The Indiana Hoosiers are approximately halfway through their 2012-2013 campaign, and already, there has been a lot to say about this group. Really, it seems everybody has an opinion on this team. What’s right, what’s wrong and what’s going to happen. It seems to change quite frequently, too. So much so that following this team day-to-day can get a little cloudy unless you get your news straight from the source. And that’s what we’re all here to do. In this two part series, we’ll take a look and analyze the quotes that matter from the Hoosiers.
“The bottom line is asking, ‘What do we have to get better at?’ Part of my Christmas break was looking at this team with two sets of eyes and figuring out what we’re not getting … and asking what I would do if I was coaching against us right now. We base everything around that. I’m not looking at a finished product and not coaching like that, I’m just looking at what we can be better with every day.” – Tom Crean after Jacksonville
Coaching isn’t just about calling plays, game planning, smacking the floor with two hands and frantically pacing up and down the court, riding the officials. Really, it’s about management more than anything else. You manage people. You manage expectations. You manage a program.
To successfully coach you have to find the utmost of delicate balances, and each time I hear Tom Crean make these types of “perspective” statements, I gain a little more confidence in IU’s potential.
Let’s face it, for better or worse, IU basketball is a program constantly besieged with criticism. Whether the Hoosiers are 6-25 or 27-8, they are going to be over-analyzed. This is where Crean distinguishes himself from other coaches. He’s able to handle the heat and keep this team grounded through the highs and lows of the Big Ten season.
“This was truly one of those fifteen round heavyweight fight games that the Big Ten is full of, where you can’t necessarily land the knockout punch. You just want to make sure it doesn’t get landed on you. We ended up having one more point at the end.” - Tom Crean after Iowa
The Big Ten is like the NFL: there are no easy wins on the road. You take care of business and get the hell out of there.
Yes, the Hoosiers 69-65 win at Iowa in the Big Ten opener wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t even encouraging, except for the fact that it was a Big Ten win on the road. One down, nine to go. That has got to be the motto, and thankfully, it is.
This is a game the Hoosiers lost 78-66 last year. And don’t let the score fool you, it wasn’t that close. They didn’t play great this time around, but they never wavered. That’s how you win in the Big Ten. Crean knows better than anybody what to except out of this team and out of this league, and it appears he has his players on the same page…
“I think we are ready going into Big Ten play. We have leaders who have been through it and we have young guys that are mentally and physically prepared for it, so I am looking forward to it and I know these guys are as well.” – Victor Oladipo after Jacksonville
The key word here is leaders. Plural. It’s almost becoming hard to distinguish who the unquestioned leader of this team is. Personally, Jordan Hulls is still the commander-in-chief, but Oladipo is becoming his most trusted cabinet member. Could you disagree with Cody Zeller, though? What about when Will Sheehey is commanding the second unit? The Hoosiers have several guys that play with that “leader” mentality. There aren’t too many teams that can say the same.
I wouldn’t put Yogi Ferrell or Remy Abell in the “leader” conversation just yet, but as two of the younger players earning big minutes they definitely don’t lack confidence on the big stage. And we’re still waiting on Christian Watford to come around. His demeanor doesn’t scream leader, but his ability to single handedly take over a game does, and I think he’s going to show up soon.
That’s why the ebb and flow of this team is a beautiful thing to watch. Everybody plays within their game, which allows anybody to flourish on any given night. When everybody puts it together – see 11/27/12 - it’s hard to see this team being beat.
“All I know is playing hard, to be honest with you,” Oladipo said about diving into the stands. “Just playing hard and bringing intensity on defense that will go to my teammates.”
“We’re playing Jacksonville but we’re getting ready for the entire season,” he continued. “We’re getting ready to play in the best conference in the country, and the way we play against these teams will be the way we play in our league, so we’re just going to keep trying to play at a high level.” – Victor Oladipo after Jacksonville
You practice how you play, and you play how you practice. That’s an old adage from a high school basketball coach of mine, and many others for that matter. It applies to everybody in every facet of life, and it’s great to know that the Hoosiers take it to heart.
They may not play their best game every night, but it’s comforting to know that the effort will always be there. I get the feeling that this is a team who would rather not play than be attached to something mediocre. Yes they lost to Butler, but they could have rolled over and died with a few minutes to play. They didn’t. And that matters more than the ‘L’ on the schedule.
This quote coming from Victor can be an entire story on its own; He is blossoming before our eyes and turning into one of the leaders of this team, and unmistakably its heart and soul.
We saw the flashes a year ago. The raw potential was finally coming to form with Victor. The only thing holding him back was that one word that always seems to pop up: consistency.
Oladipo needed to become more consistent, the word that coaches repeat day after day after day and which so few players can master. Well, it’s hard to master anything at 21, but Victor has delivered night in and night out for the Hoosiers. Without him, IU may have two or three losses already. Georgetown? You bet. Iowa? Absolutely. The Hoosiers wouldn’t have even sniffed overtime against Butler.
He’s a legitimate candidate for defensive player of the year and his offense may have improved more than his defense! His eFG% (Effective Field Goal percentage) and TS% (True Shooting percentage) rank second in the nation. Let that resonate for a second – no pun intended – SECOND! This is Victor Oladipo we’re talking about.
Without Victor’s brilliance on both ends of the floor this year we’d be having a much different conversation about the Hoosiers right now.
“Well we were playing offense-defense and that’s what Coach Crean thought was best. We do a lot of that `late-game situation’ in practice, so I wasn’t really surprised.” – Cody Zeller after Butler
A litany of criticism was fired at Tom Crean after he decided to keep Cody Zeller on the bench for the final play against Butler. The game was tied 86-86 with just 19 seconds to play. Butler ball. Why would Zeller not be in the game?
It doesn’t matter. Crean, Cody and the rest of the team were completely fine with it. Everyone was on the same page. Crean had been switching Cody in and out since about the three minute mark in regulation to apply a full court press on the Bulldogs. That was the game plan that day, and everybody bought it. No, the Hoosiers didn’t come out on top, but no team wins every game no matter how well they game plan.
Crean has won many big games and he’s also lost a few. It’s never just one play, one decision or one moment that decides the outcome. It’s all relevant, and Crean has been one of the best in the country at preparing his team to play during the last two seasons. He is 42-10 with wins over Kentucky, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan St, VCU, Georgetown and North Carolina to name a few. Let him coach.
Stay tuned for part II.