Stop the presses — an Indiana team melted down and lost.
It’s been an all-too-familiar tale of the Tom Crean era in Bloomington, Ind. and it happened again on Friday afternoon as the 10th-seeded Indiana Hoosiers were defeated 81-76 by the 7th-seeded Wichita State Shockers.
Crean’s Hoosiers couldn’t keep Wichita State off the free throw line, and it eventually cost them the game. The Shockers went 29-of-34 from the line, while Indiana was 17-of-20 for the game. However, it was the final two minutes and a man named Ron Baker that did most of the damage.
Baker iced the Hoosiers in the final two minutes by getting fouled four times and going 7 of 8 and maintaining a lead Indiana couldn’t shoot their way out of.
Mental mistakes cost Indiana all game long, and the final minute was the biggest testament to that as the Hoosiers botched intentional fouls and put Baker to the line
However, the Shockers might not have ever gotten there without a career day from star forward Fred VanVleet. He poured in a career-best 29 points, with 19 of them coming in a first half where the rest of the team struggled mightily.
VanVleet’s effort kept the Shockers within eight points in the first half, but Wichita State would take a lead it wouldn’t really play around with thanks to a 15-3 run in the middle of the second half. Brown was the one doing most of the damage with a bucket off an inbounds play, a dunk and a put back of a miss to make it 65-57 Shockers.
This is the type of loss that has been a microcosm of the Crean era, and with Crean on the hot seat before the tournament this loss isn’t going to help the growing chorus of fans upset with the progress of the Hoosiers.
Rumors of a move to Alabama for Crean crept up before the tournament, and while he may not move to Tuscaloosa, Ala. clearly he’s aware that he’s not long for this job.
The reaction online also speaks volumes, as Crean and his decision-making were the hot topic.
— Jeremy Kelly (@knightni73) March 20, 2015
When you look up "pompous dickhead" in the dictionary, you will find Tom Crean's name.
— Gavin White (@Gav_SwagginU) March 20, 2015
A little late but…a team coached by Tom Crean lost in the first round of the tournament? WHAT A SURPRISE
— Coleman (@CJ1517) March 20, 2015
— Josh Wintin (@JWintin) March 20, 2015
ESPN’s Darren Rovell also points out that even if Crean is let go, it’s likely to not be right away. In fact, it may not be until the new academic year (which state contracts are usually tied to).
If Indiana fired Tom Crean in between now & 6/30, they’d owe him at least $10.6M. If they waited until 7/1, they’d only owe him $7.5M.
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) March 20, 2015
No matter what, Crean and the lack of situational awareness from his team did them in again. That kind of “production” will make Indiana AD Fred Glass think long and hard about the direction of the flagship program in his department.