Indiana Basketball: 5 Best Coaching Moves Tom Crean Has Made This Season
The Indiana Hoosiers are one of the best teams in the country in large part due to the coaching of Tom Crean. His intensity and focus has led the team to one of its best seasons in the past couple of decades.
The road to success has been a difficult one for Coach Crean. After winning only 28 games in his first three seasons at Indiana, he has now won more than 50 in his last two.
This season has gone well, but Crean is looking for a sixth banner to hang in Assembly Hall. With his coaching and the pure talent on this team, that is a very real possibility.
Here are five big coaching moves Crean has made this season.
1. Starting Yogi Ferrell
Looking back, this seems like an obvious choice. Yogi Ferrell has played tremendously well for a freshman, and has done a great job running the Hoosiers' offense.
However, Ferrell could have easily been playing off the bench this season. Jordan Hulls could have been the starting point guard, with Will Sheehey moving into the starting lineup.
By starting Ferrell, Hulls was able to move to shooting guard. He wasn't a bad point guard last season, but moving him created open opportunities for him behind the arc. He has done a terrific job playing off the ball and creating chances for three-pointers.
Ferrell also has been doing well. The numbers aren't the most exciting in the country, but he is definitely developing quickly in his first season. He's been averaging 7.7 points and 4.3 assists per game, but his ability to run the offense has created some great plays for the Hoosiers.
Starting Yogi was definitely the right choice, and no one is arguing with that now.
2. Starting Will Sheehey Against Sam Houston State
This was one of the quieter coaching moves this year, but starting Will Sheehey against the Sam Houston State Bearkats had a big impact on the rest of the year.
The game was obviously a blowout, with the Hoosiers winning 99-45. Sheehey started in place of Christian Watford, having a big game. He scored 18 points on 6-for-11 shooting and grabbed five rebounds.
The purpose of starting Sheehey was to refocus Watford. In their first two games, Watford was struggling. He was only shooting 33 percent, and taking some very questionable shots.
Coming off the bench against Sam Houston State made Watford focus on the game, and he blew up. He had 23 points in 23 minutes, making all three of his shots behind the arc and all 10 free throws.
Since the beginning of the year, Watford has played a lot better. He is now averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds per game while shooting more than 48 percent from three-point land.
The move certainly helped out Watford, and his numbers have shown it.
3. Continued Minutes for Jeremy Hollowell
At the beginning of the year, Jeremy Hollowell had two big games, scoring 12 and 14 points respectively.
After that, he started to struggle.
Hollowell appeared to lose his touch, especially from behind the arc. He was making only 15 percent of his three-pointers, and he was struggling on offense.
Then the team, and Hollowell, realized his true role with the team.
What people didn't really realize about Hollowell is that he is a pretty good defender.
This was showcased in early February against the Michigan Wolverines. Hollowell did an excellent job covering his man, and continually frustrated opponents. He also had three crucial blocks that led to big plays on offense.
Crean could have began sitting Hollowell, but he stuck with him. That was clearly a good choice, as he has become a solid defender off the bench, providing rest for other players.
4. Installing a Fast-Paced Offense
Coach Crean obviously realized the pure athleticism of his players, developing one of the most exciting offenses in the country.
The Hoosiers play incredibly fast on the offensive side of the ball. As soon as they are finished on defense, they instantly all run as fast as they can back on offense, often creating wide open shots.
After the opponent scores, the Hoosiers get the ball back out as quickly as possible. Cody Zeller often runs the floor and finds himself wide open running toward the basket. On fast breaks, the Hoosiers have no problem kicking the ball out to a player wide open for a three-pointer.
It's no wonder the Hoosiers have the third highest scoring team in the nation. Averaging 81.1 points per game, they simply do whatever it takes to score. With players like Victor Oladipo on the floor, it's pretty obvious why Crean made the offense run the way it does.
5. Pumping Up Fans Before Home Games
Sure, this isn't exactly coaching the team, but getting the fans excited for big home games is what makes Crean one of the best coaches in the country.
Before every home game, Crean makes a video for the fans. They put the video on the big screen at Assembly Hall, and it never disappoints. For the game against Ohio State, Crean was getting so intense that his face turned red and his hair was messed up.
Needless to say, the fans were quite fired up after.
That's simply what Coach Crean does. He is a true motivator, not only for the players, but the fans. He loves his fans, visiting them in the general-admission line when students line up at 7 a.m. just to sit in the front row.
IU students love the new coach, and they feel that he will bring the program a sixth banner in the next few years. Actually, they truly believe that he will bring them one this year.
Crean understands this, and he's out to do just that.