Rites of Passage

Well, fuck me.  "It happened.....I don't know really what else to say."  Well said, Coach Crean, very well said.

Happen it did.  After almost 2 years of watching his team play the Rodney Dangerfield of the Big 10, Tom Crean finally lost it, and, as predicted here, the place went fucking nuts.  Despite the fact that IU was down 25 at the time and the post-ejection surge was only evident from the hearty roars from the heavily depleted crowd, it was finally time for an epic and symbolic gesture of disdain with the bullshit that Indiana basketball has been reduced to since Crean inherited the Sampson/Greenspan shit-show. 

Not content to go quietly like Norman Dale after receiving his marching orders, Crean kept coming back for more.  Shit, I thought for a second he was seriously thinking about punching Tom O'Neill.  No matter his intentions, Crean sold it and had to be restrained, multiple times, before officially making the locker room door his bitch (1:31 mark). 

But for ITH mentioning it later, I'd have never known it was IU's largest margin of defeat ever in Assembly Hall.  No, that won't be the event for which this one will be remembered; this night will forever be known as the night Crean had finally seen enough and let go of all the pain, anger, and frustration that 2 years of getting the shit kicked out of his team has caused him...and it was fucking awesome! 

From all accounts afterwards, it appears the post-game locker room talk was equally impassioned and on par with prior motivational speeches given there

As if the events of this night weren't meaningful enough in and of themselves, they coincidental happened on the very week of the 25th anniversary of Bob Knight's chair toss.  Talk about dramatic irony, my friends.  Add in the handful of coins and some other shit that was briefly tossed towards the court, and the whole scene was eerily similar to Bobby's infamous evening. 

Now that Crean has completed his Hoosier coach's rite of passage, I'm curious to see where things go from here.  Crean's ejection and its appurtenant tantrum should put to rest, at least temporarily, his image as the eternal optimist on the sideline.  No longer may misguided fans point to his relentless cheerleading as evidence of his disconnection with the dire nature of his team's situation.  After the press conference following the Wisconsin game, there's little doubt that he's finally removed the kid gloves when it comes to calling out his team's failure to fight through adversity. 

Going forward, only the remaining games will show whether Crean's outburst achieved the impact his team and fans needed to rekindle the belief that this IU team can still compete and win.  Because if the players can't match their coach's passion, it seems clearer than ever that next year's roster may be far more fluid than anyone ever expected.  And deservedly so after seeing how little fight this team has put up over the course of its latest losing streak.  Nobody wants to see a 10+ game losing streak become IU's newest rite of passage with each passing season.

*A special tip of the hat to Hugh Kellenberger for his selection of Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It" video in Hoosier Morning.  I thought the IU band missed a perfect opportunity to make the most out of Crean's ejection by not immediately breaking into that tune.  Oh, well.  A little Johnny Cougar always makes a fine substitution, right?

Aloha All Over Again

Aloha.  Man, that's a useful word (but not the most useful word).  Hello and goodbye, all rolled up into one nice, little word.  I can't stop thinking about "aloha" lately. 

I know it's been a while since I last posted, so let's recap: IU comes into the game highly disfavored, keeps in it for a hot minute, and then promptly folds it up under the weight of its crushing talent deficiency. 

Sounds familiar, right?  Yeah, no shit it's familiar by now, but I'm not talking about Minnesota.  Let's rewind 15 months ago to the date:  IU v. ND in Maui.  Nov. 24, 2008, the date when the depths of Crean's rebuilding project became inescapably apparent.  Fucktastically undersized, athletically outmatched, and as thin on experience as they come, we got pounded on the boards, coughed the ball up like a TB patient, and shot the ball like an amputee in an arm sling.

Fast forward to the present and it's like aloha (hello) Maui all over again.  Sure, we've lost Maurice & Matt to injury and our freshmen have hit the wall at about the exact same time last year's boys did, but today's Hoosiers aren't in a whole lot better shape than they were that day on the island (okay, we're not as dependent on walk-on talent this year and Daniel Moore doesn't use the basketball to take out his anger on his foot anymore, point: you).

Nevertheless, I still can't get past that sunken feeling that comes with actualizing just how far we have to go.  With each passing defeat, I'm forced to confront the reality of our basketball ineptitude... and it sucks.

So, as we say aloha (goodbye) to this chapter in Crean's IU basketball resurrection, I'm anxious as ever to get off the island of fuct teams and back into Big 10 contention.  And with 5 games left on this season's slate, it seems that all eyes are already cast on next year's roster and the names that might yet fill it or be missing from it.  Not exactly the position you want to be in as March rolls around. 

Past that, there's not much else to say that hasn't already been said a thousand times this year.  The numbers don't lie, we're not good (and Corazza has graphs to prove it at ITH).

Aside from how awful we are right now (like I said, we are to basketball what Gene Keady's comb-over is to sexuality), I couldn't help but notice a few things on the newly christened Cook Hall.  So, what's up with all the limestone barricades in the front lawn?  Are we expecting Purdue Pete to try to barrel into the fucking thing with his little choo-choo?  And when is somebody going to erect a statue of Bob Knight on 17th St.?  Seriously, of all the coaches who are inexorably intertwined to their program and immortalized in sculpture, it's time for Bobby to be set in bronze outside Assembly Hall. 

So, yeah, good talk and aloha.

Lifting the Curtain on All the Questions

Who knows whether the gods will add tomorrow to the present hour? -Horace

I started the day thinking about a paradigm shift; realigning my expectations of this team to the reality of our current situation.  Rather than clinging to the improving promise of Minny, PSU, Illinois, and Purdue, I was prepared to accept this team for who they really are (like anybody truly knows at this point) and seek signs of measurable improvement in the areas we'd need to work on to make the next step in our return to competitiveness.   

My untenable expectations had given way to the cruel reality that is being the 11th youngest team in the nation, absent the services of our most prolific scorer, without the presence of a reliable post option, and lacking a team identity that suits the program's legacy.  I was ready to see something from the cauldron of conference play that would show me how today's Hoosiers will be forged into tomorrow's team?

And then the whistle blew, and the Hoosiers never started playing.  Once again, IU came out completely flat with piss-poor execution and pathetic effort. For the 3rd consecutive game, and the 4th in the last 6 outings, the Hoosiers got their doors blown off right out of the gate.

My initial hopes of coming out with a chip on our shoulder were crushed long before IU had dropped 20 points back only 7 1/2 minutes into the game. After starting the game at a clip that would've allowed Wisconsin to put up 148 on us, Crean finally went to his bench and put Elston and Capobianco on the court. By the time the big freshmen sat back down, IU had almost matched Wisconsin's points (10-9 Elston & 12-9 Capo). And that pretty much ended any meaningful resistance by the Hoosiers for the duration of the game.

Numb from the ugliness and not quite ready to drink this one away yet, I'm at a loss for answers. I have only more questions than before the game. What the hell is going on with my Hoosiers? Where did our will to compete go? When does it end and what will it take?

The other day on the Scoop chat I questioned whether Crean had lost his team; Korman thusly replied, "the Hoosiers are lost." The questions of whether Crean has lost contact with his team and whether the players have lost their will to compete not only linger after Wisconsin, but greatly intensified. 

Having stewed on the matter all evening, I'm now convinced that the time has come for Crean to open up a practice to the media.   At the very least, shoot and edit his own video showing what's going on when the popcorn isn't popping.  Because the on-court product has been so disappointing and because his press room proselytizing is starting to ring hallow, we need to see exactly what's going on and how it's being addressed.  Just give me something to let me know we're still fucking trying.   

Seriously, I'm way past the point of hoping for upsets, and I've all but given up in seeking multiple, measurable improvements within each game.  Anymore I'm just looking for signs of life.  Give me something, anything that let's me know we're not already done playing basketball with 7 games still remaining.  Let me know that our locker room isn't so fractured that it can't spend 40 quality minutes together a couple times a week.  Show me that the players are trying to improve and that the coaching staff is facilitating this goal. 

Otherwise, save me the bullshit about stages and hurting and all the rest.  Because no matter how young or fragile these players are, that's still no excuse for playing like nutless pussies for 3 consecutive games.  There isn't a stage where not trying is acceptable. 

Seeing how the opposite of these views is all we've seen lately between the whistles, it's time to lift the curtain on practice and show us something that addresses the increasing questions about this team's will to compete and the coaches' means to this end.   

That's about the only answer I can come up anymore.  Well, that and the fact that it's now time to drink the ugly away once again.  Slainte, ugly motherfuckers. 

Drinking Away the Ugly


Part of Speech: adjective
Definition: unattractive

Synonyms: animal, appalling, awful, bad-looking, beastly, deformed, disfigured, foul, frightful, grisly, gross, grotesque, hard-featured, hideous, homely, horrid, ill-favored, loathsome, misshapen, monstrous, not much to look at, plain, repelling, repugnant, repulsive, revolting, unbeautiful, uncomely, uninviting, unlovely, unprepossessing, unseemly, unsightly

Pick one, any one.  Yep, that about sums it up tonight. 

My eyes burn after this one. 
<--Watching this one wasn't much better.

So, yeah, good talk. 

I'm going to go pour myself an unreasonably tall drink for a Wednesday night & try to forget about the horrors of this evening. 

Wanna know something meaningful about the game?  Go here, here, or here. This place, well, this place is shutting down before it ever got going (kind of like Dumes tonight).  I'd say goodnight, but I'd be fucking lying to ya.  This was not a good night. 


Overlooking, the Details

True story:
No sooner than I typed the title of this post, I get a tweet from the Scoop about Crean's radio show tonight.  Yeah, the same radio show where Crean acknowledges his team overlooked Iowa.  Well, fuck me.

After spending the past day and some change pissed off about IU's lackadaisical escapade in Evanston, I was determined to convince everyone with this post that we're actually a far better team than they think and that the hideous loses to Northwestern and Iowa were the result of IU overlooking its opponents.  Not expecting many readers to immediately buy what I was selling, I amassed an arsenal of examples and correlations to support my conclusion.

Now that Crean has admitted it, I'll save you your time.  We overlooked Iowa and got our asses kicked at home because of it.  And while Crean wants to split hairs about Northwestern's loss being caused by mistakes, let's not parse our words about overlooking = failing to prepare = making mistakes.

The many, many mistakes we made against Northwestern were the result of overlooking yet another opponent and not mentally preparing ourselves for the challenges of defending the Princeton offense.  There can be no severing of the causal connection between the 3 sins.  We also overlooked Northwestern and again got our asses kicked because of it.

Now that we've established this unsettling fact, let's see what Coach Crean is going to do about it.  We've long heard how Crean's team his too fragile to treat heavyhandedly.  Fortunately, I've got a copy of the Hoops Rules (Old Testamate) handy and it clearly states that, "if a team is tough enough to overlook an opponent, said team shall be adequately capable of having its ass chewed out and its balls run off until the situation subsides- public humiliation & puke-inducing wind sprints are advised." 

There you have it.  If they're big enough to look past a conference opponent, they've got to be big enough to be held accountable for their bullshit play.  It's time to take the kid gloves off, coach.  Benching Dumes sooner would have been nice, but running his ass off until he puked the last time he pulled that shit would've purged his brain of any fleeting thoughts about chucking up another 28-footer in the future.

We've already agreed that some games which are clear losses early on should be used for developmental purposes, so what's the deal about burning minutes for punitive purposes?  Shit, don't let Devan dress for OSU after that nonsense; we don't give a fuck.

As we've previously discussed, we've seen some crazy shit on those sidelines.  Benching guys for dumbass decisions will not only make this team more accountable, it will earn you extra points from the Faithful, lots of 'em.

And going forward, I'd make damn sure they never, ever forget that we lost to Boston, GMU, and fucking Loyola at home this year.  There's no goddamn excuse for allowing them to overlook a Big 10 opponent now.

Whether it's failing to move away from the ball on offense or busting ass back on defense, there can be no tolerating half-assed effort under any circumstances, our present plight not excluded.  I'd just as soon see Finkelmeier, Moore, Gambles, Barnett, & Bawa bumblefuck their way through a half and know that they're at least gaining valuable experience than watch our starters grabasstically pretend they're immune from now working their asses off after playing a couple of decent games in a row.  Fuck, play with four players if you have to, the place will know exactly what you're doing and love you for it.

No matter how Crean approaches the matter, it's gotta be addressed, and quickly.  Because keeping these boys' asses grounded in reality is the coach's job, and that's a detail that isn't being overlooked around here lately.

Closing the Gap

What a difference a month makes.
Just 29 days after Indiana's conference wake-up call in Columbus, the Hoosiers have covered some serious ground. What appeared to be a hopelessly young team destined to bumble their way through the conference season has morphed into a legitimate conference contender. The magnitude of their metamorphosis is Kafka-esque.

Sure, January saw its share of youthful blunders and execution-ineptitude, but think about what's become at the beginning of February. After taking a giant shat at Value City Arena, IU started the month on a 3-game skid. Then, half-way through the month, the Hoosiers showed us what's to come. With back-to-back wins against Minny and Penn St., the loss of Mo Creek no longer seemed to be the death nail in our conference coffin. And while Iowa proved to be an unlikely trap game (which we leisurely strolled into at our own volition), the past 3 weeks have, for the most part, revealed what inspired basketball looks like again.

No longer must Hoosiers fans loathe tip-time when a ranked opponent rolls into B-town or when the Hoosiers visit a hostile venue. IU somehow found the fortitude to compete these past 3 weeks. Not only is IU competing, they've learned to stop beating themselves in the process. Excluding Iowa, IU has averaged a stingy 12.75 turn-overs a game and a relatively impressive 70.5% from the free throw line. These stats bear witness to the progress Crean has made in teaching his squad the value of ball possession and the essential element of capitalizing on our free throws: our 2 greatest self-inflicted liabilities thus far.

Not surprisingly, this period of improvement has directly corresponded with a marked display of leadership from some of his players. Verdell Jones has shown a visible sense of floor command and situational awareness by timely delivering critical shots at exactly the moment IU needs them. Jeremiah Rivers unfucked his head and moved past his Shaq-tastic free throw hurdles. And dare I say, Tom Pritchard's testicles finally descended and allowed him to play with some nuts for the first time in almost a year (you had to know that one was coming, Chris & Dustin). Jordy is shooting the ball with confidence and no longer hesitating to take the open looks. Add to the mix Capo & Elston's developing roles, and IU is rapidly closing the gap that has kept it from competing on a night-in, night-out basis in the Big 10.

While I'm not ready to bet the farm on a +.500 season, it's growing clear that the resurrection is coming full circle. On any given night, IU can be in the thick of things at the end of the game. And what was previously easier to dismiss as an opponent simply looking past IU to their next game (cough, Pitt, cough, Michigan pt. 1), IU's recent play has erased any chances of being a gimme game going forward. How they respond to the new found attention, however, remains to be seen. But there can be no more arguing that IU is once again relevant in conference play.

I'm increasingly anxious to see if there's not a big upset looming somewhere on the horizon for the young Hoosiers. No matter, the gap between last year's shit-show and this season's promise is growing larger by the minute; the distance today between wins & losses is much, much closer than it was at the close of 2009. Best of all, IU basketball is fun again, and that makes all the difference in the world for this Hoosier.

Game Notes:

-The debut of the Crimson Guard was...uninspiring, to say the least. With the student section less than 1/2 full at tip, it seems clear they've got their work cut out for them. Seriously, Pur-fucking-due for Christ's sakes...on national TV...at 7 pm... for the first red-out in school history. If that doesn't get your dick hard, there may be no amount of Viagra to get the students up for a big game. Speaking of the red-out, or "Crimson Vision," let's call a spade a spade and throw in the towel on color themed promotions. The visual effect of the event provided a view no different than the average outing at Assembly Hall. Because "it's Indiana," let's stop trying to be something we're not. And we're apparently far too independent minded to comply with wardrobe requests (though refuckingdiculous costume sightings were marginally down last night). If we've proven to consistently half-ass attire-based promotions, let's punt the whole fucking notion of creating a dramatic visual theme. Once the gym finally filled, I was adequately impressed with the energy and noise it provided. Shit, my entire section was standing at the 13 minute mark of the 2nd half- a rare feat for my neck of the woods. Let's acknowledge who we are and embrace it for what it is: we just don't seem to give a fuck about color coordination (hence, red v. crimson). And before this portion of the rant concludes, let's talk about the costumes. Why must whomever is in charge of selecting the honorary flag bearers only select costumed buffoons?!? If this is going to get any better, stop highlighting these bastards. Pick a couple of students who are crimsoned out and into the game. It's basic child psychology: encourage the behavior you desire your children to display and ignore that which you'd like not to see repeated.

- Todd Leary. Dude. Oh, dude. Really, dude? It's bad enough to get caught up in something like this, but to have a former teammate thrust into the investigation and be hauled off in the Assembly Hall tunnel in front of your family is simply awful. Now that it's happened, just please don't do anything that would make this worse on your family or those who care about you.

-Scoop Talk. I was compelled to stick around after the game and experience the behind-the-scenes magic of Scoop Talk. And though I allegedly cursed Chris' computer (I thought Macs were immune to that shit) (and apparently curse way too much for the HT to risk making a deposit with the FCC), I enjoyed getting the chance to talk shop with the guys. Watching them ad lib Scoop Talk live proved to be far more entertaining than watching their always-entertaining webcasts. With any luck, there may be a road trip in the future. We'll keep our fingers crossed. As for the swearing, I swear because I care, Chris. And let's just say I care a lot. I could tone it down I guess, but I prefer to keeps it real. Besides, isn't fuck the most useful word?

The Guard's Duty

After 109 years, the time has finally come. The basketball Hoosiers have an official student section.
What has always been one of the largest, most passionate, and faithful student sections in the nation now has a name: the Crimson Guard. Representing a team whose own nickname isn't easily defined, this development is a significant step towards creating a cohesive identity for this historically intimidating collective of appreciative hoops fans. Better still, they're getting their shit together and getting the word out.

Well....great. So, where does this go from here.? While having a name and an organizational structure are good places to start, what shall be the IDENTITY of this group? Because one can make certain that a name alone does not an identity make.

And while I saw the group is putting together a constitution (good), encouraging early arrival times (great), and specifically denouncing court stroming (outfuckingstanding), the success or failure of the group will likely depend on whether or not they can achieve a buy-in from the students.

The name, Crimson Guard, achieved only a plurality (about 700) of the paltry votes cast (around 3,000 total, or less than 10% of the undergraduate population). Thus, getting the 8,000 or so students who regularly attend games to participate in the group's initiatives could be challenging.

In order to minimize the introduction of potentially divisive or outright fucking ridiculous ideas, I'm proffering a list of some of the things I've learned to loathe around the world of student section shenanigans. 

-Bouncing up and down the whole game.
This is just plain fucking stupid. End of story. Any douchebag who wants to tell you how much he's into his team and how hardcore his student section is because their bouncing energy somehow drives the homeboys is a fucking moron of the highest order. Seriously, any dickhole who bounces up and down for nearly two hours should be the poster-child for Adderall, not the model by which all student sections are judged.

-Coming up with cheesy-ass routines for random situations.
Ooooooo. You orchestrated a bunch of spooky gestures to mindfuck your team's opponents. Go fuck yourself and choreograph dance ballet if that's what you're into. Let's keep the focus on the bigger things: helping IU win more games and distinguishing our program from inferior legacies.  I know there's some obligatory free throw voodoo that must be created and the like, but try to keep things within reason.

-Be more concerned with the game than showing up on the fan cam.
The level of attention whoring at games has become a serious issue. There's no plausible excuse for showing up with court-level seats dressed a fucking duckling. There just isn't. It's one thing if you feel the need to attract a little attention to yourself, but it's an entirely different matter when you and the gang insist on breaking out the fucktarded superhero costumes every trip to the Hall.

-Don't lose focus of what separates IU fans from the rest: we know, love, and appreciate well-played basketball. True Hoosiers are as easily excited about IU taking a charge as we are a nasty dunk. Seeing a man hit the deck for a lose ball should demand our admiration as much as a streaking shooter knocking down a 3. Assembly Hall has long been home to one of the world's most knowledgeable and appreciative basketball communities. It's student-spectators should strive to display the energy and appreciation deserved by its hallowed hardwood.

-Don't be afraid to disagree with the administration.
While I completely believe you'll need to reach out to many partners for support with guidance or resources, I'd be careful not to buy everything they're selling when it comes to making decisions affecting the group's identity. These are the same people who would have you holding a 4' cut-out of Bart Simpson's head while playing Wii under a disco ball in Assembly Hall wearing a white t-shirt. It may serve you well to thoughtfully review their suggestions in the future before accepting them as presented.

*Editor's Note: Generally, I've been thoroughly impressed with the manner in which Glass' administration has re-directed the athletics dept. Further, I wholly understand the unprecedented nature of the challenges they've faced in filling the stands on 17th St., even the Assembly Hall balcony. That said, however, let's learn from the successes and failures from the last year and make these marketing initiatives first pass a legacy test: run that shit by a non-invested party who possesses a solid understanding of IU's legacy to see if you're creative ideas pass the point of marketability and are generally incompatible with our storied legacy. Ergo: keep the disco balls at Sports.

-Don't underestimate the value of creative thinking. knowledgeable
Sure, anyone can chant "Purdue Sucks" or "Shut Up Weber" in unison. But how many groups can fully describe the horrific wonder that is Gene Kedey's comb-over or articulate the douchey nature of Bruce Weber's whiney persona? With students from all corners of Big 10 country and beyond, the Guard should have a plethora of resources available to come up with original material that properly reflects our basketball passion and intellect.

Assembly Hall shall forever be held in esteemed reverence and renown as a true cradle of the game of basketball. It's students are, and have always been, representative of the character of our beloved program. And with the current incarnation of the basketball Hoosiers being some of the youngest ever to dawn the candy stripes, the energy, enthusiasm, and support of IU's Crimson Guard could not come at a better time. With some proper leadership through its initial period of actualization, it will hopefully grow and prosper into the most feared and intimidating student body in the land. With some proper planning, it will remain in close contact with the qualities that have come to define Indiana's legacy.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot