While no one was seriously expecting another run like last season's Hoosiers, the majority of us certainly expected better than what we got: 17-15, and no postseason bid. This marks arguably the first time a Tom Crean-coached Indiana team has failed to come close to preseason expectations, which normally wouldn't be so disappointing. 1 disappointing season in 6 is pretty good, except the first three seasons under Crean were disappointing for completely different reasons.
So, if we set the rebuilding the program years aside, "Year 3" for the Crean tenure was the first step in the wrong direction that we've seen. It was certainly frustrating as it was happening, but do we really need to start looking around for the coach of future Indiana teams? I think we're still at least one year too early for that talk, regardless of Crean's contract situation. Since replacing the coach isn't a likely solution at the present time, what can be done to avoid this feeling next year, and on down the road?
Crean has been pretty good at bringing talent to Bloomington. The problem seems to arise from most of that talent being guards and small forwards in a conference often predicated on dominating the paint. The big men Crean has brought to Bloomington generally are either good enough to leave early (Zeller, Vonleh) or need plenty of development to be serviceable (Jurkin, Perea, arguably Pritchard). We need to bring in one very good big man every other year, or we'll have serious trouble against the rest of the conference, much less the rest of the country.
2. In-Game Adjustments/Substitutions
This seems to be a consistent weak spot in the last few seasons. I'm not sure if it's failing to prepare correctly, or improperly simulating things like Syracuse's zone, or simply not doing anything in the locker room at halftime, but the Hoosiers have often struggled in the second half of games they would go on to lose. On a similar line, there have been many occasions where the lineup on the floor hasn't made sense to anyone other than Coach Crean, and when things don't work out as he expected, he cannot satisfactorily produce reasons for why those players were together at that time. I don't know what needs to change here, but the answer is certainly not "nothing," that I am sure of.
3. Schedule Better
This one has already been covered by better authorities than I, but after Fred Glass publicly apologized for this year's strength of schedule, this issue is already being addressed, most recently by adding games against SMU starting with the upcoming season.
And while this doesn't even come close to exhausting every potential problem, fixing two of three should be enough to make the postseason every year barring serious injuries or NCAA sanctions. Here's hoping we never have to think about those things again.