Thursday, December 3, 2015


Well, this will make Red Heaven mad as hell.

You can lose to just about anybody if you're Indiana, but when you lose to Duke, and don't appear even to be in the same galaxy as the Dukies, the denizens, as they say, will get restless. And so once again Tom Crean has some 'splainin to do, not to say a mountain of goodwill to reconstruct -- if in fact he can still do that with the more radicalized faction of the fan base, which still believes Bob Knight never lost a game while winning the national championship every other year with a bunch of puny Indiana kids.

And by God, he never lost to Krzyzewski. OK, he did, but not like last night.

To review: The defending national champions whipped Crean's Hoosiers 94-74, mainly because Indiana did hardly any defending at all. The Blue Devils shot 52 percent from the floor and 46 percent from the 3-point line. They outrebounded Indiana 38-25. Thomas Bryant, the blue-chip freshman who was supposed to give the Hoosiers an actual inside presence this year, scored six points and took zero rebounds in 26 minutes.

So much for the inside presence.

In the end, Indiana was again what Indiana was last year: A team that lives and dies on the perimeter and gets what inside presence it has from the outside. Its leading rebounder was reserve guard Robert Johnson, who snagged six boards off the bench. It challenged almost nothing at the defensive end. And Duke essentially locked it up by dropping 51 points on the Hoosiers in the first half.

That alone must have driven the Radicalized Faction the rest of the way up the wall.

The bad news for Crean is it likely made the non-Radicalized Faction crazy, too, which means the Crean Watch -- a hardy perennial these last few years -- will commence again.

No one really thought he was in any kind of trouble last season, when he got 20 wins and an NCAA Tournament bid out of a flawed team. But recruiting supposedly healed those flaws, or at least put IU on the road to healing them. Judging by last night, not so much.

And so the Crean Watch might actually be a Watch in fact instead of just a concept, the way it was last year. And it's going to take a lot more than lumping up a few Alcorn States to make it go away.

In the end, you see, Crean faces the same mandate any coach of a traditionally high-end program faces.

Beat somebody.


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