Remember back in November and early December when Indiana basketball fans were practically shoving Tom Crean out the door? Bloomington, and the state of Indiana as a whole, was a hostile environment.
It all began with the much-anticipated trip to Maui, where the Hoosiers participated in the Maui Invitational. The hype didn’t last long, as they lost their opening game to Wake Forest by four. Freshman Bryant Crawford made a driving layup with 3.2 seconds to play to seal the deal against the 13th ranked Hoosiers. Keep in mind that same Wake Forest team is currently 11-19, 2-16 in the ACC, and have dropped 14 of their last 15 games.
Voices of people nagging Crean started to chipper. It didn’t get any better the next couple days, or week for that matter.
The Hoosiers followed their disappointing loss with a disappointing win, if that’s even a thing. Apparently to many people in Bloomington it is. I’ve never been one to grasp this idea; as for me a win is a win. It’s a green W in the column instead of a red L. It might not be pretty, but it’s still a win right? Hoosier faithful didn’t feel the same way.
They snuck past St. Johns winning by 10. Don’t let the 10-point win fool you, the game was close throughout. The Hoosiers then fumbled their way to a three-point loss against UNLV, committing 21 turnovers. I don’t know if it’s even possible, but the Hoosiers had a miserable time in the beautiful island of Maui, going 1-2 in a tournament where many expected them to compete in the championship game against Kansas.
The voices started ringing throughout Kirkwood.
The Hoosiers couldn’t be happier to come back to their humbly abode of Assembly Hall. They walloped Alcorn State by 42 before their trip to Durham for the BIG10/ACC Challenge against Duke. The Hoosiers were left with a bitter taste after Maui, and wanted to fix that in the intimidating environment of Cameron Indoor Stadium. They did the exact opposite of that; the complete opposite as a matter of fact. They got an old fashion whooping against the Blue Devils, losing by 20 in a game that wasn’t close from the beginning.
The voices turned into hollers, as Crean was half way out of the door. Just look back on your Twitter feed and see what some fans had to say after their loss to Duke; it was brutal.
The Hoosiers responded with a 12 game winning streak. Yes, their schedule isn’t the best, ranked 12 out of 14 in the BIG10, but it’s not easy to win 12 in a row no matter whom you play. If people haven’t noticed yet, it’s extremely hard to win on the road this year, with tons of top ranked teams falling.
What changed for the Hoosiers?
It’s rather simple honestly: not as many people need to get their shots. What do I mean by that? When the Hoosiers had the ball too much was going on. James Blackmon Jr., Kevin Ferrell, and Troy Williams were all looking to get their shot and it was becoming too complicated for everyone. Also, too much focus was being put on the offensive side of the ball and there wasn’t much focus on the defensive side of the ball.
After the news broke that Blackmon was expected to miss the rest of the season due to a knee injury, something clicked for this team. Role players like Robert Johnson and OG Anunoby have came in and filled their roles perfectly. One might be bring into concern that both Johnson and Anunoby average 8.2 and 4.3 points per game respectively, but it’s not just about points people. Anunoby and Johnson understand what they can and can’t do. They don’t shoot the ball 20 times expecting to average 15 plus points per game. They play defense, extremely well if I might add, Anunoby especially.
The Hoosiers have been one of the hottest teams in college basketball down the stretch, surging in the polls. They were unranked in week 14 of the season but have risen to 12 in the latest poll. Yes, they took a beating by Michigan State on the road, but they beat a top 20 Iowa team twice, beat a 17 Purdue, and have a big game Sunday against 14 Maryland. Oh and don’t let me forget, they are the outright BIG10 Champions. No big deal right?
Crean now sits back in his office with two BIG10 Championships in the last four years. He has done a fantastic job with the team this year. Whether it has been injuries to their best offensive player (statistically) in Blackmon Jr., Johnson and Juwan Morgan who was injured in the previous game at Iowa, Crean has faced adversity throughout the whole year, never backing down. This is his best coaching season of his career at IU.
My one question is Hoosier fans do you still want Crean gone? Some of you even wanted him to get fired after the Duke game. Where did all of you “Fire Crean” supporters suddenly disappear to? The Hoosiers just came off a three-point win at Iowa that secured them the outright BIG10 regular season title.
As soon as something goes wrong with the Hoosiers all the blame is on Crean, which I understand. The coach is responsible for how his team produces, and some of Crean’s play calls and late game strategy is rather questionable, but what happens when they win? No one gives Crean the credit he deserves. Sure they struggled in the beginning of the year, but they’ve played great since. And a word of advice for you basketball fanatics, it’s not how you start the season; it’s how you finish it.
So for all of you so quick to push Crean out the door don’t trip over yourselves while you praise the team for how well they are playing now.
Keep your mouth shut and let the season pan out, it’s a long one.