Sunday, April 20, 2008

Crean grabs a couple of recruits.

I'm a few days late on the first one, but the second story broke late last night. First, Crean added to the class of current high school juniors, the group that will enroll in fall 2009, with a verbal commitment from Bobby Capobianco of Loveland, Ohio. Inside the Hall has a nice Q and A with Capobianco.
Late last night, the coach at Vincennes University told the Herald Times that guard Devon Dumes has committed to IU. As a juco trtansfer, Dumes, who has two yearts of eligibility remaining, will be eligible to play in 2008-09. Dumes is a graduate of Decatur Central in Indianapolis and played his freshman year at Eastern Michigan. It's not clear why he left EMU, but here's his game log. He received a decent amount of playing time that year, 18.8 minutes per game, and scored 8.1 points per game. On the downside, he shot 33.8 from the field and from three point range. His shooting percentages improved across the board at VU.
To his credit, Crean has hit the ground running. IU now has filled one of the two spots abandoned by Devin Ebanks and Terrell Holloway, although the uncertain status of Jamarcus Ellis and Armon Bassett makes IU's scholarship status unclear.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Still around, lots of little news.

I'm not on any sort of formal or extended hiatus, but between vacation, catching up after vacation, and the end of the basketball season, I've been taking a bit of a break after eight or nine months of steady posting.
  • Spring practice. It continues. I hate spring practice. The Cream and Crimson Scrimmage is Saturday, and the weather looks to be decent, so check it out if you are so inclined.
  • James Bailey. Bailey, who caught 27 passes for 335 yards as a junior, is transferring. The receiving corps was a strength of last year's team, but if Andrew Means decides to stick to baseball, that will leave Ray Fisher as the only returning receiver who has played significantly. It also highlights how important Kellen Lewis is to this team. If IU is going to have to break in Ben Chappell, who lacks Lewis's running ability, a thin receiving corps will not help.
  • Spring recruiting. I don't really follow recruiting much, but since we don't have all that many basketball players on the roster, I suppose I will this year. Nick Williams, a 6-4 guard in the 140 range (see Inside the Hall for more). Williams signed with Marquette when Tom Crean was the coach, but he had a pre-existing agreement with Marquette that he would be released from his LOI if Crean left. I'm sure this runs afoul of some unwritten rule with no basis in any moral or ethical principle, or so it will be claimed if this kid signs with IU.
  • Terry Hutchens has some new friends. Over at Boiled Sports, they hate them some Terry Hutchens. I can sympathize. If this blog had existed in 2004-2006, back when Hutch was acting as Mike Davis's Baghdad Bob, Hutch probably would have a restraining order against me. Back in that period, someone jokingly (I think) suggested to me that I find out whether was available. My gripe with Hutch is that he's a company man: he will support the IU establishment no matter what. The current coach is always beyond reproach, until he's gone, and which point the new current coach clearly is better than the last guy. I had to laugh at this: "Also, if you’re an IU fan, supporter or schill(sic) yourself, please save the vitriol. " Yeah, okay, just this once I'll hold my fire. The most impressive thing, and this is worth the click (well, as is the usual Boiler-noia), is the sheer length of the post. Somewhere in a federal prison, Ted Kaczynski is hunched over a computer saying, "DAMN, that's a long post." Yes, Hutch is a company man and his blog entries are painful to read (based on his unvarnished blog posts, I'm guessing that whoever edits Terry's copy for the paper is the hardest-working person at the Indianapolis Star.) He's probably not worth the figurative ink, but I enjoyed both the content and the fact that his breezy incompetence so agitates Purdue fans.
  • Big Ten/ACC Challenge. Also per ITH and various other outlets, the Big Ten-ACC matchups have been released. IU, despite an uncertain future, was handed a tough road game at Wake Forest. I'll save my rant for the basketball season. Other interesting matchups are MSU-UNC at Ford Field in Detroit and Duke-Purdue at Mackey.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Eric Gordon.

To the surprise of no one, Eric Gordon announced that he is entering the NBA Draft. Check out Inside the Hall for press conference video. Here's Gordon's Yahoo game log. Unfortunately, Gordon's stat line tracked the Hoosiers' fortunes. Gordon's career high, 33 points, came in his first game, against Chattanooga. Gordon's lowest scoring output, 8 points (not counting his injury-shortened performance against Tennessee State), came in his last game, the NCAA loss to Arkansas.
Much has been said about IU's late season decline: the coaching change, insubordination by certain players, Dakich's stubborn refusal to stick with the zone defense that saved IU's season, and so forth. All of those issues played a role in IU's tailspin, but absent Eric Gordon's complete inability to hit three pointers for the last quarter of the season, it's likely that the end would have been different. It's hard to say what the cause was. Was it just a slump? Did he hit the freshman wall? Did he somehow aggravate his wrist injury? My guess is an undisclosed injury, but it's hard to say. Gordon had played 18 games before he injured his wrist, immediately before the trip to Wisconsin. At that point in the season, Gordon was 46-114 from behind the arc (.403). In the first six games that Gordon wore the wrist brace, a stretch that included two games against Wisconsin, the trip to Illinois, and a home game against MSU, Gordon was 16-41 from three point range (.391). Beginning with Sampson's last game, the home win against Purdue, Gordon was 8-53 (.151). Certainly, given the huge volume of shots taken, it's possible to question shot selection. But just a minor slump, say, a fall to 30 percent, and IU may well have been a bit more respectable down the stretch. Still, Gordon was an important recruit and provided some exciting moments and I wish him lots of success in the NBA.

Monday, April 7, 2008

Very pleased.

Before this afternoon, I had not been online since just minutes after my "Tom Crean" post Tuesday evening. Of course, I'm trying to get up to speed, but I can see from the comments that my post may have made me seem ambivalent about Crean's hire. Since I said that Crean wasn't a "home run," I should make clear that I would reserve that term for a coach who has a history of building and maintaining a championship-caliber program--guys like Tom Izzo, Rick Pitino, Billy Donovan, and the like (those are just examples--I'm not suggesting that any of those guys was or would have been expected to be a candidate for the job). So, it's no knock on Crean to say that he doesn't have that sort of resume. IU fans won't consider a coach to be a true success unless he wins a NCAA title, and absent a title on the new coach's resume, there always will be some uncertainty.
Still, Crean would have been a good hire under any circumstances and is a very good hire given the current condition of IU's program. Maybe I should have said that Crean was a home run but wasn't a grand slam. After watching his press conference and reading the initial coverage I certainly believe that IU's program is in good hands. Crean has been a head coach long enough to have built a good resume, including a Final Four appearance, but is young enough to remain at IU for decades. He's from Michigan and grew up as a fan of the Big Ten and claims to have had a particular affection for Knight's IU program. Crean's mentor, Tom Izzo, is the most successful Big Ten coach in the years since Knight's program began to decline in the mid 1990s.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Tom Crean.

It's going to be said often, but this is a solid hire. Not an obvious home run, but not a stretch by any means. Crean is 42 years old and has a Final Four on his resume and eight years as a head coach (about a .650 winning percentage at Marquette). The biggest knocks: a hot temper (come on, we've seen worse) and a less-than-stellar NCAA Tournament record absent Dwayne Wade. Still, IU hired a successful coach from another power conference program despite NCAA issues hanging over the program. It could have been worse.
Here's a link to Crean's Marquette bio.
He's been subject to quite a bit of well-deserved criticism, but once again, Rick Greenspan managed to hire a coach without much media coverage of the process (although certainly the Bennett pursuit was an exception).

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Quick thoughts on the chaos.

I don't think it's chaos, really. None of us really know what is happening on the inside. Still, I'm glad that I've not had much computer time since Thursday and that I am following the IU coaching search from afar, and typing this post with Gulf breezes blowing through the room. It makes it a little easier to stomach, and it also means that I have had time to read only the sources I trust and not the media chatter, which inevitably portrays anything more than a 24 hour coaching search as a fiasco. Briefly:
  • Bennett? Damn. I guess it's something of a moral victory that IU quickly targeted the guy who I really thought was the obvious choice, and it's a disappointment that he said no. I think IU remains a top tier job, but it also presents some unusual challenges on a good day: intense fan interest, high expectations, instant celebrity status within the state, and among some of the fan base, certain narrow expectations about style of play. And the warmup pants. And of course, this isn't a good day. It's better for Bennett to have said no than to have taken the job with mixed emotions. But I'm still disappointed.
  • There's lots of chatter, and the chatter that I trust makes me think that IU's worst case scenario is an extremely well-regarded young coach (I'm speaking generally). IU may have to pay a bit more in years and money given the situation, and that's fine. There's no cause for panic.
  • There may be cause for panic in the short term. As most have read already, Armon Bassett and Jamarcus Ellis have been thrown off the team. All evidence is that these guys are malcontents, but what frustrates me is that they don't play like malcontents. Both are steady, reliable players who don't stand out as bad guys on the court. Ellis, in particular, does nearly everything well. According to the Hoosier Scoop, these guys hope that they will be reinstated by the new coach and will remain enrolled. We shall see.