Friday, March 26, 2010

Indiana Good News; Plus, Analzying Basketball Recruiting Picture

Amidst basketball recruiting gloom (more on this in a moment), comes a bit of Cream ‘n Crimson athletic glory -– Indiana ranks 21st in the Learfield Sports Director’s Cup Division I Winter standings, which measures the overall athletic department’s excellence. That is 21st, by the way, out of 209 programs being rated.

The Hoosiers got a boost from the men’s track program which finished sixth nationally behind high jump champ Derek Drouin, the women’s swimming and diving program, which finished 10th behind 200 backstroke champ Kate Fesenko, wrestling team, which took 21st behind the third-place finish of 125-pounder Angel Escobedo and the women’s track program’s 28th-place showing.

This, of course, doesn’t take away the sting from the 1-2 basketball recruiting punch of losing Moses Abraham to Georgetown and Matt Carlino to the whims of teenage male angst. Thus you have some fans calling for coach Tom Crean to go, which shows they don’t understand how much damage Kelvin Sampson caused, both by some of the phone calls he made and some (not all) of the players he signed.

All indications are Crean is finished with Carlino even if the guard changes his mind and wants to return –- which is extremely unlikely. It’s important for Crean to get players who are the right fit for his program and that includes rock solid commitment. You want guys, to borrow a cliché, you can go to war with, not guys who might bolt. Carlino didn’t have that commitment, perhaps because he committed too soon. It happens all the time in recruiting. Carlino has to know that Crean and Indiana are the right fit for him, as well. Apparently, he no longer felt they were.

One thing Abraham and Carlino had in common was neither were from the state of Indiana. Neither had that deep-rooted understanding of IU’s tradition that comes from those born and raised here.

Of course, if the unprecedented losing continues, the tradition will be as relevant to today’s kids as Lawrence Welk, which is why the Hoosiers need to return to their winning ways as soon as possible. Next year would be really, really good.

Crean is working the in-state connection hard, but he has plenty of competition from Purdue’s Matt Painter, Louisville’s Rick Pitino, Michigan State’s Tom Izzo, Ohio State’s Thad Matta, Notre Dame’s Mike Brey and, yes, the nuclear bomb of coaching threats right now, Coach Calipari.

Still, if Crean is to thrive at IU, he has to get the state’s best players. Those are the guys you can go to war with and no better example of that right now is Purdue’s Chris Kramer, who is from Huntington North. He wasn’t the most talented basketball player coming out of high school, but he was a tough-minded three-sport standout who knew how to win. The Boilers have certainly reaped the benefits.

Recruiting is all about relationships and no one has exploited the Hoosiers’ poor coaching choices better than Painter. He has made huge in-state in-roads with the best players, and while he doesn’t get everyone he wants (Butler is getting some now), he gets enough to make the Boilers a national player for the foreseeable future.

Yes, some can blame IU’s woes on the firing of Bob Knight and the hiring of Mike Davis, but the real blunder came when Davis left. The one coach Painter was most concerned about IU hiring was Steve Alford, who had the connections and background to draw the best in-state talent. Indiana passed on Alford (who has now taken New Mexico to unprecedented heights), settled on Sampson and left Crean with a mess.

Crean will clean it up, by the way. It will get better. He is too good a coach and recruiter; he understands too well the tradition of Indiana basketball. The key word to remember, is PATIENCE.


  1. Alford? Give it a rest. Unprecedented? Out in the second round of the NCAAs. Meaning top 32 teams. That's Alford alright. If he was here we might not of gone done the rabbit's hole that we're in now, but we wouldn't be competing for a national championship either. It's time to face the future with IU BB and quite looking in the past. Knight's gone (and thank god so is Pat), Alford isn't here and that's that. Support the here and now or take a hike. Lame fans who only support the team when they're winning are hopefully gone for good. That's a least something positive about all this. Fans who have no connection to the school or tradition and really only like Knight, be gone, route for T. Tech or N. Mexico or whomever;I won't miss you one bit.

    A former player, IU student and Bob Knight Basketball Camp Attendee and most of all a Hoosier for LIFE

  2. You have to look at the guys IU has coming back. The best recruiting Crean can do right now is to make sure everybody comes back next year. I can't wait to see Watford, Jones, CREEK, come back a year older and stronger. This team can work in the off season and come back as a contender NEXT year for the Big Ten. We got our great recruiting class last year, now we get to see them grow up. THEY will bring Indiana back to it's prominence. Rome wasn't built in a day, and it was never really REBUILT, so give it time. Tom Crean is our guy.

  3. everyone needs to give Tom crean a chance, He's one of the best coaches in the game today, and he will in time get the HOOSIERS back to where they once were, but it's not going to happen in 2 or 3 years....look how long it took to SCREW the program up....hang in there...THE HOOSIERS WILL BE BACK......

  4. I couldn't agree more. I know the IU fans are disappointed because of Moses and Matt but no one can be more disappointed than Coach Crean. He is a great coach and will restore IU to the national prominance we previously enjoyed (and probably took for granted). The 100% commitment he expects from recruits is the same 100% the fans should show Coach Crean. Go IU !!!!!!!!

  5. I wrote several comments on this issue.People just don't understand how hard it is to make things right.It is hard to get top recruits when your school is put on probation and you lose scholarship too.Because of a another coach who screwed up with recruiting players when he was warned by the NCAA for his mistake at a another school.I predict Indiana will make the NIT next year or the tournament.Right now I am leaning towards the NIT the tournament would be nice.I think Indiana will make the tournament in Tom Crean fourth year and they will be one or three seed.So be PATIENCE

  6. Crean will probably not be soon fired. IU has dwelt too long in the abyss of post-Knight,sub-mediocrity. IU lost the window of opportunity (immediately after firing Knight -- a period in which they would have to have literally bought the best coach by the highest salary ever offerred a college coach). Having missed this critical period, it is very unlikely they will get out of the abyss in the next few decades. The inevitable ennui has already begun to set in. The top third recruits pay no more than lip service to the dead program. Basketball at IU has gone the way of its football -- an administrative acceptance of inferior programs that would embarrass most public universities. My sense is that no in state kids with talent would come to such decaying programs. Crean, however, will benefit from this ennui by job security via neglect. He fits right in -- much like Keady's tenure at Purdue where no national champions were expected.

  7. The same arrogant, self-righteous idiots in the IU administration that fired Knight, were mostly the same myopic-minded fools that failed to hire Steve Alford simply because he had a good relationship with Coach Knight. If Alford was hired as coach after Davis, there would be two "local" teams in the Final Four.

  8. 1st Mike Davis, then Sampson, now it seems Crean, why cant they understand? The state of Indiana is where you find the kids that truly know the game. All they had to do is look around them and they should see what the ingredients for a winning team are! Purdue?Butler? ............SWIPE THEIR RECIPE!!!