Indiana Daily Student

Hoosiers still looking for leadership

Head coach Tom Crean watches his team from the sidelines during IU's game against Georgetown on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. IU lost to Georgetown 91-87.
Head coach Tom Crean watches his team from the sidelines during IU's game against Georgetown on Saturday at Madison Square Garden in New York City. IU lost to Georgetown 91-87.

IU Coach Tom Crean didn’t look angry. Disappointed was more appropriate.

At his press conference after IU’s blowout loss at Michigan State, Crean kept his gaze down. He spoke slowly and softly, hands tapping at the podium.

His team was devoid of leadership, and it seemed he had just figured that out.

“I thought our leadership was left somewhere back in Bloomington,” he said. “And I guess that falls on me, because we didn’t have any leadership in that game whatsoever.”

For stretches of Monday’s game, five red jerseys stood in place. The offense was reduced to one Hoosier dribbling and four watching him. Crean said he hadn’t coached a game with less offensive purpose in his time at IU.

Michigan State attacked early. Without a leader on the floor to respond, IU gave up.

“We got back on our heels, we got disappointed,” Crean said. “And we had nobody rallying us on.”

In recent seasons, Crean has relied on a singular team leader to act as an extension of the coaching staff on the floor ­— players like Verdell Jones III and Jordan Hulls. Last season, Will Sheehey filled that role.

They’re all gone now. Crean is left with a team that he says hasn’t found its leadership yet this season.

“I don’t do captains,” he said. “I don’t put the ‘C’ on the chest, because if I did, tonight I’d be taking those jerseys away. We didn’t have any of that. That falls on me, obviously, but I’m not out there playing. I’m the one that’s making the decisions on who’s out there playing, and our leadership is not good.”

The Hoosiers’ leadership void is something that Crean has hinted at throughout the season.

It first sprung up on the now-infamous Halloween night when freshman Emmitt Holt struck sophomore Devin Davis with a car, which left him in the hospital. It developed further when Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson allegedly failed multiple drug tests and were suspended for the season’s first four games.

Those issues were masked by a better-than-expected start to the season. Win games, and the rest fades into the background. But now it’s Big Ten season, and the Hoosiers can’t coast — kenpom.com projects that IU will win just eight of its final 16 games this season, including Saturday’s contest with Ohio State.

“We’ve got to get better in a hurry,” Crean said.

All in all, leadership issues are to be expected with a young Hoosiers squad. The roster features no seniors, and the team’s most vocal leader, Nick Zeisloft, transferred into the program in the summer.

But Crean said those aren’t excuses. He said he expects his players to step up and lead when the moment comes.

“I’m not going to put that on youth,” he said. “We just didn’t do it.

“I think our guys will be embarrassed when they see that.”

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