in charge but you must let someone lead on the floor!! Just say’in

  13. Matt wrote: “Also notice that Watford is not in that group that would foul out in 40 min. Because he’s talented.”
    The real reason Wat would not foul out has more to do with his practice of playing no defense, and thus little chance of fouling the opponent. He is just plain soft. Talented, but soft.

    Real IU Fan: You pretty much summed it all up, and hit the nail on the head.

  14. Elmo I think you may be onto something…Dribble Drive baby – Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson look like offensive geniusses compared to this. Look to earn fouls on defense you need to move your feet and position yourself to get the boards and you also have to be square to the ballhandler when defending. On the offensive end you have to actually run something other than hellter skelter throw-up (literally) offense that includes a bump screen (and role) on at least half of our plays 30 feet from the basket (ala the Elston/Pritchard moving screens at the top of the key). You don’t need the perfect (5 star) physcical speicemens to be well coached. No more excuses please.

  15. ^Looks like we should have picked our next coach from one of the posters on the Scoop, since there are so many coaches amongst them.

  16. When March 2012 comes and IU once again has a losing record— how many will still defend CTC? My advice to CTC is simple: get out of the tanning bed, quit whining,get off twitter, and start earning your inflated salary. The last 2 years you earned about $ 800,000 per Big 10 win which makes you the highest paid coach in the country. Be accountable or man up and leave.

  17. Have we improved this year? Let’s look at the statistics. For the Big 10 season only, we were outscored by an average of 6 points. Last year we were outscored by an average of 12 points. (You can argue that the Big 10 is much stronger this year than last, as well) This year we’re scoring 5 more points per game compared to last year.

    Shifting gears to the entire season, not just the Big 10, this season we outshot our opponents by 4%. Last year our opponents outshot us by 3%. For free throws, we outshot our opponents by 2%, raising our team free throw percentage by 3% to 72%. Last year, both our team and our opponents shot 69%.

    This year we got 2 rebounds per game more than our opponents. Last year it was even.

    This year we committed 13 turnovers per game, last year it was 16. The assist to turnover ratio this year was .92, last year it was .80.

    Key injuries this year included Creek, Jones, and Watford (I’ll throw out the loss of our starting center as he wasn’t on the team last year). Last year our only key injury was to Creek; Roth was not really a key player.

    As you can see, even as our Big 10 opponents improved and we suffered some key injuries, the IU team statistics have improved. This team is getting better! For me, the most telling stat is the margin of defeat for the Big 10 season — half what it was last year. We’re way more competitive than last year. If nothing else changes next season except for existing players getting more mature, and fewer injuries, we should do pretty darn well. Add to that the Zeller factor and many seniors graduating in the Big 10, our chances look even better. Icing on the cake would be the addition of a juco big man…

    For those of you calling for CTC’s head, that’s just not possible at this time. Too expensive to buy out his contract, we would lose all our recruits, and there is no good reason to do so. If all you can whine about is the Coach Crean, then you really aren’t a “real” IU fan. Constructive criticism is fine, but constantly saying that our coach is worthless only makes you a real PU fan. Go find another blog.

  18. Jon:

    Excellent facts.

    To understand Crean bashers, you need to understand child psychology. Children don’t understand why they can’t start the meal with ice cream and move on to the vegetables if they have room. They don’t understand why mom won’t buy them a toy every time they go to the mall.

    They also don’t like to hear common sense answers such as “if you eat your broccoli, then you can have dessert”, or “good things come to those who wait.” They certainly don’t respond well to the message of Rolling Stones song, “you can’t always get what you want.”

    You don’t preach reason or patience to two year-olds; you put them in their room and let them wail behind close doors.

  19. Even though I didn’t always agree, the readers comments on this site used to at least be worth reading.

    Think I’ll just read the posts and skip the comments and commenting for a while. It just boggles my mind that anybody can suggest starting over with a different coach considering the recruiting classes that are currently lined up for the next 3-4 years.

    I’ll refrain from the adjectives that I would like to use and just wish you all a pleasant evening…hope you enjoy your impatience, omniscience, and misery.

    Thanks Dustin and Hugh for your work.

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