Crean: “It’s gonna be tight” for Jones to play in Thursday’s game

Indiana coach Tom Crean said senior guard Verdell Jones has done “very little,” since brusing his shoulder against Michigan on Feb. 1 and that it’s hard to tell whether or not the Champaign, Ill. native will be available on Thursday to play against Illinois, his hometown school in an 8 p.m. game in Assembly Hall.

“It’s gonna be really tight,” Crean said. “Really tight for him to play tomorrow. It really will. I won’t say that he won’t. I’m not being evasive. We’re gonna see how he continues to heal up, but he’s done very little.”

Jones, who has 1,302 career points, leads the team in assists with 3.5 per game and averages 7.8 points per game. However, the Hoosiers learned that they could win in his absence on Saturday thanks to brilliant performances by sophomore guard Victor Oladipo and freshman Remy Abell, who scored 23 points and 13 respectively. Indiana coach Tom Crean said the Hoosiers have tried to make them handle the ball more in practice this week and trying to prepare them for any situation a primary ball-handler can face.

“It’s the decision making,” Crean said. “We were very low on turnovers, and I think that’s key. I think if you’re locked in and you’re focused and you’re asking guys to do things they don’t normally do, the simpler you can keep it the better. What we’ve tried to do this week is make sure that we’re building more situations that could come up with different guys handling the ball. How do we react to those? That’s part of the situational part of it. We try to project, ‘We can go to this, they can try this. They’ve done this in the past.’ It gets you ready for the game. Keeps you more ready for the long term of the season. Keeps your guys focused, keeps changing it up, keeps challenging them to do different things. But at the same time, when you’re coaching the game, you want to keep it as simple as possible because they haven’t done a lot of those things.”

With or without Jones, the Hoosiers go up against a talented and versatile Illinois team that can play a lot of different ways. Guard Brandon Paul is averaging 20 points a game in conference play — thanks in large part to a 43-point outburst in a win over Ohio State — and much improved 7-foot-1 center Meyers Leonard.

“He’s huge,” junior guard Jordan Hulls said. “He’s a big guy. He can hit a little jump hook. He can step out and hit mid-range. You’ve gotta be with him all the time, stay attached. He’s really athletic, so you can’t let him get any easy lobs. He’s a pretty good player.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1


  1. I’d hate to see Jones not healed 100%. In fact, maybe he needs to call it a year and make absolutely sure there is no permanent damage. He has a long happy life ahead of him and I’d hate to see him unable to lift his kids. Probably best to rest him from here on out…..

  2. We’re a better team with Verdell healthy. Sometimes, a little better with him healthy and on the bench, but the same could be said for every guy on the team. He gives us options and this team needs to have all options open during this stretch run. As long as TC is willing to sit him when it’s best for the team, I want to see him available when we need what he offers.

  3. I think we should retire the number 12 jersey for Verdell.Come to think of it ,why not retire it now?We just saw Purdue play 40 minutes and make 3 turnovers.Verdell makes that many in warmups.Seriously,shouldn’t we tell verdell that deflections only count for the player when we are on defense.

  4. I have pulled out as much hair (with precious little to spare), kicked as many pieces of furniture, and yelled at my dog as much as anyone over Verdell’s play. But, I’ve come to the conclusion that TC just might know more about coaching than I do. I know, I know…..hard to believe. I venture to say that he knows more about coaching than ANY of us who want Verdell put on the bench, exiled to Siberia, or even West Lafayette. Let’s let Crean coach and just take an extra antacid when #12 takes off the warm-ups.

  5. You know Kurk, you have a popint there, & yet-I’m positive of 2 things: 1) Tom Crean knows more about coaching than I do, and 2) The team is better without Verdell Jones. IDK why Crean continues to start him, & frankly it concerns me greatly, along with other things, that Crean Dosn’t see how Verdell hurts the tesm & how poorly he plays(ESPECIALLY ALLOWING HIM to play point & handle the ball so much. WHY????), but, nonetheless, this is the case!

  6. While everyone is claiming that the team looked a whole lot better without VJ, what happened to everyone’s claim while we were beating the likes of OSU? KY? I don’t think this down time IU has experienced is simply due to VJ. How about Watford right now, everyone want him injured now that he’s not playing up to his standards of earlier in the season?

  7. BTW, I got hate mail for wishing injury to Verdell last week, so, let me revise: I hope he’s fine & Crean alters his role from starting to coming (deep)off the bench. Honestly, his abiity to score occasionaly could be effective coming off the bench, about 10-15 MPG. However, starting & handling the ball for long stretches? That just doesn’t, “accentuate Verdell’s strengths”, but we’ll see what happens. We’ll see if softer, gentler language brings better reactions too!

  8. I think we have options for Verdell. We have Remy and Vic to respond to Verdell’s non productive minutes. Where Coach Crean maybe felt like he needed to let Verdell play thru or looked down the bench and thought ” just not ready”. Well those guys are ready and Verdell knows it. The coaches, don’t like what they see, they can pull from the bench or rotate players into different responsibilities, handling the front court or driving to the basket.

    From here on out I would question the Coaches and their response to certain player contributions in the flow of each game. Coaches now have options to draw from and need to have a feel for who can step up as, the other team try’s to execute their game plan.

    One player that is in doubt is Watford. What if he starts
    on Paul tonight? That forces him in the spotlight defensively. Great defense normally gets a player into
    a good offensive mind frame. Our better defenders, Vic and Remy are on the other options. It seems to put it all on Paul. Don’t want Paul to put Vic in foul trouble early

    We have 5 home games to get Watford steady. I think tonight would be a good time to experiment defensively
    with Watford. Last game at Purdue, Watford stayed out at the 3 point line with Hummell guarding him. Watford was used as a decoy to keep Hummell 20 some feet from the defensive boards. When a shot went up, Watford was standing at the 3 point line and Hummell left him to crash the boards. I understand the strategy, now it’s an opportunity to put Watford on the ball and really make him work. I have seen him defend well in the past.

  9. OFCOURSE all players have good & bad games-some moreso than others. The difference though is, Larry, that other people basically don’t contribute much when they aren’t playing well. Like Wattford lately, as you mentioned. Whereas Verdell, hurts the team, when he’s…playing. Well, not well, & otherwise. Put it this way, Right now today, even Remy Abell is a better basketball player than VJ. & you know what? I REALLY don
    ‘t like singling a21 year-old kid out like this, but damnitt I’m tired of LOSING!!! & that takes presedence over all else, even kuth. There was a guy on here last week that introduced some formula…an EST or some crap, anyway it evaluates the overall efficiency of all college B-Ball players, & VJ’s numbers are apparently some of the worst in all of D-1. I wish I knew that info, but anyway, the #’s back us haters up too.

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