Or has it?
Indiana’s much-criticized use of signs during Sunday’s loss at Northwestern seemed like a lot of hot air. Yes, you wouldn’t think you’d need signs that said things such as, “Call Out Screens,” or “Hands Out,” but in a world of so many distractions, you do what’s necessary to keep everyone focused.
In IU’s case, the signs, held by assistant coach Chuck Martin, were done as reminders for players, whose minds sometimes wander from the fundamentals so crucial to winning.
Most of them were for when IU was on defense. Coach Tom Crean calls them “echos.” Sometimes they are funny. During a non-conference game against Austin Peay, Crean help up a sign with a bunny on it that said, “Don’t Hop.” It was a reminder to guard Josh Newkirk to slide his feet, rather than hop, while playing defense.
With criticism everywhere you turned in Hoosier Nation circles (former IU player and assistant coach Dan Dakich used his daily Indianapolis radio show to express his displeasure, although it was directed at the players for needing it rather than the coaches for using it), Crean talked about it during his weekly radio show with Voice of the Hoosiers Don Fischer.
“We’re going to do it, and I’m not really concerned how people view it,” Crean said. “It’s just a situation to give guys a reminder on the defensive end. It gets them talking
“I had a conversation with a writer, a friend of mine who visited a couple of weeks back doing an interview. He said the universal theme among coaches is how hard it is to get players to talk on the court or on the field. That’s exactly what the issue is. It’s we can keep hoping it changes, or we can do something that helps them change. That’s exactly what it’s been.”
IU, once a top-3 team nationally in early December, has hit hard times, both in performance and with injuries. Collin Hartman and OG Anunoby are out for the season, with Anunoby undergoing successful surgery (probably on his knee, although Hoosiers officials won’t say) on Tuesday. Guard James Blackmon, the team’s leading scorer, is out indefinitely for what is also probably a knee injury (again, IU won’t say other than it involves the lower leg).
Meanwhile, the Hoosiers have lost two straight, both by double digits, and both on the road, to fall to 14-8 overall, 4-5 in the Big Ten. They have a LOT of work to do to make the NCAA tourney, starting with Wednesday night’s home game against Penn State (12-10, 4-5).
If getting a win means using some signs, well, Crean is all for it.
“You hold up signs,” he said on his radio show, “for offense or to change defense. We’re looking to give our guys anything that helps them communicate.
“(The signs) are basic, but they’re echos. Rather than complain about a lack of constant communication, rather than hope things will change, this gives them a vehicle to help them change.
“We’re just trying to find ways to win. That’s all we’re trying to do.”