Monday, January 10, 2011
Hoosier Happenings -- Crean Up, Belcher In, Pease Out
The buck stops with Tom Crean. He understands. He doesn’t dodge it. He knows his Indiana Hoosiers are not playing to their potential -- the record of 9-8, 0-4 in the Big Ten should be 11-6, 1-3 -- and the solution can only come from work, effort and attention to detail.
That’s a luxury for coaches whose teams are on winning streakes. Except, when you’re a coach, sleep is never guaranteed because there’s always something to worry about.
Crean and his staff got back late from the Northwestern loss, IU’s sixth straight, and went to right work. You watch film and look for ways to help players perform better. It’s not quantum physics, but if it was easy, a lot of guys would be making $2.3 million a year, as Crean is.
Crean spends a lot of time devising game plans that can work if the players carry them out, if they’re where they are supposed to be on defense and offense and, oh yes, on defense.
Apparently the players make it work during practice. We say apparently because practices are closed. Things get more complicated during games when opposing talent, pressure and fatigue all become factors.
During Monday’s Big Ten teleconference Crean was asked if the players are getting the message, if they are understanding what he wants them to do.
“I don’t think we’re playing consistently yet in this stretch of games,” he said. “Of course it’s going to fall back on me with that. I totally get that part of it. It’s not like we’re not doing these things in practice. It’s not like I would go back and change many of these game plans for how we want to attack. I’m not sure where you’re coming from on the question, but that’s how I view it in the sense that we have guys who want to win. We have guys who have very good attitudes.We’re just not carrying it out on the court for 40 minutes.”
On Saturday night IU will get its next shot at 40-minute execution against Michigan (11-5 overall, 1-2 in the Big Ten). Yes, the Wolverines almost upset No. 3 Kansas, but that was at Crisler Arena. This is at Assembly Hall and it is a winnable game so, as we’ve said before, win it.
Kevin Wilson gets to start all over again with his offensive coordinator. Given all the coaching changes going on around the country, he might have to wait to make sure the next guy really, really wants to be at Indiana.
Some people will take shots at Brent Pease for leaving after less than two weeks as a Hoosier, but sometimes life throws you unexpected curves. Pease got a chance to return to Boise State with a raise and a promotion (from wide receiver coach to offensive coordinator). His family doesn’t have to move. He gets to be part of a program that is a nation’s-best 61-5 over the last five seasons.
All this because Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin, who had been with the Broncos for 10 years and seemed happy where he was at, decided to take the co-offensive coordinator job at Texas.
Pease was set to work with Wilson on what certainly would have been a wide-open, diverse attack. That’s still likely Wilson’s plan, so he’ll bring in somebody with a similar background.
Psst. Rich Rodriguez is available.
Sorry. Only kidding, although given the twists and turns of of 21st Century sports (LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat; Seattle upsetting New Orleans; Urban Meyer retiring while Joe Paterno continues), anything is possible.
Anyway, the Hoosiers got some good football news with Damarlo Belcher’s decision to pass on the NFL Draft and stay for his senior year. Belcher led IU in receiving last year (78 catches for 832 yards). His catches also led the Big Ten. He has a chance to pass James Hardy as the school record holder for career catches and receiving yards.
Hardy has the record with 191 catches for 2,740 yards. Belcher has 164 catches for 1,939 yards. At 6-5 and 215 pounds, Belcher has NFL size, but needs another year of seasoning. He seems likely to get it under Wilson’s pass-friendly system.
“I believe it is in my best interest to return for my senior year,” Belcher said in a university release. “One of my goals is to earn my degree. This gives me the opportunity to accomplish that. I’m also excited about what we can achieve as a team. I look forward to playing for Coach Wilson and getting back to work with the rest of my teammates.”