Thursday, December 15, 2011

Remember When – Hoosier Classic Becomes Crossroads Classic

Once upon a time, Indiana, Notre Dame, Purdue and Butler gathered in Indianapolis to play basketball and yea, verily, it was good.

Then it was called the Hoosier Classic. It was a two-day event played at Butler’s Hinkle Fieldhouse. It went from 1947-51 and from 1957-59.

IU won it four times. Butler won twice. Purdue and Notre Dame won once each.

Indiana shut it down by stopping its participation in 1960. The event disappeared.

Now it’s back in a new form called the Crossroads Classic. Okay, actually it’s called the Close the Gap Crossroads Classic and it will be held Saturday at Indianapolis Conseco Fieldhouse.

Purdue will open things with Butler. Indiana and Notre Dame will follow.

ESPN2 will be there. So will CBS. So will a sold-out crowd.

Yeah, it’s a big-time event at a big-time facility.

It should be a lot of fun, perhaps enough to warrant more than the two years the four schools have signed on for.

Purdue coach Matt Painter is on record as saying he hopes it becomes an annual tradition. Indiana coach Tom Crean isn’t quite as committed, although he probably will be.

“I’m anxious to see it,” Crean said. “The No. 1 thing when (the idea) came up was, Would it be a big deal? Every team has had a week off, so there is some time for a lead-up to it.

“Would it sell out? Would TV be partnered in and locked it? The fact you have CBS, with (announcers) Ian Eagle and Bill Raftery (for the Purdue-Butler game) and us with ESPN’s Dan Shulman and Dick Vitale –- all those questions are answered.”

Crean would like to see the final results after next year’s event.

“After it has been played a year or two, we will look at it and see if we want to continue this or do we want to change the format,” he said. “I will be in those conversations when (athletic director) Fred Glass brings them to me, but I won’t bring them up unless there was something that didn’t make sense.”

That doesn’t figure to happen.

“There are no fears whatsoever,” Crean said. “We’re really looking forward to it.”


There was one criticism heard in the aftermath of the Kentucky victory, and it came with the subtlty of a James Harrison tackle -- Get Cody Zeller the bleeping ball.

The Hoosiers inability to get Zeller the ball inside down the stretch againt Kentucky contributed to the Wildcats’ end-of-game rally.

It wasn’t like IU wasn’t trying, Crean said, but Kentucky’s length and athleticism made it difficult.

Still, Crean added, “We’ve gotta do a better job of getting it in. But that was one of the hardest teams that we’ve ever seen, that I’ve ever seen as a coach, to get the ball entered in. That’s not an excuse, that’s just a fact. We do have to do a better job of getting the ball in and we have to do a better job of getting him the ball at different times in the clock.”

Beyond that, Zeller has to demand the ball more, both in word and action.

“Holding his seal,” Crean said. “Be more vocal. Continue to create angles. His teammates need to go into it a little bit earlier, but the window against the best teams in pick and roll, the window against the best teams in post feeding, the window against the best teams in getting your shot off, it’s very, very small. When it’s there, you’ve gotta take advantage of it.

“The angle of the pass, the timing of the pass, the quickness of the release of the shot, the better the team you play, the more the margin for error goes up and the more your details and technique have gotta be great. And there were times the other day that it wasn’t.”

Figure Zeller will get the ball plenty Saturday against Notre Dame.


Yes, Maurice Creek uses pre-game time to do some shooting drills. Does that mean the oft-injured guard is healing from his torn Achilles tendon faster than expected? Could he even have a chance to play by the end of the season?

No, Crean said.

“He’s the pre-game act where he goes out there and starts drilling 3s,” Crean said. “He’s not ready to do shooting drills with us, but I saw him yesterday shooting in Cook (Hall) with both shoes on, so he’s not in the boot right now in practice, which is good. But it’s not anytime soon before he’d be in drills or anything like that.

“It’s good for him. Think about how hard that is. He’s such a great teammate and he’s locked in. Two years ago, he was putting 31 (points) on Kentucky. It’s fun to watch him mature and grow up and take of what he can take care of.”

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