Saturday, July 5, 2008

IU takes two scholarships from Crean

The comparisons to UGA 5 years ago are amazing.

New coach is hired and takes over after the last coach leaves under a cloud. Some of the new players depart or are encouraged to go. The best player goes to the NBA. Sanctions from the NCAA are looming.

The new coach looks down his bench and doesn't see much. Few if any scholarship players. Walk-on tryouts are announced, and it is made clear that the guys who make the team will have the opportunity to compete for serious minutes.

To make matters tougher on the new coach, the school announces self-imposed penalties. Georgia took itself out of the SEC Tournament and any postseason tournament consideration. Indiana took away two scholarships in anticipation of the same penalty being imposed by the NCAA for Indiana's failure to meet the requirements of the NCAA's Academic Progress Report.

Crean has been a cheerleader for his team, and he insists that IU basketball will be competitive, despite the overwhelming circumstances. However, the practical reality is that Crean will have to use his highest powers of persuasion and some creative scholarship management to see any level of success.

Can he do it? Can IU bear up under an NCAA investigation, media scorn, and scholarship limits? Can Crean work with players on athletics and academics? It can be done. Felton reached the NCAA's in 5 years. The Indiana alumni will have to pull together during the first few years while the IU basketball team rebuilds itself. Expectations will have to be tempered. The process will not be pretty. But it can be done. Good luck, Tom Crean.

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