Notebook: Crean struggles to find answers as Hoosiers continue sliding

  • 01/03/2017 11:20 pm in

Nearly an hour after the final buzzer sounded inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall after Indiana’s third consecutive defeat, Tom Crean sat in the press room, giving his opening statement.

“I don’t even know what to tell you about the start,” Crean said of the opening three minutes, where the Hoosiers committed three turnovers and allowed the Badgers to score the first 13 points of the game. “It absolutely made no sense to me that we were giving them as much space as we gave them.”

Indiana was able to overcome the abysmal beginning to make the game a contest, but the veteran Badgers never faltered, coming away with a 75-68 victory and improving to 2-0 in the conference play, while the Hoosiers dropped to 0-2.

When the game slowed down late, Indiana’s offense failed to penetrate the post, passing around the perimeter as the shot clock ticked down.

A perturbed Crean rehashed the same issues with the media that have plagued his team for weeks — overhelping on defense, careless turnovers and lethargic starts to games.

“We’ve got to fix … those things,” Crean said, more than two minutes into his opening statement. “I’ve said it over the last couple of days (to the team). It comes down to a matter of inches. Today we were a little bit too far off. The game seemed like we were yards off.”


Crean tried and failed to find the words that would come next. For nearly nine seconds before he opened up the press conference to questions, all he could do was twiddle his index fingers on the mic stand and offer a few stray umms and buts.

There were no answers, at least not now. Everything that needed to be said already had.

For the third consecutive game, Indiana allowed their opponent to shoot over 48 percent from the floor, failing to come up with stops when they needed them most.

“You’ve just gotta go out there and guard your man, right?” Crean asked the media rhetorically. “And it’s not that complicated: early help; get your feet right; get your hands ready; heads on a swivel – things we do constantly.”

But even seemingly simple concepts have become a challenge for the personnel Crean has at his disposal.

Time and again, the Badgers were either left wide open on the perimeter or were able to cut to the basket without any resistance.

Wisconsin big man Ethan Happ had a field day inside the paint, bullying Bryant in the post on his way to hitting eight of 11 shots.

“We just weren’t taking away what we had to (from Happ),” said Juwan Morgan. “We knew what he wanted to do, and he did it.”

Wisconsin also took advantage of Indiana’s inability to value the basketball, turning 13 Indiana turnovers into 23 points. That was more than enough to counter Indiana’s 32-25 edge on the glass.

Indiana now sits at 0-2 in the conference, and a second consecutive regular season conference crown is now just a pipe dream.

Davis growing

Freshman De’Ron Davis was one of the lone bright spots for the Hoosiers, scoring 12 points on 5-of-7 shooting and grabbing two offensive boards in 17 minutes.

“We told him two months ago, by January, you’re going to be a different player,” Crean said. “He’s starting.”

Davis was so effective inside that, late in the second half, Wisconsin had to resort to double-teaming him.

Not bad for a freshman that was a late arrival in Bloomington.

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  • iugradmark

    There are only two explanations for this. One, practices are not aimed to drive home the things Crean is describing. Repetition and focus is how you get these things to become second nature. I don’t believe that the team spends time on these things to build good habits. I believe the focus is on offense and when it comes to defense, they focus on odd stats like deflections. The other possibility is that we are recruiting kids with low fundamental IQ. My suspicion is it is probably a mix of the two.

  • Ole Man

    “Wisconsin big man Ethan Happ had a field day inside the paint, bullying Bryant in the post on his way to hitting eight of 11 shots.”
    Not defending Bryant, but this statement is flat wrong. Happ bullied Bryant, JM, DD, or whomever rotated over on him or was playing him at the time.
    You made it sound as if Happ was 8 of 11 playing straight up against Bryant.

  • kennygeorge

    I don’t have answers, but if communication with the team is complicated, then even the simplest thing can be hard to understand. It just looks like they are lost out there at times.

  • So IN Hoosier

    The answer is to play your best players when the game is on the line. Just think about it, ever wonder why we miss on so many 4-5 star recruits? Could it be that we have a coach who plays 10 and will bury the best players on the bench during crucial minutes in favor of walk ons? It’s very obvious we have problems because nobody can settle into the game because the substitutions are horrendous. We fans deserve better coach.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Bryant was abused more then the others. It was made clear early in the game that Bryant had not chance. JM by far played the best defense against him.

  • Eastwood88_2

    Then you have to simplify the defensive plan. He doesn’t do that. We have 4 different Pick and Roll defensives depending on the position. What in the hell would we need this for! You dance with the one you brought. Crean needs to adjust, but once again it is taking way too damn long.

  • Fivelefts

    Absolutely^^ How many times do you have to get burned on the perimeter, before you learn to get your hands up and close out on the defender?! In the coming game, I’d rather see someone commit a foul defending the three, than to see them standing flatfooted.. Also.. Why are they consistently starting the games off flat?

  • Fivelefts

    Honestly, I’d rather see TP in the game! At least he can shoot the ball! I don’t understand, how we can ever win another game, if everyone is either passing on wide open looks, or flat out missing shots!? I watched both our best shooters, defer to JN at the end of shot clocks! WTF!

  • Ole Man

    I don’t like the words “abused” or “bullied”. He failed in his assignment. How much of that is on him? How much is on the team? How much is on Crean?

  • inLinE6

    To make it fair, Bryant was not only bullied by Happ.

  • IUBizmark

    Can you elaborate on the 4 different PnR defenses?

  • Hoosier Hall

    Bryant looked the worst guarding him. There’s no doubt about that. He hasn’t played with any toughness since the Kansas game. Bryant just seems lost.

  • majordadsage

    Bryant has no business on the perimeter…unless it is on one of the wings. Other than that, he needs to be close to the paint and not dribbling the ball. Catch and either shoot or pass to a shooter or a cutter. De Ron played a good game

  • SCHoosier

    Happ isn’t strong enuff to be a bully but he is a very crafty player who knows the game..THE TEAM game plan.. and his own limitations. He can execute regardless of how “athletic” his defender is.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I couldn’t say it better myself. Well written as usual from the ITH staff. Let’s see what happens the next 2 months.

  • Corbin

    Les Miles gets fired and look at his record compared to creans, different sports granted, but fan base, money, and expectations are very similar. Why should Indiana settle for this???????????????