Communication, simplification continue to be focal points for IU

  • 01/14/2017 7:15 pm in

Having lost four of their last five games, Indiana coach Tom Crean continues to harp on the same themes: communication and simplification.

In five of Indiana’s six losses on the season, the Hoosiers were in the game in the waning moments but failed to execute down the stretch.

Indiana’s struggle in crunch time, Crean says, can be attributed in part to a lack of team communication.

“(Communication) is not a strength with anybody right now,” Crean said Saturday. “We’ve got to continue to work through it. There are responsibilities that certain guys have. That’s where some of the urgency needs to come from.”

The need for communication on the floor has been stressed throughout the season by both players and coaches, but it’s still evident that it’s a work in progress.

“Every team is different, but there’s gotta be a dynamic of constant communication, through thick and thin, through good and bad,” Crean said. “We’ve got great people. These are great kids, but they’re not there yet on how important it is.”

For a team full of players that aren’t used to being vocal leaders on the court, being able to constantly communicate has been tough to grasp.

“It becomes hard for players to understand until they’ve been through it awhile, but defense is bullet points; offense is conversations,” Crean said. “They’re quick conversations. Sometimes they’re animated. But they’re not monotone. They’re just not. We haven’t quite grasped that yet.”

Keeping it simple

Freshmen guards Devonte Green and Curtis Jones are still becoming acquainted with life in the Big Ten.

Even though both Green and Jones were impressive in stretches during the non-conference slate, neither have managed to find their footing in conference play.

Crean says that the key to the freshmen guards finding success boils down to playing a simplified game.

“The hardest thing for any player, especially a young player, to understand, is how simple you have to keep the game. How much it’s about the next pass. How much it’s about running the court both ways. How much it’s about understanding that your first step matters in so many things, whether it’s on the ball defense or cutting. Just getting into the flow.”

The two have struggled to stay on the floor for extended stretches, with neither Green nor Jones scoring more than six points or logging more than 13 minutes in any conference game.

Anunoby finding an ‘extra gear’

The soft-spoken sophomore has been somewhat of an enigma throughout his time in Bloomington, producing moments of both brilliance and bewilderment.

“There are times (Anunoby) is the guy that averaged five (points) and two (rebounds) a year ago,” Crean said. “There are times he’s like that. But there is no question he’s got another gear. You’ve seen it. Everybody has seen it.”

There is no questioning Anunoby’s raw talent. His jaw-dropping athleticism and elite defensive ability have made himĀ potential NBA lottery pick.

But for Indiana to put themselves back in the hunt in the Big Ten, it will be critical for Anunoby to play at that extra gear at a consistent level.

“When you’ve got that kind of ability, it’s our job to keep pushing to find that extra gear and get it out of there more often,” Crean said. “I take that very personal with him. I love that kid. We’ve got to get (that extra gear). It’s there.”

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  • Chris Jones

    And crean needs to simplify his substitutions!! That is the only thing I don’t like about his coaching. He subs too much and puts guys on the court that shouldn’t be.

  • Missing Moye

    That’s the only thing you don’t like? You are in the minority these days.

  • Shaggy_C

    You would think this would be as simple as setting a particular guy in each rotation to be “the guy” who has responsibility for setting everyone else up and making sure they are in the right spots. That was possibly the most important aspects about the seniors last year – whether it was a top talent like Yogi or some of the other guys (MB/NZ come to mind) they were always making sure the team was setup for success. I think part of the reason we have seen so much Zach McRoberts this year is because he’s the only one willing to take that responsibility. Collin Hartman would be that guy most nights, but he’s not going to be back this season…So, who is going to step up and be the ‘coach on the floor’?

  • BannerOrBust

    Hand down man down.
    Mama there goes that man!

  • Outoftheloop

    IU has 4 very good front court players. We have 2 very good backcourt players. Then we have 3 question mark backcourt players. Let the kids play! 5 minutes and then subbed out is counterproductive! 10-15 minutes at a time and the player gets in the flow! Never sub-out a kid who just hit a shot or made a great play! The game is simple!

  • Koko

    Seventeen games into the season and the players are having communication break downs???? I’d say the coach is having the communication break down….with his players.

  • Sandra Wilson

    So you’re happy with the defense, passing, turnovers, screens, cuts, etc. ?…All except the substitutions?….After listening to CTC’s quotes for 8 years, I’m not surprised that communication is a problem…..On another note, I did find the red bold print of “potential NBA lottery pick” interesting ;~)

  • Arch Puddington

    I have watched several open practices, both in person and on TV, and there is nothing simple about the way CTC teaches his players to think. Media types positively gush over his attention to detail, but what I have seen is a blizzard of thoughts and instructions down to details as minute as the angle of a player’s foot. Every time he stops a drill or scrimmage to make a point, it is about something different, and almost always something quite technical. There is no consistency to the lessons, no core principle or skill that is being developed. He knows a LOT more about basketball than I do, but the more I watch his teams struggle with the same issues year after year, and the more I see him in the act of teaching, the more convinced I am that his central failing as a teacher is the endless stream of tiny, technical thoughts that he blasts his players with. Basketball in particular requires athletes to be in the moment and to play with spontaneity and flow, but I believe that CTC’s chaos of thoughts and details gets in the way of that. Instead of identifying really key concepts and working them to perfection, he issues an ever-shifting sequence of corrections and minutiae. Every bit of of it may make sense unto itself, but as a whole it does not produce simplicity. It produces complexity, and I think it is at least part of the reason that his teams so often look disjointed.

    Listen to his dialogue at almost any press conference and I think you’ll see what I mean. Even when he is talking to the public, the thoughts swirl, each pronouncement sounding like the really important one, right up until the next one comes along. It’s kind of exhausting just listening to it. Maybe it’s just me, but I would not find it easy to be taught this way.

  • SCHoosier

    Our defense effort (switches etc) continues to be at “Tower of Babel” levels

  • Koko

    LOL….I still lay that on the coach…..or are u saying Crean is the Tower of Babel? Either way it ain’t working with this bunch of players.

  • Koko

    Well said Arch….and the CTC’s chaos of thoughts and details comment is sadly funny and spot on……swirling thoughts of which are disjointed and confusing…..ever shifting sequence of corrections and minutiae does not
    produce simplicity. I won’t watch his pressers just for the above reasons.

  • Arch Puddington

    That’s not bold print to emphasize anything, it is to indicate that those words are hyperlinked to another web page. If you click on them, you will be taken to a mock draft page that shows OG projected as the 9th pick.

    One thing I do wish people would stop talking about is OG’s “jaw dropping” athleticism. He leaps well off of two feet, he has a big, strong frame, and he has nice lateral quickness for a guy his size. But those do not by themselves make him a freak athlete as so many seem to believe. At least at the NBA level, lots of guys his size have those skills, and there are many other forms of athletic skill. OG is not great with his left hand, his technical skills — dribbling, shooting, etc. — are by no means “jaw dropping”, and he does not have the kind of quickness and burst to create space. Those are athletic skills, too, and there are lots of players who have them. This is NOT to run him down. He is a fine player, and by all accounts a really great kid. But talk of his athleticism is, in my view, totally overstated, and serves only to set everyone involved up for disappointment.

  • Ben thorne

    Arch – very interesting insight. Well said.

    While watching our games, I often find myself yelling at the tv for them to settle down and relax. You can’t relax though with all the ” swing thoughts” going through your head. That’s why I always play golf with beer.

  • Arch Puddington

    The golf swing is a great analogy. I have a friend whose likes to joke about his “57 things to remember at impact”. Athletics involve technical instruction, but there are limits as to how far you can go with it before it becomes death by analysis.

  • vicbert caladipo

    Nice post. With all these resident experts glad to see someone who has seen CTCs practices. I have always wondered what he was teaching. Thanks and I’d throw ya more upvotes if I could. I always enjoy your take on things cuz you actually provide facts and stats with your analysis

  • everettdean

    Really good post as it specifies many of the issues I have with the coaching philosophy of CTC…Its not a case of lack of knowledge as much as when and how it’s applied…this is true with substitution patterns as well as I always feel he is trying to find the perfect 10 man rotation instead of focusing on who is playing well at that moment…CTC brings an academic style of coaching instead of instinctual which is very frustrating at times