After having a day to listen to the various interviews after Indiana’s season-ending loss on Thursday to Northwestern in the Big Ten Tournament, I came across one particular question and answer that I felt worthy of our attention.
The question came from Indianapolis Star columnist Bob Kravitz, who asked the final question in Tom Crean’s postgame presser. Kravitz asked Crean to address the need for some big guys in the program and received this lengthy response:
“I think we have a lot of needs, Bob. And I think we’ve gotta develop the bigs that we have. We’ve got a very tough situation right now in the sense, if people have followed our program at all, which I know that you have, we had to get a team on the floor before we could build a program. That was last year. Then we were able to recruit guys that we wanted to, that we had a chance to develop relationships with. We’re very bottom heavy and we have to have a balancing act right now between what do we need to do in the short term versus how are we not going to have to start over again when these guys get older.”
“In the purest sense of your question, there’s no doubt we’re trying to address that in a big way. They’ve all gotta get stronger, bigger, better, more athletic that we have in the program. We’ve gotta continue to address that. But I look at our team and we also need somebody that’s better at getting in the lane. We need somebody that can get in the lane and create havoc, that can get into that paint and make decisions to get the ball to shooters. Our team will look different when you add the spacing element into it that Matt Roth and Maurice Creek bring. Obviously Maurice was our best guy at being able to absolutely get in the lane and make a play and make a good decision with it, but we’re not anywhere close to being done recruiting. And that’ll pick up again tomorrow in a big way. We’re going to address it. We have been and at the same time I have to sit here and look ahead into the future and figure out okay, how are we going to have to not do this again. That’s what’s hard because there’s a lot of good young players that we’re recruiting that we want and we’ve gotta make sure that we get those and we’ve gotta make sure we have the ability to sign them when they’re ready to come.”
A quick glance at the scholarship numbers page shows that the 2013 graduating class is likely the one being referenced as “bottom heavy,” with six grants being allocated to that group. (And technically, it’s now seven if Matt Roth is included.)
The concern, which Crean directly addressed, is having scholarships available to sign the plethora of players targeted in the 2011 and 2012 classes. The Hoosiers have offered scholarships to several players in both classes, including (but certainly not limited to), Cody Zeller, Marquis Teague, Jeremiah Davis, Marshall Plumlee, D’Vauntes Smith-Rivera, Hanner Perea, Peter Jurkin, Ron Patterson, Jeremy Hollowell, Yogi Ferrell, A.J. Hammons and Kenny Kaminski.
What’s not clear, however, is how exactly this balancing act will play out. For now, it’s best to leave this as it currently stands, but it’s certainly a storyline we’ll follow closely as we move toward the conclusion of the spring semester and of course, recruiting this summer.