Monday, December 27, 2010

NIT Jolt -- Did IU REALLY Lose To Penn State

Kiss the NIT goodbye.

Is that right? Can we really say that just three days after Christmas?

Yes, we can.

Does it have to come true?

No, but something has to change.


Losing at home to Penn State, as Indiana did 69-60 Monday night in its Big Ten opener, has all sorts of implications, none of them good, except this one -- it had a chance at the end.

Okay, that’s the positive bone we’ll throw.

This was exactly what IU needed -- a cliffhanger ending that demanded crunch-time toughness. It got exactly what it didn’t need -- another soft-minded loss.

That’s three straight defeats, five overall, all with the Hoosiers within minutes of victory.

Can’t somebody make a game-deciding play?

“We have to hold each other accountable,” guard Jordan Hulls says. “We have players who can go one on one, but in some situations it’s not the best time to do that. When we move the ball and play good defense, that’s when we’re at our best. If people try to be the hero, the team chemistry isn’t as good. We have to play a full 40 minutes.”

How bad was this defeat?

You don’t need us to tell you, but we will with this thought:

Second-ranked Ohio State comes to Assembly Hall Friday, which is New Year’s Eve.

Oh no.

“Three in a row can become a snowball effect for us,” guard Jeremiah Rivers says. “It’s not the way we wanted to start (the Big Ten). We can’t hang our heads and get down about it. We don’t have time.”

Penn State was, by most non-conference measures, the Big Ten’s worst team. Given this might be the toughest conference in America, that designation was misleading.

Given Monday night’s performance, it’s also wrong.

The Hoosiers have earned that status. Other than maybe Iowa at Assembly Hall, IU won’t play a game as the favorite the rest of the season. It lacks a strong inside presence. Its guard play has been inconsistent. It has borrowed about 10 pages from Hoosier football’s can’t-finish playbook.

Does any team in America give up more wide open 3s than IU? The short answer is -- no. The long answer is -- absolutely no.

Nittany Lion forward David Jackson came in as a 27.6 percent three-pointer shooter and went 3-for-4. Penn State was 8-for-17 beyond the arc, 47.1 percent. It entered the game as the Big Ten’s worst three-point shooting team, at 31.8 percent.

Penn State also was the Big Ten’s worst-shooting team overall, at 41.7 percent. It shot 53.8 percent against the Hoosiers.

What does that tell you? IU is a mediocre -- at best -- defensive team. Yeah, it throttles the SIU-Edwardsvilles of the world. So what? It’s played five decent to good teams and lost them all.

Early on against Penn State Assembly Hall was as noisy as a library, as energized as a poetry reading. You can blame the students being on break, but that’s just an excuse. The Hoosiers didn’t give fans anything to cheer about. Penn State pushed to a series of 14-point leads.

That Nittany Lions forwards Jeff Brooks and Jackson scored in double figures wasn’t surprising. They average double figures. The fact they needed just 12 minutes to do it (about three times faster than normal) was surprising. They boosted Penn State to a 34-25 halftime lead.

It was a game that screamed for a fast second-half start and the Hoosiers delivered to take a 48-47 lead. They had momentum and the crowd. Did they have the toughness to take advantage?

You know that answer.

“There has to be pride individually” Rivers says. “Pride as a team. That’s where it starts.”

IU is 9-5 and needs seven Big Ten wins to be positioned for a NIT bid. Do you see that happening? Performance says no. Results scream it. And yet, the talent suggests, maybe.

The truth hurts. It also motivates. What will it do for the Hoosiers? Friday’s Ohio State game will let us know, one way or the other.


  1. The day is coming when the "Sampson Excuses" will have expired and someone will ask "what kind of coach is Crean?" So far he has had a pass.

  2. Not being able to stop anyone off the dribble...Not having any inside rebounding or scoring...Not being strong around the basket with weak shots that get blocked like playing Nerf hoops...13 win season

  3. The crux of the problem is IU has virtually no inside game. The reason it has no inside game is because the offense never (almost never) passes the ball to our front court players in the blocks. This translates into no shooting fouls. Consistantly doing the weave on the 3 point line simply wastes time. Crean needs to demand the ball gets into the block. It's a tough blow losing Guy, but that's how it is. Watford needs to start posting up.

  4. Let's get serious .... Crean is more like Watson than Knight....This is not a well coached defensive team (poor not just off the dribble but weak on the helpside so there is no trust). Poor shot selection is also a problem .... does the coach demand good shot selection. This team needs more than a cheerleader on the needs someone who is demanding and willing to use the bench as a motivator (for more than the post players).

  5. You've heard the expression over and over..."Players take on the personality of the Coach." Certainly was true with IU and Knight and Purdue and Keady.

    Well it's true with every Crean Team at Indiana. In fact, it may be getting worse each year. Crean is a very "soft" coach. His players are really "soft". Defense is about toughness. This coach has none.

    Hoosier fans will eventually wake up and see that the IU Admin has made yet another blunder with this hire. Crean can get all the Parade HS All American "verbals" he can. It won't matter. You gotta X and O and motivate. This guy does neither.

    See ya at the end of a 3-15 (or worse) Big Ten Season.

  6. Agreed (with Pete) and agreed, agreed, agreed (with three previous anonymous posts). So disappointing to watch the last three games... Could be a LONG Big Ten season.

  7. I agree with everything posted here. The lack of development with this team in year 3 is embarrassing and falls totally on Tom Crean's shoulders. The Tan and Clap strategy is not working.....

  8. Terrible situation and the recruits will start dropping after we only win 3 more games this year.

  9. It is time for Larwence Barnett to start playing basketball again. Yeah, the football Larwence Barnett form Ft. Wayne Indiana, Bishop Luers High School. He is so fast. I watched Barnett and Deshaun Thomas play during Barnett's senior year a few times and those few times Barnett was the best player on floor. He is incrediblely quick,and a defender. He could get to the rim in a blink of an eye.

  10. What if Creen moved Creek to the point? He doesn't have Jalen Rose's height ... but it may free up some of our other guards to shoot more. Thoughts???

  11. This is turning into a mess and all the excuses and what ifs and blaming others is getting really old. Crean is in his third year, coaching the second group of kids he recruited and they look no better than they did two years ago. They are flat out awful. It's amazing how Kentucky can start 4-5 freshman every year and win immediately and Crean can't play .500 ball in his third year. How long's it going to take, Tom? 5 years? 10 years? Absolute nonsense. Nobody expected a title or an NCAA bid. But we did expect to be competitive with PENN STATE. What a joke....