In the last eighteen months, Indiana head coach Tom Crean has been forced to discipline multiple players who have gotten into trouble away from the court. The most recent instance involved forward Emmitt Holt and center Thomas Bryant, with both being cited for illegal possession of alcohol earlier this week. The citation was Holt’s second off-court issue since joining the program last year, when he was suspended four games due to an incident in which the car he was driving struck former teammate Devin Davis after Davis got out of the car.
The incidents do Crean and his staff no favors as they look to return the Indiana program to prominence both within the Big Ten and nationally, and recent issues in the men’s basketball and football programs have caught the attention of school president Michael McRobbie as well. According to the Indianapolis Star, McRobbie let his displeasure be known at the annual all-staff meeting Wednesday, with the characterization being that McRobbie “read them the riot act.”
IU’s president since 2007, he has long taken a supportive, but passive, role with his athletics department. That he felt compelled to deliver such remarks at this week’s all-staff meeting suggest the issue is front and center in the offices of Bryan Hall, the central hub of the university’s administration.
“I expect all of you to ensure that my message is heard loud and clear by all student athletes,” he said according to the excerpts. “I have stressed repeatedly that our student-athletes are first and foremost students! Our ultimate goal is to help them obtain a degree that will prepare them for career and life success.
“We owe this to them.”
While coaches are expected to be mindful of what their athletes may be up to when they aren’t in practice or class, the fact of the matter is that they can’t be with them 24 hours out of the day. That’s where trust comes into play, and over the last eighteen months some Indiana players have made mistakes that have resulted in the program getting negative publicity.
With Wednesday’s developments many will look to Crean to step forward, but he’ll also need leaders within the team to step forward and keep everyone on track. Whether or not that happens will have an impact on the direction of the Indiana program in the upcoming 2015-16 season and beyond.
In 2014, Indiana’s offseason was plagued by off the court issues. On Monday, the first day of classes at IU, another incident reportedly occurred.
Freshman center Thomas Bryant and sophomore forward Emmitt Holt were cited for illegal possession of alcohol in the early hours of Friday morning. According to a report released by the Indiana State Excise Police on Monday, Holt and Bryant were both in a car with bottles of vodka when approached by police. Holt, in the back seat, tried to hide his bottle when he spotted the cops and alerted Bryant, in the front seat, who then tried to hide his. Both were released at the scene.
The Indiana athletic department issued the following statement: “We are aware that men’s basketball players Emmitt Holt and Thomas Bryant were each cited Friday for underage possession of alcohol. We take this matter very seriously and are continuing to gather information.”
The 6-foot-10 Bryant, a top-30 player in the Class of 2015, was a huge commitment for Tom Crean, adding a shot-blocking, rebounding big man to hold down the fort in the middle while returning the perimeter of Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams.
Holt averaged 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds in 11.4 minutes per game as a freshman. Unfortunately, he’s best known for being the driver who struck teammate Devin Davis on Nov. 1. Davis was hospitalized and would miss the entire 2014-15 season. Holt was cited for illegal consumption and operating a vehicle with a BAC above 0.02.
Indiana is coming a 20-14 season.
Some media had the chance to speak to Indiana players like wing Nick Zeisloft and forward Emmitt Holt and the duo broke down how the Hoosiers are training this offseason. In a story from Justin Albers of AllHoosiers.com, Zeisloft and Holt talk of doing hot yoga and also using elevation masks to limit the amount of oxygen intake during workouts.
Holt has added 10 points and Zeisloft has also been at Indiana for his first full summer to try to improve his game. The duo is doing yoga for the first time to improve flexibility and they’re also lifting weights and working in a sandpit to train.
The story also speaks about Indiana coming together as most of the roster is there working together this offseason and the Hooisers are hoping to be a major contender in the Big Ten this season. While stars like James Blackmon and Yogi Ferrell are key, the role players like Zeisloft and Holt getting better would take some pressure off of freshman big man Thomas Bryant on the interior.