Live chat transcript: IU basketball’s final stretch, Purdue loss

QUESTION: MODERATOR: Good morning, and welcome to today’s IU sports chat. Thanks for being here.

How are you doing this cold, bitter cold, morning? Are you ready to get started?

JEREMY: Well, I’m cold and guessing most IU fans are bitter after the loss to Purdue, so I’ll bundle up while our readers vent. Let’s get to it.

MIKE: Good morning, everybody. I had a Diet Coke can explode all over the inside of my car last night, so that was a fun surprise to find this morning. Anyway, let’s chat.

ANDY: Cold and bitter. That doesn’t apply only to the weather this morning, methinks, after reading the IU fan boards on the internet last night. But, undaunted, we shall chat.

QUESTION: 1. Why did Fred Glass feel the need to single out the Field Hockey coach for poor performance and fire her? I’m not saying it wasn’t deserved but Softball, Volleyball, Golf and Wrestling have been just as bad for almost as prolonged a period of time and he hasn’t made a move there. Field Hockey has been awful for sure, but for consistency so have these other programs and if we fire one it seems all should go.

2. Did Blackmon really say IU’s plan was to guard the 3? Purdue’s one weakness is being unable to shoot 3’s and its not like IU defended it well. Purdue just missed open shots. I actually think PU is IU’s nightmare matchup but if this is the strategy Crean had and this is how it was executed maybe he’s not a smart coach and does need to go.

Mike, Seymour

JEREMY: Mike,

1. Technically, Amy Robertson’s contract was not renewed, so not a firing. That said, I don’t know what prompted the decision to make a change, but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a spurious decision.

I certainly agree that softball and volleyball have to be teetering on that same line now. With golf, I think the limitations of the course and facilities are going to prevent consistent top-level results, but there have certainly been some individual standouts along the way. Sort of the same with wrestling in terms of some strong individual performances in a league that features some of the best wrestlers in the nation.

2. To be entirely accurate, the quote by Blackmon was: “Really, we felt like we defended the 3 really well, which was our game plan.”

I thought it was kind of a curious quote as well, though it’s consistent with IU’s defensive philosophy of not over-helping, trying to stay with shooters, etc. The Hoosiers do rank sixth in 3-point field goal percentage defense vs. 14th and last in overall field goal percentage defense.

Still, I would think against Purdue you might want to work inside out defensively and focus on taking the inside game away. Outside of Mathias and Stephens, I think you take your chances with the Boilers shooting long jumpers or 3s. Purdue did fire up 18 3-point attempts, which would be way too many for my liking if I was Matt Painter, so maybe IU was somewhat successful in that regard and still couldn’t stop the inside game or the offensive rebounding (14 second-chance points).

MIKE: Hey Mike,

If IU field hockey’s struggles in recent years — 2009 not withstanding — weren’t enough, I’m sure Glass had his reasons. Either way, that’s a sport that is almost guaranteed to struggle at Indiana. It’s a sport that’s much more popular along the eastern seaboard and the IHSAA doesn’t sponsor it as a varsity sport. Not sure a coaching change really fixes those issues, so I’m sure Glass had a reason that was good enough for him to make the move.

Yes, Blackmon said that, but I don’t think he meant that was IU’s sole plan in stopping Purdue. I mean, it clearly wasn’t. Hanner Mosquera-Perea started for a reason and that was to get some length under the basket and stop some of the easy shots the Boilers had on Jan. 28. I do agree that Purdue is pretty close to IU’s nightmare matchup. Just looked at Big Ten tourney projections if the season ended today — IU would play winner of Rutgers/Nebraska on Thursday and then, if they beat either of those two teams, they’d get Purdue one more time on the Friday schedule of the tournament. Yikes.

ANDY: Mike:

1. Amy Robertson had coached at IU for 14 years. As you note, the program hadn’t done well in B1G competition but isn’t alone in that regard among IU’s 24 sports. So it might seem curious on its face, but what that really tells me is that Fred Glass must have had his reasons. He has never struck me as a guy who makes moves arbitrarily or without rationale. Are we ever going to know those reasons? Not necessarily. But as was the case with the men’s tennis coach, and in other situations where a move was made, there were likely some underlying factors in play. It’s always a delicate thing when it comes to personnel moves, and sometimes it simply comes down to personalities or a bad fit, but it isn’t very often that people in charge discuss reasons for moves. There is potential liability involved.

2. Didn’t really see or hear everything that was said after last night, but I’d hardly think that IU’s only defensive goal heading into last night was to defend the 3. Mosquera-Perea made his first start in a while, for one thing, and I doubt that was done with defending the perimeter in mind. I do agree that Purdue, as currently constituted, is a terrible matchup for Indiana, as currently constituted. I also think Purdue outplayed IU in both games, but having rim protectors that allow perimeter defenders to stay on their guys rather than help in the lane really helps Purdue guard Indiana on one end, and having scoring big men at the other end helps the Boilers procure points against Indiana.

QUESTION: Good morning,

I think it’s lazy to dismiss all of the Crean critics out of hand by saying they’re irrational fans.

For all the reasons people say IU can’t be successful in football, the opposite is true in basketball (e.g. recruiting grounds, facilities, attendance, tradition), so I don’t think it’s unfair by any means to have high expectations. Crean is in his 7th year, missed the NCAAs last year and looks to land a mediocre to poor seed this year. He’s been past the sweet sixteen once in his career.

Also, I don’t understand the argument that “given the roster” IU is performing well. Who put the roster together? How does a coach in his 7th year get a ‘pass’ on the roster?

What does Crean make now? 3 mil? I think the guy can take some criticism.

Thanks,

Tim

Tim, Chicag

JEREMY: Tim,

I think high expectations and some criticism are indeed fair. The trick is to find that thin line between high and unrealistic expectations, between criticism and whiny, personal vitriol.

With that in mind, I think the arguments you make about the roster and how it came together are fair points. I also think the case for mediocrity is also an interesting one, though there are differing definitions of that. And how does what happens the rest of the way this year impact that argument?

Indiana could go 3-1 in these last four games, win a game or two at the Big Ten Tournament, then win a game, maybe even reach the Sweet 16 and it would hard to criticize much about this season. On the other hand, things could go south, maybe even miss the NCAA Tournament altogether and things take a different look.

Simply put, no matter what kind of temper tantrum people want to throw, Tom Crean’s not going anywhere right now, so we’ll all just see what happens next, complete with accompanying expectations and criticisms.

MIKE: Hey Tim,

No doubt Crean deserves some criticism. I don’t think anyone here as intimated otherwise, though I think it’s the knee-jerk response to things that maybe causes some to get labeled irrational. That said, Indiana basketball fans should absolutely have high expectations. It’s just a matter, I think, of having a more balanced perspective when weighing the negatives with the positives.

On the roster, I do think this year’s team was supposed to look a little different, no? Devin Davis was going to be a big factor in the team’s plans — and if his trip to Montreal was any indication, he was certainly ready to take a step forward — and Luke Fischer was also supposed to be a guy IU could rely on for three or four years. We both know what happened in those respective cases. To speak more to your point, though, Crean almost completely whiffed on the 2012 class outside of Ferrell, so again, he’s not without criticism. Indiana is still very much in on Thomas Bryant’s recruitment, which could be as big a factor as any in how long of a leash Crean gives himself moving forward.

ANDY: Tim Tim:

Nobody is saying that Tom Crean isn’t open to criticism or that all of the criticism is irrational, though some of it surely is. Nor is it unfair for IU fans to have high expectations, though those expectations should obviously have been tempered during the early years of Crean’s tenure in Bloomington, with the major rebuild needed.

Regarding the current roster, sure, it’s a valid topic. But I don’t think this was necessarily the roster Crean had planned to compile, either. Luke Fischer took a powder. Noah Vonleh went pro. Devin Davis got hurt. Crean tried to recruit other big guys and finished second-best in a lot of cases. Some of the guys brought in late have promise (Holt), others haven’t shown it. All that is open to analysis and criticism.

Part of the issue regarding fans, particularly those that post on the internet, is the knee-jerk response to individual games or situations. And it is done in the context of today’s “attack culture” aided and abetted by anonymity on the internet, and by media outlets that love the page-hits and ratings stemming from extreme points of view. Much of it is essentially about immediate gratification or lack thereof, and therefore smacks of shallowness and immaturity. We have become a nation of anonymous scolds. That’s what draws objections from me at times.

Your critique of Crean is rational, and you provide some evidential basis for your criticism. I don’t think it is unfair, at all. It’s a valid perspective, if not the only perspective. It’s one side of the argument, succinctly summed-up. But it seems to me too many critics operate strictly in the short-term, with no ability to take the longer view, and too many think they know coaching when they don’t actually know squat, or think they know what is going on with the coaches and players when they actually have no earthly idea.

QUESTION: Not saying this will happen and I sure hope it doesnt and dont think it will, but how would program move forward if team were to lose out in Big Ten play and 1st round of Big Ten Tourney and NIT for an 18-15 record and 7 game losing streak to end season?

Frank , Indianapolis

JEREMY: Frank,

Well, that would probably set the internet on fire for starters. It’s hard to imagine that happens, but then again Indiana isn’t safely in the NCAA Tournament just yet. Still, I think the program would just move forward to next season without a coaching change, although any offseason incidents could become a tipping point.

Anyway, this seems like a question that might be a lot more or less relevant in a week, so let’s see where things stand then.

MIKE: Hey Frank,

Right now, all indications remain that Fred Glass really, really wants this to work out with Crean, so he won’t look to make any sort of quick trigger move if events play out as you describe. Don’t count it. All of that is very, very unlikely barring a significant injury to Yogi Ferrell or a total meltdown/collapse from within.

But to play along with your scenario, I’d bet that Crean would return next season, though that wouldn’t stop those near the top of the athletics food chain from exploring their options.

ANDY: Frank:

Way to paint it black. Mick and Keith would be proud.

Should that highly unlikely scenario come to pass, sure, it would throw a spanner into the works a bit. I still don’t sense it would necessarily prompt a move at the top, but it might well affect recruiting or whether some current players opt to stay with the program or just the program’s general ability to move forward. Fans would be in an uproar, no doubt, and people within the program wouldn’t exactly be sanguine, either. But I just think that’s all moot at this point, given the unlikeliness of it. It isn’t very likely IU would go 4-0, either, but that still seems more plausible than 0-4, given the matchups and locales of the remaining games. And at this juncture, it’s certainly still more likely IU is looking at a NCAA rather than NIT bid.

QUESTION: do you think any one will leave the team for lack of playing time ?

jack, martinsville

JEREMY: Jack,

That’s an interesting question. Obviously two people have to leave to make room for the oversigns, but whether that’s because of playing time or not, who knows? If I were to guess, I’d say yes, at least one, maybe two, leaves for more playing time.

MIKE: Hey Jack,

I think that’s absolutely a possibility. We know one thing is certain: at least two guys will be on their way out to make room for Morgan and Anunoby. For which reasons, I’m not sure. But there will be some turnover, no doubt.

ANDY: Jack:

There will be departures, for whatever reasons, because IU is already over-signed and is still looking to add to next season’s roster. And, sure, lack of playing time seems a potential factor, or at least is an indication, regarding who might leave. And just about every major program has players exit annually in this day and age.

QUESTION: 1. Can I Inject some logic into this debate about students showing up at Assembly Hall which comes up every year we are decent and not great. My thought is if you can show me that the season ticket holders on the waiting list would take those seats in the balcony than take away maybe one balcony from the students and sell them as season tickets to general public. Otherwise let students fill whatever seats they can up there. The reality is no one wants to sit up in the balconies and I’d rather have them in students hands that may or may not use them, then release them for single game sales where either they go unsold (most likely) or some get taken by opposing fans as could have happened against Purdue if they were available single game. It’s better to have all sellouts (yes Pete DiPrimio a game is a sellout when all tickets are sold even when you have a few no shows in balcony despite what you wrote on twitter that game was not sold out) and some no shows by students then re!

lease them for single game sales.

In terms of non-balcony, the seats are pretty close to full on the student side from my point of view this year and I’ve been to several games. Only change I would make is letting students move into GA from higher up if section unfilled for non-premium games. Otherwise despite sometimes poor student attendance I think the current method of how things are, is about as good as you are gonna do despite it being far from ideal.

2. In terms of game very disappointing loss since PU is biggest rival but if you take the names off the jerseys they are by far the worst match up for IU in Big Ten bar none. Their trick is because they have 2 7 footers who can single handily guard the paint, the other 4 guard defenders can focus on taking away the 3 as they did very nicely. Most teams have to use 2 guys to protect paint so eventually when IU has 4 shooters on floor you will find open man. Since PU could play man on man with IU’s shooters it forced them to pull up for much more contested looks or not take them as evidence by taking less 3’s than usual. All night it was a double edge sword. Either try to throw a shot up over Hammons or Haas or take a contested 3. Every other team you will eventually find an open look (I know IU missed a few open looks but the reality is they got a lot less than usual due to reasons mentioned above).

In bigger picture really really wish we won, but most important is to finish 3-1 down stretch however we can. All games are much better match ups than PU and we must find a way. Even Iowa who has Woodbury can’t single handedly defend the paint on his own the way Hammonds can which makes a huge difference and they also play 3 forwards so we can use that to our strength and try to out run them playing small.

Daren, Martinsville

JEREMY: Darren,

1. There’s a certain irony in your contribution of logic, but moving on I think you’re right about no one wanting to sit in the balcony seats. Of course, by the second half last night, it appeared just about every seat was filled despite a number of empty seats in the first half, so I don’t know if it’s just a matter of late-arriving crowds, a lot of standing in line at the concession stand or what. I don’t know if anything really needs done about the situation. I guess the thing that stood out last night is that the IU students were late-arriving and didn’t really bring the atmosphere until late in the game, while up at West Lafayette the student section was packed well before game time and the tone was set early and often. Basically, Purdue beat Indiana on the court and in the stands this year.

2. I would agree that Purdue is a really tough matchup for Indiana. The Hoosiers were consistently better with Perea on the floor, but he can’t play 40 minutes against Haas and Hammons. I still think IU can execute better than they did last night against Purdue, but the Boilers aren’t the best field goal percentage defense in Big Ten play without reason.

The rest of the schedule doesn’t feature a mismatch on that level, but I don’t at all think it’s easy. I expect both Rutgers and Northwestern to slow it down and grind on IU, while Iowa has probably the next best size to Purdue with Woodbury, White, Olaseni and Uthoff, and we all remember what happened to the Hoosiers in East Lansing.

MIKE: Hey Darren,

Pretty well-put regarding the student ticket debate. This is an area that is admittedly out of my bailiwick, but this is a topic — among others — that will be worth monitoring as renovations begin in the next year.

I agree with you. No need to overcomplicate this one. I thought it was a better effort than the one IU offered in West Lafayette last month, but many of the same issues were difficult to correct. Even with a healthy Perea, there are only so many options IU has against the twin 7-footers. Looking down the stretch, there are definitely better matchups on deck, though I can see Rutgers and Northwestern also trying to slow IU down and making it a halfcourt game. Iowa will be interesting with its collection of understated size, as will Michigan State if for no other reason that they absolutely waxed IU at the start of the league season. 3-1 should be the target and 2-2 won’t kill them either, though it would definitely be a disappointment given the way this schedule was set up. I think at this point, IU is just hoping it doesn’t matchup with Purdue in the conference tourney.

ANDY: Darren:

1. I agree with your take on this pretty much in its entirety. You make a number of valid observations and examine the range of topics germane to the issue thoroughly. I think you hit the salient points on the head. Well done.

2. I also agree here. Indiana just doesn’t match up with Purdue among the upper echelon B1G teams as well as it does, say, with Maryland or Ohio State. Wisconsin is perhaps the only other matchup that seems about as bad, and the Badgers are a pretty bad matchup for almost anybody. But Purdue is constituted exactly in a manner to cause this current IU club real (and not easy to resolve) problems. And as you note, a 3-1 finish from this juncture seems a lot better than 2-2 in terms of momentum and perspective, given the matchups and locales of the remaining regular-season games.

QUESTION: I thought both Indiana and Purdue played a tough, physical game. Is it inappropriate for an IU graduate and fan to be impressed with how Purdue played, especially how tough they were on defense against our strength–our guards? (My two Purdue grad sisters would be shocked to hear me ever say anything good about Purdue basketball.) But, I was impressed with Purdue’s composure, especially after Indiana regained the lead in the last 2 minutes of the game. Your thoughts?

weigarp, Matthews, NC

JEREMY: weigarp,

I don’t think it’s ever inappropriate to give an opponent credit for doing a job well, and a good fan/team ought to be able to say it is better for the experience. Purdue was tougher and more physical, not that Indiana didn’t try to match that, especially Perea, Hartman and even Stan Robinson battling in the post, but the Hoosiers didn’t bring the consistency to the fight necessary to win that game. And, yes, Purdue did well to keep its composure after Indiana took the lead, while the Hoosiers didn’t necessarily do a very good job of keeping their composure.

MIKE: Hey weigarp,

I thought Purdue was in for a long season after the early losses to Gardner Webb and North Florida, but they’ve done a fine job turning this year around. Matt Painter is worthy of Big Ten Coach of the Year consideration and the Boilers have obviously been the more deserving team in both matchups with IU. Frankly, I think last night probably was enough to get them off the bubble so long as they don’t go worse than 2-2 down the stretch. If they go 3-1, it’s a sure thing and the conversation is over.

I thought Octeus fouling out may have been the turning point when it happened with just under three minutes left. He did a really nice job of countering some of IU’s quickness and was able to get Purdue up and down the court at times when it needed to. Instead, the Boilers buckled in without him and preserved the win. Impressive game by Purdue all around and kudos to you, an IU fan, for seeing that and saying so.

ANDY: wiegarp:

Agree entirely. Purdue was the deserving victor, and deserving of credit from all onlookers, fair-minded IU fans included. The Boilermakers generally made the most of their favorable matchup situations (as noted by many, this PU team is a particularly tough matchup for this IU team, given the Boilermakers have two 7-footers who can score and rim-protect) and played with a steady determination and intelligence, maintaining an even emotional keel when the Hoosiers and the crowd tried to rally.

Matt Painter deserves kudos. His team has gotten its collective act together, has shown some real maturity. A Purdue veteran, Raphael Davis, twice made plays with the game on the line against an Indiana freshman, Robert Johnson. Davis might not have pulled that off earlier in his career, maybe even earlier this season. Johnson has had a fine freshman season, overall, and will continue to turn into a heck of a player for IU. But on this night, Purdue took advantage of its strengths and matchups to IU’s detriment. And the Hoosiers still had a shot in the air to win it at the end. So it isn’t quite the armageddon scenario some Hoosier fans might sense, in terms of their emotional reaction to being swept by a rival. And by all means, it is not out of line for Indiana fans to give due credit to a foe, even it it is That Other School Up North.

QUESTION: MODERATOR: That’s all the time we have for today’s chat. Thanks for joining us and stay warm out there. Follow IU sports on the Hoosier Scoop blog and app.

Thanks for your time, Andy, Mike and Jeremy. What’s on the IU sports beat this weekend?

JEREMY: We’ll have the usual follow-up stories from the loss to Purdue, then look ahead to Rutgers on Sunday � a trip Mike will make solo � while I’ll have the final home game of the season for the IU women’s basketball team Saturday against Nebraska. And there’s more IU baseball this weekend, too. We’ll have it all covered in some form or fashion. Thanks for joining us.

MIKE: Saturday afternoon is senior day for the IU women, and probably their last chance at a win before the conference tournament. I think Jeremy will have that one covered. Meanwhile, I’ll be working on an advance for the Rutgers game before catching an early-morning flight to Rutgers on Sunday with photojournalist extraordinaire Chris Howell. We’ll be busy, so stick with us. Thanks for checking in, everybody. See you next week.

ANDY: The men’s basketball road game Sunday at Rutgers takes on more importance now that IU has dropped one of the key stretch-drive games at home. The Hoosiers, presumably, will be hungry. But it is still a Big Ten road game, and it isn’t as if Rutgers didn’t challenge IU in the Hall. Mike will be on-hand to document the results.

Thanks, as always, to all who chatted and/or checked in.