Dec 31, 2013; Champaign, IL, USA; Indiana Hoosiers head coach Tom Crean watches his team from the sidelines during a game against the Illinois Fighting Illini at State Farm Center. Mandatory Credit: Ben Woloszyn-USA TODAY Sports

Indiana Hoosiers Basketball Fans Need to Calm Down


After a disappointing loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions last Wednesday, I saw Indiana Hoosiers fans calling for head coach Tom Crean to be fired. While the frustration is understandable, you need to calm down.

The Hoosiers are having their worst season in three years, but it seems many have forgotten what kind of team Crean was given when he first arrived in 2008. After the Kelvin Sampson debacle IU lost all but two players, Brett Finkelmeier and Kyle Taber. Those two player combined to play 29 games and score 30 points the year before. Not the best guy to begin your rebuild around.

But Crean took on the challenge. He had been somewhat successful with the Marquette Golden Eagles and fans believed he would be the savior of the Hoosiers, someone who would take the team back to the promise land. That was the first mistake by IU fans, thinking a man who had made one Final Four because he had NBA superstar Dwyane Wade on his team, was going to magically turn into an elite coach.

Crean took his first three seasons in stride, having to deal with the university being on probation and the lack of high-profile recruits wanting anything to do with Hoosiers basketball. He won six, 10 and then 12 games, respectively, in his first three years. Then everything changed overnight.

After three miserable seasons, Crean finally landed the big name recruit that everyone was expecting from him: Cody Zeller. Zeller was named the 2011 Mr. Basketball for the state of Indiana and was hailed as the final piece of IU’s championship puzzle.

His recruitment was bigger than just on-the-court reasons. Having landed their first big name player since Eric Gordon in 2007, IU could now recruit the best of the best to join Crean and Zeller in their quest for a championship. And that’s exactly what happened.

The 2012 Hoosiers’ recruiting class was ranked No. 5 in the nation by Rivals.com and the 2013 recruiting class was ranked No. 6. Making back-to-back Sweet 16 appearances helped Crean’s recruiting cause, but having Zeller, Victor Oladipo and Christian Watford around made an even bigger impact.

IU had finally returned to relevance. They were national darlings, preseason No. 1 in 2012, and won the most games in 2012-2013 since the 1992-1993 season.

No banner has been hung in the five full seasons Crean has coached so far and it doesn’t appear one will be hung this season either. But putting the blame solely on Crean is ridiculous. The players are the ones on the court who have to make the plays. While it’s Crean’s job to train them and draw up the x’s and o’s, he has to trust his players to execute what he’s taught them.

This entire situation feels like the Mike Davis debacle all over again, except Crean is a better coach and recruiter. Had Zeller and Oladipo stayed this year we might be talking about the possibility of a championship again, but reality is the team lost it’s best players, had no one waiting in the wing and now have to figure it all out from scratch.

So instead of wanting to fire your head coach after every down year, how about you sit down, take a deep breath and remember you have another Top 20 recruiting class. IU basketball may be doing a minor rebuild again, but at least they are bringing in talented athletes this time.

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Tags: Christian Watford Cody Zeller Featured Indiana Hoosiers Popular Tom Crean Victor Oladipo

  • metalhead65

    while I am not ready to fire crean just yet why should I be happy and patient? we knew this team would not be as good as last season but to be this bad this late in the season? with the talented players he recruited you would expect them to at least to be able to improve as the season goes along. this team had the number 6 rated recruiting class yet they still make the same stupid turnovers and act like they have never seen pressure in a game this late in the season? Crean has to take some of the blame for their performance so what is the point of being excited about the next touted recruiting class he is bringing in if this one can’t do the job? people are upset because we were led to believe the dark days of the program were over and the future was bright but this season makes that hard to believe. at least during his first 3 years you knew the team was not any good but the players gave everything they had. this team aside from Ferrell and vonleah act like they don’t care when things start to get tough and just seem to give up. add Crean’s rotations and in game strategy and fans have every right to be upset about this season and his coaching.

    • miralax

      @ metalhead- I agree entirely, and would like to add that he failed to develop last year’s team, which included two top-5 NBA picks, into a championship-caliber team by season’s end. In fact, they played no differently at the end of the season than the beginning. His lack of motion offense, inability to set screens, poor weak-side and help defense. horrible substitution patterns, high rate of turnovers, and general inability to instill mental discipline are disturbing and reason for concern. In fact, the entire reason last year’s team got to the sweet sixteen was because they had played together for two years and the fact Zeller and Hulls both had very high basketball IQ, which is something a coach can’t teach. Add in the fact Crean is a horrible loser, is abrasive to and disliked by most coaches in the B1G, and you have a case for termination at season’s end. He is nothing more than a great salesperson and recruiter. Unfortunately, James Blackmon Jr is so talented, he may make IU fans forget about Crean’s shortcomings for another year. I wish we would lose the remainder of our games so action would be taken. We belong with the Dukes, NC’s , Kentucky’s, and Syracuse’s. of NCAA basketball. Can you think of any coaches ready, talented, and ethical enough to lead our program to the place it belongs amongst college basketball’s elite?

      • miralax

        Not sure how the heck I got the name I did…lol…kind of shi-tty, if I do say so!

    • Mathew Muncy

      I won’t disagree when it comes to Crean not being an elite or even great coach. But you have to think these kids were possibly overrated as well. It’s not hard for Crean to sell IU since IU sells itself, one of very few schools that can do so.

      When it comes to calling for his head, I think it’s too early. If you can’t have one bad season, then what’s the point of coaching? If you want to fire him because you can tell he isn’t ever going to coach you to a championship then sure, but not just because the teams had a bad year.

      I’ll also point out I’m a Purdue fan, so defending Crean feels dirty.