Crean: Hoosiers don’t need another marquee opponent on 2012-13 schedule

INDIANAPOLIS — Since Indiana announced last week that its long-standing rivalry with Kentucky would not continue in the 2012-13 season, IU fans have wondered what big-name opponent the Hoosiers might contact to attempt to fill the void.

Tom Crean said Wednesday evening there might not be one.

The IU basketball coach was asked at a Tailgate Tour event at LucasOil Stadium if he believed it was necessary to add another marquee opponent to the schedule.

“No,” he said. “We have a very tough schedule right now as it is. It’s important that we look at what will fit for us this year and at the same time, because there’s not a Kentucky series right now, make some plans for the future.”

Two names had been floated as possible opponents — either for this season or future campaigns – in recent weeks. Kansas had been rumored as a possible Indiana replacement and Louisville coach Rick Pitino said publicly at the NCAA Tournament in Portland that he would be willing to play Indiana whenever Crean is prepared for such a series. Crean said last month that no progress had been made in discussions with Louisville, though he said such a series was possible in the future.

Pitino told the Louisville Courier-Journal this week that there was no possibility Louisville would play IU this year, and Crean said on Wednesday that he had no updates on potential opponents for this season or the future.

“I don’t really have an update on scheduling today,” Crean said. “I’m not going to speculate on who we might play down the road. We’ve got some hard games, very hard games that are already scheduled. I’m certain that we’ll get a very tough ACC opponent. We alwaysds have. It will be a little bit different this year, obviously. There’s a select few that we could end up getting at home, which will be a big-time home game, we know we go on the road for something next year. We just have to make sure that we schedule with that in mind. Not only schedule with this year in mind, but for the future.”

To Crean’s point, the Hoosiers are already scheduled to play in an exempt tournament called the Legends Classic in Brooklyn, N.Y. on Nov. 19-20 along with Georgetown, Georgia and UCLA. Georgetown was the only team of the three that made the NCAA Tournament last season, but UCLA put together one of the nation’s top recruiting classes with Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, so the Bruins could easily make a leap.

The Hoosiers also have Butler in the Crossroads Classic, and as Crean mentioned, they will likely have an extremely difficult opponent in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Crean speculated that it would likely be North Carolina or North Carolina State. Plus, the Big Ten is coming off a season in which it was the consensus top-rated conference in the country, so conference play will obviously do a lot to strengthen the schedule.

Still, there’s no Kentucky and there likely won’t be another game that approaches that magnitude. The defending national champion Wildcats lost all five of their starters and their top reserve to the NBA, but as usual they’ve reloaded with a top recruiting class and could very well be a top five team when the preseason rankings came out. After last season when the Hoosiers stunned the No. 1 Wildcats at home on Christian Watford’s buzzer-beater, then gave the Wildcats arguably their most challenging NCAA Tournament game in the Regional Semifinals in Atlanta, the 2012-13 regular season rematch was expected to be one of the most anticipated in the history of the series.

Negotiations broke down, however, because Kentucky and coach John Calipari said the Wildcats wanted to move the series from campus sites to neutral sites, presumably in Indianapolis and Louisville. There was precedent for that, as the IU-UK series was played in those cities from 1991-2005. However, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass said IU decided against it because they felt it would be cheating season-ticket holders and students. Crean added on Wednesday that the fact that the Hoosiers already have three neutral site games on the schedule for next year factored into the equation.

“Someone asked me, ‘Do you not want to have neutral sites?” Crean said. “I said, ‘Well, we have neutral sites.’ When the Crossroads Classic came in, that became something that’s gonna be locked in every year. Even though it’s in Indianapolis, it’s at a neutral site. It’s not a home site. You always want to have the ability to play in exempt tournaments. We’ve done that in the past. We have this year by playing in New York. There’s three right there.”

This year’s game was going to be at Rupp Arena anyway, so the Hoosiers would have likely benefitted this season at least in terms of making the site less hostile. But at the end of the day, Crean said they simply didn’t want to move away from the current format and were willing to let the series end and look elsewhere if need be.

“At the end of the day, it just became two different philosophies,” Crean said. “Two different view points. The bottom line is, when it comes to the history of the scheduling, the way I understand it is Kentucky had moved it back on campus anyways before we had come to Indiana and really we saw no reason to move it off. If it’s gonna move off, we didn’t wanna do it at this point. At the same time, we’ll look down the road to put somebody in a home and home situation with us at Indiana. If there’s not a Crossroads Classic, if there’s not exempt tournaments, maybe it’s easier to do. But that’s not the case. We’re always making sure we have enough games so you can schedule not only for this year but the years forward. … It wasn’t a complicated process.


Johnson “hasn’t been scarred”

One obvious knock against Indiana’s latest assistant coaching hire is his lack of experience. Kenny Johnson had spent several years as an assistant coach at the high school level, but just one in the college level. That was at Towson where the Tigers went 1-31 in their first year under coach Pat Skerry.

However, Crean suggested that Johnson’s lack of experience in the college game was actually a strength.

“One of the things that I’ve liked about Kenny as I’ve known him is that he hasn’t been scarred and tarred and feathered in this process,” Crean said. “He hasn’t been brought up in the sense of ‘This is how we’re gonna do it. I’ve worked for this guy, I’ve worked for that guy.’ I didn’t want to get somebody necessarily that had been around the block and I wasn’t hiring a stranger. I’m done with the stranger route. I’m done with the recommendation route. It’s gotta be someone that really fits what we’re trying to do. I’ve always had a lot of respect for Kenny.”


Crean pleased with teams academics

Crean pointed out on his Twitter account on Wednesday that the Hoosiers had seven players who had their best grade point averages in their IU careers this semester, which obviously coincided with their Sweet 16 run.

“I think when you look at how their lives have changed in the sense of the success that they’ve had on the court,” Crean said. “All the notoriety and accolades that come with a program like Indiana when you start to get it back up the way that they are, and to have seven guys have their highest GPA at their time at Indiana, I think that’s big time.”

The Hoosiers had seven players graduate last week. That included the five seniors, but also juniors Jordan Hulls and Derek Elston, who graduated in three years.

Crean was also asked, however about the academics of his five incoming freshmen and whether or not they have academically qualified.

“I don’t have an update on that today,” Crean said.

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Kevin Wilson


  1. Unfortunately, CTC didn’t adopt Izzo’s scheduling process as an assistant.I would love a game against New Mexico,Creighton,St.Louis,etc. rather than a walk over game.Personally I think we should play either Kansas or Louisville also next year. College basketball is being cheated– that is a shame and ultimately CTC will be sorry.

  2. We’ve stood by and watched him coach awful teams his first few years, so CTC owes us big time games now that he’s turned the corner. If we don’t replace UK with a big name opponent this year, I will ignore this team in November and December!

  3. Its really sad that we won’t be playing Kentucky next year but to say that CTC owes us is pathetic. He doesn’t owe us anything he has already done so much to this program, and had even more great things ahead. Ignoring IU in November and December only shows that your not an IU fan at all.

  4. We have short memories too. The only marquee opponent that we played this year was Kentucky, and we had a tough game at NC State. Those were the only ranked opponents of the pre conference season. Notre Dame ended up being a good team, but they weren’t great when we played them.

    Next year, we’ll have a top 10 team to play against in the ACC challenge (well, top 15 at least). We’ll have a chance at 2 big time games in the Legends Classic. That’s 3 marquee games next year.

    I’d love Kentucky too. Or Kansas. Or Louisville. But we don’t need it.

  5. Please ignore IU forever. The thought of you hopping on the tournament bandwagon sickens real fans.

  6. Aruss, I respect that you’re a long-time poster on this site, but I have to agree to say that Crean ‘owes’ fans something because his first three teams were bad is silly. Those teams weren’t bad because of anything he did, and this year’s team was good largely because of a number of things he did (recruit, develop, motivate, strategize, and so on). And to say you’ll ignore the team at any point, as Fan61 says, seriously undermines your standing as a true fan who’s with the team no matter what. How can you justify withholding your support to the players, who have nothing to do with scheduling (except maybe Watford, who probably had some personal role in running off that Girl Scout sissy Calipari)??

  7. Do you promise Aruss? Does ignoring this team also mean you will self impose another Scoop ban on yourself? Please!?!

    That said, I think CTC is wrong, the fans deserve another big game in place of the pUKe game. The B1G is tough, but what better way to prepare for it than playing 5 or 6 (1/2 home, 1/2 away) top tier programs in the preconference schedule. No matter who is on the schedule, I will still support the team!

  8. I don’t think we need another “marquee” game – With UNC/Nc State & Georgetown/UCLA (possibly both), that’s enough games against top 10-15 teams.

    The problem to me, is, we play too many cupcakes. There’s a big difference between playing Howard and playing a team in the A10, Missouri Valley or MAC. I’d like to see us play 2 or 3 more mid-level games to keep our non-conference SOS from tanking and keep the nov/dec games at least somewhat competitive.

  9. I really do not care who is positioning or spinning. The series is suspended but will return before much time amasses. I believe going forward pUKe will need us much more than we need them. The one series I do not want to see go away is the Indiana/Ky. HS All Stars match up. That proudly showcases what is “homegrown” in Indiana. Unlike the culture of all pUKe teams there are no hired guns in those games.

  10. I think Andy made a very good point, in that what you can learn about your own team from playing a Pomeroy 100-150 team is, in my view, far greater than from playing a Pomeroy 250-345 team. That said, hopefully the non-marquee opponents will be upgraded this year to reflect the improved IU team.

  11. HC,

    I’ve been wondering how long the HS game will continue to survive. Indiana has dominated the series the last 15-20 years. I think there was an article a year or two ago that Kentucky wanted to do away with the annual game.

  12. Mike P.,

    I read the same or similar write up. AAU having a center of focus in Indiana has been positive for our success in the series. I am no longer surprised by the actions taken in amateur sports. Tradition seems to be always in the 3rd or 4th row seat of priorities. Do you have a feel about the recent public forums discussing the return to single class BB? Also by the end of the 2012 season who will be the QB(barring injury)Coffman or TR? That competition should be very satisfying to Wilson, Johns(and Littrell)after last years cluster.

  13. HC,

    The people I know and talk to want to see single class basketball return, for the most part. The problem is to make the change you have to have the principal’s of the schools vote for it. I think we will be hard pressed to get the majority of 1A & 2A schools to agree to the single class systems return. They have nothing to gain from it.

    I can’t say what will happen with QB. If Coffman is as good as everyone believes he is, he could realistically take over TR’s spot. However, I think the running game and the offensive line will play more of a roll of who the QB will be deeper in the season.

  14. On class basketball. Mike P. I believe that you are correct. The small schools have nothing to gain.

    I wonder what would happen if class 4A and 1A played their championships at IU and 3A and 2A played their championships at PU. The next week, blind draw, the four teams play Saturday morning and evening for the “Championship”.

    My concern is will anything bring back the large attendance that used to exist. I don’t know if it would work but it might.

  15. Why can’t Indiana Basketball and Football have a play off between the class winners? Then the 1A teams get a chance to upset a 4A and then after those games we will have a true Indiana Champion in each sport. There have been seasons where a smaller school really had the very best Team in the state and could have beaten anyone regardless of Class. Why not give everyone a chance to prove who is best? It would only add a 4 day weekend to the season to crown the true Champ!

  16. Mike P.,

    Thanks, I concur on both. Maybe it is just my age but it sure would be nice to have some of the past regional and semi-state venues draw crowds again. Those weekends were literally Indiana Holidays. You, me and many others still hold out hope. Oh and Bobby Plump too.

    If you communicate with JPat tell him howdy.

  17. Jay Gregg & Southport,
    When Indiana went to the multi-class format in basketball, the first 2 or 3 years they had a Champions playoff. The crowds were thin; to the point the IHSAA decided it wasn’t a viable option to continue the practice. I think most HS fans were so disgusted at the time, they just didn’t find any joy in it. I don’t know if we will ever see the draw like we used to during the single class years. I have took my son to some big games during Bloomington’s South’s run the last few years, including a sold out regional in the Seymour gym and full house for a semi-state at Southport. It would be nice to see them have a full sell out for all 4 games at Conseco, or Bankers Life, or whatever they call it now for the championships. I’ll never forget watching Damon Bailey play at the Hoosier Dome with 40,000 other Hoosiers. I’m afraid that kind of draw and atmosphere are lost forever to the multi-class format.

    Playing a tournament of champions is fine for class basketball. I would have loved to see Zeller’s Washington teams play against the 2011 BHSS team led by Dee Davis. I have no doubts BHSS would have beat them, but I think it would have been a better game than Kokomo gave them. Of course, the 2009 team led by Hulls was much better.
    That said, I don’t think it would work for football. I know anything can happen and that is why the play the games, but I would not want to put a 1A or 2A team up against 4A Cathedral or Reitz, or 5A Warren Central, Carmel or Ben Davis teams of the last decade. And the only 3A team I think can give them a decent battle is Indianapolis Chatard. Realistically the 5A super schools and the Cathedral programs are too strong.

    I just ran into him the other day, hopefully he will come out of his self imposed Scoop exile soon.

  18. Sorry for this being a bit off-topic, but this discovery is bigger than finding Arne Saknussemm’s original footsteps leading to the center of the earth…I just found Joyce Meyer’s twin on YouTube.

  19. HS FB has to be separated into classes. Maybe 5 classes is to many, maybe not enough. I stand with Mike P., a game fielding a 4A or 5A team playing against even good 1 or 2A teams would not be competitive. Big schools have a way bigger pool to select talent from which provide resources with superior size, strength and then most importantly coaching.

    Our tradition in single class BB was too successful to mess with but they did and we now have something that is a lot less interesting and exciting for fans of the states general population to follow. The wheel is always going to be round and Indiana HS BB should forever be single class.

  20. Mike P., I was not aware that Indiana had tried the champions approach. Thank you for the information.

    I agree with you about football. Illinois has 8 classes and the difference between 1 and 8 is amazing.

    How do you feel about the concussion issue after all that has come to light recently?

    Glad to hear about JPat.

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