Indiana can’t solve Wisconsin in 70-60 loss

WASHINGTON — A smirk crossed Nigel Hayes’ face as he watched Thomas Bryant stumble to the court midway through the second half.

It was that kind of night for the Hoosiers.

Bryant, Indiana’s sophomore center, tried to drive around Hayes, Wisconsin’s All-Big Ten senior, in the low post, but instead of beating his man to the basket, Bryant tripped over his own feet and fell. Wisconsin, as it so often does in this matchup, dictated what Indiana could and could not have on Friday night.

In a 70-60 loss to the Badgers in the Big Ten Tournament quarterfinals, the Hoosiers couldn’t command much.

Now, they return home to an uncertain future. A win over the Badgers could have returned them to the NCAA Tournament conversation. Instead, Indiana is left to wait on a potential National Invitation Tournament bid on Sunday, while rumors about the future of coach Tom Crean’s future in Bloomington continue to swirl.

After falling to the Badgers for the third time in as many tries this season — and for the 18th time in the last 20 meetings — the Hoosiers sat dispirited in their locker room, left to wait and wonder what’s to come of their future in the next 48 hours.

“We’re disappointed in the loss, definitely, but I don’t go back on what I said,” IU’s Juwan Morgan said. “I think we really are in our stride still. There’s a great basketball team in this team here and I feel like whatever tournament we get into, we’re definitely going to make something happen.”

Indiana (18-15) had an opportunity to do exactly that during its weekend stay in the nation’s capital. After throttling Iowa on Thursday with its best performance since January, IU couldn’t replicate that showing against the league’s top-rated defense.

Wisconsin struggled late in the season, dropping five of its final seven games as its offense stagnated and senior guard Bronson Koenig recovered from a calf injury. But on Friday, the Badgers looked once again like the program that has given the Hoosiers fits for years.

IU big men Thomas Bryant and De’Ron Davis combined to go 1-for-10 as they struggled to finish around the rim. But misses within five feet weren’t exclusive to those two.

It was also a team-wide problem that helped the Badgers create their initial separation late in the first half.

“You have to play through contact, OK?” Crean said. “When you’re going to play against a Wisconsin team, whether it was when Bo (Ryan) first came into the league, or whether it’s now, they’re going to put their chest into you. That’s what it is. … But we didn’t make those shots. It’s not the only time we’ve gone against contact. We didn’t make the shots, but we were right there. We were getting it in the paint. We also missed some jumpers we would make. I think we got a little frustrated because we didn’t make the close shots. It is what it is.”

Indiana went punch-for-punch with Wisconsin for the first 12 minutes of the night, with the lead changing six times. But the Badgers clamped down the rest of the half, then used an early second-half run to create the separation it needed to ride out the win.

The Hoosiers mounted resistance in the final three minutes of regulation, whittling what was at one time a 15-point deficit at the 8:14 mark to four points on a 3-pointer by James Blackmon with 1:21 to play. Bronson Koenig answered with a driving layup and Zak Showalter stripped the ball from Robert Johnson on the ensuing possession to help the Badgers take final control.

Koenig’s clutch runner with 48 seconds remaining capped a team-best 16-point performance for the Badgers, who placed five scorers in double figures.

Ethan Happ once again won the battle with IU’s bigs. Happ scored 16 points, while going 7-for-9 from the field. In three games this season, Happ has scored 53 points against IU and made 23 of his 30 shots from the floor.

James Blackmon Jr. paced Indiana with 17 points. Morgan added 14 points, Johnson scored 13 and Devonte Green posted 10 points off the bench.

After getting in front 20-16 at the 11:12 mark of the first period, Indiana managed only seven points the rest of the half. Wisconsin was only getting started — on both ends of the floor.

The Badgers’ defense was almost airtight, causing the Hoosiers to miss 10 shots — a maddening number of them within five feet — in the final 10 minutes of the half. On the other end, a 14-2 Wisconsin run late in the period helped the Badgers build their first-half lead to as many as nine points.

Wisconsin took a 33-27 lead into halftime, then used a 9-0 run early in the second half to extend its advantage to 14 points six minutes into the period.

Indiana continued to play catch-up the rest of the way, coming close — but ultimately not close enough.

“We missed a lot of shots that we’ve been making, especially around the bucket,” Crean said. “I know we got into the paint quite a bit, we just didn’t get as much out of there. But our guys didn’t flinch in the sense of coming back. We kept coming. Unfortunately, that last play Koenig made at the rim, that was an absolute dagger.”


  1. And that is how the Tom Crean era ends: a careless turnover.

    No Indiana fans anywhere to be seen. In all my years, I’ve never seen or experienced the apathy I’ve seen with the Indiana program this year. This is a breakup that needs to happen. Give Tom a fresh start somewhere else.

    The lack of national tv exposure will hit Indiana’s wallet a lot harder than his million dollar buyout. Embarrassing year.

    According to Chronic Hoosier on Twitter: Tom is 2-16 vs Wisconsin in his career at Indiana. Only 2 games above .500 in the Big Ten last 4 years.

    This is the very definition of mediocrity.

  2. I stayed with I.U. and that poser who coaches for the T.V. camera (like he did with James at the end of the first half) to the very end but I am so very, very, glad that this awful season ended tonight.

  3. Harvard, was that you in the Maryland pullover yelling, “You ruined the program!” at Crean?


  4. I certainly hope Fred Glass isn’t waiting to see how the Hoosiers do in the NIT.

    The very fact that we are discussing the NIT shows what a failure this year has been.

  5. 2-16 against Wisconsin. Is Crean the only man on earth that can’t see you don’t play street ball against Wisconsin? IU can’t find a guy to do better than 2-16 against Wisconsin? Wisconsin even has a newer coach. Didn’t bother to watch the pressers this time to hear the excuses…refs? Juniors? Injuries? Dwayne Wade? Tom Crean needs to open the escape hatch and bolt and IU needs to dig real deep in their pockets and hire a guy who can make a consistent winner out of this program. If Crean is back next year IU basketball will be the laughingstock of college hoops. If next year is a rebuilding year than what was this year? I would like to know how many teams with 2 McDonald’s all Americans missed the NCAA tournament and how many teams made it that didn’t have 2 McDonald’s all Americans. I’d love to know that. I really would. In 9 seasons our great recruiter of a coach has acquired talent he can’t coach.

    Fred Glass needs to put his money where his mouth is get this hire right. Crean took us from a ranked program to 6-25 and 9 years later (over two full recruiting classes) we can’t even make the NCAA tournament with 2 McDonald’s all Americans, but we are supposed to be happy because the guy won the big ten in one of the worst years in modern conference history.

  6. Hoosier Clarion says:
    May 1, 2014 at 11:01 am

    On Peegs there is a new 4:03 video of Tim Priller to view. I must say if this highlight tape has him playing against the tough Texas 5A class competition Geoff spoke about then Coach Crean has a future shooter/scorer big man. He shoots inside, outside, some mid-range and tip-ins without fear. He displays a proclivity for offense, no bashfulness to handle the ball, work the boards or pass. It is a highlight video almost exclusively of offense. Enjoy.

    Now that, my friends, is an expert.

  7. Listening to the post game comments; CTC hit the “nail on the head” with his observation of Bronson Koenig’s game vs ( at least) most of IU’s players this year. ” Koenig plays a game that doesn’t promote himself; he plays a game to win”..THAT statement says ALOT about CTC’s tenure at IU. He cant coach “team concept” if he could, the defense would show up EVERY game. As it is….Koenig is probably a higher draft number than TB. Get a coach that can communicate that when you play as a team (or players that understand TEAM CONCEPT)…you make yourself appear to have more value than the self promoting players that have occupied the IU bench in recent years.

  8. The lede to this story made me laugh. Because I was at work last night, I could only take cursory glances at the game. One of the plays I saw was Bryant making a brilliant spin move to the basket, then tripping over the baseline and falling out of bounds. After we looked relatively sharp against Iowa, I couldn’t help but think, “Those are the Hoosiers I know and love …”

  9. OK let this sink in. You’ve got a 6’10” 255 lb player that is being promoted as a NBA prospect ( he’s certainly no Robert Parish ). I realize he was only on the floor for 23 minutes and was being schooled all night by the Wisconsin players but he only had 4 field goal attempts the entire game. Are you kidding me? The sad part is he had more shot attempts than rebounds ( 3 ). The other IU 6’10” player at least had 6 field goal attempts in 15 minutes and also cleaned the glass with 3 boards. So the IU big men had a total of 10 field goal attempts and 6 rebounds the entire game. They had a combined 4 free throw attempts.
    Final score …. Wisconsin 15 assists, IU 7 assists. It appears there’s not a whole lot of coaching going on.

  10. Saw that there is a strong chance Indiana might face Kelvin Sampson/Devin Davis in the NIT.

    Battle for Hoosier Mediocrity Part One.

    Meanwhile, Mike Davis is dancing…

    1. Good for him. I hope they win their conference tournament game and don’t just get in the tournament because the winner can’t go. That’s a good way to end up in he play in game.

  11. Finally, almost everyone now knows it is time to start over. Hopefully, Glass does. This embarrassing season revealed how poor Crean truly is at basketball fundamentals and he has his team near the NCAA bottom in turnover ratio and defensive statistics. Add that to a disjointed offense scheme and an inability to make halftime adjustments, and you have a recipe for failure. Indiana fans deserve better and the time is here for a new hire that can inject enthusiasm back to the program and knows how to recruit and teach basketball fundamentals. This season has been very very difficult to watch and the only silver lining is that we may get a new coach.

  12. NIT games will begin either Tues March 14th or Wednesday March 15th. I U’s students will be on spring break March 12-19. If you ,plan to attend the game you might be able to hear an echo in a near empty Assembly Hall. Will there be free admission to the game , and free pizza and soft drinks to encourage some crowd noise?

  13. Yeah, but, seeding as of Sat morning has IU a #3 and Houston at #2. So it would be home game for Houston?

  14. as of an hour ago; Illinois fired John Groce……interest to IU are at least 2 names on THEIR “wish list”….Gregg Marshall and Tony Bennet

    1. I’ll bet they are.

      Bennett would have to get fired to leave Virginia for Illinois. Marshall just wouldn’t be interested.

      People frequently post that IU is no longer ‘elite’. Illinois never was.

  15. Illinois would be a bad move for every up and comer and be of no interest at all to a “biggie”. Hard to understand the Illinois image built by the performance of their collegiate athletic programs considering the rich recruiting fields of Chicago and to a lesser extent St. Louis both an area code away. They mined shallow for Groce and will have to prospect in the same talent fields for his replacement. Maybe they get lucky but they’ll have to be damned lucky to get much of an upgrade. I’ll bet Kelvin Sanctions would jump at the chance. There is a fellow at Ok. St., Brad Underwood in his 2nd HC gig IIRC. He is on the verge of up and coming as an under the radar talent/prospect. Really wouldn’t mind seeing him get an interview at IU.

  16. Clarion: Understand that the New AD hired Lovie Smith to head up the football program…name recognition is a big recruiting tool as well as conference. Basketball program has or had (depending on how many stay committed AND depending on which “service” you use ) the 11th (ESPN) or 12th (247) nationally ranked Bball class coming in for 2017. THAT maybe the drawing card for getting their “wish list” coach

  17. There is plenty of high school talent in Illinois just like Indiana. If you can get those kids it’s a good job…look at Bill Selfs roster at Illinois. There is probably more talent in Illinois than Indiana consistently.

    Groce was on the upswing. He spent the last five years building for this top 25 class and now he doesn’t get a chance to coach them. This is a bad move by Illinois. They should of given Groce the chance to coach these kids for one year. Now those kids will probably get out of their letters of intent and it will push Illinois further back. Let that top 25 class come and play and then if you fire Groce they will have to decide if they want to sit out a year to transfer. Bad bad move.
    Crean has no upside unless his class is filled with oladipos and annunobys. That’s the difference. Illinois might of killed the momentum. 5 years for Groce isn’t much time to rebuild.

    Now it’s ok for Illinois to fire Groce after just 5 years but Indiana fans are just crazy for wanting Crean gone after 9?

  18. TJ, UNDERSTAND Lovie is a lower rung than aimed for. Yes he may help a bit in recruiting(after all he was not a hot commodity in the Windy)but he is not Strahan in name recognition. Whitman settled for LS because he could not attract an “up and comer” or a “biggie”. As Ben just alluded to above, after defections take place in Groce’s good recruiting class Whitman will find himself in a weakened situation and have to travel in a similar direction for BB as FB. It is simply the cards he holds available in Champaign from which he can be dealt. Even Whitman himself was a much less desired target for AD as all priorities above him wanted no part of the U of I. I’ll stand by my post above, Champaign is not a place many will seek.

  19. TJ, Lovie seems like a nice guy and he has name recognition from his three successful seasons (out of eleven) in the NFL. He strikes me as a guy such as CKW, a good coordinator. His record speaks for itself.

    Ben_M, it’s not even close. As far as high school basketball talent in Illinois compared to Indiana, for the most recent year I could find the statistics, 2015, while Illinois was ranked 4th in former high school players playing for top 25 programs they had slightly more than half as many players in that category as Indiana, which was ranked second behind California. That’s quite remarkable as Illinois has twice the population of Indiana. Illinois is still a good recruiting area. It’s just not THAT good.

    I’ve never been to Rutgers but I know that Illinois easily has the ugliest campus of the remaining Big Ten schools. It’s an urban campus in an unattractive city. They have little history and an apathetic fan base.

    Illinois has little to offer a highly qualified coach in either major revenue sport except money.

  20. Mike Miller and Jeremy Price aside, I find it a little disconcerting that so many writers who follow Indiana seem to not understand how the fans are feeling. There’s almost this dismissive “Indiana fans are delusional” mindset. It’s really insulting. How low does a coach have to perform where it is ok to make a coaching change.

    JP got it right the other day. There’s always been the people who hated Crean since day one. I’m sure there’s a dude sitting in his suspenders in the middle of North Carolina cursing Coach K. But, I think the majority of Indiana fans have decided that this isn’t the type of program we want. The instability, the sloppiness year in and year out, joke scheduling and inconsistent results.

    Coaching personalities aside, I’d think that if you have a top twenty budget for salary and recruiting, missing the tournament multiple times, and only 2 games over .500 in big ten the last 5 years is the very definition of mediocrity.

    It’s ok to make an argument to retain the coach, but just like our resident name caller here, I rarely see any arguments that aren’t dismissive towards those who vote these results as unacceptable.

    So fine, I embrace your hate. I don’t like losing. I believe trophies should be earned. I refuse to believe the falsehood that Indiana basketball is some Botoxed, middle-aged, six that needs to accept being average. Indiana was greatness, and can be again.

  21. I didn’t know Tom Crean at ‘day one.’

    I had never heard of the man.

    On day two I was skeptical.

    Had nothing to do with ‘hate.’

    By day 30 it was pretty obvious that the man was a born hypocrite.

    Do I hate Donald Trump? Nope. Do I know he’s a fraud and a hypocrite? Yup.

  22. Let the Money flow! (including perks)…only almost all could only dream about!
    For some in different shapes, sizes, and colors: Insanity pouring rain in floods of cash, just getting paid in floods for simply breathing.

  23. We’re not an NCAA bubble team. We’re not “the most dangerous team in the country,” Dan Dakich. For all intents and purposes, the season of massive collapse is over.

    And if Crean was going to be fired, it would have happened by now.

    Hate to say I told you so. There is no better job security than hiring your boss.

    I will root for Michigan, ND, Vanderbilt, and Northwestern. This would be known as my upper Midwest bias(Minus the two I despise: MSU & Wisconsin). Vanderbilt is on my Fab Four because of Bryce Drew(Valpo).

    Michigan and ND both have shots at going very deep into the tournament.

  24. Sports media milking Michigan runway drama incident for all its worth. Yes, Walton had 5 stitches seems to be the most serious someone was hurt. Yes, it was scary beyond that, however keep it in perspective. It is a story, but not that great of story.

  25. Congrats to both UM and Wisky. It was fun watching two teams play basketball who seemed to have some idea how it is played.

    I wonder what it would be like to see IU play with sound fundamentals? Haven’t seen that in quite some time.

  26. All the years the big ten tournament has been around (since 1998) I would have bet IU would have at least one championship. I would have lost all my money in my wallet. Just once a runner up. Tired of Wisky, Mich, MSU, carrying the big ten banner. Now, Purdue, Northwestern, Minnesota, Maryland and the likes is catching up and passing the glory of old IU.

  27. You are correct again, Chet.

    No basketball fundamentals to be found in the cream and crimson over the last 9 years.

    Hoosier fans simply fund the mentals.

  28. T, I U ‘s problem is IU’s glory is old. Harvard, if Glass waits and CTC leaves on his own, the athletic department has $4 million dollars for a down payment on a top level coach. I hope the AD has heard and recognized the fan’s call out for replacing CTC. While standing in the Seymour regional ticket line for regional final and I asked fans if they were IU fans, and if there needs to be a coaching change and everyone I asked, had of strong “yes” as their reply. The New Albany player will be a senior next year, is an exceptional player, and the only way for a chance for IU to sign him, will be the hiring by IU of an exceptional basketball coach.

  29. I feel Wichita State Shockers should have been a 6 and no worse than 7 seed. (based on weak Valley conference, losing early out of conference games, but have good past tournament track record) If they can beat Dayton Flyers. I think they match up with KY well even though it would definitely be an upset.

  30. Following Indiana HS Regional tourney. Lot of ‘this kid’ signed with Iowa, another Northwestern, another UCLA and one to Louisville.

    NCAA selection show. Lot of ‘it’s been a 10 years wait’ or ‘it’s been 70 yrs’ and ’10th straight tourney appearance’ and so on. Thought it might be appropriate for them to have a ‘moment of silence’ for IU.

  31. I believe CTC will resign.

    Here is my rationale. He obviously has a soft spot to land, Missouri. They had a few good years under Norm Stewart so basketball can be successful there. Unlike during Stewart’s tenure they now play in the perennially horrific SEC where having five players with uniforms usually will get you second place. So, the bar is pretty darned low.

    Mizzou will likely match his salary…and maybe his buyout, as well.

    Also, if he jumps right now he will have an entire off season to recruit. If the Hoosiers keep him on the payroll until June he will be well behind. Of course, that will also provide excuses for lack of success starting out. That could go either way.

    IU doesn’t want him and he has demonstrated what he can do with a ton of talent…not much.

    Mizzou is a good fit. Low expectations. A laughable basketball conference. Good money.

    I say he takes it.

    1. I think IU has talent and I think IU needs a coach. I disagree that IU has a ton of talent. It seems that each IU player lacks certain skills that make him a really compete player. This goes for all of them. Most of them lack multiple skills. Now, with the right head coach the situation could improve or players could leave.

      1. I didn’t IU ‘has’ a ton of talent, though they have a lot. I said we’ve seen what he can do ‘with’ talent. The so called experts looked at our roster a few years ago and anointed us the best team in the country. It turned out we were one of the 16 best teams in the country though we had two of the four best players.

        What we have now is a petri dish of athletes playing basketball. There are still four to five guys out there, maybe more, who have a real good shot at the NBA at some point. There are maybe six or seven teams in the country that can say that.

        The rest of them will be playing later this week.

  32. I know this is a sign of the current times and players have this as a goal from almost any team. However, it has really become a sickness rather than a goal at IU that has really negatively impacted IU basketball culture. The IU sickness is to play in the NBA and forgetting to play IU college basketball.

  33. t- Couldn’t agree more with your last statement. We’ve become a sort of NBA testing ground for a handful of “upside” guys who are still very low on b-ball IQ/fundamentals. Crean gets to feed his resume as a coach who can develop under-the-radar phenoms. The phenoms get to use the marvelous stage of IU to showcase their growing potential in front of ESPN and Big Ten Network audiences.

    I honestly don’t believe many care one way or another about doing something magnificent for the school/team/IU family.

    It’s great to have dreams to get to the top echelon of your sport ….but not at the expense of totally using/abusing those trusting your integrity as it relates to the opportunity that a place like Indiana can provide.

  34. Even the fans and media have become a brainwashed part of this IU culture of sickness. A player goes out and has a few good games by making a few scoring special plays, gets a few rebounds, hits a couple 3’s, IU wins a couple games. Next day, immediately media and fans start talking about if this or that player is coming back next season or going to NBA. And by actions of players on the court they have this same sickness. Never mind if their play becomes really deficient, player gets injured, and IU puts together a string of loses because of deficiency in each player. Everyone just gets stuck on that short period of time that a particular player played well and ignores the fact that he digressed into a player that is not a good player now let alone not good enough for the NBA. The sickness issue the IU basketball culture has lost perspective on this and has put itself at the mercy of players who think they are better than what they are regardless of how bad they play. IU basketball program needs to redefine itself and reset program while it still can be salvaged from its mediocrity or fall even farther from grace. Though IU players think they are trying to play hard and say the right things, as compared to other teams players I for one do not see it.

    1. Could be worse. At least Grayson Allen doesn’t wear the candystripes. Nothing is worth having a punk like him wearing your school colors.

  35. t- Agree with some reservations. I don’t think there is a shortage of effort. I don’t think that’s the major reason for the highs and lows.

    Crean’s teams simply lack sustained focus and the swagger of embodying, rather than merely selling/acting, a collective maturity of being there before.

    I’m really not sure of the root cause. I don’t think it can be solely attributed to the “sickness” of buying into the NBA distractions, talk of readiness for Draft, or the ego-feeding of fans/coaches/friends into certain guys’ mindsets who are sold as more talented than they truly are.

    I still come back to the classroom on the hardwood. The genuineness of the teachings on the classroom known as McCracken is where I tend to think the true chemistry and collective belief build its sturdy roots.
    Maturing as a team is part of the “buying in” process we have often heard referenced of late. Not sure how you make that cocktail, but it just never appears to be in our mix.

  36. I think it is a combination of all of it. That is where a coach has to take charge and let it be known that perspective is not going to be lost on his watch. However, this coach does not have perspective nor a plan nor teaching that players truly buy into. That is why there have been on court bad play and off court issues during this coach’s tenure. The effort and energy from players is often unfocused and wasted with negative results. Situation is frustrating for them all.

  37. And many of the very very top blue chip recruits stay away. IU continually loses the desired recruit (especially from Indiana) IU goes after to another program and takes a second or third choice.

  38. T….Your comment about teaching IS fundamental to the success of IU and those players that come here. I am reminded of the “Father of Modern hitting theory” Charlie Lau ..a journeyman catcher that was never a quality starting catcher but took his observations and instructed George Brett and Wade Boggs on hitting. What drew kids to IU in Knights early years were his teaching and then seeing them operate as a fine tune machine because of that ,…..Mike Brey at ND is one like that. Find a “teacher” to be the coach and the players will return.

  39. Grayson Allen, a 12 year old delinquent in a man’s body. Talk about the definition of contrast; RMK actions handling this player’s discipline vs. K’s actions.

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