I’ve learned a few things these past few days that are, to varying degrees, disturbing. I’ll start with the one that is causing me the most internal sturm und drang, but it’s not the one I most want to talk about here.
I have so much more to say about Indiana Basketball when I have a windmill against which I can tilt. I struggled all summer to come up with anything interesting to say because I was feeling deeply ambivalent about everything that was happening and was having real trouble getting excited to cheer for the team or to yell at people for general, or specific, knuckleheadedness. Since Saturday, I’ve thought about almost nothing but Indiana Basketball. And I’ve written about it a lot.
I need an enemy in order to feel right and to be creative. Which causes me some amount of discomfort. But also, kind of makes me Batman.
If Batman didn’t have a rogue’s gallery of villains to fight, if he didn’t have Gotham to clean up and protect against itself, what’s the purpose of being Batman? In a Gotham City without villains and corruption, there’s no need for a Batman.
Is it possible than in a world where there’s nothing going terribly wrong with or around Indiana Basketball, there’d be no need for my voice? Possibly? But I also had a lot to say when we were good too, so who knows?
As I said, this has caused much internal unrest.
But that’s not what I wanted to talk about.
Here’s something you haven’t read anywhere else, and I think you’ll understand why when I’m about halfway in.
I’ve been listening to a lot of Dakich. I’ve been reading a lot of tweets and message boards. I’ve been reading a lot of articles. And I learned that Jeremy Hollowed was probably arrested last year, possibly twice, and that he failed multiple drug tests and was suspended without really being suspended. I’ve learned that Hanner buys beer for everyone all the time. I’ve heard repeatedly that people in and around Bloomington have known there was a problem with this group of kids for a long time. I’ve learned that Dakich hears a lot more about what’s going on in this program than he ever talks about.
I’ve learned that if you live in or around Bloomington you are privy to a level of inside information that would and should cause a great deal of concern to the Indiana fan base.
Here’s my question. Why don’t we all know this stuff? Why is it all super-secret-background-rumor stuff? In short: Where’s the press?
Hot take alert: We are not being served by the press whose job it is to cover Indiana Basketball.
Have you ever listened to a post-game press conference. The entire room sounds like they are afraid of offending Crean with their questions. So many questions are prefaced with long rambling run-ups that include the phrase, “I mean, I guess…” For example (made up, but not exaggerated at all):
“Tom, in the first half, the team seemed to have a lot of trouble taking care of the basketball. There was a stretch around the 12:00 minute mark where they’d turned the ball over three possessions in a row, leading to a 9-point run for America’s Team, Gonzaga, and I’m wondering, I mean, I guess, could you talk about how important it is not to turn the ball over?”
Now, I’ve heard that if you ask the tough questions you don’t get asked back into the press room after the game, which is ridiculous if true. But if it’s true, and you’ve already been booted from the press room, why not write a story about how you asked a question and got booted from the press room?
If that’s not true, is it just a fear of offending Crean and losing your access and invite to the deal where the media gets to run the stairs? Is it a desire to be liked by Crean? Is it a fear of getting yelled at?
To be honest, I don’t care what it is.
Why isn’t the IU press reporting what’s really going on there instead of just hinting that they heard about a thing that happened? Why aren’t they asking for comment about these things? Why did Hollowed sit for three games and no one report why when everyone seemed to know?
If Woodward and Bernstein were covering Watergate like IU basketball is being covered, they’d have asked a mealy-mouth question at a Nixon press conference and then just gone home. Instead, you know what they did? They investigated a story, got people to go on the record, found a source on deep background, verified the stories, and published the truth. You know, reporting.
If the coach’s won’t talk about a player getting drunk and in trouble, get a bartender to talk to you, get a source at Big Red liquors, talk to someone at campus PD. Find and report the story.
I’m not a reporter. I’m not local. I yell at people on the internet from far away.
But someone in Bloomington needs to be doing this work.
If true understanding of the situation and culture of the basketball program requires you to witness these things directly, or to have a friend who has a kid who has class with one of the players, then as much blame as there is to be spread on Crean, and the players, and the administration, there’s blame to be placed on the press.
How can the fans know that they should be outraged by what’s going on if no one is telling them what’s going on? How are they supposed to know?
Now, this is probably not going to get me invited to the IU press luncheon and lawn party, which is a shame. I’m awesome at croquet. But this is ridiculous.
If it’s a rumor, and it matters, run it down, confirm it, write a story. Here’s a newsflash for everyone. The program needs the press more than the press needs the program. They can’t kick all the reporters out of the press room. If they could Knight wouldn’t have held a press conference after 1974.
And stop saying, “I mean, I guess…”