Crean: Indiana may go without marquee non-conference home game next season

060513jcxcINDIANAPOLIS — Ever since Indiana’s home-and-home series with Kentucky after the 2011-2012 season, there has been a lingering question of which school would replace the Wildcats on the schedule in the long term.

Many schools have come up over the last year, including Kansas and Louisville, but no deal has been reached with any team to this point.

Indiana coach Tom Crean said Tuesday night at a Tailgate Tour event at Lucas Oil Stadium that the Hoosiers are still working to fill the void in the schedule left by Kentucky, but he was rather vague as to what that might mean.

Crean said he had discussions with Gonzaga last week about scheduling a home and home with a game this season at Assembly Hall and one in the future at Gonzaga, but Mark Few’s team already had enough non-conference road games scheduled for this season.

“Nobody wants to do that,” Crean said. “It’s too big of a deal to play at home. It’s a big deal not only for the program but for the athletic department.

“It’s so hard right now with what could happen down the road. There’s no question losing Kentucky screwed us up for the home and home situation. But there’s things that could potentially be out there for the future that we can’t talk about publicly but we have to plan for privately. The last thing we wanna do is get caught in a situation where we’re trying to play too many non-conference road games.”

As it stands right now, the Hoosiers will play in the 2K Sports Classic at Madison Square Garden in November with Boston College, Connecticut and Washington. Indiana will also play at Syracuse in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge and against Notre Dame in the Crossroads Classic at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in December.

Crean was asked specifically if the possibility remained that the Hoosiers would not get another marquee home game this season.

“Oh, absolutely,” he said. “Because I don’t if we’re gonna know what we need to do in a year or two years to put that together. But I do know this: TV is a huge part of what we’re doing, certainly with ESPN.”

When asked to comment on the current scheduling situation, Indiana athletic director Fred Glass only said that he and Crean are working on it and that he has nothing to announce as of yet.

  • CreamandCrimson

    Another part of this quote from Tom Crean:

    “And at the same time, we know we have to plan ahead, because we have
    unique opportunities that are out there for the future and we have some
    that could become league type of opportunities. So we have to balance
    both of those.”

    Tom Crean also mentioned something about how the Crossroads Classic puts them in a bind and that two of the teams (Notre Dame and Butler) are “now in leagues they could end up playing against”. It kind of sounds like the Big Ten and ESPN are working on another conference challenge.

  • plane1972

    A little disappointing, particularly if you are season ticket holder. However, scheduling has to be so challenging these days with all the neutral court options out there. It has to be like safe-cracking for an AD and coaching staff to get home games against other big names. I still support what Crean and Glass did in negotiating the Kentucky series, but it is a shame it has fallen by the wayside.

  • jklein

    Add Louisville already!

  • Gregory Spera

    Jeeze. How long is Crean going to keep blaming Kentucky for our weak nonconference home schedule? Get over it all ready and move on!

  • PDXHoosier

    I understand why big name teams don’t want to come to Bloomington and potentially get their butts kicked like UNC did last year (and UK the year before). The neutral court games and gimmick games (aircraft carrier??)offer more money and TV exposure.

  • plane1972

    I agree. There must be something precluding this from happening. Hindsight is always 20/20, but a Louisville game last year would have been a pre-conference national title preview based on pre-season predictions. Plus it would have been a nice jab at Kentucky. I’d be perfectly happy to permanently replace Kentucky with Louisville. Would be nice to play them both, but I’ll certainly take them.

  • inLinE6

    Well, I don’t care if we lose. But we need some better opponents. This is Indiana!

  • calbert40

    Scheduling the high majors for true road tests isn’t as easy as it might sound, especially when we are asking to start this season in Bloomington. Outside of just a handful of coaches, most don’t want the type of road test that we would offer every other year.

    I’d love to have UL as a constant on the schedule, but I’m guessing that a major hangup would be starting a) this year, and b) in B’Town in year 1 of the contract. I bet we could get something done if we started in 2-3 years and on the road. I’m completely fine doing that, but if the goal is to get a marquee home game THIS season, I don’t think any of the blue bloods are real options.

  • Andrew

    For as long as he is asked about it. The headline for this story should have been “Crean: Indiana will play its home games at Assembly Hall next season.” That would have been just as noteworthy. Tommy was scared to add KU or Lville or anyone else last year, as the preseason no. 1 team in the land; not much hope it happens this year, w/ 7 brand new faces on the roster. People will have to settle for Evansville as the big non-conf home game this year. Yippee. He can do what he wants, obviously, but he better not complain when the balconies aren’t more than half full until January. Not playing big-name teams is one thing, but it’s the constant parade of Bryants and Coppin States and Mt. St. Mary’s that really annoy the fans (and kill our strength of schedule). They are 350 D1 teams these days; no need to dumpster-dive. Cmon Tommy, be really brave and schedule some RPI 75-150 teams for a change.

  • RonB

    You are exactly right This is Indiana! No one wants to come to Bloomington and get their butt kicked like NC and UK. Kansas, Louisville,etc. will not come to Bloomington period. So IU will have to increase the RPI ratings of its non conference schedule or play on neutral courts. We lost several years of being competitive so we did not get on the major non conference tourney’s and places like Alaska and Hawaii schedule teams years in advance. We can’t just wave a magic wand and get highly ranked teams to play us. We are going to have to be patient and gradually this will get better but those of you who just think we can get top 10 teams to commit to home games at Bloomington because we are Indiana are not being realistic because they do not want any part of Assembly Hall right now. I know Coach wants better teams to play but it will take time to improve the RPI of our non conference schedule.

  • IURob1997

    I couldn’t agree more. I would rather see IU lose to a legit program on a neutral court or road game than win by 50 over another cupcake. Crean is becoming the gutless wonder and I hope fans start to call him on it.

  • hoosier1158

    Coach, call Steve, a series with UCLA would be a good choice. I’m sure Steve would like to come home every other year.

  • hoosier1158

    Well, i think the issue is UK just bailed out on a long standing series at the last minute. It was a good series but UK needed this game more than IU. I’m thinking that coach in Lexington didn’t want to get destroyed in Rupp by the Hoosiers last year.

  • calbert40

    Our strength of schedule, according to the RPI, last season was 12th in the nation despite the “parade” of low RPI teams we played early in the season.

    Other “blue blood” programs non-conference opponents, 2012 (RPI):

    Kentucky: Lafayette (157), Morehead St (178), Lipscomb (238), Portland (229), Samford (291)

    Duke: Delaware (141), Elon (181), Georgia St (209), Cornell (241)

    Kansas: SE MO St (217), San Jose St (259), American (278), Chattanooga (292)

    UNC: Gardner-Webb (196), Florida Atlantic (220), E TN St (271)

    And everyone’s favorite “I will schedule ANYBODY” coach, Izzo:
    Oakland (166), TX Southern (186), Arkansas-Pine Bluff (201), Loyola-Chicago (221), LA-Lafayette (225), Bowling Green (275), Nicholls St (296) and non-DI Tuskegee.

  • calbert40

    I forgot to include IU’s >150 RPI opponents:

    Bryant (161), Central CT St (200), Florida Atlantic (220), Sam Houston St (223), Jacksonville (277).

    I wish that EVERY top-flight program would play a tougher schedule, but IU is no different than every other blue blood.

  • Andrew

    Good research, but nowhere in my post did I say that other teams didn’t also play cupcakes. And the 5 teams you listed also played much better “top” opponents than IU did (Georgetown, Butler, UNC). Plus you can’t “not include” Ball State b/c they aren’t typically +200 RPI. That rationale makes no sense. They were awful last year, and we played them. It’s a fact. You also conveniently left out the worst team we played, 7-24 Coppin State, whose RPI was 315. So that means SEVEN of IU’s 13 non-conf opponents had sub-150 RPI’s, and SIX were sub-200. That is bottom of the barrel my friend.

    The B1G was uncommonly strong last year, raising our overall strength of schedule. Plus we weren’t fighting to get in the tourney, which is when SOS is really important to a team. But in the future, when the B1G isn’t as strong (this year) and you have a team that isn’t a lock to dance (this year) you really have to be more mindful of who you play. I’m not talking about moving mountains here. Just replace one of those horrific teams with a good team, OR (as I stated in my previous post) substitute 2 or 3 of those really bad teams with teams that are merely pretty bad. The games will still be at home, and will still be wins.

  • calbert40

    You may not have typed it, but the tone of your post made it seem as though IU plays a cupcake schedule, while these other schools go out and test themselves every game. They don’t. A very high percentage of top programs play 6 or 7 teams that are sub-150 RPI each season. IU was no different than any other team.

    As I said, I would like to see IU play a more rigorous schedule, and it seems as though CTC is trying to add a top program, but that is hard to accomplish, especially a home and home. I think that CTC has been scheduling softly in the non-conference purposefully due to obvious reasons, but last season, I think he probably knew that the B1G was going to rough and tumble, so he went light. Obviously, that’s what Izzo did too, and they had the #2 SOS in the country last year even with playing all of those lousy opponents.

    BTW – my mistake on Coppin St. I had them written down, but forgot to post it. Not trying to hide anything.

  • calbert40

    Also, so far as Ball State is concerned, I think it does make sense. They are 90 minutes from campus, and are one of the better programs in the MAC. I don’t know if we signed a multiyear contract with them or not, but I have no problem with us playing in-state schools like Ball State, Evansville, Valpo, etc.

    I agree with you on the volume of the lousy opponents, but I think that the issue is overstated, especially when we compare our schedule with others. Let’s add a couple tough opponents and then I think we will be set.

  • Andrew

    I think we’re pretty close to being on the same page. I’m not even asking for a home and home w/ a big name. Going back to my first post, to me it’s all about just not feasting on the dregs of society. Yes everyone does it but Coach K and Izzo balance it out by playing several top teams every year. Crean is reluctant to add another big name team, to say the least. He talks about it like it’s rocket science, getting a situation that works for both schools. So, for me, what would make the most sense is playing guarantee games against more competent teams. North Dakota State is a perfect example of what I’m talking about. They finished 22-9, with an RPI of 77, and would have danced if not for being in the same conference as Nate Wolters. They were no threat to us (we won by 28 I think), and would never command a return game. They are infinitely better than at least 7 of our other non-conf opponents from last year. That is the kind of team we need to see more of. (Of course, CTC had absolutely nothing to do w/ them being on the schedule. They were a part of the Legends Classic and thus were “court-ordered” to come to the Hall. Sadly, CTC would be scared to play such a veteran team.)

  • calbert40

    Fair enough. I think we are. I was going to post something similar too. I don’t think we need to add a home and home long term deal with UL to accomplish the feat of improving our non-conference SOS.

    I’d love to see us add a Butler-type opponent. VCU (25 RPI), Belmont (19), Bucknell (51), etc. All of those opponents would a) JUMP at the chance to schedule us for a home and home, or even a 2 home and 1 away (for IU), b) would help our non-conference SOS, and c) would still end up being Ws more often than not.

    The only problem with doing long term contracts with those types of programs is that occasionally, they will post a sub 150 RPI season, and you are stuck. Also, for some understandable reasons, many blue blood coaches are very hesitant to play @ Belmont. They’d rather play a home and home with a power conference opponent than a mid major.

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