There will be no more mulligans for Indiana University basketball. There will be no more talk about the unholy mess this coaching staff inherited from Kelvin Sampson, no more help-is-on-the-way refrains, no more deriving satisfaction from just showing up and being competitive.
This I can get behind. The time to demand action is now. While it does no good to continually be stuck in a rebuilding mode because a new coach is hired every three or four years, IU cannot get sucked into accepting less than mediocre results. Everybody understands what a difficult situation Crean inherited but at some point the coach has to have results somewhere other than the recruiting boards.
Which is why Bob loses me here;
Nobody is expecting 20 wins or an NCAA Tournament berth, but a .500 season, a chance to go to the NIT, a team that’s genuinely competitive in the Big Ten, those are all well within the realm of possibility.
Well I didn’t expect Bob to ask me, but I am expecting 20 wins. I am expecting the NCAA tournament. I am expecting to more than be “genuinely competitive” within the B1G Ten.
Apparently, Kravitz and much of the fan base believes IU was “not on a level playing field” and was simply not able to “genuinely compete” with NCAA tournament level Big Ten opponents. However, if that’s true, it’s more of an indictment than a support for Crean.
This was the year IU was supposed to be “showing progress,” if we can’t show progress after three years, what’s the evidence we’ll show it after four, or five? Cody Zeller is not Jared Sullinger. If Cody Zeller follows JaJuan Johnson’s development I’ll be thrilled. But Johnson wasn’t a difference maker by himself his freshman year,and he had three other highly regarded freshment to take some pressure off. Yogi Farrell and Hanner Perea are great recruits, but always counting on next year’s recruits or recruits from two years away is setting yourself up for trouble.
I actually believe IU was “genuinely competitive” in the B1G Ten this year. Outside of maybe THE Ohio State University, was there any game where you went in thinking, “Even if IU plays it’s absolute best, it has no chance of winning?” IU’s problems were not that it wasn’t competitive. Rather that it competed and lost. I don’t say that as a negative. Competing and losing is actually an improvement from the vast majority of the B1G Ten Games IU played in the first two years.
Obviously I’m disappointed IU won fewer Big Ten games this year than it did last year, but would the year have been a success if IU beat Michigan State and Iowa instead of losing by one? Not really.
IU underachieved this year. That’s a good thing. Would you feel better about the state of the program if the Hoosiers were scrapping and clawing and doing their very best to get 13 wins? If that were the case, I’d buy that a 3 or 4 win improvement and an NIT birth were significant enough progress.
But this is Indiana. IU had talent that while not as deep as other B1G Ten squads, and not as talented nor experienced at the top, had the tools to “genuinely compete.” The Hoosiers simply lost more of these competitions than they won. That’s okay. That will happen from time to time to even the best coached teams. There are a number of things IU needs to improve on next year, but the good news is these players have the ability to improve. IU will grow in experience. IU will grow in talent. Most of the B1G Ten will not. It’s time to start expecting results. And at Indiana, Results don’t mean the Not Invited Tournament.