Do you find yourself staying up late at night wondering what Indiana coach Tom Crean is going to do about his players-to-scholarships ratio?
If so, get a life, for goodness sake. Do what all real men do at times like that:
They go shopping!
For power tools!!
Anyway, if that’s not your thing, we’re here to provide some clarity on why Crean would create a situation where he has 14 players and 13 scholarships. And if somehow Matt Roth winds up back on the team, well, let’s stick to what we know.
First, Crean does not have a math problem. He knew what he was doing.
Given these transfer-or-leave-early-for-the-NBA times, rosters all across the country are in flux. As a coach, you never know who’s staying or bolting. As Purdue coach Matt Painter has said, sometimes the coach is the last to know when a player wants out.
Anyway, you have to cover your bases in case the unexpected happens.
Crean knows that from experience. When he was at Marquette he quickly built a solid foundation. His first two teams went 15-14. His third went 26-7 and made the NCAA tourney. He was expecting big things in Year Four, but then three players transferred. That left him with 10 scholarship players and he wasn’t able to sign any more players.
“So we’re getting walk-ons,” he said. “One player averaged 8 points a game in high school. We had to get enough guys to practice.”
Crean made it work, and a big reason was he had a superstar in Dwyane Wade, who led Marquette to a 27-6 record and the Final Four. Still, not every team has a Wade. Crean didn't want a lack-of-player repeat.
“I learned a lot of lessons then,” he said. “I learned to always plan ahead when you have a great player.
“A lot of coaches want to have scholarships sitting there. I’m not in that mindset. I’d rather be prepared for a rainy day. That’s where over-signing comes in.”
The problem, in this case, is IU’s rainy days appear to be over. At least for now. Freshman superstar Cody Zeller stayed despite being a certain lottery pick, and that rarely happens these days. Junior standout Christian Watford stayed and the odds of that back in late March seemed as remote as Bobby Petrino’s chances of returning to coach Arkansas. Maurice Creek seems on pace to recover from a torn Achilles tendon. Nobody apparently wants to transfer. All five incoming freshmen are anxious to arrive on campus.
So IU has a wealth of talented players, and if you remember Crean’s first year in Bloomington, you know there are far worse things to happen to your program.
“I never want to have our program falling short where we are short guards because we didn’t sign one when we could have,” he said.
Still, something has to give.
“These things work themselves out,” Crean said.
Then he added, “There’s not a timetable. That’s the way that it is. It’s something on the horizon.”
As for Roth, he already has his bachelor’s degree in sports communication. He’s set to get his master’s in sports administration and management next week. He has a year of eligibility remaining, so he could start working on his PhD and come back for a final season (and go through Senior Night for a second time, which would almost certainly be an Indiana first). Or he could go to another school and play one year (a lot of teams would love a guy who shoots 60 percent from three-point range), as long as it had a graduate program not offered by IU. Or he could just start his career.
No matter what, Indiana is already one over the scholarship limit. It would be two if Roth returned on scholarship.
“Matt is keeping his options open, which is good,” Crean said. “He’s focused on finishing up (his master’s degree). He had such a big academic load to get to where he wanted to be as far as his master’s. He has options of keeping his eligibility. He’s planning for the future.”
Is there a scenario, even as a walk-on, where Roth would have a spot at IU?
“We’ll have to wait and see,” Crean said. “Any discussions like that will be in house. What’s best for him. He’s looking into his future.”
And if that includes power tools, all the better.
For the record, last weekend was the first of two April evaluation periods for players in the Classes of 2013, 2014 and 2015. A lot of coaching attention centered in Merrillville. This weekend it switches to Indianapolis for the Adidas Spring Classic. Games will be played at eight sites, including North Central, Westfield and the Fisher’s Fieldhouse.
IU committed players Devin Davis, Collin Hartman and Trey Lyles are set to play. So are such Hoosier targets as Chandler White, Hyron Edwards and Trevon Bluiett.
Thanks again, for those who have commented about the passing of Coco, our 14-year-old Shelty. Also thanks for the kind words about winning Indiana sportswriter of the year. Both events created a wide swing of emotion, and a few blog typos. Hopefully, those mistakes are over.