Posted on: February 21, 2011 3:39 pm
Edited on: February 21, 2011 3:39 pm

Tom Crean sees paradise by the dashboard lights

Tom Crean starts the sarcastic slow clap for Big Ten schedule changes

Posted by Eric Angevine

Tom Crean is annoyed. His rebuilding Indiana team has to play two games in rapid succession.

Jeff Rabjohns reported on tweets from the IU coach's Twitter account this afternoon:

“I just heard the craziest thing. It must be Ashton Kutcher and his PUNKED show or a April Fools joke a few weeks early,” Crean wrote on his Twitter account.

“I heard the Big Ten network is moving us to play at Illinois after we play Wisconsin at 9 o clock Thursday at 11 on Saturday. IN THE MORNING.

“There is no way that could be true is it? What was the 8 a.m. slot taken?

“I feel like we should jump in some vans, put the 8 track tapes in, get some cheese sandwiches and have a old school road trip.”

“I am okay with 1 day in between games on occasion but 36 hours? In a rivalry game? That defies rationalization.”

Of course, this is the type of schedule one must follow in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, though we'll spot him the complaint about travel time in-between.

What I'm most intrigued by is the notion of which 8-tracks Crean would spool on his old-school road trip. My parents had a nice collection of Eddie Rabbit, Neil Diamond and Dan Fogelberg cartage back when I was a kid (oh, and you'd better believe we had an AMC Pacer, my friends), but something about Crean just screams out Rush, or an endless loop of Stairway to Heaven.
Posted on: February 5, 2011 11:20 pm
Edited on: February 5, 2011 11:23 pm

Assembly Hall hardwood now doubles as trampoline

Posted by Matt Norlander

Since I've come over to CBSSports.com, I've tried to curb my urge to post every exciting dunk that pops up on YouTube. There are two other such blogs that have continued to grip that torch high, and kudos to them for keeping up with such facialization on a nightly basis.

But there's a burgeoning trend that's as shocking as it is confusing as it is stereotype-smashing; a trend that I can't keep from you, loyal visitor to this here space. The question that comes to mind upon seeing such a trend: What's become of the air in Bloomington, Indiana? Another: Is Assembly Hall sitting on a pocket of electromagnetic energy, or is there a glitch in the earth's gravitational constants?

First we had Tom Pritchard giving us one of the best pictures of the year while throwing down this put-back dunk a few nights back:

And earlier today, the only highlight possible that could be unearthed and birthed out of an Iowa-Indiana game. Ladies and gentlemen, watch Will Sheehey alter your universe as you know it:

Hoosiers fan learned in the preseason that Sheehey had hops.   Someone get the "Fringe" crew out to Bloomington ASAP. Actually, scratch that. Whatever freak force in the universe that's allowing white boys to pop off the hardwood with such alacrity is a mystery better left unsolved.
Category: NCAAB
Tags: Indiana, video
Posted on: January 21, 2011 3:07 pm
Edited on: January 21, 2011 5:02 pm

Four coaches who need strong finishes

Posted by MATT JONES

While most of the national attention in college basketball's closing weeks will focus on the teams headed towards the NCAA Tournament and a potential title, these next six weeks also hold a great deal of meaning to some coaches who are fighting to keep their heads above water. With the majority of conference play still to come, some coaches are in desperate need of a reversal of fortune from their teams, lest their seat get a bit warm this March:

Paul Hewitt

It has been a rough ride for Hewitt at Georgia Tech, as his brand of basketball has never truly caught on with the Yellow Jacket faithful. This is his 11<sup>th</sup> season in Atlanta and in some respects, his time can be considered a success. He has finished in the top five of the ACC in 5 of his 10 seasons, has made it to the NCAA Tournament in 5 of 10 seasons and has reached 20 wins in 5 of 10 seasons. But then there is the other half of his tenure, four years in which the team ended with an overall losing record and a 2009, 2-14 ACC campaign that was seen as an almost-certain job killer. More significantly, the momentum is decidedly negative, as Hewitt's last five seasons have been much worse than his first five. His record is only 80-76 during that time frame, and this season seems to be on the same path, with Georgia Tech currently 9-8.  For the Tech faithful, the question of how much mediocrity can be accepted is prevalent and there is a sense that in this weakest ACC in recent memory, without a strong finish by Hewitt's team, coupled with a NCAA Tournament bid, it could be time for a change. Plus, it is no secret that many around the program would like to call Tubby Smith and see if he can be moved from frigid Minnesota back to Georgia, thus putting Hewitt on decidedly borrowed time.

Pat Knight

It’s never easy to be the poor sap with the unfortunate task of replacing a legend. But when that legend is your father and you are seen by many as the awkward son who simply got the job due to the name on the back of the sweater, well it is even more difficult. After experiencing some success under Bob Knight, the Texas Tech faithful want excitement around their basketball program and currently the son is adding none. After three mediocre seasons in Lubbock, the pressure was on to perform this year and the Red Raiders have quickly taken a step backwards. A surprisingly deep non-conference schedule did no favors, but the start of Big 12 play has brought disaster. Texas Tech is 0-4 and three of the losses have been of the beatdown variety. Sitting at 8-11 and with a fan base so desperate that they are starting Facebook groups to bring in Billy Gillispie, Knight needs a miraculous turnaround in the last 12 games to have any chance of a return to his father’s retirement community.

Sidney Lowe

No program's fans are more delusional about their place in the college basketball hierarchy than the Wolfpack faithful in Raleigh. Nestled in between the monster programs in Chapel Hill and Durham, NC State fans legitimately believe they should be competitive with UNC and Duke, and make the basketball triangle actually have an upright third side. However a lack of tradition (at least in comparison to its local rivals), on-campus facilities and name brand appeal make State the ultimate little brother and with fans that refuse to accept that reality, being the head of the Pack is a recipe for coaching stress. The faithful were never happy with Coach Herb Sendek, who was cursed by only being able to bring moderate ACC and NCAA Tournament success and overall consistent competitiveness. So they sent Herb packing to Tempe and brought in Sidney Lowe, a native son who was supposed to return the program to its Valvano glory days. What has happened instead is four straight years of finishing 9<sup>th</sup> or worse in the ACC and no NCAA Tournament appearances. Lowe has improved recruiting but downgraded performance, while the fans still bizarrely engage in Sendek debates as their program falls farther from its past glory. NC State stands 11-7 and is still theoretically in contention for an NCAA berth, but if Lowe is not able to make it happen in year five, there may not be a year six.

Tom Crean

We should all be so lucky as to have the benefit of the doubt given to Tom Crean. After taking over an Indiana program that was left in wreckage by Kelvin Sampson, Crean promised to restore the Hoosier nation to past glory and “win the right way.” While no one would question Crean’s ability to do things the right way, he seems to have forgotten the whole winning part of the equation. As of today, Crean’s total Indiana record is 26-55 and to the naked eye, little has changed. Crean’s initial teams lacked talent and were unable to win any games against quality opponents, and this year’s team has followed the same pattern, currently sitting at 10-9 and 1-5 in the Big Ten. There has been slight improvement in terms of avoiding embarrassing losses to small conference minnows, but is this not Indiana basketball? Should we not expect more than avoiding another year of losses to low-major  Boston U and Loyola (MD)? If the Hoosiers continue their downward slide (and with 8 of the last 12 games against ranked teams, one can’t be too optimistic), one would think that some heat has to finally hit Crean. It is hard to forsee Crean losing his job this year as most in the Indiana community haven't yet started whispering of a coaching change. Even so, while it is true that Crean has already recruited a stellar class of top recruits in the Class of 2012, one has to begin to wonder. If the performance on the court continues to be this poor, can Hoosier nation justify keeping him around long enough to actually see them in uniform?

Posted on: January 12, 2011 10:20 am

Indiana as embarassing off the court as on

Posted by MATT JONES

Indiana basketball has hurt the eyes for the past three seasons.  Watching the once-great program fall to every Tom, Dick and Harry in college basketball is embarassing for all of us that love college basketball history and remember when the name "Indiana" meant something.  But whatever devastation has been done by the dynamic duo of Kelvin Sampson and Tom Crean can't compare to the hurt put on the program by this "official" music video entitled "This is Indiana Basketball."  To quote a famous Christmas song, tonight thank God it's them instead of you...

Category: NCAAB
Posted on: December 27, 2010 11:01 pm
Edited on: December 27, 2010 11:34 pm

Four takeaways from Monday night

Posted by Matt Jones

The night began with excitement, as two of the top six teams took the court in Pittsburgh for what was supposed to be a glorious start to the college basketball season here on the College Basketball Blog.  Instead, we were treated to old school Big East Basketball at its worst, full of needlessly physical play and game-stifling whistles that make the ultimate product nearly unwatchable.  So rather than wallow in the stench of a game so bad it had me yearning for some Stephen Bardo commentary, let’s look at the five things we learned on an otherwise forgettable Monday night in college basketball:

Indiana Still Stinks

If you had the misfortune of listening to an Indiana fan talk over the past few weeks, the same refrain could be heard over and over.  “We are back!  Crean has the recruits coming in, we are going to make the NCAA Tournament this year and IU is a cool program once again.”  Leaving aside the obvious retort that no program can be “cool” so long as they are wearing those warm-up pants, the 69-60 loss proves that by no means is Indiana “back”, unless “back” means on pace to coast into an NIT berth.  The loss followed a familiar script for Tom Crean’s crew…refuse to guard the outside shot, go through sustained runs in which they are unable to score and then falter in key moments down the stretch.  The fact that it happened at home against a Penn State team without one of its top players makes the loss all the more egregious.  The next five games for Indiana are Ohio State, at Minnesota, at Northwestern, Michigan and at Wisconsin.  How can even the most optimistic Indiana fan look at that stretch and see anything but a 2-3 record at best?  Tom Crean, future recruiting success or not, your seat is officially warm.

Pitt is the Big East Favorite

I expected a lot from the first Big Monday game of the year and actually got very little.  Jay Bilas wasn’t on the broadcast, the referees took over early and turned it into Big East basketball at its eye-bleeding worst and Kemba Walker seems to have trimmed his goatee to a length that makes it slightly less awesome.  So while the night as a whole was disappointing, one thing did become certain.  Pittsburgh is the clear favorite in the Big East.  I questioned UCONN from the outset, mainly because we had seen little out of Calhoun’s club outside of their magical run in Maui.  However I didn’t expect a team that has arguably the Player of the Year thus far in college basketball to look so thoroughly ordinary on the road.  Credit Pittsburgh, who continues to utilize the Jamie Dixon blueprint for success: tough defense, physical around the rim and hit open shots. They do it every year and create boring basketball for the masses, but also victories like the one over UCONN that make its home court the place where Top 5 teams go to die.

Rick Pitino Can Score Quickly

Well actually, we already knew this after the infamous trial last summer, but Pitino is now showing that his renewed energy in coaching has produced a Cardinals’ team that can put big points on the board in a hurry.  The Cards’ 104-74 victory over Morgan State may not seem impressive on the surface, but hidden underneath the final score are some tidbits that should make the country take notice.  While Ricky P has often been thought of as a Coach who likes to have his teams run up and down the floor, that has not been his modus operandi at Louisville.  Pitino has become more of a half-court defensive minded coach in recent years and some versions of Louisville teams over the past five Big East seasons would not have seemed out of place coached by Bob Huggins or Jim Boeheim.   However this group is returning to Pitino’s roots.  The Cards shot 17-23 from behind the three point line against Morgan State and by scoring over 100 points, the team became the first Pitino group to get over 100 in back-to-back games since 1995.  Pitino’s light non-conference schedule means that it remains to be seen how this team will stack up against top competition.  But with a group of Wildcats from Lexington coming to town on Friday, the Cards have served notice that if the three-point shot is falling, they are capable of lighting up the scoreboard quickly.

Ohio State is the Second Best Team in the Land

Beat any team 100-40 and I do not care if it is a bottom feeder from the OVC like Tennessee-Martin, I take notice.  When the year started, we all assumed that the Big Ten team that could compete for a title with Duke would have been Michigan State.  While the jury is still out on what type of team Tom Izzo will bring to March, it is clear that if the tournament started today, the Buckeyes would be the hardest nut for Coach K to crack.  Their lack of a true Point Guard has yet to seem to matter and Jared Sullinger has surpassed the expectations heaped on him preseason and added those dropped by Harrison Barnes for good measure, in order to become the most dominant player in the country up to this point.  When he is playing as well as he has early, it is hard to see very many teams that can match up with the Buckeyes on either end of the court and their potential becomes scary.  Ohio State will be tested in Big Ten play and we will see if teams exploit their propensity to turn the ball over, but for now, Ohio State is the country’s clear #2.

Photo: Getty Images
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