Tom Crean

Jim Boeheim calls Tom Crean ‘an idiot’ for draft night commentary

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During last Thursday’s NBA Draft, Syracuse sophomore forward Tyler Lydon was taken No. 24 overall by the Utah Jazz; his draft rights were later traded to the Denver Nuggets.

On The Vertical’s livestream coverage of the draft, former Indiana head coach Tom Crean was not overly impressed with the 6-foot-8 shooter. Lydon connected on 40 percent from three in both seasons with the Orange and demonstrated to be a solid rim protector, although, that could be attributed to playing in a 2-3 zone. Denver acquired Lydon under the belief that he could be a modern-day stretch four.

Crean not only questioned Lydon’s defense, he also was critical of his shooting. He ended his analysis by asking, “And who [is he] going to separate from?” While he did question his shooting itself — again a 40-percent career 3-point shooter — he did seem to have concerns with other areas of his offensive game, such as being asked to create for himself, which is fair to question.

That analysis didn’t sit well with Syracuse head coach Jim Boeheim, who lambasted Crean’s comments.

“He’s an idiot,” Boeheim told reporters on Thursday, according to Chris Carlson of Syracuse.com. “He said he’s not a good shooter. Freshman, sophomore year he shoots 40 percent from 3. That’s pretty good for a young player. I think he had the best shooting statistics at the combine, I think, of all the big guys. He shoots it. That’s what he does. It just shows the ignorance and not doing the work, the research, the background check. He’s athletic and can do a lot of other things but he can really shoot.”

Despite being relieved of his head coaching duties in March, Crean had two former players have their names called on Thursday night in Brooklyn. The Toronto Raptors selected to OG Anunoby one spot ahead of Lydon. Thomas Bryant was drafted No. 42 overall by the Jazz but was later traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Tom Crean’s son drafted by the Chicago White Sox

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Riley Crean, son of former Indiana head coach Tom Crean, was drafted in the 35th round of the 2017 MLB Draft on Wednesday evening.

That would also make him the nephew of football coaches Jim and John Harbaugh.

Crean, a 6-foot-3 righthanded pitcher from Bloomington North High School, was the 1,047 overall selection. According to scouting reports, Crean’s fastball tops out at 87 MPH.

Crean had committed to Indiana but that was before his father was relieved of his head coaching duties in March following nine seasons with the Hoosiers. That appeared to play a role in Crean deciding to do a postgraduate year at IMG Academy in Florida in lieu of enrolling in college, according to Mike Miller of the Herald Times.

Four rounds later, with the 1167th overall pick in the draft, the White Sox selected Chane King, son of the longtime television and radio host Larry King.

Indiana guard Blackmon Jr. enters NBA Draft, won’t hire an agent

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With Troy Williams already going through the NBA Draft process without an agent, another Indiana player announced Monday that he’ll do the same.

Guard James Blackmon Jr., who played in just 13 games last season due to a knee injury, will go through the pre-draft process without hiring an agent in order to preserve his college eligibility. Blackmon Jr. averaged 15.8 points and 4.2 rebounds per game last season for the Hoosiers, shooting 48.0 percent from the field and 46.3 percent from beyond the arc.

DraftExpress.com currently ranks Blackmon Jr. 30th amongst college sophomores and does not project him to be selected in this year’s draft. But going through the process will allow Blackmon Jr. to receive feedback from NBA scouts and executives, at the very least to have a better idea of what he’ll need to improve upon in order to not only reach the next level but stick around once there.

Freshman OG Anunoby briefly considered going through the draft process before deciding not to do so. The Hoosiers have some key personnel losses to address this offseason, most notably that of point guard and team leader Yogi Ferrell. With Ferrell moving on Blackmon Jr. will be a key figure for the Hoosiers as they look to build on their Sweet 16 appearance and Big Ten regular season title.

No. 12 Indiana finishes regular season with a flourish

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Having already clinched the outright Big Ten regular season title, the question for No. 12 Indiana was whether or not they’d win it by multiple games. No. 14 Maryland represented a worthy challenge, but after getting off to a slow start the Hoosiers found their rhythm as the first half progressed. And in the second half Tom Crean’s team grabbed the game by its throat, going on to win by the final score of 80-62 to win the Big Ten title by two games.

It’s been said before but it bears repeating: the turnaround made by Tom Crean’s team since non-conference play has been highly impressive, regardless of what some say about the strength of Indiana’s conference schedule (KenPom rates Michigan State’s league slate as being slightly weaker, in fact).

The Hoosiers limited Maryland to 41.4 percent shooting from the field and 8-for-24 from three on the day, and they also converted 14 Terrapin turnovers into 20 points. Indiana’s improved effort on the defensive end has been a key in their transformation from struggling team with an embattled head coach during non-conference play to the Big Ten regular season champion. If there was one play in Sunday’s win that can be used as a good example of this, it would be Yogi Ferrell’s diving for a Maryland attempt to roll the ball inbounds late in the second half to save time.

Ferrell could have easily allowed Maryland to pull this off, or even fake an attempt to go after the ball so Maryland would pick up the ball prematurely. Instead he sold out, and that kind of effort has been present throughout Big Ten play. The senior point guard has been the leader for Indiana, but Ferrell’s had plenty of help in pushing the Hoosiers to the top of the Big Ten. Ferrell finished Sunday’s game with 17 points and four assists, and wing Troy Williams led the way with a game-high 23 points to go along with five boards.

Ferrell is undoubtedly Indiana’s most important player. But if the Hoosiers are to make a deep run in the NCAA tournament, they’re also going to need an engaged Williams. He was that kind of player against Maryland, playing with an energy that makes him a very difficult matchup for many opponents. This comes on the heels of a solid 15-point, seven-rebound outing in the win at Iowa Tuesday night, and over Indiana’s final five regular season games the junior averaged 16.4 points and 4.6 rebounds per contest.

If Williams can continue on this path in the Big Ten and NCAA tournaments, Indiana will be a tough out. They’ve received contributions across the board, from stars and role players alike, resulting in the program’s second Big Ten title in four years. And as they showed for most of Sunday’s regular season finale, Indiana has the tools needed to accomplish even more over the next month.

Ferrell scores 27, leads No. 18 Indiana past Illinois 74-47

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CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (AP) Yogi Ferrell scored 27 points and No. 18 Indiana used a huge second half to rout Illinois 74-47 on Thursday night.

The Big Ten leaders trailed 28-27 at halftime, but Ferrell scored 19 second-half points and Indiana (23-6, 13-3) pulled away from the Illini (12-16, 4-11). Ferrell’s 3-pointer with 7:58 left put the Hoosiers up 56-37.

Nick Zeisloft scored 14 for Indiana, and Thomas Bryant had 14 points and eight rebounds.

Jalen Coleman-Lands led Illinois with 21 points.

The Hoosiers held Illinois’ top two scorers, Malcolm Hill and Kendrick Nunn, to a combined 13 points. Hill entered averaging 18.6 per game, and Nunn 16.4.

The Hoosiers blew out Illinois with a barrage of second-half 3-pointers, going 10 for 17 from behind the arc over the final 20 minutes. They hit three in the first half.

Ferrell’s 19 second-half points equaled the output of the entire Illini team. He finished 11 of 18 from the field, including 5 for 10 from 3-point range.

One particular sequence illustrated what Ferrell means to the Hoosiers at both ends of the court. With just under 10 minutes left and the Illini trying to claw their way back into it, Nunn held the ball just outside the 3-point line as Illinois started to set up its offense.

But before Nunn could even glance at a teammate, Ferrell scooted by him, swiped the ball from a stunned Nunn and broke to the other end of the court. Ferrell’s easy layup put the Hoosiers up 50-37.

Just 2 minutes later, Ferrell sank a 3 that put the Hoosiers up 56-37 and silenced the arena – except for his own bench, which was whooping it up.

Indiana took Illinois’ best weapon, Hill, all but out of the game. By halftime he’d taken a total of two shots, missing both.

When he tried to force himself into it in the second half, the Hoosiers shut him down.

With the Illini down by six with just under 17 minutes left, Hill drove toward the basket but found two Hoosiers between himself and the rim when he got there. The junior was forced to kick the ball out to a teammate, who missed his shot, and Illinois came away with nothing.

TIP-INS

Indiana: Starting guard Robert Johnson missed the game with a sprained ankle. … The Hoosiers close the regular season with a pair of games against ranked teams, at No. 8 Iowa and at home against No. 10 Maryland.

Illinois: The team’s only win over a ranked opponent this season was Jan. 10 against then-No. 20 Purdue. Since then the Illini have gone 3-8. Illinois is 1-5 against Top 25 teams this season. … Coleman-Lands was the only Illinois player who scored in double figures.

UP NEXT

Indiana travels to No. 8 Iowa on Tuesday.

Illinois closes out its home schedule Sunday against Minnesota.

Follow David Mercer on Twitter, (at)davidmercerAP

This story has been corrected to show Indiana is 13-3 in Big Ten play.

Denzel Valentine dominant as No. 8 Michigan State whips Indiana

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Trailing by one point at the half, Indiana appeared to be in good shape at No. 8 Michigan State. However the fact that they were unable to slow down Denzel Valentine, who scored 15 first-half points, was a major concern for Tom Crean’s Hoosiers. Sure enough the national Player of the Year candidate continued on his tour de force in the second half, scoring another 15 points and dishing out seven assists as the Spartans rolled to an 88-69 victory.

For the game Valentine finished with 30 points, five rebounds, 13 assists and just one turnover. Of Michigan State’s 48 second half points, Valentine had a hand in 29 of them with all seven of his assists resulting in Michigan State layups. It was a dominant performance from one of the nation’s best players, a versatile guard whose four games missed due to injury may have led to some overlooking him when it comes to those national Player of the Year conversations.

When Valentine’s on everything else flows smoothly for Tom Izzo’s team, as his ability to both score and create results in quality looks for teammates who would struggle if they had to get that part of the job done themselves.

The biggest beneficiary Sunday afternoon was forward Matt Costello, who finished the game with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Of Costello’s ten made field goals (10-for-12 FG) five were assisted by Valentine, and he accounted for 13 points and seven rebounds in the second half. As a team Michigan State shot 63.3 percent from the field and assisted on 16 of their 19 made field goals in the second half, turning a tight contest into a blowout.

Tum Tum Nairn returned the court for the first time in seven games, but he played just two minutes and his time on the court will be managed carefully by Izzo moving forward. For many teams not having your point guard at full strength would represent a crippling blow, but that hasn’t been the case for Michigan State thanks in large part to Valentine. Michigan State went 4-3 in those seven games without Nairn, but the three losses were by a total of three points.

Valentine’s ability to make his teammates better will be a key factor down the stretch for Michigan State, and that skill was what led to the Spartans blowing out Indiana on Sunday.