Thursday, March 4, 2010
No Easy Answer for IU Struggles
What can Jordan Hulls say, really, beyond the obvious?
“There’s no reason why we can’t be physical,” Indiana’s freshman guard says. “We have to keep working it at practice every day and get better.”
What, you were expecting the secret location of the Fountain of Youth?
If it were EASY to stop Indiana’s unprecedented losing, if there was some sort of strategy that could turn youth to experience, soft play into tough-as-nails performance and defeat into victories, the Hoosiers already would be doing it.
They’re not, of course, and have the school-record-tying 11 straight losses and second-straight 20-loss season to prove it.
Still, inquiring minds want to know what's going on because, well, that’s what they do. Questions are asked, answers are given and truth sometimes emerges. And if it lacks the drama of, say, Kanye West enjoying rewards show time with Taylor Swift, well, IU has enough drama these days.
The Hoosiers insist they do what is necessary in practice, but not in games. There’s no verification because coach Tom Crean keeps practices closed tighter than the Colonel’s secret recipe, but assuming it’s true, maybe Hulls has an explanation.
“There’s no answer,” he says. “(Practice effort) doesn’t carry over to the games.”
There is an answer, of course. It works in practice because the Hoosiers are going against themselves and not, say, the Michigan State Spartans. The Spartans are older, stronger, tougher and better. They will not allow it to work against them, and the Hoosiers aren’t tough enough to force the issue.
Some day, they will be. Today’s misery will beget tomorrow’s success. For now, though, all IU (9-20) has is one remaining regular season game. Mercifully, it is at Assembly Hall. It comes Saturday against a 19-11 Northwestern team that flirted with NCAA tourney at-large prospects before a recent slump seemingly guarantees a NIT appearance.
After that comes what seems to be a one-and-done showing at next week’s Big Ten tourney in Indianapolis. Then the Hoosiers can take a second straight unwanted spring break instead of a NCAA tourney trip. They can get away from each other, and let’s face it, you lose this much and getting away from each other can’t come soon enough.
A break will let passions cool and give coaches time to find a much-needed inside presence. Coaches have offered 6-9 Moses Abraham of Maryland a scholarship. They've also offered 6-7 forward Will Yeguete of Florida.
IU coaches likely will explore the junior college option to try to land a instant-impact player it needs to jump-start the rebuilding project.
But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. For the Hoosiers, for now, all that matters is beating Northwestern.