We’re just a few days from the start of the Big Ten tourney and ready to ask the key Cream ‘n Crimson basketball questions.
For instance, is it time to play Bawa Muniru?
Let’s face it. Indiana’s season long ago became a short-term lost cause. It’s time to face the future, and one area that has to get better is the inside game.
So why not play a 6-11, 242-pound freshman athlete?
Yes, Muniru is going to mess up. He’ll blow defensive assignments, not help when he should, not always run the play coach Tom Crean wants to run. No matter. It’s time for some on-the-job learning because Muniru’s upside is high.
Or so we’ve been told. Since practices are closed and Muniru hasn’t played much, it’s hard to know for sure.
Hey, it’s not like playing Muniru is going to cost the Hoosiers a championship. They’re 9-20 for goodness sakes. Everybody blows them out. Put him out there and let him figure it out.
Crean and his coaches aren’t stupid. If Muniru could help IU win now, he’d be getting major minutes. He’s not because he gets lost in what the Hoosiers are trying to do, mostly because he hasn’t played the game long enough to have developed that sense of where to be and what to do. Learning the college game in general, and Crean’s system in particular, has been a challenge.
Here’s the bottom line -- Muniru is raw and might be too nice for his own good. He has played in 18 games and averages 3.4 minutes. He’s scored a total of 11 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. The most he’s played is eight minutes and that was back in late December against Bryant. He got three minutes in Wednesday’s loss at Purdue and grabbed a rebound, scored a basket and took a shot to the eye from 7-foot teammate Tijan Jobe, the most dangerous Hoosier of the century.
Anyway, if Muniru is so big a project that Crean can’t put him on the floor, after already burning his redshirt opportunity, well, Muniru has got to play. Start him against Northwestern and for however long IU is in next week’s Big Ten Tournament. What’s the worst that can happen? In this conference season of misery, there is no “worst.” There is only growth, and you can’t grow if you don’t play. Who knows? Maybe he’s one of those guys who plays better than he practices.
If Muniru is not the right fit for the program, let him prove it on the court. If he is, he needs experience.
So is it time to play Bawa Muniru?
In fact, it’s way past time.