Kent Sterling News

Indiana Basketball - Five reasons Tom Crean should stay and another five he shou


Indiana coach Tom Crean has three years left on his contract. Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass will wait until the season ends and then evaluate the basketball program.  The decision will be made to either retain Tom Crean as the basketball coach or relieve him of his responsibilities. There are two sects of Indiana Basketball fans – those who view Crean as the hero of IU hoops who rode in on a white horse to save the program during its darkest moment with diligence and excellent recruiting, and those who see him as an overmatched schemer whose hyperactivity and inability to teach defense has frustrated players and fans. Somewhere in the middle lies the truth. Indiana will play the final home game of a very disappointing season tonight against Northwestern, a team enjoying its finest year.  Indiana is 5-10, in 13th place among 14 teams in the Big 10. For many fans who spend the majority of their idle time ruminating about Indiana Basketball, the result of a season that began with such promise is unacceptable. Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons or firing and retaining Crean to see if we can find a little clarity or common ground.  Here are five reasons – in no particular order – to hold on to Crean: Who is a better replacement?  The names being thrown around as the next coach are either pie in the sky pipe dreams or uninspiring.  Brad Stevens (Celtics), Steve Alford (UCLA), Archie Miller (Dayton), Tony Bennett (Virginia), Chris Mack (Xavier), Dane Fife (assistant at Michigan State), Will Wade (VCU), and Kevin Keatts (UNC Wilmington) are among the names that come to mind as potential leaders, but do any give you the notion that a sixth banner is right around the corner?  Maybe one of them would either agree to come or provide IU with its next great coach. Injuries robbed this Indiana team of chance to succeed.  Collin Hartman would have brought steady delivery of fundamentals and leadership, and O.G. Anunoby can defend all five spots as an athletic freak.  James Blackmon Jr. was gone for a few games too.  With a healthy roster, Indiana might have been good enough.  With Hartman healthy, it can be assumed that IU would have been one point better @ IPFW – a game lost in overtime).  With Hartman and Anunoby playing, they likely would have been a bucket better against Minnesota and a point better than Iowa.  By being four points better, Indiana would be 18-10 and 7-8 in the Big 10, and inside the bubble for the NCAA Tournament.  It’s likely IU might have found a way to be a bit better than that. Indiana has won two Big 10 championships in last five seasons.  The NCAA Tournament is a crapshoot, and winning four straight games in March to advance to the Final Four is tough.  Winning more Big 10 games than anyone else in the conference is a test of basketball and intestinal fortitude. Hoosiers program better today than 10, 15, or 20 years ago.  After Damon Bailey’s graduation, Indiana under Bob Knight started recruiting all over the place, and the result was an uneven mess.  Mike Davis was unready to lead IU by his own admission.  Kelvin Sampson was an amoral and corrupt leader (according to NCAA rules at the time) of a previously pious and chaste program.  Crean inherited a mess, and cobbled together rosters that became very competitive in his fourth season.  From 1995-2012, Indiana advanced to one Sweet 16 and shared one Big 10 regular season championship.  From 2013-2016, Indiana won two Big 10 titles outright, and has advanced to three Sweet 16s. Maybe this is as good as it gets for IU.  Indiana is not Louisville, Kentucky, North Carolina, or Duke.  It’s also not the consistent winner that Wisconsin, Michigan State, and Michigan are.  A close comp over the past six years is West Virginia.  Is there a coach out there like John Calipari was after the grim and brief Billy Gillespie era at Kentucky, or a Roy Williams following Matt Doherty and Bill Guthridge at UNC who can resurrect Indiana to it’s former greatness? Okay, let’s compare the reasons to keep Crean with some that call for a regime change: Style does not sync with Indiana heritage.  Even when winning, Indiana fans are baffled by the Hoosiers inability to defend and take care of the ball.  For generations Indiana players appeared smarter and better prepared to compete than their opponents.  Today’s Hoosiers either out-talent opponents or lose. Crean can no longer recruit Indiana.  Four high school seniors from Indiana are ranked in the top 30 nationally, and none will play for Indiana.  IU continues to offer Indiana kids, but none seems as keen on playing in Bloomington as Cody Zeller or Yogi Ferrell were.  If Crean can’t recruit the home state hot bed, how can they compete with the programs that can.  Gary Harris, Trey Lyles, Zak Irvin, Caleb Swanigan, and Kyle Guy would have helped Indiana win games if not championships. Incoming class not a game changer.  Clifton Moore, Al Durham, and Justin Smith are doubtless nice young men who have a great talent to play basketball, but they comprise a recruiting class not ranked in the top 40 in the country.  Their arrival will coincide with the almost certain departure of Anunoby, Blackmon, and Thomas Bryant.  Fans are not bullish that brighter days are ahead based upon the current state of Crean’s recruiting. Alternative to firing is an extension.  If Crean is invited to return to Bloomington by not being asked to leave, he will have three years remaining on his contract, and as his buyout drops to $1-million on July 1st, he will ask for an extension that rewards him for the success that had been lacking for 15 years prior to his arrival.  Can Indiana justify extending the contract of a coach whose presence in Bloomington has motivated thousands of empty seats in Assembly Hall over the last month. Failed to post winning Big 10 record three of last four seasons.  Indiana’s record over the last four Big 10 seasons is 36-33 with three non-winning seasons.  That is a mediocre result that includes one very nice 15-3 season.  Taking the unfair step of removing the 2016 campaign, Indiana is 21-30 in conference play in 2014, 2015, and 2017.  If past is prologue, the future looks dim indeed. The distilled result of the five reasons to replace Crean is an apathy among longtime fans and donors that might compel action. Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Pacers Paul George learned the unpleasant lesson this week that he is simply an


Paul George is as frustrated as many valuable employees are when they learn they are just employees. There comes a time in every man’s life when he learns who he is and where he stands – when he finds that he is not truly a member of the club despite being told of his importance to its members. He learns that an employer’s actions speak louder than words. That time for Indiana Pacers all-star Paul George came as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline drew near as the Pacers shopped him around to other teams. George did not like being kept out of the loop, “"I kind of was on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen.  It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I would be in the loop a little more than that." George needs to understand two things – his last name is not Simon – as in the name of the family that owns the Pacers – and he is a worker bee in the Pacers organization. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter As the best player on the Pacers, a mediocre team with a 30-28 record and not a single championship in its NBA history, George wants his seat at the big boy table where the decisions get made. LeBron James has a seat at the Cleveland Cavaliers table earned through consistent greatness. James can make roster demands because he is by far the most valuable player in the NBA.  James has gone to the NBA Finals in each of the last six seasons, and won three championships.  He will retire as one of the top five basketball players of all-time. While he is a splendid basketball player, George is not the kind of player who can barge into an oak paneled conference room and make demands.  Paul George is not LeBron James. George is the CEO/owner of PG13 Enterprises or whatever his company is called.  He sits at the head of that table, and can call the shots as he sees fit.  With the Pacers, he is an employee – an exceptionally well-paid employee whose value may be greatest in a swap for other employees. That is an uncomfortable position for a 26-year-old who gets his way everywhere else but in among upper management at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and his frustration with the Pacers may lead team president Larry Bird to decide that George should be dealt before he can exercise that frustration by bolting for Los Angeles as a free agent. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry George learned a valuable lesson this week.  Regardless of his unique gifts as a basketball player, he is still an employee – an asset on ledger controlled by others. That hurt for George this week – just as it hurts when the same reality is visited upon us as we bang our heads on the ceiling that exists for all employees. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.   Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

#Pacers Paul George learned the unpleasant lesson this week that he is simply an


Paul George is as frustrated as many valuable employees are when they learn they are just employees. There comes a time in every man’s life when he learns who he is and where he stands – when he finds that he is not truly a member of the club despite being told of his importance to its members. He learns that an employer’s actions speak louder than words. That time for Indiana Pacers all-star Paul George came as Thursday’s NBA trade deadline drew near as the Pacers shopped him around to other teams. George did not like being kept out of the loop, “"I kind of was on the ropes just like you guys were on what was about to happen.  It was kind of a dark moment of uncertainty. That was the frustrating part. You want me to be your guy here, I thought I would be in the loop a little more than that." George needs to understand two things – his last name is not Simon – as in the name of the family that owns the Pacers – and he is a worker bee in the Pacers organization. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter As the best player on the Pacers, a mediocre team with a 30-28 record and not a single championship in its NBA history, George wants his seat at the big boy table where the decisions get made. LeBron James has a seat at the Cleveland Cavaliers table earned through consistent greatness. James can make roster demands because he is by far the most valuable player in the NBA.  James has gone to the NBA Finals in each of the last six seasons, and won three championships.  He will retire as one of the top five basketball players of all-time. While he is a splendid basketball player, George is not the kind of player who can barge into an oak paneled conference room and make demands.  Paul George is not LeBron James. George is the CEO/owner of PG13 Enterprises or whatever his company is called.  He sits at the head of that table, and can call the shots as he sees fit.  With the Pacers, he is an employee – an exceptionally well-paid employee whose value may be greatest in a swap for other employees. That is an uncomfortable position for a 26-year-old who gets his way everywhere else but in among upper management at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, and his frustration with the Pacers may lead team president Larry Bird to decide that George should be dealt before he can exercise that frustration by bolting for Los Angeles as a free agent. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry George learned a valuable lesson this week.  Regardless of his unique gifts as a basketball player, he is still an employee – an asset on ledger controlled by others. That hurt for George this week – just as it hurts when the same reality is visited upon us as we bang our heads on the ceiling that exists for all employees. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com.   Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Breakfast w/Kent - @Pacers streak; #iubb Senior Night; #BoilerUp for title; @But


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Bulldog Breakfast with Kent - Butler steamrolls 'Nova; Will Paul George be a Pac


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Bulldog Breakfast with Kent - @ButlerMBB steamrolls 'Nova; Will @Yg_Trece be Pac


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Breakfast w/Kent - Huge OT loss for #iubb; Massive OT win for #BoilerUp; @Butler


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Breakfast with Kent - #iubb and #BoilerUp must win tonight; Should @Yg_Trece be


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John Calipari paints himself as victim while defending Fox and Gottfried


The top diva among college basketball coaches loves to bury whines inside defense of peers.credit: Stephen Dunn/Hartford Courant/MCT/Landov No one in sports is as clumsy and obvious in banging his own drum while defending others as Kentucky head basketball coach John Calipari. Listening to Cal whine about how college basketball coaches paid millions to educate and lead students are victims in our society is either nauseating or funny depending upon your ability to laugh at self-importance. Last night, after Kentucky posted a hard-earned win over Georgia, Calipari opined about the state of coaching and how Georgia coach Mark Fox is doing a great job.  Sadly for Fox, Calipari is not Georgia’s athletic director. Calipari also defended the recently fired Mark Gottfried of North Carolina State. No one would argue that building a top tier program at a football school like Georgia is tough as hell for Fox or any other coach, or that NC State retaining Gottfried to finish the season post-termination is idiotic. The messages about his peers aren’t offensive, unless you are the AD at either Georgia or NC State – it’s the way Calipari paints himself as a victim through his membership in the fraternity of coaches that’s irksome. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter As is always the case with the self-immersed, Calipari begins his rant with empathy, turns toward trying to inspire pity, and finishes close to where his good intentions began, “They do this to us without Maten.  That’s what kind of coach Mark Fox is. So again, ‘Well, we want to win more.’ No kidding. We all want to. Live with my shoes. You want to win more? We gotta win by 25 or we got problems. We win by two or in overtime, people are jumping off bridges. So we all want to win, but it’s about what kind of coach he is, what kind of man he is.” Just to prove burying the whine beneath defense of others is a strategy and not a one time slip, Calipari said this about Gottfried, “What if Mark Gottfried goes on a run at the end and gets to the NCAA tournament, which he was in four out of five years? Two Sweet 16s, which is not done at NC State. What happens if he now — if he goes and wins and gets another team [in]? He had good players but they’re young, they’re like my team. It’s hard to do this with young guys.” Doing what Gottfried tried at NC State IS tough, but there are 350 NCAA Division One coaches who would swap rosters with Calipari virtually every season.  Maybe not Duke or Kansas, but damn near everyone else would do it without a second thought. Calipari aligning himself with Fox and Gottfried was about Calipari and only Calipari.  Listen for the self-serving blather next time you listen to Calipari, and you’ll understand the disdain many have for him The acrimony toward Calipari from peers, (off the record, of course), and fans has very little to do with his success, although that’s what Calipari and his sycophants always claim. Nobody begrudges Villanova’s Jay Wright his success, and over the last four years, Wright’s teams have posted a 123-15 overall record, have won the Big East all four years with a record of 61-8, and won a National Championship. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry Calipari is 115-26 over the same period with a 54-13 record in the SEC (a basketball conference inferior to the Big East), and a single trip to the Final Four. If it was about success, people would loathe Wright.  I’ve never heard anyone say a negative thing about him. Whether fans love or hate him, there is no denying that Calipari loves himself. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com. Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Indiana Basketball - Is Tom Crean a great recruiter? A look at every class tells


In this picture, there is one great recruiter, but his machine simply has to select great players. Tom Crean needs to find them. So often, the answer from Indiana fans when asked about Tom Crean’s leadership of the Hoosiers basketball program is, “Poor game coach, quirky guy, but great recruiter.” His rep as a challenged game coach is overblown, but so is the usual valuation of his recruiting process.  We all agree on the quirks. Normally, I am not a fan of ranking basketball players 18-and-younger.  No one can tell the difference between the 32nd best player in the class of 2017 and the 46th.  Kids can be clustered, but as you’ll see below, the rankings of a kid like Victor Oladipo did not take into account the work ethic that would drive his jump from barely in the top 150 in the class of 2010 to the second overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter But how else are we to judge recruiting?  So in breaking down Crean’s 10 recruiting classes, we will use the rankings of Rivals and Scout services to answer the question about the real world results of Crean’s handiwork in compelling student-athletes to pledge IU. Indiana’s team rankings below is from Scout.com, and it’s listed immediately after the year.  Scout only ranks recruiting classes down to 25th, which is fine because telling the 27th best from the 42nd is a futile enterprise.  The player rankings list the Rivals evaluation first and Scout’s second. 2017 – NR (three Big 10 teams ranked in top 25) With four Indiana prep stars inside the top 30 in every service, it is disappointing the Hoosiers couldn’t net even one.  This class is still a work in progress.  While likely Bryant, Anunoby, and Blackmon will bounce after the season, it’s not a done deal.  If one or more stick around, the number of available scholarships might need to be adjusted. Justin Smith, #107/#90 Clifton Moore, #126/NR Al Durham, NR/NR 2016 – NR (three Big 10 teams ranked in top 25) This class is still a mystery.  Davis has shown an ability to score, but fouls far too often on the other end (five in just nine minutes at Minnesota is a prime example).  Projecting the potential of Jones and Green is tough because they are playing short minutes.  For an unranked player, Green has looked very good at times. De’Ron Davis, #35/#44 Curtis Jones, #69/NR Grant Gelon, NR/NR Devonte Green, NR/NR Freddie McSwain, JC/JC 2015 – NR (three Big 10 teams ranked in top 25) Anunoby being unranked shows the flaw in the ranking system – or those tasked with evaluation.  This class has to grade out better than the experts projected.  All three players have been key contributors, and two might play in the NBA – although I see Bryant as an extreme long shot in any role but an end of bench guy who shuttles back and forth from the NBDL to NBA. Thomas Bryant, #27/#28 Juwan Morgan, #109/NR O.G. Anunoby, NR/NR 2014 – #23 (4th in Big 10) Talk about the yin and yang of recruiting.  Both Blackmon and Johnson are flawed, but both have been solid in their three seasons in Bloomington when healthy.  The rest of the class is forgettable at best as three have exited.  It was a good idea for Crean to grab a couple of top 50 recruits at the shooting guard position because it was clear the Stanford Robinson was an ill-tempered short-timer when he came to IU in 2013. James Blackmon Jr., #22/#32 Robert Johnson, #48/#46 Max Hoetzel, NR/NR Jeremiah April, NR/NR Tim Priller, NR/NR Emmitt Holt, NR/NR 2013 – #6 (tops in Big 10) This class looked great on paper.  Then Fischer went home during holiday break his freshman year, Robinson imploded, and Davis was lost to a head injury that resulted from late night revelry.  Vonleh jumped to the NBA after his freshman year, while Williams waited until after his junior season.  Hartman’s injuries ended whatever hope remained for this class to bring a championship to Bloomington. Noah Vonleh, #8/#7 Troy Williams, #47/#67 Stanford Robinson, #56/#59 Luke Fischer, #94/#79 Devin Davis, #127/NR Collin Hartman, NR/NR 2012 – #6 (tops in Big 10) Uh-oh.  The Movement.  Minus Yogi, this much ballyhooed class with its roots in Indiana was a train wreck.  Hollowell was poorly evaluated, and the ranking for Mosquera Perea was worse – much worse.  When this class is used as an example of how Indiana high school players are overrated and Crean is right to focus elsewhere, my blood pressure soars to 380 over 240.  Other than Yogi, this class was easily seen as a mess before they enrolled, and attaching their legacy to others is silly. Yogi Ferrell, #19/#28 Jeremy Hollowell, #41/#28 Hanner Mosquera Perea, #43/#49 Ron Patterson, #131/NR Peter Jurkin, NR/NR 2011 – NR (four Big 10 teams – including Rutgers – ranked in top 25) Zeller was obviously a southern Indiana superstar, and Etherington was a solid glue guy willing to compete regardless of the difficulty of the challenge.  Abell being run out of town was perfectly understandable if the story about his exit is accurate. Cody Zeller, #15/#13 Austin Etherington, NR/NR Remy Abell, NR/NR 2010 – NR (three Big 10 teams ranked in top 25) This appeared to be a very lackluster group, but Oladipo and Sheehey turned this into a win for Crean.  The search party is still looking for Guy-Marc. Will Sheehey, #141/NR Victor Oladipo, #144/NR Guy-Marc Michel, NR/NR 2009 – #10 (tops in the Big Ten) This was a good class.  Watford, Hulls, and Elston did a lot of the heavy lifting in putting Indiana back in the mix as a contender in the Big 10.  Creek might have been the best of the bunch if he had not suffered a horrific knee injury. Christian Watford, #41/#48 Maurice Creek, #56/#42 Derek Elston, #103/#78 Jordan Hulls, #107/#51 Bawa Muniru, #112/NR Bobby Capobianco, NR/NR 2008 – Can’t hold Crean responsible for this class as he took the gig after the die was cast So what have we learned from this exercise?  That from a rankings perspective, Crean’s ability to sell a bright future peaked in 2012 & 2013.  After that the recruiting has been hit and miss, and so has the on-court product. It’s absurd to characterize Crean’s work as a recruiter as a failure, but the growth and then recession of quality in his work as an importer/exporter is evident. We could tally the top 20 recruits for Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina, Kansas, Arizona, and other programs to compare them with Crean’s work at Indiana, but that would negate the curiously excellent vetting of prep targets like Oladipo and Anunoby, who were overlooked by almost everyone but Indiana. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry Indiana has had three Crean recruits drafted into the NBA.  Ferrell and Williams have played this season as undrafted rookies.  That doesn’t compare with elite programs.  With five players in the NBA, Indiana is deep on the list – outside the top 15. You can draw your own conclusions about Crean as a recruiter, but the art of building a great team in business or sports is finding individuals who will fit well as a group. Has that happened in Bloomington?  Not since 2013.  What about last season’s Big 10 Championship?  That is just how good Yogi was. Is Crean a great recruiter?  Judging from the year-to-year arc of the rankings and results, he was at the top of his game in 2013. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com. Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Indiana Pacers - Mired in mediocrity, is it time for Larry Bird to play "Let's M


Larry Bird has completely made-over his roster in two years, but the Pacers are still mediocre. On the game show “Let’s Make a Deal”, contestants can stand pat with a modest wad of cash, or trade it for what’s behind the curtain.  Sometimes it’s a new car, and other times it’s a goat. Stick with mediocrity, or risk it for a car or a goat. That’s the Indiana Pacers right now.  They are an OK team, one game above .500 at the All Star Break.  President of basketball ops Larry Bird can trade for what’s under the box, behind the curtain, or behind Door #1. The problem is goats could be behind all three! The Pacers are one of the NBA’s most mediocre teams with a roster cobbled together through a few draft successes, a couple of decent trades, and a few middling free agent signings. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter They can’t rebound and won’t defend.  The competitive fire appears to have been extinguished by a rain shower that continues to fall from the dark clouds all-star Paul George cited last night as hovering over the Pacers after they lost to the Wizards 111-98. Bird has a week before the trade deadline and Bird’s options are… Deal Paul George.  The Celtics covet George.  They own this year’s Brooklyn Nets first rounder, which will be in the top four of a very strong draft. That could provide an additional young piece of the puzzle that includes developing superstar Myles Turner. Buying low and selling high is good business, but not always great in building a basketball team.  Getting a potential #1 for the guy taken #10 in 2010 would be nice depending upon the other pieces the Pacers had to assume as part of making the money balance. Stand pat.  Bird could choose to stick with the girl that brung him, which would mean the likelihood of a third act of this thoroughly dull season resembling the first two.  He could see the Pacers come together as a winning unit, or play like they are very happy where they are. Deal spare parts.  He could try to find new homes for Monta Ellis, and the other spare parts that do as much to hamstring the Pacers on the defensive end as advance their cause offensively.  The only problem there is that the other 29 NBA GMs watch basketball too, and they know who can help and who can’t. Generally deals jettisoning spare parts begat more spare parts.  This is called “shuffling the deck chair on the Titanic.” At some point, the decision needs to be made that .500 basketball in perpetuity is not a compelling product for a fan base still being re-energized. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry A team foundering while awaiting multiple drafts to rebuild its roster is even worse.  If you don’t believe me, just ask Philadelphia 76ers fans. Any direction is better than none.  I would like to see Bird and his staff try to find a way to abandon the middle, remove itself from the safe zone, and do what’s needed to put players on the floor who understand that winning – not earning – is the point of playing in the NBA. That’s the mindset to which Paul George may need to be reintroduced. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com. Tweet !function(d,s,id) {var js,fjs=d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0];if (!d.getElementById(id)) {js=d.createElement(s);js.id=id;js.src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js";fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js,fjs);}}(document,"script","twitter-wjs");

Bankers Life Breakfast with Kent - Pacers lose; Hoosiers chill; Boilers thrill


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Indiana Basketball - Is Tom Crean the right coach for Indiana in 2017-2018?


Tom Crean is doing all he can, but is it enough? When I evaluate the work of others, my first step is to break the production of the employee into component parts.  By measuring contributions in individual silos, I tend to be more objective and through that objectivity discover whether my visceral gut feeling is accurate. Let’s do that as well as we can from 35,000 feet with Indiana University basketball coach Tom Crean.  It’s especially appropriate because there are some in the IU fanbase who just don’t like Crean.  His sideline antics and complicated responses to simple basketball questions are off-putting to some, so let’s apply some objectivity to his leadership and remove the impulse to view him subjectively. I’ve broken his responsibilities down to some elementary components – recruiting, results, academics and compliance, in-game scheming, and fundament instruction. Recruiting – Crean is always given great credit for recruiting skill, and I have never understood why.  Yes, he found diamonds in the rough like Victor Oladipo and O.G. Anunoby.  That is good.  Not being able to entice a single top 10 recruit to Bloomington in his 10 classes is not good. Click here to follow Kent on Twitter Since 2009, the State of Indiana has produced 20 top 30 recruits, as ranked by ESPN.  Indiana has signed three – Yogi Ferrell, Cody Zeller, and James Blackmon, Jr.  Some, like Mason Plumlee, were earmarked for Duke or another obvious destination, and nothing Crean could do would have stopped that. The upcoming class is the most troubling though.  Four top 30 players in the 2017 class call Indiana home, and none will play for the glory of ol’ IU.  Instead, Indiana will welcome Justin Smith, who is ranked 80th, Clifton Moore, and Al Durham – who are both unranked.  One or all might be the next Oladipo, but we don’t know that yet. Recruiting Indiana successfully is integral to winning at Indiana because if you can’t sell an Indiana kid on the notion of playing for IU, what kind of success can be expected in recruiting a kid from the east coast who can’t point to Indiana on a map? Indiana kids know how to play the game at a unique level because that is what they do.  If it’s true that it takes 10,000 hours to become the best version of yourself at any discipline, Indiana kids are much closer to that threshold at a young age because many play and train relentlessly. Sadly, private conversations with high school and summer basketball coaches in Indiana reveal that Crean has burned bridges with them, and as a result the recruiting well has dried for the Hoosiers in the Hoosier State. Crean’s philosophy seems to be to recruit the best athletes he can with the longest reach.  The result for the 2016-2017 team has been a hodgepodge of talent ill-equipped to function together as a basketball team. There is no obvious cultural mold to which Crean adheres in evaluating recruits. Results – Indiana has boasted two Big Ten regular season champions over the last five years, has qualified for the NCAA Tournament four times, and won its way into the Sweet Sixteen three times.  In three of the last four years, IU will have finished outside the top four in the Big Ten, and has never qualified for the semifinals of the Big 10 Tourney under Crean. Academics and compliance – No issues on either end, it would appear.  Kids graduate and the NCAA has only groused in Indiana’s direction once – and that was because of a little confusion over the calendar.  IU visited Hamilton Southeastern High School one day outside the open period to say hello to future Michigan State Spartan Gary Harris. Indiana has delivered upon the promise of providing an education for student-athletes, and Crean should be commended for that. In-game scheming – Indiana appears to be a jack of all trades, master of none operation on both ends of the floor.  Crean has built a labyrinthian network of offensive sets and defensive schemes that are designed to baffle opponents.  Unfortunately, they more than occasionally result in confusion for the Hoosiers themselves. There are moments of clarity where the Hoosiers operate as an offensive machine capable of outscoring opponents, but too often turnovers are the result of unnecessarily complicated sets. This season, Indiana ranks 27th among 351 Division One teams in offensive efficiency despite turning the ball over on 21.3% of its possessions (ranking 317th).  That’s not all bad, but when IU’s defense also ranks 317th in forcing turnovers, that is a poor recipe for success. In Defensive efficiency, IU ranks 102nd overall and 12th in the Big 10.  This is not a recent phenomenon for Indiana under Crean.  Last year, Indiana was sixth, and the year prior to that they were last.  The only year IU has finished as high as fourth was 2013 – the best season for Indiana under Crean. Fundamental instruction – The only way for the majority of Indiana fans and those who cover the Hoosiers to appraise the level of instruction is to watch the execution of the team and draw conclusions based upon that.  Good thing, because that’s always the best way to gauge the level of teaching. Indiana has often been a fundamentally flawed team.  Blockouts are missed, turnovers are committed, defensive switches are poorly executed, closeouts allow penetration, and overall basketball awareness is so poor Indiana coaches have taken to holding up signs to communicate the most rudimentary hoops concepts – like “Don’t hop!” and “Call out screens!” Under Tom Crean, Indiana has become disorganized and chaotic.  It seems that Crean’s brain is in hyper-drive throughout the game, which shows a lack of confidence in the instruction that occurs during practice.  When a teacher’s mind is cluttered, it’s likely his students will reflect that by focusing upon the granular while missing the big picture concepts. Conclusion – The question we as fans, media, and Crean’s bosses and peers need to ask is whether there is someone else out there who can be attracted to Indiana who can check the above boxes at a higher level. Another question is whether the confusion and chaos apparent in year nine of the Crean era is an anomaly or whether it is standard operating procedure in Bloomington.  The logical extension of that question is whether Crean’s ceiling at IU is the occasional Big 10 championship and a shot in the Sweet Sixteen every other year. Click here for a $1 comprehensive dental exam done by the best dentist in Indiana – Dr. Mike O’Neil at Today’s Dentistry It’s been hard to watch the last four IU teams and hope for better days.  The team in 2013 was the zenith, and a return to that level of play seems a pipe dream. Then the question we need to ask ourselves is whether that is enough to sustain our keen interest in the program. Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at kentsterling.com. 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Breakfast with Kent - IU loses again, Butler wins again, Pacers lose - again!


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Breakfast with Kent - Izzo barks back at @dandakich; #Pacers, #iubb, and @Butler


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