Love on the Rocks

Another loss, another reason for the message boards to ignite with inflammatory opinions on the fitness of Coach Crean to lead the Hoosiers.

It appears as though the honeymoon is officially over for Tom Crean & the Indiana faithful.  And while the marriage is nowhere near splitsville yet, the time has arrived for some newlywed counseling.  Being one who is deeply enamored with both parties, I will take it upon myself to try to mediate this dispute.

To the Faithful:
To begin, we need to clear the air about a few things.  Let's acknowledge that you've brought some baggage into the relationship.  Lots of it, actually.  You're clearly still recovering from 3 recent divorces in the last 10 years.  It's understandable that you're a little bitter with coaches following all the pain caused by your prior, failed relationships.  Coach Kinght was your long-time steady, but was abusive, insensitive, and known to toss your shit around when he got mad.  Coach Davis was there for you on the rebound and swept you off your feet when he took you dancing, but he was aloof & uncomfortable in your presence.  Coach Sampson...well, you knew he was a bad boy when you started with him, but he told you everything you wanted to hear at the time and then turned around and cheated on you...a lot.

So, you've now found your prince charming, and you were sure this would be the one.  But faster than the ink can dry on your nuptials, you're already upset with the direction things are going.  Specifically, you're unhappy with the kids your new coach has brought into the relationship.  (Actually, they're your kids, too, and they bear your name.)  And while you did a good job dealing with them as infants last season, your tolerance has all but disappeared now that they're toddlers. 

This is most disappointing.  I understand you're excited to get back to the glory days, but you need to keep things in perspective.  There's only 10 teams in the country with less D-1 experience this season.  It's going to take some time (and an influx of more talent) to turn things around.  Besides, if banners were that easy to hang, Purdue would already have a couple (but they don't!!!)   

Worse yet, you're bitching to anyone who'll listen about the job Crean is doing in raising these boys.  Sure, I'll admit I'm often frustrated at the seeming lack of coordinated offense, but I know this isn't the way Crean would ideally run his offense.  Until he gets the proper pieces, he's gonna have to play the hand he's been dealt as best as he can.

In sum, you need to come to grips with the fact that that you're in this thing for the long haul.  There are no magic bullets to make a 6th banner miraculously appear.  It's going to take some time and a heckuva lot more patience on your end.  Moreover, you need to stop being so damn high-maintenance about this thing.  Everybody knows you're not happy with 6-win seasons or 20+ turnover games.  I promise you Crean isn't either.  But the more you piss and moan about it, the harder you're making it on everybody else.  Continuing to publicaly rant about our family struggles only makes the family look more dysfunctional.  Because while you can't choose your family, they're the only one you've got.  Love it for what it is and embrace it.  The sooner you come to grips with this, the soon your beloved family may once again be at the pinnacle of success and stability. 

To Coach Crean:
I've gotta believe that you knew exactly what you were getting into after your whirlwind courtship.  You said so much when you said, "It's Indiana."  And because it's Indiana, you know the expectations are high (if not impossible). 

And while you've wholly embraced the challenges of this particular relationship, you've got to know there's certain things which come being the man of the house Hall.  Just as graduating players and running a clean program are expected of you, so, too, discipline, determination, and effort are not negotiable, under any circumstances. 

Now, nobodys saying you personally lack these traits, but your boys are a direct reflection upon you.  Their faults are vicariously your faults.  Nobody ever said it was fair, but it is what it is and it's been very difficult to watch.  I'm not saying you don't know this already (you're anything if not acutely aware, I'm sure), but understand it's not just about wins and losses.  It's how you win and lose.

And when I say "how you lose," you might think I'm talking about those losses to Northeastern, Lipscomb, Michigan, Boston, Loyola, et al.  I'm not.  (Well, kind of, but not in the way you think.)  It's not so much as the lowly caliber of the teams that have beaten us or the leads we've surrendered in the process, but rather the way in which you've gracefully taken it all in stride.  Don't get me wrong, I deeply admire your composure and respect you a ton because of it.  As far as I can tell, however, your greatest personal flaw seems to be a one-year Diet Coke binge (and possibly a crippling aversion to recruiting capable big men). 

But here's the rub: we're used to accepting flawed characters as our coach.  After a lifetime dealing with emotionally unstable men in this position, we've kind of grown to become dependent on our coaches' personal shortcomings to reflect our own emotional instabilities over the declining status of our beloved program.  Following a decade and a half of diminishing prominence, we've become quite insecure about our family's shortcomings these days.  And when we post a historically horrible record, blow a 20-point lead against Lipscomb at home, or take a giant shit in the clutch of a Big Ten game which we should have won, the Hoosier Faithful begin to flip shit.  Big time. 

You on the other hand, manage to take it all in stride, barely waivering from the predictable objectiveness which has become the hallmark of your public comments.  Sure you pace from the coach's box to the end of bench like a caged beast, but your composure compels you to keep from berating the refs over their obvious disrespect for your team.  And while you tweet your less-than-ambiguous criticisms like the best of 'em, you steadfastly avoid throwing any players under the bus for their bumblefuckedness.

Please don't take these examples as suggesting that you're probably not doing the "right thing" by treating the refs with respect and protecting your players' fragile psyches.  You unquestionably are.  But you've got to understand that your partner in this relationship, the Faithful, sometimes need some not-too-subtle reminders that you feel their pain, that you agonize over their plight (like I said, they're high-maintenance).

Thus, let me offer a few suggestions for you to show a little empathy.  The next time your team is blatantly getting buttfucked by the zebras, light one of those blind bastards up and take a T (I know you've previously said your stature and salary demand more of you, but trust me on this one- the place will go fucking bananas). 

When the boys fail to get off the bus for the next embarrassing road loss, leak a little locker room audio of you reaming some ass (and if you wanted to mention that Pritchard needs to wipe his vagina before putting on the candy stripes, that'd be pretty cool, too). 

When Korman needles you about the next "what exactly was ______ all about" in next post-game presser, unleash a profanity laden tirade about exactly what the fuck that was and how you're gonna stomp that shit out before the next time they take the court. 

You see, we've seen some pretty crazy shit from our coaches around here.  And while most outsiders view this kind of behavior as anti-social and unbecoming of a major D-1 coach, we've actually learned to love seeing our coaches' passion reflect that of our own and, just like we ourselves tend to do, lose control a little bit on occasion.  Though the bar has been set pretty high, we need you to reach for it every now and then.  Just to let us know you feel our pain.

In addition to some of our emotional needs, there's some other things festering under the surface here.  After nearly 3 decades watching some of the most disciplined teams ever to take the court, the past several years have been rather difficult, to say the least.  Watching Coach Knight's motion offense was like listening to Motzart conduct.  And while running pure motion offense is about as popular as Motzart with today's players, that doesn't make it any easier watching poorly executed NBA sets at Assembly Hall.  Don't get me wrong, you shouldn't have to change who you are or what philosophies you subscribe to, but some effective screaning would be a welcome sight and probably free up some looks (Capo seems to relish this role).

Also, we need to talk about your charitable efforts.  Charity has always been a hallmark of the Indiana family, specifically our efforts at the charity stripe.  You even discussed so much after Ill-annoy.  We've always made more free throws than our opponents attempted.  This fact has about as much to do with those conference championship banners as anything.  Call it Hoosier sensibility if you will: they're called "FREE" throws because they're free, you might as well fucking make them.  Most Faithful would sooner see Gene Keady take a grumpy at center court than watch the Hoosiers shoot 66% from the line

Lastly, something needs to be said about your house Hall work.  Assembly Hall isn't just a gym, it's a national basketball cathedral.  Your efforts to re-fill the stands, while well-intentioned, have bordered on the blasphemous.  It's one thing pump a little rock and roll over the speakers.  It's an entirely different sin to turn the student section into a caricature of a passionate student body.  And ever since the big heads have come out, refuckingdiculous costumes have skyrocketed.  To add insult to injury, other sinners are beginning to take notice.  Let's work a little more on winning games, and less on gimmicking it up, and the Hall will be full and rockin' again, I promise you.

See, doesn't everyone feel better now that we've had a chance to talk about some of our needs, wants, and differences?  I sure do.  If we can work a little harder on communicating, meeting each others emotional needs, and focusing on our shared visions, there's no reason this marriage shouldn't last a lifetime.  And with a little luck, we'll once again renew our vows and exchange rings real soon. 

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