Joking Aside, Indiana Makes the Wrong Move in Turning Down the CBIPosted by Brendan Brody on March 17th, 2014
Indiana was at the top of the list of the most-discussed NIT snubs once the field of 32 was announced in the aftermath of the NCAA Tournament bracket reveal yesterday. The Hoosiers fell from a #1 seed in last year’s NCAA Tournament to one that couldn’t even make the NIT this season. Word was also released that Indiana had been invited to compete in the even less prestigious CBI, but had declined the invitation. Athletic Director Fred Glass said, “Finances wouldn’t be an issue if we thought it made sense, but we’re Indiana, we don’t play in the CBI.” This is the certainly the wrong approach to take, and there are several reasons why turning down the chance to play more games is the wrong move here for Indiana.
First, in the interest of complete fairness, several other schools such as Maryland, Marquette, Washington and UNLV reportedly turned down the CBI as well. But those schools didn’t spout off about how they were essentially too good to try to improve in a postseason tournament that very few people notice. Indiana has an outstanding basketball history, as everyone knows. The school is one of a handful of “blue-blood” programs with an extended legacy and multiple national championships. But the days of Bob Knight heading a national contender every season are long gone. The program under Tom Crean has gone 101-97 in his six years at the helm. It is true that he inherited an absolute mess upon arrival, but it’s not like the Hoosiers have been at the top of the sport for a significant amount of time only to have one bad season. The horrific teams of Verdell Jones and Tom Pritchard would have killed to have had an opportunity to play in whatever postseason tournament they could get into. You’re not all the way back to complete relevancy by simply having two good seasons out of six.
Even without the pompous quote from an athletic director that has to be wondering if Crean is the man for his program, teams that are young and inconsistent — as these Hoosiers were — should take any opportunity to keep playing. Turning down the CBI with a team made up of mostly underachieving upperclassmen on their way out the door makes sense. At that point it’s best to just call the season a loss and move on. But with a team that has nine underclassmen among its top 12, what’s the point in turning down the chance to build some momentum heading into next year? Evaluations need to be made about the future, and players like Stanford Robinson and Troy Williams would clearly benefit from playing a few more games in a single-elimination setting.
Going forward, it’s being reported that Big Ten Freshman of the year Noah Vonleh is probably going to declare for the NBA Draft. That means Indiana will be left with a core of Yogi Ferrell, Robinson, Williams, Jeremy Hollowell, and Hanner Mosquera-Perea. The Hoosiers are also bringing in two highly-rated shooting guards in James Blackmon Jr. and Robert Johnson. At first blush, that lineup doesn’t scream Big Ten contender, especially with what the other leagues teams have slated to come back next year. Given all those question marks, it appears that Indiana made the wrong move here, and it could come back to haunt them if they’re on the bubble in the 2014-15 campaign and need to gut out another couple of wins that experience in pressure situations helps to develop.