Live Chat Transcript

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thanks for being here. Lots of questions already coming in so let’s get to it.

Gentlemen: Thanks for your time. IU sports fans are looking for answers. Are you ready for them?

JEREMY: Not a chance I’m ready, but here to lend a shoulder to cry on at the least. Maybe this should be called sports chat therapy.

DUSTIN: Umm… yeah. After that one I think everyone’s looking for answers. And after that collapse, well, so am I, and I’m not sure I have them yet but we’ll do the best we can.

ANDY: Hmmm. The sun came up? Fancy that, Hoosier fans. Who’d a thunk it?

It was a bad loss, though. No doubt about it. One of the worst ever in the Hall. Indiana deserved to win for 35 minutes, but didn’t deserve it at the end.

But the sun is out here in Bloomington, it’s time to chat, and we intrepid few shall do so, undaunted. (Or maybe, in truth, a bit daunted.)

QUESTION: Without going into to much of a rant (and god knows Id like to) is there not mounting evidence that Crean may not succeed here long term? Has he ever heard of calling a timeout when you have one and cant get ball in? Also team is not getting better and making same turnover mistakes which is not good when you have talent. Is Crean not going to start facing heat soon?

Darren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

I appreciate your restraint. Look, a year ago Crean had a lifetime pass to be Indiana’s coach and this year there are questions like this, and likely even more harsh. As with most things in life, the truth is somewhere in between. Trying to judge his merits on this year alone is foolhardy.

That said, the seat is already starting to simmer. There’s plenty of blame to go around. You’d like your players to be basketball savvy enough to call at time out there, and you’d like to think the coach has the players prepared for the possibility of calling time out. Neither of which was the case.

I think your statement is the most telling: the team is not getting better. Either they are incapable of absorbing the message or the message is not being capably imparted, because it’s turnovers, decision-making and blowing leads game after game after game.

All of this is part of what we meant when we talked about how this season was the start of a new era for Crean. The rebuild was over, how would Indiana reshape itself going forward? This first step has been a wobbly one, but it’s only the first step. And I do expect some of these young guys to make significant leaps forward between freshman and sophomore years. Time will tell. And Crean’s going to get that time for another couple of years, no matter the level of frustration fans feel.

DUSTIN: Darren,

I’m back and forth on the term “mounting evidence,” here, but last night’s loss is a big negative mark on Crean’s resume and I’m pretty sure there hasn’t been a singular game in his career that’s drawn as virulent a response from the fan base as this one. He has heard of calling a timeout when you can’t get the ball in, but he was obviously hoping his inbounders would know to do that, but obviously, the fact that they weren’t disciplined or aware enough to figure that out instinctively does come back on him. And basically, you have to think that when a game is unraveling like that a coach has to be able to do something to settle his team down or draw up something that’s going to make sure they get the ball inbounds. It didn’t happen. I’m not sure exactly what he was supposed to do, but I’m sure it was something. As far as heat, well, it depends what you mean by “heat” and it depends on what you mean by “soon.” I’d say he’s got a full year of job security at the absolutely minimum maybe two, because the two Sweet 16 runs after inheriting a pile of rubble did earn him an extension and a certain amount of leeway. If next year is a disaster, then maybe a change is made quicker, but I’m not sure I see that. If heat doesn’t mean firing talk and it just means fan unrest, well, that’s here in abundance right now. People are flipping out this morning. Bottom line, at the moment, Crean’s plane is on a downward trajectory and he needs to pull up. I’m not saying he can’t do it, but he has to.

ANDY: Darren:

I think there is heat, now, but not in the sense of imperiling anybody’s job status. A lot of pitchforks were out last night in the immediate wake of the meltdown, no doubt, but the dictates of reality say Tom Crean is going to be here a long time unless he chooses otherwise. Fans have every right to feel immensely frustrated with how that game ended. Coaches and players both were responsible. I think they’d be the first to agree that no excuses really suffice.

But I do think the team is actually getting better in some areas (overall defense being one) and, aside from the ever-present turnovers, played pretty well for much of last night’s game. It is a precociously talented team in many ways, but it has never looked like a team with a high basketball IQ and there are unquestionably some weaknesses in terms of fundamentals. Coaching has to address that as much as possible, and the coaching obviously isn’t above reproach by any means, but this was always going to be a young team that performed unevenly. There was always going to be a need for remedial work. But this, too, shall pass. Not that there aren’t issues moving forward, even taking the longer view, but CTC isn’t going anywhere anytime soon (and people should always remember and appreciate his herculean efforts at resurrecting this program, generally, when evaluating him.) And at some point some of these young players will turn a corner.

QUESTION: I like Fred Glass a lot but ONLY weakness he needs to fix is giving these hasty contract extensions. With both Coach Jack and Crean he gave them extensions when they were not really merited and both times he may be bitten by it.

Other than that I think he is fantastic and has been very approachable it seems and has also gotten facilities redone, been fiscally responsible and overall done a very good job.

Just wanted to point this out and see what you guys thought

Mike, Seymour

JEREMY: Mike,

I understand your line of thinking, but two very different situations with those contract extensions. Legette-Jack got an extension with one year left on her existing contract, an effort I think to quell any questions about her job status and aid recruiting, although it was certainly a bit too ambitious. But it also turned out to be fairly low cost to let her go as she found another job that left IU only on the hook for the difference in pay between the two schools.

Crean on the other hand was on a continuing upward arc at the time of the extension, and I think he has good deal more leeway than Jack in terms of the future. His extension is through 2020, and there’s little danger of anything actually changing until at least 2018 in my mind, unless things go a lot further south.

DUSTIN: Mike,

I’ll agree with you on Jack. As for Crean, well, there were mitigating circumstances there. I get why you give a guy an extension after he’s raised a team from the dead. It might be a little bit stranger because he’s got a 10-year deal already, but I get why he did it. Jack I didn’t really understand at the time, but it’s not like he was afraid to pull the trigger on her eventually. It did cost him, I’m sure. Politically, I understood where he was coming from on Crean, though. It’s not an easy spot. And yeah, on the other points, I agree with you.

ANDY: Mike:

Don’t disagree that contract extensions should be well-weighed before implementation, but I would hesitate putting Tom Crean in the same category as Felisha Legette Jack under any circumstances.

I would agree that Fred Glass’s overall job performance has basically proven pretty primo thus far, in most respects.

QUESTION: What a frustrating game to watch last night. We did not get the job done with some of the most fundamental components of the game like in bounding the basketball, interior defense and shot selection. I could go on and on with criticisms, but I am a Indiana basketball fan no matter what and always will be. With that being said, I have a few observations I would like you guys to comment on.

1) What is our half court offense really designed to do? I noticed we do a lot of standing around and dribble up most of the time on the shot clock. This usually results with a mortar shot from three point rage or a desperation, off balance shot. I know this is not what coach Crean is teaching or expects from this team.

2) Our guards don’t seem to get our interior players involved and active in the games as much as they should. We had about 6 seconds left in the game and I thought the best percentage opportunity we had was to get the ball down low to Noah. I think he is not featured in the offense like Cody was. And Noah has a decent interior game and can hit the three pointer.

3) I can imagine how difficult it is to play on a big stage at Indiana in front of 17,000 screaming fans. Is this intimidating to our young players? And, do you think they receive too much attention which may cause distractions and loss of focusing on basketball? I know there are differences of philosophy about this, but when Bob Knight was head coach at Indiana, he guarded his players from just about everything. It was all about their performance on the court and nothing else.

4) Finally, what do you think we can do to salvage the rest of this season? From a coaching perspective as well as player development?

indianavelt, Fort Wayne

JEREMY: indianavelt,

1) Well, contrary to popular opinion, dribbling as much of the shot clock away as possible is not the actual goal. And, actually, for much of last night’s game, the ball and player movement was pretty good. But at times, it seems like this team struggles to know what play or set is being run and where each player is supposed to be, which leads to some wasted time. And the ball occasionally gets stuck in Yogi’s hands, too. I think the ultimate goal of the offense is to create mismatches via ball movement or ball screens. When it works, it works, but when it doesn’t, it’s ugly. The other part of the equation is that I believe Crean has always based his offense on the ability to spread the floor and have versatility to shoot or drive at each position, and this team isn’t really built this way, particularly the lack of shooters. One thing I’ve seen little to none of with this group is back screens to help create the desired mismatches.

Penn State coach Pat Chambers said last night that Indiana was a great cutting team, particularly Will Sheehey. And that’s true when the ball is moving. But when it doesn’t, it stands out like a sore thumb.

2) I don’t disagree a bit. It’s just a combination of factors though. The perimeter guys aren’t particularly good at feeding the post, and sometimes when a post up comes open, the guards are already looking away. It’s also disturbing that so many times when Vonleh does get the ball in the post, by the time he makes his catch, he’s 15-plus feet from the basket. That’s a combination of a poor post up and poor entry pass. You also have to wonder what it would look like with two post threats in the game together and a chance to play a little high-low game with Noah’s ability to shoot. Luke Fischer’s departure certainly hampered that possibility too. I am a bit surprised Vonleh hasn’t gotten more 3-point looks via pick and pop situations, although you hardly want to live and die with that.

That said, tough to get Vonleh a look there at the end unless you can get the ball inbounded near the halfcourt line to begin with.

3) No, I think IU players definitely draw on the crowd as a boost far more than being intimidated.

I don’t think they receive too much attention from the press, considering only a couple of them do a pregame press conference and then postgame press conference.

Now, if you’re talking social media, it’s possible, but I’m not sure how much any coach can do about that. There’s no doubt that a lot of these guys are reading everything good and bad out there on Twitter. Some of them start retweeting stuff about 45 minutes after the game or as soon as they’re home/back on the bus. That’s pretty much a matter of maturity and knowing perspective and priorities.

4) If by salvage, you mean make the NCAA Tournament, you’re looking at going 6-1 or at least 5-2, then making a deep Big Ten Tournament run. That surely seems unlikely considering the next four games along — at Purdue, home to Iowa, at Northwestern and at Wisconsin. Player-wise, I don’t know how a tiger changes its stripes at this stage. They might do it for a game or two, but consistency is a different matter. You know, it’s not all doom and gloom. Indiana did play fairly well for 36 minutes against Penn State and ditto for a lot of other games. There’s still lessons to learn and room for growth, regardless of how the rest of the season plays out, perhaps at least the potential to build some positive momentum heading into next year.

DUSTIN: Hey Indianavelt, not a lot of easy answers here, but we’ll see what we can do.

1. This is a great question, and I’m not sure if it says more bad things about me as a reporter or about the offense itself that I don’t have a straight answer for you. (Probably a little bit of both.) I guess if you’re going to really give Crean the benefit of the doubt, you can say that the offense is designed to provide freedom and flexibility to players. It’s not a robotic system that asks for the same thing every time down the floor and it morphs and changes. But yeah, a problematic amount of the time there is dribbling and standing around. I’d say there’s less of that than people think, but it stands out every time the possession doesn’t go as planned. They want ball movement, two and three reversals every possession, a pass in the post, good cuts and screens. That I can say. That’s what they want. Does it happen all the time? Not so much.

2. In six seconds from the opposite baseline, you’re rarely going to get a good look for a big man, so I’m not sure that would have worked out to get it to Vonleh on the last play. You want it in Ferrell’s hands there. But clearly, three field goal attempts for one of the best centers in the Big Ten and a projected top 10 NBA pick is inexcusable. I think Vonleh’s featured in the offense. I actually think this team is much more interested in getting the ball to Vonleh than it was to get it to Zeller because last year’s team had so many other offensive options. Ask anyone on this team and they’ll tell you they want to get the ball to Vonleh. But I think it’s harder for this team to actually accomplish that because you can sag off just about every other player, Teams are packing the paint against this team and they can get away with it because Indiana has exactly one decent shooter other than Vonleh. Penn State played a lot of zone in that game and didn’t make interior passes easy at all. But yeah, something has to be done to get him the ball more.

3. I don’t think playing at Indiana is intimidating for the young players at all. I think it’s an adrenaline boost and I think they play a heck of a lot better at home than on the road. I think playing in front of 17,000 fans screaming against them is intimidating. But I think that’s the point of going to Indiana. They bring these kids on official visits and they want the fans to provide as loud and crazy an atmosphere as possible. They bring them to Hoosier Hysteria to show them how much fans get into a glorified scrimmage. There are plenty of schools out there who don’t draw a quarter of what Indiana gets at a home game, so if you want an atmosphere where no one’s watching and you just get to play basketball with no pressure, well, you go somewhere else. It’s not like Indiana can cut off the tickets at 4,000 just because it has a young team. As far as whether these guys receive too much attention, well, I’m not sure what Knight’s policies were or what exactly it was you mean by guarded, but I can tell you that as a reporter I don’t find it easy at all whatsoever to get one-on-ones with these guys or to get answers to questions that don’t directly pertain to the game at hand. Also, they don’t have a lot of media responsibilities. This team is not over-exposed in the least bit comparatively. Unless Knight forbade his players from talking to the media at all, I’m not sure how much more guarded this program could get.

4. Depends on what you mean by salvage. To get in the tournament, they have to go 6-1 down the stretch (as far as I can tell) and that’s going to take a miracle. That means beating Purdue, Nebraska and Northwestern, which is no guarantee, and taking three of four from Iowa, Michigan, Wisconsin and Ohio State. (No, not going to happen). I guess to get through it with some degree of positive vibes for next year, I mean, they just have to pull it together all around. Crean has to look inside himself and figure out why this team seems to have “an awareness issue.” And the players need to fix it. Basically, they just have to play smarter all around. This is not a high-IQ basketball team right now, and there’s not one simple fix for that.

ANDY: indianavelt:

1. I’m no coach. Never played at the college level. My observation, for what it’s worth, is that Indiana has alignments that provide players a lot of freedom in halfcourt sets. If player decision-making is suspect, this can lead to issues. I’m all for creativity, and players relish having freedom to create, but IU needs to get Noah Vonleh more than three shots from the field in a game like that. There has to be ammunition in the arsenal to make good things happen at crunch time.

2. Agree. Vonleh is almost certainly only going to be here for one season and he’s not being fully utilized. As I said above, for him to get just three shots (one of which being a follow-dunk) in a close and crucial game is a major issue. IU does nothing that I can see, effectively and consistently, to help him get looks.

3. Interesting thought, but I really don’t think that’s an issue. Most of these guys have played in fairly big settings growing up, and have felt pressure to produce. And most of those 17,000 are screaming in support of their efforts (though not, perhaps, after the final horn sounded last night.)

4. Just keep getting better. This season was never going to be one of monumental achievement, given the personnel losses and overall youth involved. I actually thought this team was gradually improving and pretty close to turning a corner, but last night probably threw a wrench into the gears. And just looking over the next four games or so on the schedule doesn’t seem to offer much chance for a big bounce-back. And this is the time of any college season where a lot of freshmen start to hit a wall, so some care must be given about how hard they’re worked in practice, but improvement can always come in terms of mental approach. And I’d like to see a more stable rotation developed.

QUESTION: Hey guys,

You have probably got the question already, but what was Crean’s thought process on holding the ball up 2 with a minute left? (or if he didn’t say, what is you insight into it?) Also, how difficult is it in the college game to get the ball into the post to a player like Vonleh? Obviously, it seems really simple, but is it tactically more difficult, or is Crean just making a serious error in this area by not giving his bigs the ball enough in a position to score?

Finally, soccer gurus, how do you think the mens team is shaping up this year? It looks like a lot of inexperience with all the freshman coming in and the mass exodus of seniors and other pivotal players leaving to go pro. I do like the sound of the Chicago CB coming in. It is always nice to have that kind of size on your back line.

Thanks.

Yes, Bloomington

JEREMY: Yes,

I don’t know if that particular possession was anything unusual, as Indiana frequently used the better part of the shot clock during the game, just the inefficiency at the time was glaring.

And, yes, that would be a good time to at least get Vonleh a touch of some sort. Granted, Penn State was blitzing him with a double team almost every time, but that should leave somebody or something open. But any way you slice it, even with Vonleh drawing several fouls and opening things up for teammates, three shot attempts – one a follow dunk – is not nearly enough for a top 10 lottery pick and the best player on the team.

I wish I knew more about the incoming recruits to give you a really good answer, but I don’t. Two guys coming in rated in the top 150 by College Soccer News sounds promising though, especially since both play on the defensive side. Some of those guys, including Akron transfer Matt Foldesy in the midfield, will have to produce. But don’t forget about some of the returning guys, such as midfielder Richard Ballard, who redshirted last year after playing a bit as a freshman on the national title team. Sean Cowdrey was a high school All-American who didn’t play at all last year, and Andrew Oliver really played well the latter half of the season and might finally be poised to come into his own, to name a few. And I think Billy McConnell, who had a rough go defensively last year, is still a talented player and probably better prepared to contribute this time around. Hopefully, we’ll get a better idea in a few spring games.

DUSTIN: Yes,

We didn’t ask about when they had the ball with two minutes left mostly because we were thinking more about the busted inbounds plays at the time. It didn’t strike me as all that odd at the time with a four-point lead because I think with a lead you’re still trying to run clock and shorten the game. If they would’ve taken a quick shot and missed it, I think he would’ve been pounded on for not running more clock. Bottom line is you just have to score there regardless of what you do. But I get trying to take it as close to one minute as possible.

I’d say it’s a lot more difficult than you think, but that doesn’t mean Indiana shouldn’t be better at it. There’s a reason big men don’t shoot the ball 25 times a game and that’s because it isn’t easy. The guy who’s defending you doesn’t want to throw the ball in the post and the guy who is defending the big man doesn’t want you to throw the ball in the post, and they both know you know want to, so their hands are in the way trying to make sure it doesn’t happen. The big man has to seal off his guy, you have to pass fake to get your guy to give you a window, and that’s in all circumstances. When your big man is one of two guys on the floor who can score consistently, it’s even more difficult because your opponent is probably going to either clog the paint with a zone or sag off their guys in the man-to-man. That’s the issue Indiana is dealing with right now. Everyone knows the Hoosiers want to get the ball inside and they’re gearing their entire defense toward making that happen, knowing that Ferrell is the only guy who can beat them outside. If they have somebody decent checking Ferrell at the point and everyone else sagging inside, they have an effective defense and therefore getting the ball to Vonleh is hard. Still, they have to find ways of doing it. He’s not going to be a 20-point-per-game scorer in this environment, but three field goal attempts isn’t OK either.

ANDY: Yes:

The opposition obviously knows the caliber of player Vonleh is and doubtless tries to take him away and, yes, college coaches are pretty doggone good at taking away strengths in the form of blanketing given players. But from an IU perspective, the Hoosiers have to find ways to utilize him better and more often. Easier said than done. But must be done.

Agree on the soccer front. Obviously, it’s hard to gauge newcomers until they’re actually on campus, but the soccer situation doesn’t seem entirely unlike how this current men’s basketball campaign shaped up. Precocious talent, but a lot of inexperience. I will say it’s hard to imagine the soccer team undergoing as much bizarre bad fortune as it did last season. Maybe the ball will bounce its way more often.

QUESTION: Without using the words Yogi or Noah in your answer, can you give IU fans 3 reasons to still support this team?

Roger, bloomington

JEREMY: Roger,

It’s Indiana. If you’re a fan, you’re a fan. If you’re not, why are you asking the question.

Now if you really mean three reasons for optimism, I’d say sophomores, shooters and lessons learned. These young freshmen will make the biggest jump from one year to the next, so lot of upside for Robinson, Williams, Davis, Hartman and Vonleh, if he stays. IU will have a couple shooters in Blackmon and Johnson to flank Yogi next year, which should improve the ballhandling and turnovers a bit as well. And sometimes lessons are best learned through adversity, and Will Sheehey is the only current player that knows what that’s like. The rest are just finding out.

DUSTIN: I can’t give you a reason to support or not support this team because what I’ve come to learn about fanship, especially since I left home, is that you don’t choose to support a team based on the team itself. You choose to support a team based on what it means to your life. As a reporter, I think it’s important to limit fan connections so that they don’t create bias, but since I cover college sports at the moment, I still allow myself to be a Pittsburgh Pirates and Pittsburgh Steelers fan. (If I ever cover Major League Baseball or the NFL, I won’t do that anymore) I don’t do that because I think the front offices, coaching staffs and players are so great (and for the Pirates for the 20 years up until now, they obviously weren’t). I do that because it gives me something to get passionate about with my dad, my brother, my mom, my friends and old high school baseball teammates, etc. They’re part of what ties me back home. Whether I’m complaining or cheering, it’s still fun to get into it and call them and talk about what went wrong and what went right. I don’t care if you root for Indiana or not, but if you do or do not it’s going to be based on what the fanship does for you and you relationships with other people, not with whether or not you like Tom Crean’s offense.

End rant. Now, if you’re asking me for three reasons to feel optimistic about this team other than Ferrell and Vonleh, well, I have less to say. This team is not going to be an NCAA Tournament team, it’s going to be lucky to get in the NIT and it might not advance very far once it does. I guess you could say that. 1. Troy Wiliams has potential if he puts it all together. 2. So does Stanford Robinson and 3. James Blackmon and Robert Johnson are coming next year so they’re going to finally have shooters. Next year should be better whether Vonleh stays or not. I’m not going to sit here and tell you that Indiana is going to hang a banner in the next 4-5 years. They’re going to be talented and they should be better than this going forward but I don’t know that I could say exactly how much. We’ll see.

ANDY: Roger:

Because it’s still their team. I think sometimes fans should realize that times of adversity and disappointment are when support is most needed. Anybody can be a front-runner.

Because it’s so young and deserves time to develop.

Because a lot of things go into how the future of any program plays out. Fan support is one of those things. Prospective recruits, among other folks, notice.

QUESTION: I think Coach Crean is a great guy, but I believe right now he is struggling to execute effective offensive sets. It’s not that I think he can’t adjust but that he is too stubborn to change. Do you get that feeling?

Also, I feel that he can’t take criticism real well. I feel this way because he looks rather defensive when anyone question (not many really have in my opinion) his calls in media interviews. Is this accurate as well? Is it hard for you to ask those questions knowing full well that he might chew you off?

I think no ones perfect, but I feel we should always should do our best to improve ourselves. I guess that’s what frustrates me the most. Great guy but low patience with others? Thank You.

oyvey, durham

JEREMY: oyvey,

I don’t know that you’re wrong, but I don’t feel I’m on the inside enough to be too specific on this. Now, that said, it seems like this team requires some adjustments, whether it’s scaling back the playbook or making more specific play calls. And maybe there has been, I just don’t know.

Crean does get defensive and circle the wagons. And clearly he doesn’t taking losing well, there’s no doubt about it. Now, does potentially getting chewed out deter asking questions? Well, I think it’s less that and more that once the wall goes up, you sort of know that getting a worthwhile answer is out of the question. Because, frankly, you never know what question will actually set him off, although strategy queries are a good bet, but not always.

DUSTIN: Like the name, oyvey, not sure I’ve seen you on one of these before, so welcome.

Is Tom Crean too stubborn to change? Eh, sometimes. For me to answer that question specifically, I’d have to be privy to a lot more than I am. It’s a logical read that you’re making, but I’d have to really dig in to his playbook and have a lot of honest, open discussions with his assistants and players before I’d be willing to make a definitive statement there. I’m not sure what they’ve talked about, what they haven’t, etc. Plus, his offensive sets would be a lot more effective if he had more than one guy who could hit a three consistently. Don’t get me wrong, the offense doesn’t look good right now and he certainly bares some of the blame for that. But exactly how much of a role stubbornness plays I can’t be certain.

As for point 2? Yeah, Crean is one of the most sensitive people I’ve ever met, and he’s very much on the defensive after losses. I don’t think he lacks patience with others generally, I just think it’s not fun to lose a game and have people who could not do your job ask why you screwed up. (And I will absolutely admit, I could not do his job. I couldn’t coach pee-wee basketball.) But that’s part of a coach’s job and if you’re going to coach at a major program, you have to develop a thick skin to that sort of thing and Crean hasn’t. Is it hard to ask those questions because of that? If I’ve gotta be honest here, I’ll say it does enter into the calculus. I’ve been screamed at by plenty of coaches before. It’s not something that hurts my feelings all that much and it’s something you have to develop a thick skin toward. I’m not afraid of it. But getting in a fight in a press conference is journalistically useless as far as I’m concerned. I ask questions to get answers I can use to explain what happened. Are there some questions I would ask other coaches that I don’t ask Crean because I know he’s not going to give a useful answer? Probably. I’m doing a lot of soul-searching myself on that this morning because I had someone call me a Tom Crean apologist on Twitter. Trying to figure out exactly how much tougher I need to be on him or whether the point is that fans are just upset and they want someone to verbally fight him by proxy.

ANDY: oyvey:

(“Oyvey!” seems a pretty good response to last night for IU folks, actually.)

I think Coach Crean, as is the case with most coaches, has a preferred approach to play, including in terms of half-court offense. He doubtless feels it is the optimal approach for most personnel groups (and doubtless feels respective recruits feel the same way.) Obviously, I’m sure he can and does tweak a lot of things for any specific group of personnel, and like most good coaches is always trying to learn.

I’m no coach and certainly never played at the college level, so anything I say is pretty much moot. But I think IU spends too much time being easy to defend early in the shot-clock in a half-court scenario. Sometimes there is too much pointless dribbling, too much meandering or weaving to no real effect, too much standing, not enough player and ball movement, not enough ball-reversal, not enough screening away from the ball (and even the screens that are set aren’t particularly well-set on many occasions, and too often occur in an uncoordinated fashion in regard to whatever the ball-handler happens to be doing.) It isn’t just the Hoosiers, or these particular Hoosiers, either. I’m not a huge fan of how most college teams approach half-court offense these days, to be honest. But what do I know? Again, I have no real standing. I’m just your basic scribe.

I don’t know that CTC is any more defensive about his approach than most coaches, but I’m not usually around for his interviews or post-game sessions. I’ll like Dustin and Jeremy comment on that, if they choose to do so.

QUESTION: Can’t believe he called out Sheehy and Gordon. When will he take responsibility? Good coaches usually protect the players and blame themself for not preparing them, needing to do better, coach smarter. But not this big-ego guy.

Eddie, Smithville

JEREMY: Eddie,

It wasn’t so much that there was anything wrong with calling it Sheehey and Gordon, because they certainly bore some responsibility, but so did a lot of other people, including himself. I’ll say some of that was just frustration, and Sheehey and Gordon are easy targets because of their unique stature on a team with so many freshmen and sophomores. But sometimes the captain has to be willing to go down with the ship without making the first mate walk the plank first.

DUSTIN: Seen a lot of this sort of thing in the past 13 hours. I think it’s fair to say the fan base would like to see Crean fall on his sword a little more than he has.

ANDY: Eddie:

Well, I guess if there was ever a time to call our your only two seniors, last night was probably it.

But I don’t disagree that a little more mea culpa might have been in order, too.

Big egos are pretty much a pre-requisite to coach at this level, but I don’t know CTC’s is any bigger than most. He’s never impressed me as overly egotistic by major-college coaching standards.

QUESTION: There are a ton of problems with this team but one of the more disturbing things is that Coach doesn’t seem to be able to see things in real time during the game. The past two games pressers are really telling. First he wanted to go to zone but doesn’t know why he didn’t. This game when asked about why IU just stopped attacking the basket at the end of the game and were running clock out at half court, he seemed to say he will have to review tape to see if that was indeed happening. Toss this in with not taking timeouts when he sees the kids struggling makes me wonder two things:

First do you believe Coach really isn’t aware of these things?

Second, does he have any assistant coaches that he will trust enough to help him manage the game? I have seen other coaches with specific responsibilities on the bench during the game making sure the head coach is aware of situations. I don’t see the same thing on IU. Coach Crean may be a great recruiter and practice coach but his in game coaching is very suspect and it isn’t even this year (Butler game last year leaving Jordy in, Illinois game last year where Cody was not protecting the basket, etc.).

Not a believer in help is on the way until we fix coaching problems.

Wine Country, Sonoma

JEREMY: Wine Country,

Well, I have mixed feelings here, because I always feel that Crean is holding back when it comes to talking specifics, so it’s hard to judge what he does and doesn’t see vs. what he tells you he sees. It definitely is part of the assistants’ job to help manage the finer points, and there’s no reason to believe they don’t do that. But how those interactions are carried out, I don’t know.

DUSTIN: Wine Country,

As far as Crean’s awareness with regard to the question asked, the offense answer made a lot more sense in its context than the question about the zone against Minnesota. The offense question wasn’t specifically about the one play where they ran a lot of clock, it was about the overall stagnance in the last five minutes, and I could see how that would be something you’d have to watch film to really explain. I know I have to re-watch the game to put that in perspective sometimes, especially when you’re talking about general breakdowns in the course of several plays.

But the zone answer really didn’t make a lot of sense to me at the time which is why I pressed him on it. Still really doesn’t. If the play was “go to man-to-man and zone up if there was a ball screen,” that should have been an easy question to answer at the end of the game. If they didn’t go to zone, it must have meant there wasn’t a ball screen. There was a direct contingency there, and because that contingency didn’t occur, that explains why the zone never happened. Not sure why this wasn’t immediately apparent to him post-game.

Do I think he’s not generally aware of things? I don’t know. That’s a tough question to answer and I think I’d really have to be in the huddle to know. Same with assistant coaches. I think he has guys that he should trust managing the game (Buckley especially times 100) but I don’t know how much he actually relies on them in game. He exudes a lot of respect for those guys and I know if I was him I’d listen to Buckley on every conceivable opportunity. Whether he does or not I really don’t know.

ANDY: Wine Country:

Not saying you’re wrong. Not saying you’re right, though you might well be. But I particularly agree that it is incumbent upon assistants to make sure details and circumstances are addressed during a game, because a whole lot is always going to be crowding into a head coach’s brain while play is transpiring. I think CTC believes in and certainly trusts this staff. I’m not on the bench or in the huddles (and probably wouldn’t understand much of what was going on, anyhow, if I was) but perhaps a case can be made that the dynamic needs to shift a bit in terms of the assistants. Coaching moves (or lack of moves) can always be questioned in hind-sight, and no staff is always going to pull the right levers at all times, but I do think the entire coaching staff bears some responsibility for what is going on out there.

QUESTION: OSD reporting from Chiberia. Swear boys it has been a rough winter up here in NWI. The Dude is just thawing out now. Sure missed you boys. I wanted to go to the Olympics but the State Department would not approve me leaving the country. I think they were afraid the Dude might cause a ruckus in the Caucus. Oh well it is Sochi’s loss. Now on to the questions.

First has CTC forgotten how to coach or did the guys who left last year just cover up all his flaws? I can’t believe how terribly he is coaching. Even the announcers are questioning his strategy. How many times can you not be able to get a pass in bounds? Geez!

Any word on NV leaving? I would not blame him as his stock is very high now. Still lacks that good of an offensive game but he can play.

I know they offered a big in Chicago. But if NV leaves will we offer two and if so who is on the radar. Thank God we have next year’s recruits coming that can shoot. I think JB could start now on IU;s team. What say you?

Well you boys have a good Valentine’s Day. I have lots of presents lined up for Mrs. Dude, flowers being delivered at work plus a night on the town Saturday. So hopefully I am in good shape for another year.

Like the proverbial wind the Dude is gone….

Old Sports Dude, Crown Point

JEREMY: OSD,

Welcome back from the freeze. Not sure you’re missing much in Sochi anyhow.

Well, it’s certainly not Crean’s shining moment, but sometimes you’re the windshield (Michigan) and sometimes you’re the bug (Penn State).

Vonleh was projected No 6 in a recent mock draft on ESPN, so there’s that.

Looks like IU has already offered 6-7 Josh Cunningham of Chicago and has interest in a number of other big men, so I imagine the Hoosiers land at least one more player in the spring. Be interesting to see how the roster shakes out and if anyone else leaves.

Yeah, JB could probably start now.

Happy V-Day!

DUSTIN: OSD,

Not sure how to address the Crean question, but I think it’s fair to say he had a rough night.

Don’t have any great sources on Vonleh, but as you’ve seen, he’s projected as a top 10 pick pretty much everywhere, so I don’t think he stays.

Kind of behind on the recruiting thing.

Blackmon would absolutely start on this team tomorrow.

Happy Valentines Day, Dude.

ANDY: OSD:

Been a Hoosier all my life. This is one of the two or three worst winters in my 59 years. Has to do with an unnaturally warm bunch of ocean sitting right under Alaska, affecting the Pacific jet stream, sending it up over the Arctic Circle, down through Hudson Bay and right over the top of us. (Or did you think I was speaking about IU basketball’s winter?)

Noah’s draft postion — now always listed in the top 10 in the sites I’ve seen, and sometimes in the top 5 or 6 — would seemingly dictate that he goes, unless he makes a personal choice to stay. Then again I would think it likely he’d be a lottery pick any year he came out.

Rokas Gustys, Matt Cimino, Ruben Guerrero and JUCO Wille Atwood are some of the big-man names mentioned with IU, but I don’t know if any of them are close to entering the fold. The Hoosiers are clearly looking, but I don’t know if they’ve found what they’re looking for, or if they ever will this spring. I do think things are moving apace regading 6-7 Josh Cunningham, who also has drawn major interest from Iowa State.

I think it reasonable to surmise Blackmon could start. His shooting would augment this team in a meaningful way, even as his total game continues to develop. Don’t sleep on Robert Johnson, either.

Taking care of Mrs. Dude is, I’m sure, both a justified and wise policy.

QUESTION: IU was unwatchable Creans first three years understandably, you think we will be subjected to this until 2018? If Stevens becomes available a couple of yrs from now and we continue like this, Glass won’t pursue? When you can’t trust 2’d, 3rd, and 4th year players to make smart plays, what’s going to change with these freshman? The start was IU’s first loss last year, remember that one? How many of those have we had since then or similar but was forgiven because we were anointed into the final four?

cw, tucson

JEREMY: cw,

No, I don’t think this year is typical of the next four, and unless it is, let’s just shelve the Stevens talk.

Not big on the youth excuse at this point, but do keep in mind that almost every single person on the current team is playing a vastly different role from the one they played a year ago, including the freshmen who were in high school. In theory, there should be a bit more cohesion next season.

Have no idea what else you’re trying to say, but enjoy the team in your backyard in Tucson. They’re pretty good too.

DUSTIN: LIke I said, Crean has to be able to pull up. If next year’s team doesn’t make the tournament either and doesn’t show progress, then I think he’s in trouble. He can’t continue on a downward slope for long. He doesn’t have to win a title next year, but he can’t have another season like this either. Again, I think they can do it and I think they will be better next year, but no, I don’t think he has absolute job security. That said, you can bank that he will be at Indiana next season.

I think the foolish mistake everyone is making is the presumption that Stevens is going to get fired and or want to leave. They freaking love him up there. His roster is not nearly good enough to be 19-35. His leading scorer is Jeff Green. JEFF GREEN. The NBA is an unforgiving league, but if you have smart management and they know you’re a good coach, they’re going to keep you until they can get you players you can expect to win with. Danny Ainge knows he has a good one. He’s not pulling the trigger in 2-3 years if he hasn’t seen what Stevens can do with actual talent. Plus, yeah, he’s an Indiana kid and I’m sure this job is still desirable to him. But he’s currently the coach of the Boston Celtics. THE BOSTON FREAKING CELTICS. That’s not a job you just leave.

ANDY: CW:

Last season wasn’t bad. Really. There were a lot of smart plays made. They beat top five teams. They won the Big Ten outright, and clinched on the road. How soon we forget.

The Brad Stevens speculation really seems rather silly at this point, too.

Annointed into the Final Four? What?

Not saying last night wasn’t really bad. It was. Not saying this season has gone particularly well. It hasn’t. But let’s take a little longer view, both past and future.

QUESTION: Good morning guys, I hope all is well. As always, I appreciate your hard work and excellent coverage. I would love to put my Journalism degree to work and spend a day covering the Hoosiers with you but I certainly don’t envy your job today….I can imagine things are pretty ugly.

I typically get to go to one IU football and one basketball game each season (I’d love to do more but time, money and “life” tend to get in the way)…last night was the game my Dad and I chose. Great seats and it’s always great to be inside Assembly Hall for a game. During the game, I noticed fairly empty balconies (it’s a Big Ten game, what’s up with that?), derisive jeering towards Tom Crean every time we appeared to be in a zone and a few fairly ugly comments directed towards Evan Gordon and Jeremy Hollowell. Then the collapse began and it got worse. “This one’s on you Crean!”, “You suck Crean!” and very audible booing as the game concluded. It was a fairly toxic environment.

1. Sorry for the long build-up but I needed to set the scene from where I was sitting to get to the question: Do you think the division and apparent unrest in the fan base will make it very difficult for Fred Glass to keep Tom Crean long-term? I hate to ask that question but it feels like there’s frustration and anger that will only get more vocal until a change is made. Hope I’m wrong there though.

2. Noah Vonleh had three shot attempts. Evan Gordon had more than double that many. It makes zero sense and the problem is multifaceted. Noah doesn’t do a very good job of demanding the ball, the other Hoosiers don’t do a good job of getting him the ball in decent positions and the offense appears to be very unfriendly to big guys. I have a hard time seeing how Noah is considered a top-10 draft pick (yes he can rebound really well and he has a nice skill set but he doesn’t know how to play offense right now…) but I also have a hard time seeing how staying a second season at IU would benefit him all that much. He’s way too good to be utilized this little, what can IU do to bring Noah Vonleh into the game plan a bit more?

3. No question here but it was nice seeing the football recruiting class and the baseball team get recognized last night. I wish them both the best of luck (particularly baseball as they open the season in Texas). I know they won’t read this but I felt like writing it publicly.

Thanks for the well wishes last week. To answer your inquiries…yes, insurance is covering much of it and work is pretty much complete on our first floor ceiling. I’ll be cleaning the sub-floor and kitchen cabinets/counters tonight and tomorrow and then putting in new floors this weekend. If all goes well, we’ll be back in our home by next week. It’s been a harrowing ordeal but it could have been much worse. Anyway, I hope you survive the flood of negativity and vitriol, have a great week, God bless and go Hoosiers.

TJ, Noblesville

JEREMY: TJ,

To take a page from indiana Jones, you chose poorly.

1) Not really. I mean, yeah, if Indiana goes 17-14 this year and does something similar next year, then we can talk. But this isn’t a deal where you let fan frustration over one down year cloud your vision, just like you can’t let one up year do likewise.

2) Vonleh has some deficiencies, primarily playing through contact, but his overall game is better than you give him credit for, and I blame the players around him for not knowing how to play offense as much as I blame him. Any way you slice it, three field goal attempts and four free throws aren’t going to get the job done. At this point, the only thing he stands to gain from coming back is a little maturity and a bump from 8th to 4th in the draft.

3) Baseball season only a day away, so there’s that to look forward to.

DUSTIN: Hey TJ,

Our lives aren’t nearly as difficult as Crean’s today. I’m just dealing with a live chat while sitting on my couch. I don’t have to fix anything.

1. I’d say the short answer is yes. Basically, it makes whatever decision Glass eventually has to make a more coldly calculated one. I don’t think it forces Glass’s hand necessarily, and I don’t think he believes he has to make choices he doesn’t believe in just to placate the mob. Indiana has too much invested in Crean for Glass to fire him just because the fans are unhappy. But on the flip side, it’s also not a positive mark in his favor either. If an A.D. isn’t pleased with a coaches performance, he might be more willing to spare him if he gives the fans the warm and fuzzies. I think that made it a lot harder for Glass to let go of Lynch, for instance. But really, at the end of the day you are what your record says you are. Each passing year brings another evaluation. This year is bad, but there’s still too much time on Crean’s contract and he had too much success in the previous two years to make a change. If he pulls it together next year, he’s safe for a little while longer. We’re still a fair degree of distance from the breaking point here. But when the time comes to make a decision, if there is still fan unrest, that will make a difference.

2. I’m not smart enough to know. As you pointed out, it is multi-faceted. I really think his teammates want to get him the ball, but sometimes they don’t know what they’re doing. He’s capable of clearing out space and demanding the ball, but he doesn’t always do it. And I’m sure there are plays and sets that could be run to get him a clearer look. But you know what would also help? People other than Yogi Ferrell making 3’s. The paint is quite a clogged place for IU these days.

Thanks TJ, hope things continue to improve on that end.

ANDY: Howdy, TJ. Hope you guys are safe and warm and dry.

1. Don’t really think so, even though we do live in an increasingly instant-gratification society. But I think lot more is going to have to go awry, and for a lot longer, for that sort of pressure to become meaningful. Not saying it wasn’t toxic last night. I’m sure it was. I heard some of the same sort of stuff when that walk-on-oriented lineup was briefly on the floor during the Michigan game.

2. Agree with every single thing you say here, and you said it well. Journalism degree, eh? Somehow I’m not surprised. As to utilizing Noah more effectively, one might posit that a periodic downscreen or back-screen while the ball-handler is actually looking would probably help.

3. Really good to hear you’re making some progress in terms of returning home, and still shuddering at the thought of what you guys have gone through and are still going through. Sometimes adversity bonds us even closer with the ones we love, and our thoughts are with you and your family. And I like your attitude. As you say, it could always have been worse.

Thanks, TJ.

QUESTION: I remember being really frustrated after a loss earlier this year because of poor coaching, do you guys remember this game? Maybe UConn? I know it’s when I soured on Crean but I don’t remember the game. This from an eye that’s never played organized bball, that’s how obvious it was

cw, tucson

JEREMY: cw,

I can’t help you buddy. Syracuse, UConn, Notre Dame, take your pick.

DUSTIN: There’s more than one possibility here, and I wasn’t with you at the time – because you live in Tucson and I don’t imagine we’ve met – so I don’t so much have an answer here. Notre Dame, maybe?

ANDY: CW:

UConn was winnable, but I don’t necessarily recall feeling it was coaching malpractice or anything. And I’m not sure how obvious things really are to admittedly inexperienced eyes.

 

QUESTION: Why at the end of the game did he have different players taking the ball out? I would think by now he would have one guy to give that responsibility to. Crean looked like he holding auditions, something he should have tried against Quinnipeac in November.

Tom, Vincennes

JEREMY: Tom,

Initially Hollowell was taking the ball out, which was the plan back when he was starting every game in November. Unfortunately for the Hoosiers, it didn’t really matter who was taking the ball out.

DUSTIN: Tom,

I wonder when the last time they played Quinnipiac actually was…

With different lineups, you have to have somebody different bring the ball out every time. I’d say coaches usually have a guy they’d rather take the ball out when the pressure gets turned up, and in that case it was Sheehey. Probably should have deemed that earlier, but he turned the ball over too.

ANDY: Tom:

I don’t mind the notion of having different guys inbounding for different styles of inbounds plays, as long as they are well-drilled and well-prepared for the role. Back in my high school days, we had a slew of inbounds plays and didn’t always have the same guy making the initial pass. That’s not unusual at any level, I don’t think.

But should Indiana be executing inbounds plays better? Of course. There’s no excuse for what happened at the end of the game, in that regard, last night.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. The guys will be back on the men’s basketball scene this Saturday with a live game discussion of IU vs. Purdue. And you can follow all IU sports on Twitter and the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

Guys, thanks for your time today. What should we know before we say goodbye?

JEREMY: The road to West Lafayette beckons. In the meantime, check out our man, Mike Miller, with coverage of the IU women’s basketball team against No. 11 Penn State tonight at Assembly Hall. The IU women are a lot closer to making the NCAA tourney than the men at this point. Who knew? Take care and thanks for being here, folks.

DUSTIN: I can’t believe the question we got about Fred Glass possibly running the Hillary Clinton 2016 presidential campaign didn’t make the moddy cut. I was excited about that one.

Anyway, so yeah, Saturday. Purdue. Before that we’ll break this one down again and I’m going to try to churn out a Kyle Schwarber-Sam Travis feature today with baseball season starting this weekend. (There’s your brightside by the way. IU opens the season at Texas Tech tomorrow.) So thanks everybody. Take the next two days and think about something other than basketball. Watch Olympic hockey or something.

ANDY: Well, that was quite a gauntlet to run, but a mostly understandable one. I guess I could have just proclaimed myself “the football guy” and punted to the basketball guys, but felt I shouldn’t duck the questions that we all knew were coming. Hope the responses seemed mainly reasonable. And thanks, as always, to all who checked in and/or chatted.The sun is pretty likely to come up tomorrow, too. Life goes on. IU will have better basketball days ahead.