As IU trailed Northwestern by 17 points in the second half Sunday, a quick check on the Internet revealed surprising information.
www.firetomcrean.com is still available. OK, it actually looked more like a placeholder page, with an offer to “Inquire about this domain” prominently featured among supposed links to Indiana Football tickets.
In Year Three of the Crean era, is it fair to say he should be fired? Not at all.
This is the third year of a rebuilding project that began with the Indiana men’s basketball program receiving a virtual death penalty, the program gutted and starting from scratch with Crean’s arrival in 2008. He said the right things – “It’s Indiana” – and got to work.
The first year was accepted as inevitable, a six-win year that broke every negative IU record. Year Two featured a highly ranked recruiting class, and an improvement to 10 victories.
(Speaking of inevitable: With five minutes remaining against Northwestern, Crean’s Wikipedia page already listed this year’s IU record as 9-8, 0-4 in the Big Ten).
Now, IU is 9-8 and 0-4 in the conference, the early victories against obscure directional schools proving to be Fool’s Gold for a starving fan base. At what point should IU supporters stop saying “Well, we knew this would be tough, let’s give it more time,” and instead begin asking the harder questions?
Why isn’t Tom Pritchard as effective as he was two years ago? Why can’t Verdell Jones III protect the ball? Why is mental toughness still an issue?
Why do on-court results make it seem like player development isn’t being done successfully? When will a comeback from a large deficit actually end with a win?
Why has this team, aside from the Minnesota game, looked so unprepared during Big Ten play?
IU fans accept that there must be a rebuilding period. But in the third year, they have every right to expect tangible progress, showing up in the wins column.
There is no need, or call, to ask for conference titles or deep NCAA runs at this point. There are recruits coming that will cause fans to raise those expectations.
But this is Crean’s third year. The Hoosiers have lost to every single opponent that anyone has ever heard of, aside from Evansville.
Any realistic chances of finishing .500 and squeaking into the NIT are finished.
This is not a program that is satisfactorily advancing anywhere, other than Crean’s performance in the living rooms of high school kids. This is not what should be expected.
It’s about time fans asked for more. “It’s Indiana,” coach Crean?
Not right now. And very likely, barring a major change in the culture, not on the horizon.
Firetomcrean.com has no current home. But if this team continues to get punched in the nose by Big Ten opponents, fans may scramble to be master of this particular domain name.