Perspective needed for transition season in Bloomington

  • 01/02/2014 7:20 pm in

Perspective is often missing from the vocabulary of the diehard, passionate sports fan. I’ve been guilty of it, you’ve been guilty of it, we’ve all been guilty of it.

A common theme amongst fan bases across all of the major sports is this: A palpable thirst for winning.

Enhancements in technology, such as social media, and the endless availability of information have only served to make fans more knowledgeable about their respective teams and thus, even more fanatical.

Winning in Bloomington the past two seasons has become the norm. The Hoosiers won 56 games over the past two seasons, including an outright Big Ten championship for the first time in 20 years last season. This resurrection, led by Tom Crean, came after a trip to the abyss that’s been well documented, but is now in the past and no longer a major part of the discussion because, well, it’s over.

The future is now for Indiana basketball and this season’s 10-4 start has been met with a wide range of opinion from one of college basketball’s most engaged and intelligent groups of fans. Many have stayed the course while IU tries to progress with the country’s 322nd most experienced team while others are second guessing every timeout, turnover or substitution.

It’s become both fascinating and exhausting to follow all of the dialogue.

What’s not up for debate, however, is the reality of what this season is for Indiana. It’s a year of transition. There will be no Big Ten or national championship. There may not even be a NCAA tournament appearance. The preseason polls told us Indiana was a top 25 team. It’s taken less than half of the season to learn that the polls were wrong, at least for now.

So where exactly does perspective tie into all of this?

Let’s start with the aforementioned experience gap that was hit with a missile when Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo improved to the point where they could leave early for the NBA and become top four draft picks.

When the ink dried on the National Letters of Intent for the class of 2013 last November, raise your hand if you had Oladipo pegged as a national player of the year candidate and lottery pick. As Oladipo and Zeller learn the ropes in the NBA, Indiana is trotting out lineups full of young players and a pair of older guys — Evan Gordon and Will Sheehey — neither of which has ever been ‘the guy’. Both players were pivotal losses, along with Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, and to think any of the four were easily replaceable, regardless of what the recruiting rankings might say, was wrong.

That’s not to say Indiana can’t get a lot better — it can — as the season moves along.

While it’s true the Hoosiers don’t have a marquee win on the resume, they also don’t have a truly bad loss, either. With the exception of the Syracuse game, Indiana has been in every game until the last couple of minutes. Two of the losses have been one-possession games against a certain NCAA tournament team (UConn) and another (Illinois) that could easily get there.

With 17 Big Ten games remaining, there is opportunity to make adjustments and improvements. Whether that happens should ultimately judge whether this season is a success.

Also a candidate for a lesson in perspective is the notion that the recent decision of Luke Fischer to leave Bloomington, when paired with the transfers of Remy Abell and Maurice Creek, should set off some kind of alarm of a larger problem brewing.

Each situation is different and while the true reasoning behind Fischer’s decision to leave may never become public, attrition is at an all-time high in college hoops. It’s a difficult loss for Indiana because it hurts depth at a key position this season and beyond, but it can be overcome and ultimately, will have to be overcome.

IU’s success over the past two seasons is in large part responsible for expectations of another season of winning big.

The reality, however, is that it’s a year of transition for Indiana basketball.

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  • 3AM Burrito

    What about Mich at home and at OSU and at MSU last year? Tight tourney game v Temple? I guess just lucky bounces too. Many just like to minimize a coach in a win and blame them for everything in a loss. Ever think maybe, just maybe, in some of those losses coaches told them what to do and the platers didn’t execute?

    And lots of coaches (as you probably knowKnight did not )do not call timeout in that late game offense sitsituation. I see merit in eitherso not making an unnecessary argument but to imply it was a coaching error is not accurate.

  • 3AM Burrito

    Did Brad Stevens win some NCAA titles and I missed it?

  • 3AM Burrito

    I think thus is a lot of IU fan base frustration. College game is different than 30 years ago. Last several champions were the more athletically gifted team. IU fans want to be national champ contenders in 2013 using 1987 basketball style and it is not happening

  • CreanFaithful

    Brad Stevens has the same amount of players in the NBA as Crean (2). Did I miss something? Why are we talking about Brad Stevens?

  • CreanFaithful

    The NIT comment was in direct response to “UK being able to reload every year and be successful.” Alex, appropriately pointed out that isn’t true. Keep up Scooter…

  • CreanFaithful

    Says who? And define talent… Are you mistaking talent with athleticism? I think so.

  • CreanFaithful

    What are you missing? We’re talking about NBA ready youth vs raw/athletic youth. I’m sorry you’re having trouble understanding.

  • CreanFaithful

    I “think” you are probably right. But for anyone to say they know one way or another with certainty is ludicrous!

  • CreanFaithful

    Sound logic. Thanks for your apologies in advance…

  • coloradohoosier

    You are correct. Men’s college basketball (and every other sport it seems) is very different today. I guess coaches are just trying to do the best with today’s coddled children (as opposed to young men) and I’m having trouble watching all this on TV.

    I can accept losses and be proud of a 10-4 record IF it is earned by way of scrappy, gritty, 100% effort. Unfortunately, I don’t see 100% effort coming out of most of our players or our coach. Give me a 20-10 team that competes every game over a whole season over a championship team full of one and two year wonders. Then I can enjoy every game of the season and not just March.

  • CreanFaithful

    “I can accept losses and be proud of a 10-4 record IF it is earned by way of scrappy, gritty, 100% effort. Unfortunately, I don’t see 100% effort coming out of most of our players or our coach.”

    You are looking at results. If you don’t see a scrappy, gritty team and coach out there, then you are blind sir…

  • William Hagenmaier

    Hey after careful consideration I have come to the conclusion Indiana will not win a game in the big ten Hey

  • hoosier1158

    No, but he has coached his team to the championship game twice.

  • hoosier1158

    Not much of a game plan for a comeback when you foul and hope they miss the free throws. : )

  • William Hagenmaier

    indiana has no offense at all all they do is dribble and stand around and look at each other that is the coaches fault

  • aHoopandaPrayer

    There was a great article recently written that a few of you should read… scroll up.

  • SilverAtlanta

    Sure wish I could argue the point, but I believe you are correct. As the competition gets better I think he might drop in the draft a bit.

  • William Hagenmaier

    Tom Crean is not a game coach he can recruit yes but i feel as recurits look at his style of play they will stay away Have we set one screen this year???

  • Dave Carnes

    Coach Cal is the only coach to ever have Final Four appearances vacated at two different schools.If we can’t call him a cheater we might as well drop the phrase from the lexicon.

  • SeattleHoosier

    Hate to do this, but Illinois is now ranked 23rd. Still feel ok about this team given it’s youth. Next year will be awesome.

  • Ole Man

    That’s okay. At the time I originally posted, they were just outside the top 25. Groce is a good coach, so they could get tougher as the season progresses.