A brief treatise on loving and losing

  • 07/26/2010 1:52 pm in

It recently came to my attention, through the technological wonder of our Disqus-powered comments section, that Beth Pritchard (or someone claiming to be Beth Pritchard, mother of Tom) dropped a note under the much-discussed open thread Alex composed about this coming season.

In fairness to Mrs. Pritchard, I won’t quote her directly, as I doubt she intended her post to be specifically on-record. But her message, a response to the open-ended question of expectations for this coming season, was basically this: Expect the Hoosiers, every one of them, to work hard and play hard every night, and appreciate them for that.

A simple message, really, and a predictable one. It’s completely fair for a parent to want to defend their child, and their child’s friends.

It also raises a valid point.

Yes, these kids have a burden of expectation placed on them. A basketball scholarship at Indiana does that.

But too often, it feels like we take out our frustrations on these players not because of what they do or do not do on the court, but simply because we need something to yell at. Indiana basketball isn’t Indiana basketball right now, and it’s frustrating, and we as human beings like to, want to, need to blame someone. There surely is no more visible target, outside of Tom Crean himself.

But is it Tom Pritchard’s fault that Indiana is where it is? No. Is it Verdell Jones’ fault? No. Daniel Moore’s? Absolutely not.

The current predicament Indiana basketball finds itself in is lamentable, whether you are a fan or not. It’s never pleasant to watch a castle burn to the ground, and thus is the way with a storied college sports program.

And it’s not the fault of any one person, but rather years — more than a decade, probably — of mismanagement and neglect. Set in motion by complacency, complicated by strife and ultimately done in by scandal, Indiana’s problems are far-reaching, and long-term.

Have their been missteps? Well, of course there have. And there are parties involved that bear the responsibility for those, if they set the program back.

But Indiana’s players haven’t really done much but turn up with shoes and shorts whenever they were told, and tried their level best. I would imagine there have been times each has perhaps not given everything they had, in that particular moment. But on the whole, this is a group that plays hard and looks, for the most part, like it’s at least trying to do things the right way.

So let’s stop punishing them for that which they cannot control. Let’s stop punishing them for something that just isn’t their fault.

Filed to:

  • JerryCT

    For a long time I think I was the only person to have “replied” to her original post. This article by you ZACH is long overdue. I think we have all benefited……….. good work

  • deedubbadoo

    Jerry, unfortunately I have erased all of the games from my DVR, I tried to erase them from memory but some are still there, haunting…Anyway the point of my post was not to degrade TP in anyway, more so to say that I feel for his mom, as I too, have heard the words. My point is from a pure production standpoint. Granted TP's minutes per game did decrease from 29 in 08-09 to 19.9 in 09-10, however he only had 2 less personal fouls. Everyone harps about Elston being “lost” on the defensive end, but are we saying that TP is that much better on defense?

    From a statistics standpoint, Elston is better across the board, even with 5 less minutes per game last year. Add 5 minutes to his average and it becomes more clear. Capo would have similar numbers/better numbers than TP if he got the minutes. Unless your saying that TP is so intricate to our offensive/defensive scheme that we are willing to take a production hit because he can set a better screen than Elston, or he is in slightly better defensive position only to end up fouling.

    Look I like TP, since the moment he stepped foot on campus, I wanted him to succeed. Every week I listened to CTC talk about how great he was doing in practice and was prime for a breakout game. He only scored in double figures three times in 31 games, and take away the 13 points he had against Purdue in 36 minutes of play, and you can see why some fans want to see him with a smaller role.

  • JerryCT

    I know some of you guys are screwing with me and are just waiting to read version #498 of my TP analysis so you can pounce……

    BUT I promised MILLARED , when I met him person in Madison for a beer, that I would not bore you guys anymore……… at least not until the season started.

    We need to have a beer together and we can break it down for both players although much of the time these 2 guys are not comparable because their role is different. Would you , for example, expect Elston to defend and/or completely shut down Sampson3 . No, you would be looking to Capo as the TP comparison.

    I always watch games 3 times. One of those times I isolate on the 5 player because of what he needs to do in our schemes and with our lineup. Try it this coming season. I think you will find it fascinating. Maybe you will stick to your current opinions …… but maybe not.

  • deedubbadoo

    I was trying to bait you in Jerry but you didn't budge. I agree that you can't do a one-to-one comparison of the two because they are completely different. I am hoping that this coming season I will be too busy jumping up and down to notice! My original post however was really to empathize with Mrs. Pritchard. Honestly sitting there I have heard some things about her son that would make a sailor blush. Not having any kids of my own, I can only image what it is like to have to listen to that every game. With that said, I turn my attention to recruiting and hopefully this time next year, we will still be talking about our post season NIT run. Not too far fetched is it?

  • harvo45

    Kelin does your son have better hands than Uwe

  • Kelin Blab

    mmm tough one, I am going to go with no now, but given him another 10 years when he is 14 and that could change….

  • GFDave


  • JerryCT

    Deedub ….. does this mean no beer with me ?………….dag gummitt.

    I guess if you are lucky enough to see the game live it is difficult to discern in real time/live how something actually happened. Example might be fouls. Without Kyle Taber and w/o Rivers in the game the 5 position is basically vulnerable to attack from ANY player on the floor given our young and weak defensive players.

    An interesting stat unique to TP would be how many times he fouled his own assigned man or another player's man. In addition another stat would be how many times the man he is guarding misses his shot. TP no longer lunges at the ball but rather alters the shot w his body. The miss never counts as a block. In person it takes a real expert to see this stuff while it is happening……..now I am going to get a beer and pretend you were here.

  • deedubbadoo

    Jerry, I would never turn down the opportunity to either drink beer or talk IU hoops and definitely not a chance to do both. Stay thirsty my friend.

  • Jm23

    You think other top programs like uk, unc, duke and msu care about what a player's mom thinks about fans comments. NO…These players are given a free college education in return for their atheltic skills. Are we too hard on these kids most of the times prolly so but its an honor not a privilege to put on the Indiana jersey. I would be a little disappointed if we didn't question the development or desire of one of our players. I don't think anyone comments were directed at Tom personally just his basketball skills. And most of it is not Toms fault because he lacks the skills and athleticism to be a productive player. I know where Mrs. P is coming from wanting to protect her kid but as a player and parent you often have to turn away from negative comments posted on blogs and the papers but if he does happen to read these comments they should serve as motivation that hopefully proves us all wrong and helps silence the critics. Theres my two cents hopefully the Hooisers start to turn this thing around and are competitive night in and night out. NCCA berth may be unrealistic but a NIT is doable. Looking forward to what recruits we land cant go worng with Young or Thomas. Zeller is the big fish but we must have a back up plan just in case

    Go Hoosiers!

  • CutterInChicago

    This was an enjoyable post to read. Thanks Chronic

  • SeattleHoosier

    Amen, Zach! Sometimes we forget that we're talking about kids who would benefit from a balanced perspective (good and bad). Thanks for helping to keep it even!

    Thanks to Mrs. Pritchard as well!

  • MikeinNC

    I think we have a right to expect 3 things from this team:

    #1 That is develops a clear identity as a team (tough nosed defense, or killer perimeter shooting, or physical bruising rebounding, whatever). Everyone should know what Indiana basketball is about.

    #2 That the players clearly give their all and play all out hard the entire game and across the course of the season, represent the school well, and are obviously working hard in practice and conditioning.

    #3 That the team shows steady improvement in both progress towards their identity and basic fundamentals. It should be obvious they are learning, improving, and playing better as a team.

    If those things fail to exist, I think the coaching staff is accountable first and foremost.