A plea for perspective (Digger Phelps agrees)

  • 01/19/2010 12:58 pm in

Ever feel like you really want to have a conversation with someone, but you’re not sure exactly how what you have to say will go over, so you spend time fretting over how to say it and what their reaction will be and so forth?

No? Well, I have. And the time has come for me to just get it out there. If you like it, take it. If you don’t just send it right back:

Indiana fans, stop being so hard on this team.

I know, I sound like a huge homer, and I can clearly see why it would come across that way. But the fact is that too many of the good folks in Hoosier Nation set the bar impossibly high for this basketball season, whether consciously or otherwise. (Seriously, someone had to say it, so I figured it might as well be me, because well, people hate gingers anyway.)

Look, I know last season was hard on you, I get that. Watching a once-proud program stagger and stumble its way to six wins in 31 tries isn’t an easy sight to swallow when it’s happening in front of five national championship banners. And yes, this team is markedly more talented, and deeper in almost every feasible way.

But it’s not just about talent, which this team has in good — but not great — supply. It’s about experience, and poise, and focus, and composure. None of those traits will magically blanket this team after one or two wins, no matter the quality of the opponent. They take time and patience to build, like a homemade car or a rare stamp collection.

Look, Digger Phelps agrees with me.

“The way that thing was left in shambles, you’ve just got to be patient,” Phelps said by phone last week. (Like how I snuck that up on you? Gingers aren’t well-liked, but we’re crafty.)

Phelps, an analyst for ESPN and a former coach at Notre Dame, is no stranger to the rigors of building a successful program and gives Tom Crean high marks for his work since arriving in Bloomington. Phelps says Crean had to “start from scratch.”

That’s a term I understand many have grown weary of — “from scratch.” The constant reminders about youth and inexperience on this team follow the Hoosiers everywhere, and there are those among you that believe it is too often used as a crutch, an out to excuse even the poorest play. But I’m not so sure that’s true.

After the Michigan game in Ann Arbor — the first IU game I have had the opportunity to see in person this season — Tom Crean appeared equal parts subdued and frustrated.

For the first time in almost two years, Crean appeared (to me, anyway) as though, for lack of a better term, even he didn’t know it would be this bad. Hours after the Michigan loss, he launched into one of his now-customary Twitter rolls, in which he acknowledged many of the Hoosiers’ deficiencies and talked about the mental state of the team.

“These guys want to be good. We have to find our way,” he said via Twitter. “It’s very challenging but it’s coming. I feel a bounce on the way. Help us push through.”

That “bounce” proved to be prophetic, as the Hoosiers upset Minnesota in overtime, and it bears pointing out that they did it coming from behind, when last season’s team probably would have folded. (Can we also give this team some credit for their work without Maurice Creek? I mean, take Scottie Reynolds off Villanova or Luke Harangody off Notre Dame and imagine the result.)

Of course, there are also going to be nights when Indiana gets played off the court. Inexperience does that.

“The guys that are juniors and seniors,” Phelps said, “they’re just going to dominate underclassmen.”

It’s just a reality of college basketball, one that probably means losses to the likes of Michigan State, Purdue, Illinois and even Northwestern are on the horizon.

The process is longer than anyone probably expected, because what yardstick could we ever have used to measure the totality of this task when it began? But according to at least one basketball expert, things are headed in the right direction.

“A force in the Big Ten,” Phelps sad. “That’s where I see Indiana in two years.”

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  • lincoln

    I wish common sense was contagious. I like watching this team progress, but i am holding my true excitement for when Creek and company are juniors. Then our experience will give us an enormous advantage, and also this will be show what kind of coach Crean is.

    I don’t 100% agree with Crean all the time. I wish he was harder on the kids who make dumb turnovers (you know who they are), but our productive players are freshmen and sophmores who are not named Wall and Cousins. Trust me patience is not one of my virtues, but thankfully my common sense outweighs my impatience.

  • lincoln

    I wish common sense was contagious. I like watching this team progress, but i am holding my true excitement for when Creek and company are juniors. Then our experience will give us an enormous advantage, and also this will be show what kind of coach Crean is.

    I don’t 100% agree with Crean all the time. I wish he was harder on the kids who make dumb turnovers (you know who they are), but our productive players are freshmen and sophmores who are not named Wall and Cousins. Trust me patience is not one of my virtues, but thankfully my common sense outweighs my impatience.

  • GFDave

    Zach, thanks for that post. These things need to be said, even though there are those that will not receive the message.

    Given the hailstorm of criticism that surely is to come your way, you had courage to take write this. Its unfortunate that is has to be this way because it really is the truth that we are in the Hurt Locker right now, and its not Crean’s fault, even though some are trying mightily to make it that way.

    There is no magic wand to wave over the program right now and defense of this excellent coach working his ass off to make us better is sadly twisted into charges that the defenders are happy with losing. Sad.

    Goodness, some people take issue with the man clapping his hands together. I think that’s all we need to know about the level of rationality surrounding the discussion of this program.

    Thanks again for trying to bring this thing back to earth. Maybe it will work for the next few minutes (vbg).

  • Dave

    100% agree. I think IU fans risk becoming Notre Dame football fans and we need to acknowledge that the road back is harder and longer than we'd like. What I like about Crean's approach is that once we “prime the pump” we can be successful year after year. Not too many teams can go the Calipari route.

    It takes a lot longer to build a bridge than to destroy one.

  • kesims

    CALLING ALL HOOSIER FANS IN CHICAGO:::

    There is a guy selling 14 center court tickets to the IU v Northwestern game on sunday feb 7. I need some die hards who live in chicago and that want to help me buy these tickets up… $50 each. Lets have an inside the hall meet up at a bar before the game and go cheer on our HOOSIERS for what would be a huge road win!!! let me know asap. I need only people who loive in chicago so we can meet somewhere to purchase these tickets i do not have the money to purchase all 14 . WHos in???

  • Great post. I completely agree 100%. We all get frustrated, but just take a step back and take 10 deep breathes. This isn't long term.

    I think more fans should focus on improvement from game to game and less on the black and white box scores. Tom Pritchard has looked better in his past few games. Our defense is much more active and keeps their arms up most of the time (at home). And even in the road game at Michigan, while difficult to watch, this team looked 10x better than it did just the week before at Ohio State. All I am saying is focus on the positives. It's a young team and you are going to give yourself a stroke if you don't.

  • sinkingiufan

    I'm 100 percent behind Coach Crean.He was left a complete overhaul of the program,thanks to Kelvin!
    There's probably no one as frustrated as coach.Give him time,he will continue building this program back up to where it belongs..
    Thanks coach for coming to Indiana!!!! Go HOOSIERS

  • BFowler

    ZO, King of the Little 5, thanks for the perspective. We do get frustrated because we are not used (nor do we wish to get used) to this. This type of losing has not happedned in many of our lifetimes. I, for one, never knew Lou Watson (the coach before RMK). This was a team that went to the dance from 1986 to 2003. We have the 5 banners swinging in the Hall, we have 20 B10 Championship teams. This run from Davis to Denim to now has been dreadful. While I do not believe Coach Crean is the problem, I can see why there is panic.

    We also see every year the teams that have freshman phenoms and do things. Granted, they are usually paired with older statesmen, but the “Baby Boilers” and the “Fab Five” immediately come to mind as programs with instant success with a young team.

    I guess we have been skewed by what we have seen and have experienced in the past. Also, it seems as though the team lacks consistency. I am not saying that a deep breath and a little perspective is not needed, but I can understand the frustration level with the team not playing as well as they can.

  • Kelin Blab

    Zac this post is 100% right and 0% wrong….very very very good job….

    I have waivered on my expectations for this team at times just as many of us I think we got sucked into the following with this team that set the expectations high….

    1. They have more talent than last years team (So does Bloomington South and Pike)
    2. We know these players and have seen their 'high' school work
    3. Mo Creek is better than we thought
    4. Jeremiah Rivers played at G'Town, went to a final 4, and is Doc's son
    5. We have more players with stars by their name

    All of these i listed above increased our expectations with this team along with a great 1st half v Kentucky and beating what now seems to be a solid NCAA team Pitt.

    Our Youth is not an excuse but it is a fact….my son and students have great days and bad days….because they are young…..just like this team….but either way we love em'

  • peaychris

    i like your perspective. we live in such a “show me NOW” world that building a program takes a little time. we see Cal come into kentucky in his first year and bring his “world wide wes crew” and dominate. do i want cal? no. but i do want to see a team that is competitive night in a night out yes. sometimes its hard to watch a team that hasnt developed, and makes really bad decisions. what has gotten me, and even coach crean has even acknowledged, there is no real leader on this team. for a young team they need a steady calming infulence, espically on the road. i hope that person, whoever it is shows up for the 2nd half of the season!

  • DJ5

    I mostly agree with you on this point. However, I think it's the inconsistency of their play rather than the level of their play that gets fans upset. We've seen this team beat Pitt, Michigan (hey they beat UConn) and Minny while getting beat by Loyola and Boston. If the team was devoid of talent, most fans would say good riddance and wait until next year. However, this team has a lot of talent, and has been repeatedly plagued by two things that they have enormous control over: turnovers and free throw shooting.

    I will agree with you that while we should expect the best from Crean and this bunch, we by no mean have any right to demand excellence from this team. Even though they played outstanding for 35 minutes Sunday (and another 2 minutes at the end), they played long stretches with 3-4 freshmen on the floor. And as great as these young guys are, they aren't Kevin Durant and Derek Rose, and there will be growing pains.

  • The Kid In The Big Sombrero

    Well said, Zach. Sometimes the knee-jerk reactions in the comments are funny, and sometimes they're just dumb. If you don't see marked improvement in this team, if you don't see the light at the end of the tunnel, if you don't see a program trying to rebuild in a way that will make Hoosier fans proud – then you might be watching the games, but you sure as hell aren't seeing the big picture.

    There have been rabid fans on IU message boards for a long, long time now. They've been there in even the best of times. A good portion of those folks continue to put too much stock in recruits rankings, assume the coaches are idiots when they don't recruit X player, and over-react to losses.

    They assume they know everything about the program, when the parts they see are just the tip of the iceberg. Not only was Coach Crean left with a bare cupboard, but he also can't afford to take a chance on a talented kid with questionable character. Certain players may appear to merit more playing time in their brief appearances, but have trouble guarding student managers in practice. Coach may be tremendously troubled by aspects of the team's play, but saying so on his radio show would do nothing but damage the already fragile confidence of the players.

    I suppose most of these comments are just people that want to win, and win now. But I think most Hoosier fans are proud of the way the staff is going about their business, and would be more upset if they tried to rebuild in a less ethical manner, even if it did bring some more wins immediately.

    It's unfortunate that players, recruits & their families read the message boards & comments sections because they tend to be much more populated with the irrational and unrealistic than fans that are looking at the big picture and understand that we are discussing 18 to 22 year old kids and a basketball program that is on it's way back to prominence.

  • Dave

    100% agree. I think IU fans risk becoming Notre Dame football fans and we need to acknowledge that the road back is harder and longer than we'd like. What I like about Crean's approach is that once we “prime the pump” we can be successful year after year. Not too many teams can go the Calipari route.

    It takes a lot longer to build a bridge than to destroy one.

  • Kelin Blab

    peaychris….

    I think VJ3 and Rivers could step up and turn into those guys. They seem to be headed that way….and possibly hulls.

  • Mike

    I have to say so far this team has exceeded expectations, especially when you consider that they lost their leading scorer. We have beaten Pittsburgh (who are now in the top 10 and tied for first in the Big East), and have good home wins over Michigan and Minnesota, while having played Maryland and Illinois tough. I expect this team to compete for an NCAA bid next year and look to win the conference when VJ3 is a senior.

  • Newms

    Did anyone watch the K-State defeat of Texas last night?! Has anyone watched Gonzaga play (they have 9 freshman)? What color is the sky in Hoosierland? I want some of whatever you are smoking. I really hope this team evolves into something that any basketball fan would enjoy watching – excuses are for losers, medicocrity, lack of success and sometimes outright failure.
    Average players from all over the USA are winning and playing great basketball. IU must do the same for the rhetoric to stop and genuine accolades to start.

  • Newms

    Did anyone watch the K-State defeat of Texas last night?! Has anyone watched Gonzaga play (they have 9 freshman)? What color is the sky in Hoosierland? I want some of whatever you are smoking. I really hope this team evolves into something that any basketball fan would enjoy watching – excuses are for losers, medicocrity, lack of success and sometimes outright failure.
    Average players from all over the USA are winning and playing great basketball. IU must do the same for the rhetoric to stop and genuine accolades to start.

  • peaychris

    i see that as well. maybe ending of the Minn game was a defining moment for vj3 and he will take that confidence with him!

  • James

    Great post…I look at the wins against Michigan and Minnesota as proof of major improvement. We got a lead, the other team went on their run, IU weathered the storm (more in the MI game than the MN game obviously) fought back and won the game. That as a real college game, and something that we didnt see out of the Hoosiers during the previous season.

    -Also, at any other forum this article would have already been ripped by irrational/over-reactive fans(even though they may be coming). Proof once again ITH is the best around.

  • Korey

    First and foremost, I am a loyal and dedicated IU fan. I see what you're saying here and yes, the team that IU is putting on the court right now is certainly going to improve with experience. But what worries me the most about the future of this team is not the product on the court, it is the recruiting (or lack there of). Our signees for the next two years (Will Sheehey, Victor Oladipo, Austin Etherington, and Matt Carlino) are all very mediocre guards. And please do not tell me they are anything more than mediocre, I've seen all of them play (3 of them in person). I'm sorry, but if these 4 players are the only reinforcements coming in the next two years, then anything past winning a First Round NCAA Tourney game seems unreasonable.

  • Cee

    Inconsistency is a primary trait of a young and/or inexperienced team. I think Crean is the perfect coach for indiana. We should be stand behind are coach and not question him at least for a couple more years. What Indiana basketball went threw left Crean with what I think is one of the biggest rebuilding jobs of all time. The last thing we need is to question are team and coaches in this very bad situation. I’m very proud of our coaches and of our team. We just gotta keep hope alive, because good things are not to far around the corner.

  • HoosierFromCT

    It's crazy to think about what our lineup would be if [Name Shall Not Be Said from my mouth] never cheated. Armon-Crawford-Ellis-Ebanks-Holman with Holloway, DeAndre, Pritchard off the bench. I know it's time for me to move on from all that but it's still tough to think about because we can be a top 10 team right now. I'm glad we hired Crean and I have all the faith in the world in him to bring us back. We just need to recruit a top big man to help compliment Watford and Elston. To win games, our leading rebounders should not be SF's and guards.

  • because it's Indiana

    Great article for all hoosier fans. I will say that the recruiting class for 2011 is when I see IU really turning the corner in the rebuilding process. Our team will have a VERY experienced base of Juniors and Seniors and there are many instant impact Freshmen that are showing interest. 2011 is stacked with talent. I yell and scream at the television like everyone else, but I'm trying to enjoy the journey as well. It's easier said than done…but those damn Hoosiers are worth it!

  • hoosierdaddynow

    I call “horsefeathers” on referring to Digger as a “basketball expert”. Talking head? Yes. Expert on carnations? Sure.

    And I agree that perspective is important. But I echo the sentiments of other commenters that valid criticism of Crean's substitution patterns and the occasional lack of effort should not be viewed as a lack of perspective. I do not expect the team to dominate anyone. I can live with them getting beaten — even handily — by teams that are more experienced and more talented than they are.

    But, as a fan, I expect the coaching staff to adjust the game plan to enable the players to execute it, and I can expect the players to put forth the effort needed to execute the game plan. That does not mean that it will always work. I think that neither of those elements were present at OSU. They were both there on Sunday.

    I want to see those things done consistently, and I am willing to be patient in that regard. I want to see the team improve, and I think that this is how I would measure that this season: (i) turnovers — that has improved as the season has gone along, and I expect that trend to continue; (ii) defensive intensity (as revealed by defensive efficiency) — better the last couple of games; and (iii) rebounding. If I can see consistent improvement on those elements throughout this season, then I'll have more hope for next season. And, by the way, that is when I start measuring successes and improvement in terms of wins and losses.

  • tg1438

    I think a common misconception that people are having lately is that teams can win with youth. It's not totally untrue, but look at those teams. For instance UK this year (and this pains me to death to talk about them at all), they are lead by Wall and Cousins, but the glue guys are upper classmen with experience (Patterson and Miller). That's the depth that IU is lacking right now. They have the depth in talent, but when a freshman is out there and gets into trouble making stupid turnovers, you can only replace that guy with another young talented player. So until Crean has had time to create some experienced depth to mix with great incoming talent we are going to continue to see this up and down journey. Should we still take loses hard? I think yes, but we can't take them as though they are going to be commonplace for years to come. Although we are driving a bumpy road now, I feel smooth sailing is just a year or two away.

  • HoosierDavey

    Right with you, Zach! You can see the potential (and our future) in these guys every game…it's the inconsistancy of youth that hurts us right now. We play freshman and sophomores, plus a senior who is only in his 2nd year of big time basketball, and a junior PG who really didn't have that kind of offensive role before now. So, even our upperclassmen are about as experienced at what they do as the unders are. Every outside IU analyst out there these past 2 years has said the same things- “we were decimated,” “it will take time,” and “Coach Crean is taking all of this in the right direction.” They may not all be considered experts, but they can't all be talking from ignorance. I don't like to have to be patient either, but it is essential for us all right now. Go Hoosiers!

  • SeattleHoosier

    Agree, but would take it a step further. Rather than just “be patient”, the fan base needs to BELIEVE THAT THE TEAM WILL WIN, and accentuate the positives if they don't. It's too hard for 18/19 year old athletes to believe in themselves if their fans are predicting losses and lamenting mistakes.

    We are a significant factor in bringing the program back – so let's step up!!

  • GFDave

    An excellent idea that applies to all IU sports.

  • Tazmanian Devil

    What people tend to forget is this team lost not only Creek to injury, but also Roth,.

    Taking away a team’s best two shooters (really, the only two consistent shooters) when said team already is dealing with the inexperience this team has from a leadership standpoint is a MAJOR obstacle to overcome. Just think how have those two shooters would make the offense of this team markedly different.

    Folks, give Tom Crean time. He won’t disappoint.

  • kesims

    Are there no chicago IU fans???

  • cooper

    Oladipo was on ESPNU either Sunday or Monday. I DVR the game and watched most of it, except it went long so I missed the majority of the 4th quarter. A few observations.

    The Good:
    -He is built to play immediately. He has a body similar to Nick Williams, but not quite as stocky. he is more athletic than Williams
    -Athletic- He would probably only be behind Rivers in terms of athleticism on the team
    -Defense- Played good D, he wasn't guarding the other teams best player (atleast I don't think) but he played his guy tough
    -Rebounding- If he got equal minutes he'd probably lead the team in rebounding next year. He can jump, and he gets inside to rebound on almost every shot. Could be good on the offensive boards
    -Free Throws- He hit 3 of 4 when I watched and seemed competent

    The Bad/What he should work on
    -Offense. He was probably the teams 3rd or 4th option and its not a knock the other two guys were very good. They had another guard who was a stud and a low post guy who had a nice game. None of the plays were designed for him he shot in the flow of the offense. He took at least 3 open three pointers and missed them all. I'm not a coach so I don't know what he does wrong, his shot doesn't look horrible it just didn't go in. Announcers said thats something he knows he should work on. Through 3 quarters I believe he had 6pts
    -Work Ethic- Apparently a very hard worker who practices very hard.
    -Handle. Needs to work on his dribbling a bit. He seems to go to fast for his dribble at points

    I always find it fun to compare players to someone. If I had to compare him I'd say he is the Dahntay Jones/ Aaron Affalo type player from the Denver Nuggets. I know Jones plays for the Pacers now but I haven't seen him play there so I have no clue how he is used. He isn't going to be a 1st or 2nd option on offense but he can come in to the game and run up and down the court and guard the other teams best player. If he develops a jump shot he could be very impressive

  • Nice article Osterman, you hit the nail on the head, and its something I have been telling my friends all along. But in 2011-2012 watch out Big 10, Here we come!!!

  • coachv

    people shouldn’t count last year at all. crean had a totally bare cupboard. taber, although i respect his work, is a division II talent. crean had to get bodies to field a team. any team. jobe wasn’t given a scholarship as a project. he’s a practice body only. someone to simulate the size the hoosiers freshmen would face, unlike high school. no other d1 coach has to waste a scholarships like that. this should count as crean’s first rebuilding season. even still, no one should expect anything from this very young team. unless you have 4 surefire future nba players in your freshman/sophmore class, you will struggle.

    does anyone see any future nba players on this team? i don’t. creek or watford have a chance but i doubt it. on top of that, crean has to recruit kids who know they are going to have little chance of going to the dance. that’s tough. i give crean a pass this year, too. i start counting next season and he gets 2 more years after that. as hard as it is, let’s try to be patient and support coach.

  • plane1972

    What we lack in patience, we more than make up for with short attention span. Unfortunately, Zac, I give us until the end of this week until your sage words will fall upon deaf ears and we will once again be lamenting the two steps forward, one step back progress of our beloved Hooz!

    Good post, though. I applaud the effort.

  • GFDave

    Some of those kids earned tickets on the out-bound train all by themselves. But it looks like Holman, Ebanks, Pritchard and Crawford would have been able to stick around.

  • kentuckyhoosier

    HEY , I LIVE IN KENTUCKY , SO PLEASE LETS JUST WIN THE NEXT THREE GAMES THAT ARE CLEARLY WINNABLE , BEFORE ONE OF THESE REDNECK UK FANS LYNCH ME UP AND HAVE A HOE DOWN IN FRONT OF THIER MOONSHINE STILL ……. WE CAN WIN THE NEXT THREE!!!!!!!! GO HOOSIERS

  • I love this post. My folks and I always have to calm each other down when we get frustrated with bad games or stretches of games. Although I agree its ok to not agree with coach or to point out mistakes players make I think some people are too hard on guys and are expecting too much too quickly. cant wait till Pritchard VJ3 and folks are seniors with juniors hulls, Watford, Creek, and Elston

  • BaseballBuc

    Well said. Couldn't agree more. There is too much negative chatter going against indiana and Crean after losses. In the words of Don Fischer, “there is always another game, that is the great thing about basketball.” I know it sounds cliche, but it's the truth. We have to be patient and wait. If we lose, we move on to the next game, the players and coaches do it after every loss. But if we win, Storm The Court!!!

  • So much is on the table here… IU fans are the most respected and classy in the nation. Lets keep it that way.

  • oldiugymnast

    A-freaking-men! I get so tired of the arm chair coaches acting like Crean is blowing it…. He isn't.

  • oldiugymnast

    Surely you jest. Digger DID coach Bill Lambier, Orlando Woolridge and Kelly Trapuka to a final 4 appearance and that team scored 12 pts. in 14 seconds WITHOUT the 3.

  • hoosierodi

    I watched his game also and its too bad you missed the 4th cause he had to monster dunks in the 4th including a put back over 1 or 2 opposing players. He ended up with 15 or 17 points and about 14 rebounds i think so very solid stats. I think he is the type of player that will quickly become a crowd favorite with his athleticism and ability to dunk, and block shots. He does need to work on his shot though, but glad he realizes that.

  • hoosierodi

    They also have people like Bouldin to build around, just like Kentucky has Patterson. Indiana really lacks true leadership and that has shown to be probably the biggest factor so far, and Bouldin has been a great leader for Gonzaga aswell as patterson for Kentucky

  • HoosierSmitty

    While I agree wholeheartedly with this post, I don't think there's anything wrong with wondering “aloud” on this blog or anywhere else about some of Crean's decisions. But you are certainly not a “homer” for asking people to take it easy on the team.

    Personally, I don't think the team is coming under fire as much as Coach Crean lately. At least I know that's where my frustrations have been focused. I still support Crean, even though I question some of what I am seeing on the court. I don't believe that support and criticism are mutually exclusive.

    Regardless of whether you're a “good” team or a “bad” team, a coach and his players are going to be under scrutiny. I don't think it makes anyone less of a fan to vent frustrations, nor does it make someone less of a fan to be an eternal optimist.

    Now with that said, it's silly to say someone is an idiot or personally attack them. That's flat out uncalled for. But it's very true that many of us have knee-jerk reactions to a game, a play or a recruit, etc. I've certainly been guilty of that myself to a degree. I think the biggest thing to avoid is the negativity. The sky isn't falling, no matter how much it might feel like it sometimes.

    I've been on and off the ledge all season. I try to keep things in perspective and I try and take deep breaths and go into some zen-like focus as I will myself to believe that it's going to be alright, but it's tough sometimes. You can only say “it's going to be okay” so many times before you start to hyperventilate and freak out.

    The great thing about this season is that there have been so many positive moments. With few exceptions, this team has fought hard for significant durations in every game. I've found myself cheering louder and groaning deeper than I did last season. It's all because I see such potential in these guys, and I am immensely proud of what they've accomplished when the cupboard was so bare.

    The unfortunate side effect to performing well in larger quantities this year is that the expectations blast forward. Whether it is unreasonable or not is up for debate. Indiana is a storied program and its fans love IU as if it were a part of the family. That's just how it is. And as we all love to quote Coach Crean – “It's Indiana.”

    And now it's time to wrap this up, because this was just me putting my thoughts in a blog, and I wrote WAY too much for anyone to actually read this whole thing anyway.

    Go Hoosiers!

  • cooper

    just my luck.

  • Dirk

    Good post. I've said it before and will say it again: this year is the same as last year with better players. This year and last the players who play are new to the college game, to Coach Crean, to IU, etc. Even with such terribly untalented players, by the end of last season they were somewhat competitive because the players were in position and made good decisions. We're seeing that this year. The players more frequently are in position and making better decisions. Of course this year's team has more talented and (slightly) more experienced players and the steady improvement and beginning not to repeat mistakes is encouraging

  • Hardwood83

    Well said- it is easy to lose perspective. These guys are improving, what more can you ask for? Besides better free throw %…..anyway, I really consider this year one as last year was a complete fiasco. Next year I think it's fair to start increasing the expectations- within reason. This year is about growing and rebuilding the foundation.

  • BaseballBuc

    Hahaha this is great. I'm going to use this if you don't mind.

  • GFDave

    Good post. I agree with a lot of what you say and I think a lot of the criticism that Zach characterizes as being directed at the team is really just focused at Crean. Its fair to criticize him–after all what good would these boards be if it were all shucks and grins. But, I think the broader point is in regards to the unrealistic expectations for winning and the basic “Crean is losing therefore he can't coach criticisms.” Some of this is born from folks who have agendas to bring in other coaches. Others see the slightest problem or disagreement and extrapolate it gigantic proportion or use it as an example of general incompetence.

    What has surprised me is the rapidity at which the negative volume increased. I am just astounded at the impatience and lack of acceptance of the reality of the mess Sampson left us with.

  • i have to disagree with one thing..When you say Creek and watford might have a chance at the NBA I see it differently. I think after 4 years at IU Creek will be a sure fire NBA talent. He has all the raw god given skills you need. Watford will remain to be seen but if this guy fills out his arms and shoulders like DJ did after he came in rail thin then he could easily be taken in the draft as well.