Can this Indiana basketball team really contend in the Big Ten this season?
Hmph. I don't know.
Has this defense improved? This is the same team as last season?
Yeah, maybe, I don't know.
Should this be Tom Crean's last season with this Indiana basketball program?
I don't know, maybe if they suck.
After two games in the Maui Invitational, Tom Crean's basketball team has not looked like one that will compete late into March. It hasn't looked like one that will compete for a Big Ten title. It might not even look like one that will even make the field of 68. They haven't shot the ball well. They haven't defended well. They've looked out of control at times. These are all fair observations.
Less than a week ago, the narrative was the opposite. Indiana ran roughshod over a good-enough Creighton team. The offense looked like a well-oiled machine. Creighton's scored at least 85 points on every other opponent thus far this season. On Indiana? 65. It was a performance that had many feeling that Indiana's mid-teen ranking was too low.
Within exactly one week, some Indiana fans were ready to tab the Hoosiers as a Final Four team and others had left the team for dead.
In the words of Aaron Rodgers, R-E-L-A-X. Relax. Everything is fine.
The refrain is understandable enough. I'm a fan! Short for fanatic! We should not put up with this! It is bad! I pay good money! I HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE MAD. That's fine and good and you can be mad if you'd like. I'm not here to tell you what you should or should not be nude and red on the internet about. I'll let you stew on the couch and yell at relatives about DEFENSE and ACCOUNTABILITY and HIS PANTS. That's fine enough, and if it's how you choose to spend your holidays so be it. There will be no candied yams for you, as I will have eaten them all in the kitchen, blissfully and will ignorant of your opinions of November college basketball.
I'm not here to tell you it's stupid to formulate opinions on a basketball team based on their results on November. Sometimes small sample sizes are representative of what's to come. Often, they're not. I'm personally not overly inclined to read too far into a team's athletic performance five timezones away on a tropical isle populated almost exclusively by vacationers. BUT THESE KIDS AREN'T ON VACATION! THIS IS A BUSINESS TRIP! I could be mad and shout this refrain, but I can't properly lead a conference call from my pool deck, so, nah.
But, but, Kyle, this team looks just like last year! These problems should've been fixed in the offseason! The defense! It's not any better!
Well, no shit it's not. It's November. If you entered this Indiana basketball season expecting all of the team's woes to be magically cured by the addition of one player and a few sandpit videos, well buddy that's probably on you. Just because someone puts the Kool-Aid on the table doesn't mean you have to drink it. It was reasonable to think Indiana would be and will a better basketball team this season -- offensively and defensively. That looked to be the case against Creighton. That did not look to be the case against Wake Forest and St. John's. I have no idea which one of these traits will crystallize throughout this season and neither do you. But if you expected a team, one that is still fairly young at key positions, to one step back as they take two steps forward -- well, uh, sorry. Try the yams.
Someone's probably going to ask you what you think about Tom Crean and this Indiana basketball team at your Thanksgiving dinner -- and it's totally cool to shrug, fill your plate, and proceed on enjoying your holiday unaffected by November basketball.