BLOOMINGTON – What was Indiana thinking?
Could the Hoosiers have messed things up any more with their decision to pass on a NIT home game to play at Georgia Tech (with the nonsensical excuse because of likely bad attendance due to spring break), while taking a WNIT home game for the women?
This ticked off fans at every level — from the ones who are boiling mad to the ones who still support the program and coaching staff (a rapidly dwindling group).
First, you do something that severely handicaps your ability to win. Georgia Tech (17-15) is VERY good at home with a 14-4 record, including wins over North Carolina, Florida State and Notre Dame. It is lousy on the road.
While IU has struggled at Assembly Hall, it would almost certainly have beaten Georgia Tech there.
Now, in Atlanta, where coach Josh Patner says he will pay for the ticket for every Yellow Jacket student to show up because he wants a rowdy atmosphere, well, the Hoosiers could be in a world of hurt.
Of course, not that anybody cares because this season can’t end soon enough, but that misses the point.
Apparently officials were worried about being embarrassed on ESPN with the bad attendance, and the likelihood of boos directed at coach Tom Crean.
IU officials have a knack for bone-headed decisions, and it started several years ago when they decided they’d rather play Savannah State in Assembly Hall than Kentucky in Indianapolis, thus ending a series EVERYBODY wanted to see.
So let’s see. IU’s under-performing men’s squad (18-15) has ticked off the fans. Not making the NCAA tourney for the second time in four seasons ticks them off. Not getting to a Final Four since 2002, or win a national title since 1987, ticks them off. The decision to not play a home NIT game, and give loyal fans a chance to watch a game they wouldn’t get during the regular season, ticks off that group.
Whether or not Crean stays as head coach, fans have had enough. They want a program that reflects its championship heritage.
One thing is certain – this group doesn’t come close to doing that.