The Morning After: Northeastern, or, Serenity Now

  • 12/23/2008 10:28 am in

At this point in IU’s young, ugly rebuilding year, I feel confident in a few assertions:

IU is not a very good basketball team.

IU is not going to be a very good basketball team.

IU is not even a decent basketball team.

IU is probably — probably — not going to be a decent basketball team.

Tom Crean is a God.

That’s about all I have at this point. Last night, watching the game with Ryan, I was trying to think of how I could write The Morning After about a game so poor, a team so painful to watch, that didn’t repeat itself so much. There are only so many ways R and Alex and I can come up with to say “IU is not very good. Tom Pritchard is solid. The Hoosiers turn the ball over too much.”

This is what happens every single game. Tom Pritchard rebounds well and finishes around the hoop and proves that he would be a pretty good four on a team with an athletic five and some skill at the guard position, which IU doesn’t have. Pritchard is not a star or a shoulderer of heavy loads the way D.J. White was; Pritchard is a complementary player that could be awfully good if he didn’t have to anchor a team with zero size and athletic ability.

As for the team itself, turnovers. My God, the turnovers. Some of them come at such strange times, don’t they? Like, Daniel Moore will be catching an outlet pass and it will go too far ahead of him, and he’ll wildly throw it back even though there are no defenders around him; or Kyle Taber will back into the post, think better of it, and try to hit an open shooter for three but will just inexplicably miss wildly. These aren’t fast-break turnovers. It’s elementary stuff, and they’re things IU has to — has to — clean up if they want to be even nominally competitive the rest of the way.

I’ll be honest. This is sort of depressing. Losing that badly to Kentucky, then turning around and losing to Northeastern at home. These are the times that try Indiana basketball fans’ souls. Which is why Tom Crean is so impressive to me. He hasn’t said word one in complaint about the talent he has this year, hasn’t once even hinted — not even in body language or tone or any of the other mechanisms Tim Roth uses to detect liars in that new show on Fox — that he’s exasperated with this team, even though he has to be. I am. And I’m not around all the time. I’m not responsible for trying to make a ragtag group of freshman and transfers and castoffs into something that doesn’t utterly depress everyone.

He seems to be taking it much better than I am.

But, of course, the reminder, which I’ll probably have to start chanting to myself: This is basketball. Like pizza and sex, even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good. Good thing … because this basketball is really, really bad.

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  • ChicagoHoosier

    I think its finally setting in just how far back the Sampson mess has put us. How do we stay competitive against Gonzaga then play like dogs against Corntucky and NE? Thank goodness the Bears won.

  • JerryCT

    Yes its depressing but maybe you expected too much. I agree with everything you said especially about Crean. I am looking forward to Iowa game where we can get another chance to see if we are any better.

    Again, I think we can improve shooting % in all phases. I think perhaps our defense can improve except for pressure at the point of attack.

    I donot see us making a major improvement in man defense, rebounding, TO's . Why ? Right now we are too young, too short , too soft and too slow……..not easy to fix.

    Our guys need some love however to keep on getting after it.

  • JerryCT

    BTW I think Rivers would have made a huge difference this year and I have really high hopes for him next year

  • Why do people keep saying Rivers is going to make such a big difference?

    Has anyone looked at his numbers from last year at Georgetown?

    In 19 minutes a game last year, he averaged 2.6 points, 2.4 rebounds and 1 assist. He shot 32 percent from the field and 54 percent from the foul line.

    Just playing devil's advocate here, but what about that screams “he's going to make a big difference.”

  • Ryan_T

    Georgetown is a completely different team, different style. Guards who feed big men the ball–a very slow styled offense. Crean's style of offense is guard heavy & run and gun. You have to realize he transferred BECAUSE he felt as though he did not fit the mold there with John Thompson, hence the poor stats during his time there, so I feel as though its unfair to attribute Rivers' potential success with IU to his statistics at a school that did not fit his playing style.

    If you went to Hoosier Hysteria, anyone could see that Rivers was one of the few players (if not the only player) that looked confident in his skills, and actually looked like a genuine basketball player at the Big 10 level.

    In that being said, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Rivers will be a huge help next year. Not only does he have demonstrable Div 1 Big East experience at a premier basketball school at Georgetown, but he also will have spent the ENTIRE year this season getting to know IU's system inside and out by acting as a player/coach, so he'll know his role right away and what it takes to be a leader.

  • Ryan_T

    Georgetown is a completely different team, different style. Guards who feed big men the ball–a very slow styled offense. Crean's style of offense is guard heavy & run and gun. You have to realize he transferred BECAUSE he felt as though he did not fit the mold there with John Thompson, hence the poor stats during his time there, so I feel as though its unfair to attribute Rivers' potential success with IU to his statistics at a school that did not fit his playing style.

    If you went to Hoosier Hysteria, anyone could see that Rivers was one of the few players (if not the only player) that looked confident in his skills, and actually looked like a genuine basketball player at the Big 10 level.

    In that being said, there's absolutely no doubt in my mind that Rivers will be a huge help next year. Not only does he have demonstrable Div 1 Big East experience at a premier basketball school at Georgetown, but he also will have spent the ENTIRE year this season getting to know IU's system inside and out by acting as a player/coach, so he'll know his role right away and what it takes to be a leader.

  • It seems to me he left because he knew he'd be on the bench behind Austin Freeman and Chris Wright, not because of Georgetown's offense.

  • Sallad

    Serenity now, sanity later.

    Missed the game last night, was dismayed to wake up to the score this morning. Makes me wonder if the students had been there if the result would have been any different. It's obvious that this young team really feeds off of the crowd's excitement.

  • Rivers will make a difference due to the fact that he has experience at a major D1 school. That would go a long way this year. His stats just don't matter. He will be able to handle the ball and play good on the ball defense. Pritchard is solid. Once he has some help in the paint with new recruits, four of them being 6-7 – 7-0, he will be more affective espeacially with his ability pass in the paint.

    The bottom line is we have to stay positive. We have to fully support this team and Coach Crean. Negative publicity isn't going to help our future. We have a great recruiting class comming in next year. The added size and talent will do wonders for IU. I think our biggest factor this year is that there hasn't been one guy that has really blossomed into a go to guy. We've always had a recruit that wasn't highly touted that emerged as a prolific scorer. This team doesn't have any upperclassmen to help these young players learn the ropes of major D1 basketball. I was at the game last night and these guys are young. They look like a highschool team out there because they are a highschool team.

    Lets all stay positive, we knew this year was going to be rough, but our future is as bright as our fan base support.
    GO HOOSIERS!

  • Kelin Blab

    A-

    I think there is something to be said for style of play and system and if the kid didn't think G'Towns system didn't fit well with what he wanted to be in, I can see him playing a major roll next year and settling one of the guard positions.

  • JerryCT

    Alex- You ask a fair question . Living here in B-East country I have seen him play many many times. Your stats donot show what you are missing by not seeing him play.

    1. Defense – 6'4″ defender on the ball. No stats show this effectiveness. You would have to count Pts scored by other team's guards while in the game
    This makes a difference becasue we have no one who can stop the point of attack eg Teague at Wake, Jackson at ND , Pargo , Allen and Bataille last night etc

    2. Low TO's/minute – no more needs to be said about how that helps us. His passing is crisp compared to our guys softness ( except Story )

    3. Experience – he has been in wars on the court and never cost Gtwn anything by being in the game. In fact his typical substitution pattern was to play with a more defensive lineup w/o the scorers. He has never been a big scorer even in HS . Therefore one would expect these stats from a player whose role was to defend within a defensive lineup

    4. Intangible – He is a leader . This makes a difference on and off the floor

    Right now I would really really settle for 1/2 the TO's, 1/2 the points and assists from the opposing guards, and about 10pts/g, 5 assists, 5 rebounds in 33 minutes. All feasible with him . No one this year or next year is as ready to do this

  • iu bulls

    Completely agree..it is quite depressing but Crean is solid.

    I wonder how many people are going to complain to E about this post, calling this site negative??!?

  • RD21

    I completely agree….this is depressing but Crean has been solid through it all. All these players are getting good experience which is a positive that you can look at.

    How many homers are going to complain to E that this site is too negative again?!?!

  • Anonymous

    It appears that IU usuallly will come out early and play competetive basketball against most of their opponents and then their the intensity or discipline falls off.

    Turnovers seem to be be a consistent problem. I am not sure I agree with the consensus here that minimizing TO’s cannot be improved upon.

    TO’s are generally a result of ball handling skills and a sense of court awareness and player positioning. Why can’t improvement be accomplished with practice once the cause is identified?

    I am not sure how to address the team’s tendency to play well early and then the loss of focus or discipline as the game progresses.

  • BGleas

    Exactly JerryCT

  • JerryCT

    Rivers was already on the bench behind Sapp and Freeman last year but his min/gm were greater than Wright. There is a reason he played 18min/gm on a team w 4 good guards.

    It is clear that he would have shared PT with Sapp, Wright, Freeman and maybe CLark and only Sapp is a SR.

    So while I agree he probably left to better showcase his talent for 2 years you make it sound like he would ride the bench due to not good enough to play. That was not true last year and would not have been true this year.

    Stare at his ONE turnover a game for awhile and think about our team this year. How much would that be worth ? Add to that tough defense at the point. How much is that worth ?

    Then you got your answer. Thanks for the question . I now feel much better about next year

  • mamalickaboobooday

    There was a great article by Seth Davis this morning where he mentioned how Tyreke Evans is not that good b/c he never developed as a player due to the fact that all he did was play AAU ball. Hopefully Crean will recruit players who are fundemental and have an upside…then it all comes down to coaching. As we have seen with the past 2 coaches (Davis, Sampson), the player regress. I am looking forward to seeing a fundementally sound IU team in the years to come. Good luck to Crean

  • cooper

    If he can dribble up the court and pass to some one in uniform I'll be impressed. At this point I really don't see us being competitive in a Big 10 road game. There is always the chance a team lays an egg but I doubt it. Teams that suck in the B10 will love having a chance to blow us out and the good teams will blow us out regardless of how they play. I watched part of this game over again due to loud family in the house. Two things stood out, that continue to stand out

    1) I don't know if I would trust one person with my life to dribble the ball from baseline to basline. VJ can't dribble, Dumes can't dribble well, Moore is spastic and if he gets it up court ends up throwing it away. VJ and Dumes should spend every practice dribbling because Dumes could be decent if he had a handle. I think VJ should red shirt next year and spend the year dribbling and getting better.
    2) we can barely jump above the rim on rebounds. from a standing position under the basket jumping for rebounds its amazing how little our players can jump. off season needs to be spent on some explosive movement for Pritchard.

  • Harvo

    I must say i’m a little bit dismayed. I knew we wouldn’t be a real good team this year, but my gosh they haven’t improved a bit. Why do they pass up so many 10 to 15 ft. open shots and end up either throwing the ball away or taking a contested 23 footer with the shot clock running out? Where was Tijan last night?

  • jjwires

    Last night on TBTN they aired the 1981 NCAA final. It was really great to see how the game was played back then. There were no shot clocks, no three point baskets, just good old defense and offense. Maybe Crean needs to bring in more of the old school players in for a visit and boost the confidence of his young pups! It will take time, but anybody have ideas on what the fan base could do to cheer up these guys? It has to be hard on them each game.

  • Anonymous

    Hope these young newbie basketball players can tough it out this season. I can’t imagine how they feel after each loss. We just have to keep supporting them. Think a cheer up card is in order loaded with lots of prayers? I honestly don’t know how Crean can be so upbeat and positive all the time. He certainly is animated isn’t he?

    Last night on TBTN they ran the 1981 NCAA campionship game. That was when basketball was really basketball, no shot clock, no three point baskets, Carolina four corner offense, etc. It will take a long time to undo the Samson mess, but yes, we will get back to our traditional IN. hoops.

  • NC Fat Boy

    While Rivers may possess defensive prowess, however, this team needs offensive help. While his turnover rate may help offensively by preserving more offensive possessions. We still need some offensive consistency. Story, Williams, Jones, Roth, any of them could become that help.

    I am hopeful that well see these guys develop skills offensively and defensively this year. I would also hope that as the year goes on, we'll see some offensive consistency develop.

  • NC Fat Boy

    I think this was the first game where it's difficult to identify improvements. I think there has been improvement game to game, with the exception of this game.

    While each game has had it's improvements and regressions, I think overall it's been a progression. I expect games in which there was/is little improvement, no improvement or even regression and remain confident continued improvement will be the norm. I suspect we will see at least one or two horrifying games in the conference season.

    Brace yourself for them. I suspect one will be Purdue and it's likely Illinois will be up to crush us. Michigan State, Michigan and Ohio State have shown they are capable of high caliber play and could lay a severe beating on us.

    While there will be setbacks, these guys have shown they will continue to work hard.

    To me, reducing the turnover rate is something that can be coached (during a game) with an experienced team. This team's turnover rate is simply a factor of inexperience and reducing the turnover is a product of teaching, not coaching. As Coach teaches (in practice) these players through the season, and they learn and mature, we should see the turnover rate drop. It's going to take patience.

    Who else is playing this many freshmen this many minutes? It makes sense we're the fifth worse team for turnovers.

    Did you see the stats on the freshmen displayed during the game? I don't recall what they all were (one was points or minutes/game which I think we were first), and the others we were 2nd and there were at least 4 or 5 stats. That either means we've got some great freshmen or we're playing alot of freshmen alot of minutes.

    I thought we were going to see something from Daniel Moore in this game. He started out well, driving and dishing, a layup, a three pointer. Then when the 3-2 zone came in, we had no offense. You can bet they're practicing againse a 3-2 in practice this week.

  • JerryCT

    A little analogy might be helpful to keep disucssions of winning & losing in perspective

    In power boating you start at A and you drive like hell to B. Being at B is the goal

    In sailing you are at A but the sport is the “process” of getting to B that is the enjoyment or goal.

    Most of us recognized before the season that this year was going to be measured as a journey or process and not as to whether we are at point B yet. Controlling our “power boat” instincts is difficult to be sure.

    I actually believe this year is good for Crean and staff as it helps them sharpen coaching skills.

    Noticing improvement in our teamplay will be difficult because I think improvement will be very subtle. Look for new stuff like:

    1. we get an open shot in the half court offense, and we take it w/o hesitation ( forget if it goes in )
    2. we donot back down or quit
    3. play to win vs play not to lose, ie we take some risks to win
    4. new defenses like half court traps or zones ( forget if it works )
    5. new player skills like:
    – Roth fakes a 3 , drives and pulls up for a mid range
    – Williams and Story drive to the basket hard
    – Pritchard uses his right hand to score , or does not foul out in B10 play
    – Dumas runs the point
    – Jones knocks someone else down
    6. team makes grades and no one throws a potted plant at Crean

    what else ? ……….we are not used to measuring the journey

  • Ryan_T

    Attend home games.

    Cheer.

  • Anonymous

    None of this should be a suprise. We’re the same as a first year program,starting from Scratch. I give a complete pass to Crean this season. Yes I want improved FT shooting, fewer turn-overs, better rebounding, a few B10 wins etc. I expect them to improve as the year goes on, but this is NOT representative of IU or Crean, it is a cobbled together mess that couldn’t be avoided based on the circumstances. It’s unlikely that any of this year’s team will start in 2 yrs. They appear to be giving it a great effort but are not equipped to compete at a major D1 level. I don’t like it but I’ve accepted it. Rehashing ‘they suck’ is like harassing a 3 year old for not understanding Algebra. they CAN’T do it. They can/should compete every game and strive to get better- but if you’re shocked this IU team is not good- or even decent- you’re just not paying attention. Relax and enjoy the process of rebuilding- will make the return to glory that much sweeter.

  • Kelin Blab

    I think Rivers stabalizes our team next year with Creek and Wateford coming in to help out in the scoring, he will be big help.

    Would anyone be pissed or upset if Rivers little bro decommitts on his verbal to Florida and heads to IU? mmmm do we want to deal with that again, but geez the kid scored 46 the other night with 8 3's

  • Kelin Blab

    Maybe these will make you feel better….video clips of Mo Creek, Bobby C, and Wateford

    http://insider.espn.go.com/ncb/recruiting/track

    http://insider.espn.go.com/ncb/recruiting/track

    http://insider.espn.go.com/ncb/recruiting/track

  • MPmike

    I think Devon Dumes could be that go-to-guy. He just needs to have a little more confidence that will come whenever he gets a break out game in the Big Ten.

  • MPmike

    I think Devon Dumes could be that go-to-guy. He just needs to have a little more confidence that will come whenever he gets a break out game in the Big Ten.

  • generalfan89

    i gotta few ideas on how to win games:
    1. do not let dumes and jones handle the ball. in jones first min of the game he had 4 straight turnovers. along side him dumes gave it away about 3 times. accounting for almost half the turnovers for the whole team.
    2. bring roth off screens to give him open looks rather than giving it to him with the clock running down at mid court. he is a good shooter and shooters need to shoot.
    3. block out!!! we give too many second chance points.
    4. hit free throws. its 15 feet away and you are wide open there is no excuse to be less than a 80% free throw shooter.

  • woodpecker

    exactly, I really cant believe all of the complaining going on. everyone knew this would be a long…. long ….. long …. season.

  • generalfan89

    i gotta few ideas on how to win games:
    1. do not let dumes and jones handle the ball. in jones first min of the game he had 4 straight turnovers. along side him dumes gave it away about 3 times. accounting for almost half the turnovers for the whole team.
    2. bring roth off screens to give him open looks rather than giving it to him with the clock running down at mid court. he is a good shooter and shooters need to shoot.
    3. block out!!! we give too many second chance points.
    4. hit free throws. its 15 feet away and you are wide open there is no excuse to be less than a 80% free throw shooter.

  • woodpecker

    exactly, I really cant believe all of the complaining going on. everyone knew this would be a long…. long ….. long …. season.