IU's Crean praised, criticized following NBA draft

July 1, 2013
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Normally, when it comes to the NBA draft, analysts and fans try to dissect what it means for various NBA teams.

This year—at least in Indiana—there’s no shortage of people trying to decide what last Thursday’s draft means for the Indiana University basketball team and what it says about the team’s coach, Tom Crean.

I’ve heard from a number of people who said it only intensifies the questions they have about Crean’s coaching ability. The anti-Crean camp asks, ‘How can a team with the second- and fourth-best college players not get past the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA tournament?’

It’s a legitimate question. But I’m not going to try to answer it. I don’t spend enough time studying the X's and O's of college basketball to render an opinion. And I’m not inside the minds of NBA general managers, who draft as much on potential as past performance.

I don’t consider myself a Crean apologist, but let’s not forget what this man has done for IU’s program. IU last year won the outright Big Ten regular-season championship. And that’s just three years removed from being one of the worst teams in college basketball.

This much can be said with certainty: When it comes to college basketball, the standards in Indiana are sky high. And if at some point, Crean can’t win an NCAA championship, he’ll be just another guy living out his days in Branch McCracken’s and Bob Knight’s shadows. That may be unfair, but it’s true, at least in so much as the program’s fans and supporters are concerned.

This NBA draft, however, will mean something very different to most blue-chip high school recruits than it does to IU faithful. With that, I can say with some level of certainty that Victor Oladipo's being drafted No. 2 overall and Cody Zeller's going No. 4 won’t affect Crean’s recruiting efforts one bit. It will only enhance those efforts to attract the best high school players to Bloomington.

Rick Pitino might have the 2013 NCAA championship trophy, but he didn’t have two of his guys drafted in the top four of this year’s NBA draft. That gets to another truth, one that won’t sit well with many college basketball fans, especially the purists who think the 1970s and 1980s were the golden age.

Today, the best U.S. high school basketball players don’t care that much about winning an NCAA championship. It’s not like the days when Scott May and Quinn Buckner came back for their senior year to win a national championship.

Look at Zeller and Oladipo, and they’re certainly not alone. You could also point to Butler’s Gordon Hayward and many others. All gave up a good shot at an NCAA title for an NBA paycheck. Most players bolt when they have a solid chance at becoming a high first-round selection.

I’m not here to judge them. There’s certainly something to be said for financial security. I’m just stating that players used to want to play for guys like Bob Knight and Johnny Wooden because they wanted to win a national championship. Now high school players want to play for a coach that can get them to the NBA.

Overall, last week’s NBA draft appears to be something of a mixed bag for IU. If the school is seeking publicity from its sports programs, it got plenty of it on draft night and the days that followed.

But there’s a fan-generated grumble rumbling from Bloomington right through Indianapolis and all the way to Chicago—the biggest bastions of IU supporters. Crean isn’t tone deaf when it comes to such grumbling. Neither is his boss, IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.

After all, these guys serve two masters. Crean has to be able to play well in front of the 17- and 18-year-old recruits that fuel the program’s ever-hungry fire. But he and Glass also have to answer to the fan base, which is heavily populated with money-donating alums.

Guys like Oladipo and Zeller are getting their money. Crean and Glass have to make sure the program continues to get its share as well.

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  • Haters b Hatin'
    Calipari had an early elite-8 exit back in 2010 with far more talent leading the way, including: John Wall (1st pick), DeMarcus Cousins (5th), Eric Bledsoe (18th), Patrick Patterson (14th), Daniel Orton (28th) and DeAndre Liggins (53rd). The NCAA Tournament is the most unpredictable of all championships due to its one and done nature. Lay off Crean and let him work. This is officially year 3 in terms of being competitive post Sampson.
    • Talent
      The man can recruit, no doubt about it, but can he coach? I think that is a better way to look at this. We can tail spin into his absolute blindside of not seeing the zone coming as an example...
    • Crean For Real?
      I agree with Forehead, Crean can recruit, but why is it that he has this tendency to lose the tough games?
      • Why No Title
        It seems that the issue of why no title this year for IU can be simply stated: too many turnovers by the guards. It was not Crean throwing those errant passes.
        • he overcoaches
          Tom Crean over coaches. In tight games, like the second Ohio State game and the Butler game, Tom Crean tries to match the other coach defensively instead of continuing with what was working. He is a good recruiter and a not so good final two minute coach. Also, I do not know if any of his players like playing for him more than being recruited by him. At senior night this year, while thanking his three seniors, he addressed the crowd with his comments instead of the seniors.
        • Crean
          IU will never get past the Sweet 16 with Crean as coach. Mark my words.
          • reply
            This could be said of any coach: "He didn't win the tough games."
          • Hoosier fans as always
            Let's see...Crean has been here 4 seasons, and we already have him completely figured out, he over coaches, can't coach big moments, he plays to the crowd, he will never make it past the Sweet 16...please, Dakich is so right about IU fan, they are know it alls who don't really know much. First, Crean has already made it to a Final 4 at Marquettte. I think he will get to another one eventually, and if he doesn't then Anthony's point is well taken. Second, this program was in complete shambles just 2 years ago thanks to Kelvin Sampson and Mike Davis, now you are competing head to head with Calipari for the best talent out there, stop the whining and over anaysis. And both BS and Mike are right. Many far more talented teams than this IU team didn't win the title...the Kentucky team BS mentioned with 5 NBA first round picks, the Memphis team Calipari had a couple of years before that that choked up a 9 point lead in the final two minutes and lost in OT to Kansas, Georgetown in 1977, Houston and Phi Slamma Jamma in 1983, on and on. This IU team was highly flawed, despite the 2 first round draft picks...no bench save inconsistent Sheehey, midget guards who got completely exposed by Syracuse's length and athleticism, and the enigmatic Watford...Syracuse employed the same plan that Wisconsin, Butler, etc. did...defend the heck out of Oladipo and Zeller, and make the other guys beat you, which they didn't do...like Mike said, Crean didn't commit all those turnovers..he also didn't shoot 0 for whatever, but Jordan Hulls did, and he couldn't guard anybody either. I love Jordan Hulls, but he was a no show in the tournament, and he himself has admitted that. The landscape of college basketball has changed. Rarely is anyone going to do it the way "Ole Bobby" did it back in the day. The 1976 IU team played almost all seniors (Benson was the only JR. who got minutes). The 1981 team had the best player Knight ever coached, Isiah Thomas, plus a bunch of veteran players like Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner. 1987...Alford, Garrett, Smart, Thomas, all seniors, and Alford, unlike Hulls, did show up for the Tournament (7-10 from 3 in the championship game). All the great coaches now deal with early exits to the NBA (didn't say Crean was a great coach, but since Roy Williams never won all the years he was at Kansas and Boeheim took 25 plus years to win, just saying sometimes it doesn't happen right away)...Coach K, Roy Williams, Calipari, Self, Boeheim, Pitino...even Brad Stephens has had two guys go early. If you are going to be an elite program these days, guys are going to leave early. Cody and Victor had to leave...weak draft, high stock, big money. We already know Crean is getting some of the best players in the future (I hear he's going to offer a 6th grader next week), the spotlight is on...let's give it some time and see how he and his staff do instead of playing Chicken Little.
            • Hoosier fans as always
              Let's see...Crean has been here 4 seasons, and we already have him completely figured out, he over coaches, can't coach big moments, he plays to the crowd, he will never make it past the Sweet 16...please, Dakich is so right about IU fan, they are know it alls who don't really know much. First, Crean has already made it to a Final 4 at Marquettte. I think he will get to another one eventually, and if he doesn't then Anthony's point is well taken. Second, this program was in complete shambles just 2 years ago thanks to Kelvin Sampson and Mike Davis, now you are competing head to head with Calipari for the best talent out there, stop the whining and over anaysis. And both BS and Mike are right. Many far more talented teams than this IU team didn't win the title...the Kentucky team BS mentioned with 5 NBA first round picks, the Memphis team Calipari had a couple of years before that that choked up a 9 point lead in the final two minutes and lost in OT to Kansas, Georgetown in 1977, Houston and Phi Slamma Jamma in 1983, on and on. This IU team was highly flawed, despite the 2 first round draft picks...no bench save inconsistent Sheehey, midget guards who got completely exposed by Syracuse's length and athleticism, and the enigmatic Watford...Syracuse employed the same plan that Wisconsin, Butler, etc. did...defend the heck out of Oladipo and Zeller, and make the other guys beat you, which they didn't do...like Mike said, Crean didn't commit all those turnovers..he also didn't shoot 0 for whatever, but Jordan Hulls did, and he couldn't guard anybody either. I love Jordan Hulls, but he was a no show in the tournament, and he himself has admitted that. The landscape of college basketball has changed. Rarely is anyone going to do it the way "Ole Bobby" did it back in the day. The 1976 IU team played almost all seniors (Benson was the only JR. who got minutes). The 1981 team had the best player Knight ever coached, Isiah Thomas, plus a bunch of veteran players like Ray Tolbert and Landon Turner. 1987...Alford, Garrett, Smart, Thomas, all seniors, and Alford, unlike Hulls, did show up for the Tournament (7-10 from 3 in the championship game). All the great coaches now deal with early exits to the NBA (didn't say Crean was a great coach, but since Roy Williams never won all the years he was at Kansas and Boeheim took 25 plus years to win, just saying sometimes it doesn't happen right away)...Coach K, Roy Williams, Calipari, Self, Boeheim, Pitino...even Brad Stephens has had two guys go early. If you are going to be an elite program these days, guys are going to leave early. Cody and Victor had to leave...weak draft, high stock, big money. We already know Crean is getting some of the best players in the future (I hear he's going to offer a 6th grader next week), the spotlight is on...let's give it some time and see how he and his staff do instead of playing Chicken Little.
            • Seriously Bugsy?
              Bugsy, Crean just won an outright Big Ten title for the first time in 20 years. The Big Ten also happened to be the toughest conference in the nation according to experts and statisticians alike. Not only that, but Indiana won @Ohio State, @Michigan State and @Michigan. Those are extremely "tough" road wins. No IU team had won in Mich State's Breslin Center since 1991. Case closed.
            • Not concerned
              The high draft status is a reflection of their ability AND their character, something not always evident in players from other programs. As to why IU lost in the sweet 16...as they say "the other team has guys on scholarship too."
            • Crean's NBAers
              Still very disappointed that IU didn't fare better against Syracuse. Biggest question I have is how does a first team All American in Oladipo take only 6 shots in the most important game that the team plays all year? I would opine that anyone with his alleged talent would do everything he could to score regardless of the defense that is played, and that should have translated to at least 15 or more shots. This was especially key since IU's undersized backcourt could not get open looks.
            • How IU lost in Sweet 16
              IU was one of the 3 best teams this past year, very little doubt about that. But, when a team is playing a high zone, the only way to beat it is with dominate frontcourt play. Now, if the officials allow teams to absolutely clobber anyone getting the ball down low, without calling any fouls, it sets up an insurmountable advantage for the team playing the zone defense. Nobody could have beaten them. The officials were allowing way too much physical contact in that game. And that was not the only game wherein it was allowed. Watch the Syracuse game before that one and after. Cody got hammered by 2 to 3 guys every time he got the ball down low. Even Wilt, Shaq or any other dominant big cannot score when that kind of clobbering is allowed. That's not basketball!
            • This is a complete overestimation.
              I've been an IU fan all my life. I come from a smallish town with plenty of die hard IU fans. I live in Indianapolis and practically all of my friends are IU fans. The copy and paste of the paragraph below from this article is a complete miss in the assessment of the IU fan base and their feelings towards Tom Crean. 'But there’s a fan-generated grumble rumbling from Bloomington right through Indianapolis and all the way to Chicago—the biggest bastions of IU supporters. Crean isn’t tone deaf when it comes to such grumbling. Neither is his boss, IU Athletic Director Fred Glass.' I've spoken with many IU fans and been a contributing member of the indiana.rivals.com premium formum for well more than 10 years. Yes the fanbase was disappointed with the outcome this season but no one is concerned about Tom Crean. If anyone is, they are an extremely small and vocal minority. Practically everyone I've encountered is very pleased with what coach Crean has accomplished. This is classic bad journalism meant to evoke a reaction and get website hits. I'll now handle this the way I handled Kravitz...I'll stop reading entirely.
            • Crean
              I agree with Martin, I've been a fan since B4 Knight, grew up in Btown and absolutely believe in Tom Crean. Nobody wanted to loose to Syracuse and if we would have had Steve Alford behind the three point line maybe we wouldn't have. The overall majority of the fan base loves the guy, second guess all you want, I do it as well but I must say I appreciate Tom's confidence in his players. Coaching is a toss up from the media standpoint win and your a genius, lose and you were outcoached (Dean Smith?) Win enough and your a God who can do no wrong (Coach K, Robert M. Knight) unless you hang around too long. IU is in the mix and I for one love it, only one team is Champion every year in NCAA BB, Louisville this year, as in 80 and 81, IU in 81, 87 and 2014? As long as were in the mix we have a chance.
            • Agreed!!!
              Very well put! You are spot on!
            • So true
              Jim is right. Couldn't of said it better. Give Crean a break. Couldn't win a tough game? What about December 2011 vs Kentucky? Took out MSU and UM twice this year. Won the Big ten outright. I will admit that the Syracuse game was tough to watch, but nobody wins them all, and I was in Bloomington for the '75 team. That was atough loss!
            • Then how
              Then how did he manage a final four at Marquette, or are you going to give Wade that credit?
            • Lose the tough games?
              What big ten season did you watch? We won at MSU, Michigan and OSU. Give me a break.
            • zeller development
              I just wonder why coach Crean did not utilize Zellers outside shooting. The Bobcats selected him because of it, but it never materialized on the court. I think he could of used it against the Orange.
            • Contradicts himself
              The author lost me with this contradictory sentence: "With that, I can say with some level of certainty that Victor Oladipo being drafted No. 2 overall and Cody Zeller going No. 4 won’t affect Crean’s recruiting efforts one bit. It will only enhance those efforts to attract the best high school players to Bloomington." I don't claim to be a logician, but that sentence doesn't make any sense. And the rest of the article isn't much better. Next time, proof your article if you want to try and convince others that you've got something to say.
            • Coaching
              The best basketball coach in the state is at butler. Cody Zeller has been living on his last name and being 7ft tall the problem is when he has met someone that can play with him at his size he has looked like Tyler Hansborough. He needed more development of his game and creen and the rest of coaching staff did not help him. Now here is the way I know Stephens is a better coach if he beat IU with lesser talent do you think Creen could have beat IU if he was the coach of Butler? If you are honest you know the answer.
              • To Peabody
                Really?? 24 short months ago IU won 12 games!!!
              • IU-Syracuse
                Syracuse's starting guards outscored IU's 38-0. Zeller had an average game and Oladipo is slightly below average game, but they could have played great and no overcome the above statistic. Sometimes, it's just the matchups.
              • Outcoached
                Crean simply was out coached. He's 4th best coach in conference, if that, not to mention who he is behind nationally. This puts the spotlight on his recruiting which is his strength. Just because you're coaching at IU it doesn't make you Bob Knight in the blink of an eye. IU will consistently be a top 20 team for as long as Crean is in Bloomington and perhaps all the stars will align and he'll play for or win a National Title. Isn't that all you can really ask for?

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