They get the national champions in the Cameron Indoor Zoo For Trust-Fund Babies come December, and maybe by then Tom Crean will at last have his own zoo in order. Or so the un-nuanced narrative likely goes these days for some folks in Hoosier Nation.
Devin Davis got tagged for marijuana possession last weekend, and Hanner Mosquera-Perea was apparently on the scene, too, but didn't get charged. And so here we go again with the Crean-has-lost-control-of-his-program meme, because this is last offseason all over again -- or at the very least it's a good start.
What I think is you can indeed hang some of this on Crean, because we all saw this very sort of misbehavior as a symptom of the larger disease that was the Kelvin Sampson Error. Not to see the Crean Era at least partially through that same prism, therefore, is inconsistent at best.
On the other hand ... at some point, the players themselves are responsible for whatever culture a program presents. And right now it's increasingly not a good one.
To be sure, Crean can go draconian on this, as some have suggested. Kick anyone who's ever touched so much as an illicit beer out of the program. Institute a zero tolerance policy for alcohol and drugs. Send out a skeleton lineup next fall down at Duke, because that's what he'll likely be left with if the players themselves don't at some point take ownership of their own legacy.
Some things you just know, and here's one thing I know: Zero tolerance doesn't very often work, especially with college kids. For one thing, they can't conceive of a world where things go sideways, which means they never think they're gonna get caught. The action/consequence synapse simply isn't fully developed enough in most of them.
So Crean can turn his program into a gulag, but it's the players themselves who ultimately will determine the direction of that program. Banning alcohol and weed, after all, isn't going to stop college kids from drinking or smoking. It never has. To suggest otherwise (i.e. "This would never have happened when Coach Knight was here") is simply to be naive.
The blunt truth is, it happens. It happens everywhere and it's happened forever, on Knight's watch and on John Wooden's watch and on every icon's watch you want to name. The difference now is it's not as easy to keep it out of the public eye, given that the public eye is pretty much all-seeing anymore.
So, yes, this is on Crean, to an extent. But mostly, especially in 2015, it's on the players. They're privileged in a way few college students are privileged, and with that privilege comes a certain heightened standard of conduct. And that is a realization they must largely come to on their own.
The grownups can lay down the law. Only the kids can pick it up and make it work.
(Update: Davis and Mosquera-Perea were dismissed from the program today for “not living up to their responsibilities to the program.")