What he had difficulty describing was how a team could go from being very competitive in the first half and doing all the things they had practiced to being a shell of their former selves in the final 20 minutes.
Unfortunately, Crean said he could tell by his young teams' halftime demeanor that things might not play out well in the second half.
"I don't know if it's the inexperience, I don't know if it's the anxiety, I don't know if we had too many guys that didn't believe we could win the game, I don't know,'' Crean said. "I'm disappointed. It's my responsibility without question. It wasn't like we went to a new offense. We added something else to get the ball inside but we felt that was our way to attack this team. To cut, to move, to move bodies to get the ball into the paint.
"We got 13 shots in the second half. I believe we got two offensive rebounds. They're a good team and they deserved to win, but I sure would have liked to have seen if we could have tried to compete and fight aggressively in the second half but we'll never know.''
Crean expanded on what he saw in the locker room at the break.
"We were too quiet,'' Crean said. "Our leadership took a step back tonight. I don't know if it's the inexperience of the team. I don't know if it's that we have a senior like Will who is in a different role right now. But there's no excuse for it. There's no excuse.
"I've been in a lot of locker rooms where maybe we didn't have a chance to win but they didn't know it. And I've been in some locker rooms that knew they could win the game and they just had to play well. I haven't been around a lot of good locker rooms that were quiet. And that one was far too quiet.''
Crean said the frustrating part is that this was Indiana's one true road game in a hostile environment against a top level team where the Hoosiers could have found out something about themselves. Instead, they didn't take advantage of that opportunity.
"I don't want to take anything away from (Syracuse) I just wish we could have come out in the second half and tried to play this thing like we actually had a chance to win it,'' Crean said. "When you get an opportunity like this to go on the road and play a good team like that in this environment, you want the experience of it. You want the understanding of what it means to go on the road and prepare you for your league. But you don't get this opportunity again. These guys aren't going to get this opportunity again to find out where we could have been. There's no measuring stick for us in this game other than the fact that we came out and we did not have the proper spirit to compete with Syracuse in the second half.''
Crean said it would have been different if Indiana had been down 10 or 15 points at the half. But the Hoosiers weren't. After falling behind 10-0 in the first few minutes of the game, IU actually rallied to take a one-point lead inside of 4 minutes to play in the first half. At the break, Syracuse led by four, 33-29 and Indiana was right there.
IU scored the first four points of the second half to tie it at 33 but then got away from everything tht had worked so well in building the lead to begin with. Crean said the whole thing frustrates him.
"The first three or four possessions, and I rarely ever say that as a coach and I'm not a big believer in the first five minutes but this one was,'' Crean said. "The first few possession were going to be absolutely crucial in this game. And they were. And it totally went the other way.
"But I'm disgusted with the lack of leadership and I'm unbelievably disappointed in the lack of fight in the second half.''
Follow Terry Hutchens at Twitter.com/Foxsportshutch