When he's not resurrecting Dwyane Wade's basketball game, Indiana coach Tom Crean tries to jump-start guard Victor Oladipo's competitiveness.
By doing it the old-fashioned way -- challenging Oladipo on something he is very good at:
Oladipo has a vertical jump that approaches 40 inches. The last two months in IU's strength program has produced his his best-ever jumping numbers even while adding a couple of pounds -– to 216 -- to his 6-4 frame.
But freshman Hanner Perea arrives in the next few weeks and he will bring his own impressive leaping ability and athleticism. Plus, he's 6-8.
So Crean has told Oladipo that the junior's team dunk-contest-winning ways might be ending, that Perea might be, in so many words, more jumping man than Oladipo.
“I say that to stir him up,” Crean says.
Crean might share similar stories during Wednesday evening's IU tailgate tour stop at Ceruti's in Fort Wayne. The event is set to run from 5:30 to 8:30.
At a tailgate tour stop in Indianapolis two weeks ago, Crean said that another incoming freshman, forward Jeremy Hollowell, “Is one of the best players I've seen, not only that we've recruited. The ratings don't show how good he is.”
For the record, Rivals.com, a national Internet recruiting service, ranks the 6-8 Hollowell as the Class of 2012's No. 10 small forward and No. 41 player overall. That makes him IU's second-highest-rated recruit behind point guard Yogi Ferrell (No. 2 point guard, No. 19 player overall).
“Yogi is as good as any point guard in the country,” Crean says.
Another incoming freshman, guard Ron Patterson, impresses with his long-armed attribute that could make him a standout defensive stopper.
“I've never been around someone with a longer wingspan,” Crean says. “That's Spiderman stuff.”
IU's top-five-rated recruiting class is set to join with returning veterans from this past season's 27-9, Sweet 16 team to produce a national powerhouse. The Hoosiers are the early favorites to win next year's national title and are a preseason No. 1 choice.
Crean says the Hoosiers are pushing the pace to ensure they are ready for the upcoming challenges. His non-stop energetic approach has returned IU to national prominence.
He's also made a big impact in the ongoing Indiana Pacers-Miami Heat NBA playoff series for his role in helping Dwyane Wade, one of his former college players from Marquette, overcome a poor Game 3 showing last Thursday. Wade visited Crean in Bloomington the next day and came away inspired. He had 30 points and nine rebounds in Sunday's Game 4 to help the Heat win and tie the series at 2-2.
That doesn't mean Crean is anti-Pacers. He's attended at least one of the Pacers' playoff games this season, using it as a chance to learn.
Crean, you see, never passes up a learning opportunity.
“I watch the length, the athleticism,” he says. “I watch a lot of their games on tape, but you get more being there. I jot a couple of notes. I love being in that atmosphere.”
Crean also enjoys mingling with Hoosier fans. Tailgate tour stops provide plenty of opportunities for him to do so. Unlike many high-profile coaches, Crean takes time to sign autographs and get his picture taken.
“I've been on the other end of that,” he says about trying to get autographs from famous people. “I understand what it's like when you get a chance to meet somebody. I grew up collecting baseball cards and basketball cards. I enjoy all of that.”
Crean is set to be at Ceruti's along with new women's basketball coach Curt Miller, football coach Kevin Wilson and soccer coach Todd Yeagley.