IU Coach Tom Crean admits Stanford Robinson’s current place on the team is complicated.
The sophomore guard is averaging 11.5 minutes this season, 5.4 fewer than last year. Part of the decreased playing time is because IU brought in a freshman class featuring James Blackmon Jr. and Rob Johnson, but part of it has been Robinson’s own inconsistency.
When Robinson is at his best, he’s moving the ball, attacking the rim and playing with speed. He’s drawing fouls, getting to the free throw line and playing as one of IU’s best perimeter defenders.
Whether or not he’s doing those things is ultimately what Crean said will determine if Robinson is on the floor.
“We play much better when he does that,” Crean said. “When he’s not like that, we have to move on in the game.”
Robinson’s up-and-down season has been well documented.
There have been games like IU’s Jan. 13 win against Penn State, where he scored 12 points in 17 minutes off the bench. But then there have been games like Sunday against Michigan where he failed to score on two shot attempts in 11 minutes of play.
Crean pins the struggles on a lack of consistency on the offensive end.
When Robinson checks in, Crean said he sometimes tries too hard to look for offense. When he does, he tries to create plays on the floor that aren’t there, which leads to low percentage shots and turnovers.
“I think he works so hard extra in trying to make his shot better, trying to make his offense better that it’s almost like he wants to prove it rather than just letting it happen,” Crean said. “We have to work through that.”
It’s a sticky situation for Crean, who knows what Robinson’s capable of. He just needs to see it more for the sophomore guard to earn a larger role in the rotation.
“If he can get more consistent, he’s going to be vital to our team,” Crean said. “If the consistency’s not there, he’s going to have sporadic minutes.”
Crean excited for signees’ growth
Crean was in Jefferson City, Mo., at the end of last month to watch IU signees O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan play on the same court.
Next year, Anunoby and Morgan will be teammates in Bloomington. But in the Jan. 27 matchup, they were rivals, with Anunoby’s Jefferson City team prevailing.
The 6-foot-8 Anunoby had 11 points and 11 rebounds in the win while the 6-foot-8 Morgan had 21 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort.
“They’re both getting stronger,” Crean said. “They’re bigger even than when we signed them and they’re having very good years for their teams.”
Both Anunoby and Morgan’s high school seasons are still rolling on with state basketball tournaments beginning around the country.
Crean is still on the recruiting trail watching other potential additions to the two-man 2015 class, but for now, Anunoby and Morgan will be the lone freshmen joining next year’s team.
“There’s so much upside for both of them,” Crean said. “Those two are doing an excellent job. They’re doing a very good job in school. They’re leaders on their team. Again, the fact that they’re getting bigger and stronger is impressive to us.”
Crean draws laughs talking officiating
Basketball officials are always going to be put under the microscope.
In any given game, there are hundreds of calls. They’re made in real time and occasionally, the calls come into question.
Radio host Don Fischer asked Crean how he felt about Big Ten officials — which are hired as independent contractors by the conference and not salaried employees by the NCAA — but Crean said he’d rather not go down that road to comment on their performance.
He did, however, draw a laugh from the crowd gathered at the Bloomington Holiday Inn.
“I respect what the officials do,” Crean said. “There are some you respect more than others.”