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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