Today, they had a chance to end that skid as they found themselves up seven points inside of 10 minutes to go in the game. Unfortunately, they couldn’t hold on as they lost 83-80 in overtime.
Blame can be placed in a number of places, but one is certainly the in-game coaching of their head coach Tom Crean.
I’ve been critical of Crean since last season. I thought this team under-performed all year and Crean was the issue. He doesn’t develop his players and fails to make in-game adjustments. He does a great job of recruiting and preparing for the game by scouting other teams, but he does nothing with it when it matters — in the game.
That was never more evident than during today’s loss.
He put Indiana in tough situations multiple times.
First off, why sub so much? Clearly, Yogi Ferrell, Noah Vonleh, Troy Williams and Will Sheehey would be the go-to guys today. They had it going early and were tough to stop. So, why did he keep taking Vonleh, Williams and Sheehey out for long stretches of the game?
In the second half, Illinois’ big men were in foul trouble and Vonleh was eating them up. They had no answer for him all day. But, Crean had him on the bench for some stretches that left everyone scratching their heads.
Then in overtime, he was originally called for a foul, but it was changed. Crean took him out. It almost seemed Crean thought he fouled out when the foul wasn’t even on him. He sat there as precious minutes were ticking off and didn’t return until it was nearly too late.
Another coaching blunder came at the end of regulation. The game was tied and IU had the ball. Crean never called a timeout to set up a play and when things were breaking down as he had another opportunity.
Not even a pulse over there.
Why he let Evan Gordon hold onto the ball so long without calling a timeout was beyond me. Then, Gordon dribbled into trouble and luckily got a shot fake off and a decent look. During all of this, Crean still could have called a timeout.
Ferrell was having a career game. He was 8-for-12 shooting at that point and hit some clutch shots prior to that possession. Why not call timeout and draw a play up to get the ball in his hands?
That lost the game for IU. The game could have ended in regulation. Illinois had zero, zip, zilch of an answer for Ferrell this afternoon. He finished with 30 points, five rebounds and four assists for crying out loud.
Why not let Ferrell, who hit almost everything he shot today, either take the last shot or dribble drive with no one on Illinois able to stay in front of him and dish off to Vonleh, who too couldn’t be stopped either?
Instead, they have to result in a Gordon last-second shot while being double teamed.
These type of things are hurting IU and it starts at the top.