USA Today

The Indiana Hoosiers have a long way to go

Maui taught us a lot about Indiana. Mainly, the Hoosiers aren't as good as we thought, and they have a long way to go to be competitive in the Big Ten.

It wasn't the Maui trip many fans and college basketball "experts" expected, but Indiana's three days at the Maui Invitational still taught us an awful lot about the Hoosiers.

This much is clearer now than it was on Monday morning: The Hoosiers are not nearly as good as their ranking suggested, and they have a long way to go to be competitive with the elite schools in the Big Ten.

Indiana didn't look good in any of its three games this week, and at times, it looked like the players flat-out didn't care. There was no pride, no adjustments, no improvement. Everything that Indiana basketball has come to stand for was absent all week, and if I were a former player, I'd be ashamed this team gets to wear the coveted cream and crimson on national TV. 

Tom Crean has made the idea of earning the candy-striped pants a big deal by having former players give the pants to each freshman during Hoosier Hysteria. But if the candy stripes really had to be earned, Crean would go around and collect every pair after the shameful display in Maui. At least most of them. If he doesn't, then that ceremony at Hysteria is nothing more than politics. It's why people hate the political system in the United States. Politicians do things for a show, but never actually do what they say.

Indiana's problem areas of last season were problem areas against Wake Forest. The problem areas against Wake Forest were problem areas against St. John's. The problem areas against St. John's were problem areas against UNLV.

Indiana (4-2) turned the ball over 21 times and shot 10-of-19 from the foul line against UNLV on Wednesday. The Hoosiers still had plenty of chances to win the game because UNLV is so undisciplined. A better, more disciplined team would have run them out of the gym.

There's really not much more to say because we've seen this same story before. Turnovers and poor defense have been a consistent problem for years, and yet there hasn't been even marginal improvement in either area. If anything, they've gotten worse.

That's poor coaching, yes, but it also speaks volumes about a group of kids that only seem to care for a few minutes at a time. Fall behind by 20, race back to even it up. Relax, back down 10. Cut it to four. Back to 12. Yogi Ferrell turns the ball over again, he smiles. 

It's not Indiana basketball. Shoot, it's not even basketball. Crean needs to do something, anything, to get everyone's attention. Something drastic. Clearly benching players for a few minutes didn't get the message across. 

Play the guys who play hard all the time, and only those guys. Nick Zeisloft. Collin Hartman. Thomas Bryant. Play the guys that listen to the changes you want made, the guys who defend, the guys who take care of the ball. Something significant has to change, or it will be another wasted season for Indiana, and Tom Crean could very well be without a job in the summer.

The Big Ten hasn't been impressive early this season, so there's certainly still time for Indiana to have success this season. But I can't help but feel this is a turning point for Crean and IU. He has to make significant changes now, or things will continue to stay the same.


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