Greensburg Daily News, Greensburg, IN

March 28, 2013

Hoosiers showing edge that Crean sought

Justin Albers
Greensburg Daily News

Washington — When Indiana rallied late to beat Temple in a round of 32 game last Sunday in Dayton, the Hoosiers outscrapped and outhustled Temple down the stretch. They scored the game’s final 10 points because of the sort of edge they have developed during their time at Indiana.

That edge is what Tom Crean set out to establish when he took Indiana job in 2008. He wanted to recruit some players who had been overlooked before so they would continue to work with something to prove when they got to college.

“When you get entitled and enabled types of kids, they’re not gonna go the extra mile,” Crean said. “They’ll get by for awhile on talent and they’ll get things done for you, but they aren’t gonna win big for you. There has to be intangibles and the edge, the eye contact, the awareness, the absorbing, all those things are huge.

“For lack of a better term, you’ve got to have a real chip on your shoulder.” Crean found that in his first recruiting class when he got a commitment from Bloomington native Jordan Hulls. Hulls had been told too many times that he was too small, to slow and too much of a defensive liability to contribute at the Division 1 level.

“When I offered Jordan Hulls a scholarship, people laughed at me,” Purdue coach Matt Painter said last month. “Nobody’s laughing now.”

Crean recruited even more to his system the next year when he put together a class that was widely criticized. That class was made up of Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey, two guys ranked outside the top 100 on all the national sites and two players no big-time programs seemed to want.

But in Oladipo in Sheehey, Crean saw the edge he was looking for. He saw a pair of players he knew would never stop working to prove their doubters wrong.

“There is nothing wrong with that,” Crean said. “There is many a great player that have made many a great team that started out with that chip. The ones that lost it didn’t stay great, the ones that built on it ended up legendary. You’ve got to have that. I think Victor and Will have that because it was never about just what they did when everybody was look or when everybody had to be there. It was about what they did when nobody was looking or when nobody had to be there. It’s the extra work.”

That’s a big reason why the Indiana program has continued to grow and have success. The Hoosiers advanced to the Sweet 16 to play Syracuse on Thursday night because they have great talent, but also because many of the players have a giant chip on their shoulders.

“They know that nothing is handed to them,” Crean said. “They know that they have to earn it. That is what we are trying to recruit at Indiana.”