Bloomington – A late night ended early for Indiana Coach Tom Crean.
Seemingly frustrated by a couple of officials' calls and probably the tough times he's had to endure during his first two seasons on the Hoosier sideline, the Hoosier coach was whistled for a pair of technical fouls and ejected midway through the second half in Indiana's 78-46 loss to Wisconsin Thursday night.
The loss – the worst loss for an IU basketball team in Assembly Hall history – dropped Indiana to 9-18 overall and 3-12 in the Big Ten. Wisconsin, meanwhile, improved to 21-7 and 11-5 in conference play.
With the game already long since decided, Jim Burr whistled Crean for the first technical after he questioned an offensive call on a screen by Bobby Capobianco with 10:22 remaining. Then, 29 seconds later, Tom O'Neill hit Crean with a second technical foul, prompting the automatic ejection. Crean continued to argue with O'Neill and Burr before being pulled away by assistant coach Tim Buckley.
Crean then exited the floor, still visibly upset about what had transpired. His exit riled up the Indiana fans who were still on hand, who chanted Crean's name as he left and proceeded to shower the officials with boos and a profane chant or two for the remainder of the contest.
"I think he wanted to show how much he cared," said Jeremiah Rivers. "It was an outpouring of passion, not about the fouls or what we were doing wrong."
Crean's first technical fouls of the season and his first ejection of his IU coaching career provided just about all of the drama in a game that was decided by halftime. Leading 16-14 with 8 ½ minutes remaining in the half, Wisconsin went on a 23-8 run to close the half and open a 39-22 lead.
While it had been seven 3-pointers from Jason Bohannon that did in Indiana 12 days ago in a 28-point loss in Madison, this time it was other Badgers who inflicted the most damage. Trevon Hughes scored a team-high 17 points including three 3-pointers, while Keaton Nankivil added 14 points and four blocks.
It was back-to-back 3-pointers from Nankivil in the first half that turned a 20-16 Wisconsin lead into a 26-16 margin, and the lead would only grow from there.
The second half started off as badly for Indiana as the first half had finished. Rivers picked up three fouls in the first minute of the second half, and Wisconsin opened the half on an 11-2 run that pushed the margin to 26, 50-24.
That sent many of the announced crowd of 16,502 for the exits early, as Indiana continued to deal with many of the same problems that have plagued it throughout its current nine-game losing streak. Wide open looks and easy buckets were plentiful for Wisconsin, which made 29-of-53 shots overall (54.7 percent), 8-of-11 from behind the 3-point arc, and had all five starters score in double figures.
Indiana's defensive struggles were mirrored by the Hoosiers' offensive woes. Indiana missed all five of its 3-point attempts, half of its 20 free throws, and shot just 35.3 percent (18-of-51) for the game. The Hoosiers also turned it over 18 times, leading to 21 points off turnovers for Wisconsin. Verdell Jones struggled to a 2-of-10 shooting, five-turnover night, while Chrstian Watford (3-of-8 shooting, eight points) and Devan Dumes (1-of-6 shooting, three points) also struggled.
One of the few bright spots was the play Derek Elston, who came off the bench to lead Indiana with 12 points and seven rebounds in just 18 minutes of play. Elston made 5-of-6 shots overall and was the only Hoosier to finish in double figures.
"What I liked about (Derek), one time I took him out and he said ‘coach, I'm ready to go back,'" Crean said. "That's what we need, that's the fight I'm looking for, and that's what we have to get to. I don't want to be around guys that want to sit back and let things happen. I want to be around guys that actually want to get out there and make it happen.
"Derek has really grown and is becoming a better player all the time. He's going to be a big part of what we're doing here in the future as we get this program where it's got to be."
Much of Crean's postgame press conference was focused on that future, which he said he has an even clearer blueprint of after Thursday's lopsided loss. As the program moves forward, Crean said his team's cornerstones have to be a toughness on defense and the ability to rebound the basketball.
He admits that the program is lacking on both areas right now, and that there isn't a clear timeframe when it will be established.
In his postgame press conference, Crean didn't voice displeasure about any particular calls or specific plays, but instead said he has an even more clear vision of what direction the program has to head if it's going to get turned around. That turnaround, he said, is going to depend on Indiana basketball making toughness on defense and rebounding cornerstones of the program.
As he works to get the program to that point, Crean said he'll continue to coach with the degree of intensity that he showed Thursday night which ultimately earned him an early exit.
"I have a responsibility here," Crean said. "There is a passion, people are used to a certain thing. So am I. There's going to be a mentality that we're going to play with, and let's see what happens as we go with it. That's the bottom line."
Watford 3-8 2-2 8, Capobianco 2-5 0-1 4, Hulls 1-5 0-0 2, Rivers 1-5 1-2 3, Jones 2-10 4-8 8, Moore 1-2 0-0 2, Pritchard 2-4 0-2 4, Elston 5-6 2-2 12, Dumes 1-6 1-3 3. Totals 18-51 10-20 46.
Leuer 6-14 0-0 13, Nankivil 6-7 0-0 14, Hughes 6-9 2-3 17, Taylor 5-11 2-2 13, Bohannon 3-4 5-6 11, Smith 0-0 0-0 0, Evans 0-1 0-0 0, Valentyn 0-0 0-0 0, Jarmusz 1-1 2-2 5, Bruesewitz 0-0 1-2 1, Wilson 2-6 0-0 4. Totals 29-53 12-15 78.
3-Pointers: Indiana 0-5 (Hulls 0-3, Capobianco 0-1, Jones 0-1), Wisconsin 8-11 (Hughes 3-4, Nankivil 2-2, Leuer 1-2, Taylor 1-2, Marmusz 1-1). Rebounds: Indiana 31 (Elston 7), Wisconsin 32 (Leuer 7). Assists: Indiana 8 (Rivers 4), Wisconsin 11 (Taylor 4). Turnovers: Indiana 18, Wisconsin 14. Blocks: Indiana 5 (Watford, Capobianco, Rivers, Jones, Elston), Wisconsin 9 (Leuer 4, Nankivil 4, Evans 1). Steals: Indiana 7, Wisconsin 7. Officials: Jim Burr, Tom O'Neill, Mike Kitts. Technical Fouls: Indiana Bench – 2, Pritchard. Attendance: 16,502.
Early Exit for Crean, Ugly Result for Indiana
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