Saturday, January 28, 2012

Conspiracy, Zeller Fouls, And Beating Iowa

Do you see wrong doing in fouls called against Indiana? Do you wonder why official Ted Valentine still works Hoosier basketball games? Are you convinced freshman forward Cody Zeller is a victim of a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of government?

Well, we can’t answer those questions. What we can do is tell you how Indiana coach Tom Crean approaches the subject of Zeller and fouls.

Zeller, as you might suspect, seems to never get the benefit of the officiating doubt. A simple explanation would be that he has fallen into the same habits of former Hoosier Bobby Capobianco and current Hoosier Tom Pritchard, and does foul too much.

But nothing is simple in an era in which an obvious goal-tending call on Syracuse is not called and West Virginia’s potential upset victory becomes gut-wrenching defeat.

But we digress.

Instead, focus on Crean during his pre-game press conference addressing Sunday night’s home game against Iowa.

He is asked if Zeller is getting frustrated with his foul situation (four fouls in four of his last six games), that there’s a perception he gets called for nit-picky stuff while opponents can throw him to the floor without a whistle (IMPORTANT THOUGHT -– Zeller has to get strong enough and stay balanced enough so that no one throws him anywhere) and the fact he only played 19 minutes in Thursday night’s loss at Wisconsin because of foul trouble.

“We point things out to him,” Crean said. “He works extremely hard. I’ll give you a great example.

“We spend a lot of time making sure we understand how to (handle the) block-charge line.”

NOTE: That’s the circle you see under the basket. If you’re outside the line and are set, it’s a charge. If you’re inside, it’s either a blocking foul or a no call.

“An idea we got from John Adams, who runs all the officiating,” Crean said, “was to put a white line six inches above the actual line so you’re never close. That line is always down for us in practice. We’ll rarely try to draw a charge anywhere near the line, and we’ll be set.

“When Cody gets called for a blocking foul (during the Wisconsin game), you can show him, that’s not what happened. It was a charge. Let’s keep doing it, even though it wasn’t called.”

In other words, and Crean was being diplomatic because he didn’t want to incur a fine by ripping the officials, Zeller got a bad call. It was a charge and not a blocking foul, so Zeller should just keep doing what he’s doing because eventually the calls will go his way.

“We work extremely hard to make sure we teach the proper way to do things,” Crean said. “The proper form of verticality in the post. The proper form of offensive rebounding. The proper way of rotating to draw a charge. We’ll continue to do that. It doesn’t mean it’s always going to be called that way. As long as we keep teaching it the right way, that’s what’s most important.”

As far as Zeller, Crean doesn’t want the 6-11 freshman to unnecessarily change his game.

“None of us want him to do anything more than play,” Crean said. “He was so well schooled before he got here. We want to make sure we school him on the speed aspects of the college game.

“If I was frustrated or upset with Cody, then he should have something to think about. I’m not. I’m just challenging him to get better. I’ve spent the last couple of days spending as much time as anything challenging him to get better. That’s where our focus is.

“He’s doing the right things. Is he always being rewarded for it? No.

“When you teach the right things and do the right things, you expect to be rewarded for it during the game. You expect the game to be called in the last two mintues the way it was called in the first two mintues. Those are your expectations going into a game. It doesn’t always happen. You have to make those adjustments along the way.

“Cody has gotten tremendously better at verticality, his hands behind his head, positioning and things of that nature. That’s what we want to focus on.”

In other words, don’t sweat the conspiracy stuff. Just play.

And, oh, yes. Beat Iowa.


  1. I would be very interested to hear Big Ten Refs defend Big Ten Refereeing. It would be both painful to listen to and ironically entertaining at the same time. It is somewhat difficult being such a huge Basketball Fan and trying to watch Big Ten games despite the "quagmire" of Big Ten officiating. The game becomes not as much about strategy, matchups, and execution, but about countering the inept and overzealous Refs who just have to inject themselves into the games instead of overseeing it. The Big Ten has needed improved officiating for some time.

  2. The block/charge call is maybe the hardest call an official has to make. If my memory was good enough I could recall hundreds that I thought went the wrong way. The official sees it from his position on the floor which is usually not the same view as from the stands nor the tv camera. Add to that it being a bang/bang call and there will always be disagreement. Play on.

  3. I wonder why the IU fans always see things differently. All other big ten schools know that assembly hall is the worst place to get
    a fair shake from the refs. Case in point, the hoosiers have beaten the #1 and #2 nationally ranked teams at Assembly hall but have lost to unranked in there own conference when not playing at home. As for Zeller, He is throwing down his opponents without calls against him throughout the season. Even the ESPN commentators mention that the officials do not like to call fouls against Cody.