Tom Crean held a press conference yesterday and addressed a number of offseason items of interest. You can find a complete transcript at the official IU site. Some highlights:
- The assistant coach situation. As has been widely reported, director of basketball operations Calbert Cheaney has been on the road recruiting, essentially as an interim assistant coach filling the vacancy left by Bennie Seltzer, who became the head coach at Samford. It's been widely speculated that Cheaney would get the nod, but he appears to be chewing on the idea of whether he wants to make the leap to a position with so much travel for recruiting. Crean says: " Well, but it's not that simple. It's more about what he wants to do right now. But Calbert has been outstanding and one way or the other, he has a great role in the program."
- The scholarship situation. With Christian Watford and Cody Zeller returning, and with five members of the 2012 recruiting class signed, IU has 14 players and 13 scholarships. If you were hoping that Crean might provide some detailed insight on the situation, prepare to be disappointed: "There is not a big plan and there really isn't a timetable. Those things work themselves out, they always have. It's just the way that it is. It's certainly something that's on the horizon but there is not a timetable to it." I don't really know what to make of this. We've all been over the ways that it could work out. One or more upperclassmen (in-state students such as Jordan Hulls and Derek Elston are the most commonly mentioned possibilities) could pay their own way. One of the recruits could go to prep school or go elsewhere. Someone could transfer (recall that Bobby Capobianco didn't announce his departure until mid-May last year). It seems as if I read somewhere that Elston and Hulls will have enough credits to graduate by the end of the summer session. If that is the case, then either player could remain on the team by taking a fairly light (i.e., less than full-time) slate of graduate classes. I really don't know. I hesitate to put too much stock in what Crean says. If there is a plan, it's certainly not incumbent upon him to tell us what it is. But if this situation is giving you hearburn, be sure to have some Zantac on hand for a while.
- The Kentucky game. I'll just let Crean speak for himself. "We are nowhere. It's not that it couldn't happen down the road but I don't foresee it this year. I'll repeat it again. We have the Kentucky game which is still being talked about and worked on. It's not set in stone because as many of you know Kentucky doesn't want to play it on campus anymore. That is certainly not our first choice. Keeping it on campus is without a doubt our first choice, always has been since I've been here. Again when it was all said and done, to my knowledge, Kentucky was the one that moved it back to campuses before we came, to my knowledge, that's what I've been told. We've got that to play out." He's right about the scheduling. The game was moved to campus sites in 2006 because of some scheduling failure involving Freedom Hall. As I have said before, I always enjoyed the neutral site games, although I am annoyed with UK's petulance on this issue. One thing that makes the neutral site option a bit more attractive: there is some indication that IU and Kentucky could play at the Yum! Center, Louisville's new downtown arena, rather than at ancient Freedom Hall. This Kentucky Sports Radio article discusses UL's sweetheart deal and the desire to add revenue streams such as a UK game.
That really only scratches the surface. I would encourage everyone to read the whole thing. Other tidbits on the NBA draft process, recruiting (general discussion only, of course), Maurice Creek's recovery (progressing, but not "live" yet) and bunches of other stuff.
Hey, how much fun is this? At this time of year in 2009, 2010, and 2011, IU basketball was the last thing I wanted to think about. Now, it's occupying us year-round like in the old days.