Indiana Basketball: A Plea to be Better
Giant Leaps Followed By Inconceivable Lapses
The words spill out of my fingers as freshly as possible. IU has just lost to Syracuse in the 2013 Sweet 16 in one of the most perplexing, embarassing & confounding games I have ever watched. Much blame can be passed around. Cody Zeller needs to play according to his height, 7' tall but he drops his shoulder on every play and attempts to take on centers from a 6'5" stature. Yogi Ferrell looked as lost in a game as I have ever seen a highly touted point guard. Victor Oladipo, who came on strong after half time, made some of the most ridiculous turnovers I have ever seen. Gentlemen, Hoosiers, basketball players, you were not prepared for this game which inevitably leads me to put the full front of the blame on the coaching staff.
I hate to do it, Tom Crean is our savior, our messiah. He breathed life back into Indiana basketball like Jesus making miracles out of thin air. Crean after 3 seasons was able to turn around one of the biggest train wrecks in recent college basketball history into a contender. I mean let's be honest, he inherited Brett Finkelmeier, who I played basketball with while he was in high school, granted he pummeled me into submission but I'm a clown on the basketball court, and Kyle Taber, who's college girlfriend I almost slept with until he came out of a room in only his tight boxers stroking a white cat and said, "Oh, I didn't know she had a friend over...", one word, bahhhhh. The phrase "It's Taber Time" should forever be exiled and forgot about.
Tom Crean took this group of riff-raffs and turned Indiana basketball into the preseason number 1 team in the country. I will never condemn the man, the job he has done is remarkable, but in the grand scheme of things, just as a coach asks his players to be better, the Indiana fans need to ask Crean to be just that, better...
With six days to prepare for Syracuse's 2-3 Defense, something that was talked about on national television everyday over the week, I would've thought that IU had a plan for it. Lo and behold, they seemed to have never heard of how the 'Cuse played defense, their wasn't a single Indiana player who didn't look flabbergasted by the way the Orange played on the defensive side of the ball. What does this relate back to? One word people... Coaching.
What reinforced this in my mind was Crean's post-halftime speech where Rachel Nichols asked him what they would change and he said "Nothing", I understand the man believes in what he preaches but what differentiates the Izzo's & Coach K's from the rest of the pack is changing a game plan that isn't working. Countless times through the season we had to watch Jeremy Hollowell enter the game exactly six minutes into the game, Hanner Parea enter two minutes after that, it is clockwork through the whole season. Yes, grooming your young guns for the future is important but deciding your approach for every game for the season before it starts and refusing to modify your approach when you are being exposed is bad coaching.
As the wave of Indiana studs (Zeller, Oladipo, Watford & Hulls) leave after this year and our next crop of phenomenal recruits come in, just as Crean will "coach" them to be better, he also needs to work on his own game. Understand situational coaching better, react to the game, don't just rely that your pregame strategy will pull through at some point, above all else be better for the true Indiana fans because for everything we've been through, we deserve nothing but complete dedication to get our team back on top.
In closing, Crean, we love you. Jordy Hulls, C-Wat, Zeller and my all time favorite Victor Oladipo I personally will miss each and every one of you completely. We wish you the best and ask our new crop of young talent to carry the torch and continue to improve Indiana University basketball, we deserve that sixth banner!