Live Chat Transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to another IU sports chat. Hope everyone’s starting to thaw out.

Guys, how are you doing today? Ready to get started?

JEREMY: Thawing might be overstating it, but slightly less frozen is about right. Regardless, ready to chat.

DUSTIN: It’s been a slow thaw. Apologize for the lateness. There was football stuff. Met with the early enrollees today (totally not sure how I’m supposed to spell that.) Anyway, it’s an interesting group of kids, and I have to say a pretty mature one. Kids are as honest and insightful as some of the seniors. Anyway, let’s get to it.

ANDY: Sorry I’m late. Had dived into a high school basketball article and forgot the chat started at 1 today. Will try to recoup.

 

QUESTION: 1. Gut reaction: Not saying I think he should but do you think Crean will win enough games and be here long term ( I am not advocating firing him at all or ven ciriticizing but just asking)?

2. Does it look bad for Crean when a similarly young IU women’s team with mostly freshamn and transfers is 14-0? I have only seen a couple games but they appear to have comraderie and contunuity the men lack and dont turn the ball over. Why the difference?

3. Interesting decision by Latimer. Does IU have enough man power at WR to make a run at a bowl game? Also since it appears Doug Mallory is staying (this I will say is a horrible decision in my mind) how much does that cost Wilson if the same horrific defense keeps IU out of a bowl game next year?

 

Hope you guys stayed safe through the winter storm!

 

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

1. I think so, simply because it appears Crean is going to bring in the talent to be a winner more often that not. That said, I think the next two or three years are important to match and even exceed what he did the past two years. Talent isn’t enough on its own, and the seat could eventually get hot.

 

2. In a word, no. The women’s team is at a completely different stage than the men’s team in the program process. Compare the women’s team this year to the men’s team of two years ago (2011-12) that started 12-0 and 15-1 en route to making the NCAA Tournament for the first time in four years.

 

As for chemistry, the women’s team has nine players in their first year on the court, and a handful of seniors that are just sick and tired of losing, which means there is a cohesiveness and bond of purpose. For the men, it’s a little different given their recent success. You’ve got the veteran returners at one level, the returners who are just finally getting to play on another level and then the newcomers. Until they all getting pulling in one direction at the same pace, there’s going to be inconsistency. And in all of that, there is something to be said for how the players’ strengths and weaknesses compliment each other. On the men’s side, not a lot of shooters and not a lot of guys who can create their own shot, a double whammy. For the women, you’ve got a plethora of 3-point shooters, a few good post players and some players that can create when all else fails.

 

3. Football dudes …

DUSTIN: 1. I guess it depends what long-term is. He obviously has a lot of time left on his contract and he’s got good job security. If this year’s team doesn’t make the tournament, his status is going to take a hit, but after taking the program from where it was to a Big Ten title and two Sweet 16s, he can afford a hit like that. Fans will be extremely upset if this team doesn’t get in and I’m sure Fred Glass won’t be thrilled with it, but he’s not going to pull the trigger and fire him after a bad season considering what he did for the program over the previous five years. If he fails to reach the NCAAs in 2014-15 , he might be on the hot seat and three straight years of NITs could quite likely get him canned, but I don’t see that happening because I think with experience and shooting next year’s team will be pretty solid and Sweet 16 quality though likely not a Final Four squad. I think there will be some level of fan grumbling unless and until Crean gets to a Final Four, but I don’t think his job will be in real jeopardy until he spends at least two years in a row either outside the NCAAs or just barely inside of it. I don’t see Glass being the sort who lets one coach take him most of the way to a title and then fire him and look for someone else to actually win the thing.

That being said, do I see Crean in Bloomington for 20-30 years? I don’t. I can’t say exactly why and I don’t how i see the end game playing out. If things go really, really well, maybe he takes an NBA job. Obviously it could go the other way. Or maybe he goes 15 years, decides he doesn’t want to do it any more, gets out and takes an ESPN job. Crean’s just so high-strung and lives his life with so much stress that I can’t see anyone carrying that kind of burden in one place for 20 or 30 years. It’s just not something I envision. Again, I don’t see the end game one way or the other. I don’t think he’s going to lose enough over the next 4-5 years to justify his firing. But I also don’t see IU being his last job, even though I don’t get any sense he’s looking to move and I don’t think he’d take an NBA offer right now if he was given one. I don’t know. That’s where my gut is.

2. I haven’t seen the women, but I don’t think their success plays into what the men do. It’s still different situations. Curt Miller’s offense is more motion-based and Crean’s isn’t. Crean’s going to be a little more free-flowing and it can be a bit uglier sometimes. I don’t see Glass holding Miller’s success against Crean. Fans might view that differently, but I don’t think the people who matter will.

3. Eh. Maybe. It’s definitely a costly loss. It took Latimer three years to get to be Cody Latimer and whoever the Hoosiers put in his place won’t be anywhere near that when they start. It’s going to cost the passing game dearly. They’re still going to have talent. Wynn is really good as a slot guy, but there’s no one right now that you can just throw a really deep jump ball to and trust that he’s going to grab it. Indiana missed a really good opportunity this season and they could’ve really used Latimeer for another.

It costs him significantly. Again, I think he gets a minimum of five years, but he owns Doug Mallory’s failures if he keeps him, which it obviously looks like he’s going to. Up until this point, Wilson could be forgiven for making the hires he made and for taking on the son of the closest thing IU football has to a living patriarch. He got the offense rolling, the defense came around, and if he made a fix he could make the case that the first three years of ineptitude were not his fault. Now, he’s decided that the coach who was in charge the last three seasons can be the guy who fixes it, and if he gets that decision wrong, they’ll all go out together. Again, I think he gets another year after next one way or the other, and I think he’ll get some leeway with the improved division IU is going into, but they do need to win and the defense has to get better to make that happen.

ANDY: Darren:

 

Since I’m hustling to catch up anyhow, I’ll let the basketball dudes address the basketball topics, but will weigh in on Latimer.

 

I’m confident Cody will play in the pros, will be a fine NFL receiver, but I’m not necessarily sanguine about his decision to enter the draft this year because I fear he might have cost himself some money and also some security in terms of potential draft status. Had he stayed, he would have put up massive numbers and probably would have been first-team all-Big Ten and might well have secured a spot in the 2015 draft’s first couple of rounds. As it is now, I’m just hoping he gets invited to the combine.

 

As to the wide-receiver manpower, I think it’ll be adequate, and it doesn’t hurt that Dominic Booth is now on campus. The Hoosiers are still in the hunt for at least one more highly touted WR, too, from what I gather.

 

Doug Mallory sort of owned the defense this season, in terms of both perception. If Coach Wilson decides to retain Mallory, Kevin Wilson owns the defense moving forward, in terms of perception. That’s a pretty big difference.

 

Thanks for your best wishes regarding the Polar Vortex. Just glad to still be here after driving to and from Muncie to pick up my son on Tuesday, with what is normally a four-hour round trip doubled to eight, and white knuckles all the way. Hope you and yours stayed safe and warm, too.

QUESTION: I wonder if IU fans will ever be happy with an NBA style of play. Indiana fans are some of the more knowledgeable in the country and they enjoy and respect a style of play the emphasizes team play, fundamentals, and intelligent players. Fans are used to valuing things like reduced turnovers, taking good shots, taking charges on defense, demonstrating high basketball IQ. I guess to wrap it up, regardless of winning records (short of national titles) do you think IU will ever be satisfied with the style that Coach has brought to IU?

 

Wine Country, Sonoma

JEREMY: Wine Country,

The short answer is no, they won’t. But I think they would become more accepting if it led to a championship. For example, the past two years I think a lot of Hoosier fans enjoyed those teams, particularly 2011-12, even if it was “NBA style,” for the ball movement, unselfishness and shotmaking. And as you say, the most glaring weakness on the current team is lack of basketball IQ, and it’s certainly troubling that one of the higher basketball IQs on the team, Luke Fischer, transferred last week.

 

But I do think as time goes by, there will be less resistance just to the style of play, partly because there are so many newer, younger fans coming along that don’t recall the “good old days.” Plus, there is some acceptance that this is what most of the country is running now. There are occasional exceptions, but ball screen, dribble drive basketball is pretty much the rule.

DUSTIN: I’m going to sort of play both sides of the fence on this. First off, I think it’s tempting to call any sort of offense that isn’t motion or Princeton and anything that allows for dribble drive “an NBA style of play” or “a dribble-drive offense.” Which isn’t necessarily the case. I also think there’s a tendency to presume that there are no NBA offenses that emphasize team play, and I don’t think that’s fair either (See: San Antonio Spurs, Golden State Warriors, and yes, the Miami Heat). I can’t say I spend a lot of time watching the NBA during the college season, or that I break down all the x’s and o’s of it, but I don’t think it’s as much of a haven of selfishness as college basketball and specifically IU fans constantly imply. Second, I think it’s fair to say that last year’s IU team had intelligent players (if you can name 30 players out of the 3,000 or so who played college basketball last year who had a higher basketball IQ than Jordan Hulls, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and Cody Zeller, I’d like to hear those names.) Aside from that Syracuse game, I’d say they had generally sound fundamentals, they had some turnover issues but they were at least average in that regard, they took good shots, and they took charges on defense. And they definitely played like a team. It’s easy to forget that because the last game was such a disaster, but that team did some special things and it did so by playing together.

This year’s team is very, very, very messy, and no I don’t think IU fans are going to be satisfied with the way this team is operating. There’s been a lot of hideous basketball played by this team and if it still looks like this a year or two from now, no, I don’t think Indiana fans will tolerate it. But I think that’s still more of a product of youth than it is a product of Crean’s system. I think IU fans would be more tolerant of the youth if it was operating in a more rigid system that they recognize and if it were easier for them to divine the plan on each possession than it is. Right now there are a lot of occasions on which it doesn’t seem that the players even know the aim of the play because each play is more of a conceptual ideal than it is a specific predetermined combination of screens and cuts. But it’s going to look more organized when the players actually know what they’re doing and if the Hoosiers win that will, it will be more palatable. There are some fans who will never be happy until there’s a coach at IU who coaches exactly like Bob Knight would have, but most will just be happy when the youth passes and the Hoosiers figure out what they’re doing.

ANDY: Wine Country, Sonoma. Nice to just contemplate that in the wake of The Polar Vortex.

 

I’ve often pondered this, starting with the Mike Davis days and onward. I to think it’s a germane topic regarding IU’s traditional fan base. But I think winning trumps stylistic concerns, ultimately, and that the fans had a lot of fun watching Crean’s approach to offense the past couple of seasons when the point-production was both robust and pretty consistent. I think CTC has shown he can recruit to his style, and how that style can be effective and efficient.

QUESTION: Last year Coach Crean talked about how Jordy,Victor,and others were wearing out their Cook Hall scan cards,always in the gym on their own time.Is this team doing the same?Working on their game on their own?You don`t here him say that about this years team.If any team needed to work on their own …it is this team,ball handling,passing,rebounding,and SHOOTING ! GO IU

 

Rick, Lawrenceville,IL

JEREMY: Rick.

He’s mentioned it some, just not as much I don’t think. Will Sheehey at the head of the line. He actually did his pre-Michigan State interview with the media last week, then went back in Assembly Hall to shoot for another 20 minutes or something. Stan Robinson seems to be in that gym rat mold a bit, as does Noah Vonleh. But the truth is, it’s one thing to go in Cook Hall and shoot around or play one-on-one or whatever, it’s another to get in there and really work, to push yourself, to concentrate on the things you need to do to get better. And as Big Ten play starts, a lot of these freshmen are just finding out how hard they need to work and where they need so badly to get better. For a lot of them, I think things really take off this summer and into next year. There’s just a natural growth from freshman to sophomore year for most guys. And for all of that work, I’m not sure where the growth in basketball IQ comes, at least not in the short term.

DUSTIN: He doesn’t talk about them quite the same way, but he has given the impression that Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy Hollowell and Noah Vonleh are all putting in the extra work beyond what happens at practice. And I’m sure Will Sheehey’s doing that as well because that’s what Will Sheehey does. Beyond that, I’m not sure. He does give the impression that he’s happy with this team’s dedication and want to, but if there were somebody who wasn’t doing what he was supposed to do, he wouldn’t necessarily volunteer to do that. I’m obviously not allowed in myself. (I wouldn’t mind a Cook Hall scan card, but they’re not going to give me one.) I get the impression that he’s happy with the work ethic, but I’m not sure whether or not it matches the level.

ANDY: IU Rick:

 

Again that seems more along the lines of a question that can be better addressed by Dustin and Jeremy, who are around the program much more regularly than I am these days. But I agree with your general take that this isn’t exactly the most fundamentally sound IU basketball team I’ve ever seen.

QUESTION: With the graduation of Kofi Hughes and Wilson,. I was wondering if three redshirt receivers who will be sophomores this season will get playing time at that position. Those three are Ricky Jones, Caleb Cornett and a fellow named Davis from Warren Central. Thank you very much.

 

Jack Reynolds , Bloomington

DUSTIN: Well they should, and if they don’t, it’s because they didn’t take advantage of the opportunity. Jones is still going to have a hard time getting on the field a lot because the only place the Hoosiers are still loaded is at slot receiver. Shane Wynn is back and so is Isaiah Roundtree, so as much as Wilson likes Jones � and he does � he’s going to be third in line there behind two seniors. Both of the outside spots are pretty much fair game, though, and the Hoosiers basically run two shifts at wideout, so that really means there are four spots open. Nick Stoner probably gets one of the four because he’s the only outside receiver with experience, but the other three have to go to somebody. Dominique Booth will likely get an immediate look as well, but Davis and Cornett have been around and that counts for something. Isaac Griffith and Anthony Young could also be a part of the discussion. Doesn’t sound like Taj Williams made it in, so you probably won’t see him. But Cornett has the most height of any returning receiver and Davis seems to have the necessary build and speed, just hasn’t had much of an opportunity yet. With Hughes, Latimer and Wilson all gone, they’re going to get a shot.

ANDY: Jack:

 

All three of the kids you mention are intriguing, for differing reasons. Jones obviously had the wherewithal to play right away as a true freshman before he got hurt. Davis is a kid I liked a lot when watching him play at Warren Central. Always thought he had potential. Cornett has Latimer-level size, and having a bigger receiver on the field is pretty much a necessity these days. I would imagine the staff it hoping all three will contribute, will be part of the playing rotation, but spring ball should tell us a lot more about that.

 

With Wynn and Roundtree back at the slot, along with Jones, there seems to be more returning depth there than out wide, where Stoner is one of the few guys with experience. True freshmen who redshirted this past season such as Issac Griffith and Anthony Young could figure in there, and some of the incoming guys, such as Dominic Booth, could play out wide. Again, the spring should be instructive. But it isn’t like Kevin Johns doesn’t have some material with which to work.

QUESTION: Given that changes are in the offing for IU football’s defensive staff, is there a chance Mike Ekeler, who had two or three bosses after leaving IU to be Southern Cal’s linebacker coach this past year, comes back to serve as defensive coordinator again, and Mallory moves back to be a position coach?

 

Straight Arrow, Bloomington

DUSTIN: Well first, it’s presumptive to assume that changes are coming because no one’s been fired yet and the season’s been over for a month and a half. Second, while Ekeler had a lot of input when he was at IU and he and Mallory were listed as co-coordinators, Mallory still had final say on defensive calls. Ekeler was on the sideline and he made his pushes, but it was pretty obvious that Mallory was still in charge and making most of the calls from the press box. Bringing back Ekeler and making him DC would be alternating the previous arrangement, and though Ekeler did some things well at IU, I don’t know that he did anything to suggest he was really ahead of Mallory as a coordinator. Most of the time we talked to Ekeler about coordinating, he was taking the blame for calling an all-out blitz at the wrong time and letting that turn into a big play. Third, for IU to bring Ekeler back and keep Mallory, they’d have to fire someone else (nine assistant coaches is an NCAA limit). Ekeler is a linebackers coach, so that would really mean firing William Inge, who just got the job in March and can only be blamed for so much. Maybe Wilson is ready to make that call, maybe he isn’t. But I don’t get that impression. So I don’t see that happening at least this offseason.

ANDY: Straight Arrow:

 

It’s a thought, but I don’t think it’s a likely one. And even if the always-entertaining and energized (and immensely quotable, I might add) Mr. Ekeler were to return, I wouldn’t imagine it would be in anything more than a co-coordinator role, out of his respect for his former colleague. I don’t think there is much chance of that happening, though.

QUESTION: Given that IU’s defense has kept the team from a bowl game the last couple years, and many times post-Bill Mallory, don’t you think it is time for IU & Wilson to make a bold move and go after a successful defensive coordinator? I understand it is very touchy subject when discussing firing a Mallory. Yet, How many years of dismal defense must the IU nation tolerate? IU’s defense has ruined many weekends and has taken years off my life, have mercy IU!!

 

Dennis, New Albany

DUSTIN: Do I think it’s time? From my outsider, never-coached-football, only-played-one-season-in-junior-high-and-didn’t-even-get-a-playbook perspective, yes, I think it’s time. Indiana had the worst defense in the Big Ten and one of the worst in the country for the third straight season, had a really good offense and failed to make a bowl game. I think Doug Mallory is a heck of a nice guy. He’s certainly a much smarter football man than he gets credit for and assuredly a much better coordinator than I understand and it’s entirely plausible that these problems aren’t his fault. But there comes a point � which I think has been reached � that perception becomes just as important if not more so than reality, and that turns misfortune into a vicious cycle. The Hoosiers got a great defensive recruiting class last season, but it’s hard to back that up when the kids know they’re coming to play for one of the worst defenses in the FBS and the four-star kids who came before them couldn’t fix it immediately, so it’s going to hurt recruiting. From a fan and administrator perspective, it’s so blatantly obvious that the Hoosiers wasted arguably the best offense they’ve ever had because of the worst defense (statistically) in the history of the Big Ten, and by keeping Mallory, Wilson seems to be ignoring that or at least making a statement that either the coaching was not the problem, or that the current coaches can be the solution. Wilson is putting his job on the line by keeping Mallory and he absolutely has to be right here. Would I keep him if it was me? No. But it’s not me, and Wilson has obviously seen something in Mallory he believes is worth keeping, and he obviously has a more trained eye for these things than I do. And it’s also his job on the line, not mine.

ANDY: Dennis:

 

Suffice to say yours is not a solitary lament among IU football fans.

 

I haven’t heard anything that indicates to me a change is in the offing, but that doesn’t mean one isn’t in the works. The timing on these sorts of things can vary. A fair amount of changes usually ensue in the immediate wake of the season, but then can come at basically any time afterward. The annual football coaches convention is in Indy this year and commences next week, and sometimes moves are arranged and announced in that context. Some moves aren’t made until after recruiting classes are signed, though, again, I haven’t heard anything regarding IU’s situation that suggests a change is coming then or ever.

 

Just because nothing has happened as yet doesn’t mean it won’t. But doesn’t mean it will, either. If Coach Wilson opts to stand pat with his staff, or none of the assistants leave for another job, Wilson will be help more directly responsible for the performance of the defense by the public, one would think.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: I believe that’s all the time we’ve got for today. Don’t forget to download the free Hoosier Scoop app to keep up with all things IU sports. Gentleman, any final thoughts?

JEREMY: Hoosiers head to Penn State for a crucial game on Saturday. Dustin will be there, I’ll be here and we’ll both be on the live chat. See you then.

DUSTIN: Big road game for IU this weekend. Hoosiers play at Penn State and we’ll have all kinds of coverage from there. Stick with us. thanks.

ANDY: It felt downright balmy out there today.

 

Hooked up with IU football’s six mid-year enrollees. An impressive, well-spoken group of young men. Will columnize about that at some point.

 

Thanks to all who checked-in and/or chatted. Hope you’re headed for a great weekend.

QUESTION: After watching the National Championship game I am concerned about IU’s field goal kicking game next year. How do you see this being covered in 2014?

chicago hoosier, barrington

DUSTIN: Well the backup kicker is Aaron Del Grosso. I have no idea how good of a kicker Aaron Del Grosso is. No clue at all. I presume that at this very moment, he is not as good of a kicker as Mitch Ewald, because Mitch Ewald was really good. So yeah, it’s going to be an adjustment at that spot.

ANDY: chicago hoosier:

Couldn’t agree more, actually. One of the few areas in which I don’t necessarily subscribe to CKW’s approach to the program is the notion he apparently has not to bring in scholarship kickers and punters. Mitch Ewald, who came in as a scholarship guy, was a definite asset. IU’s punters of late, who came as walk-ons, have provided adequate but not superior performance. Why not go after the best place-kicker you can get and lock him up for four years? Why just have merely adequate punting when you could maybe sign a guy who could really reverse field position for you? It’s crucial, it seems to me. And there are 85 scholarships. Do you really need, say, an 18th offensive lineman as opposed to a really good kicker?

3 comments

  1. Dustin,

    Thanks for your balanced and realistic assessment of Crean and this year’s IU basketball program. Well done! Hopefully, your response might calm down that part of the IU fan base which gets so impatient, anxiety-ridden, and emotionally reactive at the first sign of trouble.

    Hopefully, your article also might help those fans develop a little more patience so we don’t commit the same mistake IU made with Coach Bill Mallory, who won six bowl games, had a bad season, and got fired. IU football has never been the same. Though today,I recognize Coach Wilson now is reviving it and raising the level of play to a higher level. And he will do it, if those same fans who always see the “sky is falling” at the first sign of a set back will allow him to use his coaching expertise in this turnaround too, rather than their expertise.

  2. Question for the football folks. Does Ewald have any draft prospects? I know kickers are frequently not drafted, but that guy can kick.

Comments are closed.