The Hoosiers just had some good news with the addition of late transfer Josh Newkirk, however Indiana was back in the headliners yesterday for all the wrong reasons when more players on the team got in trouble with the law for alcohol related charges.
Sophomore Emmitt Holt and freshman Thomas Bryant were reportedly cited over the weekend for illegal alcohol possession, per WHTR. According to the news site, both players were seen in a parked car with bottles of vodka that they tried to conceal from the police. The incident involved both players being issued a summonses and then released from the scene, with the other passengers in the vehicle not being cited.
Now on one hand this seems relatively minor, especially since it's another incident involving college kids and alcohol. The problem with this situation is that it has quickly become a recurring theme for the Hoosiers and has brought plenty of bad publicity to the university and head coach Tom Crean. For Thomas Bryant, a four-star freshman ranked by Rivals as the 27th best prospect in the nation for the 2015 recruiting class, it's only his first incident and will likely result in a minor punishment. That being said, it's never a good look for one of your prized recruits to get in trouble off the court before he's even played a game with the team. As for sophomore Emmitt Holt, this situation is a bit more problematic.
Holt is coming off of a freshman season where he played decently in a backup role, averaging 3.6 points and 3.0 rebounds per game in about 11 minutes of playing time per night. For the 6'7" forward, though, this is his second alcohol-related incident in less than a year. If you didn't remember, Holt was the teammate who ran over Devin Davis after the sophomore jumped in front of Holt's vehicle. While Holt wasn't at fault for the crash, both players (who are underage) were drinking at the time and alcohol played a factor in the incident. Holt ended up being suspended for two exhibition and two regular season games, meaning any disciplinary action this time will likely be a bit more severe.
However, there is some speculation from the Hoosier fan base that Holt might be in a bit of trouble when it comes to his standing with the program. Davis, who was ran over by Holt after jumping in front of his vehicle, was cited for marijuana possession back in May and promptly dismissed. Fellow Hoosier Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who was present but not cited, was also dismissed as he had had previous issues off the court and was still on probation for his OWI arrest. The string of incidents doesn't stop there, either, as Yogi Ferrell and Stanford Robinson were cited last year for minor consumption of an alcoholic beverage and possession of false identification. Also, Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson (who would later transfer out of the program) were also suspended last fall for failing drug tests.
Based on how Indiana and Tom Crean handled the latest run-in with Davis and Mosquera-Perea, both of which being repeat incidents for both players, sets the precedent that the school could end up dismissing Holt, fair or not. Crean's patience for his players issues off the court has been growing thin and it's become apparent that far too many players on the roster don't seem to care much if they're putting their collegiate careers at risk. At one hand this situation could be chalked up to "college kids being college kids," but when you know that you're under the microscope 24/7, it would make sense to minimize your risk of legally getting in trouble for dumb things such as drug use, alcohol possession/consumption and false identification.
The problem here is that regardless of how Crean and the school handles this issue, it's going to come back on the head coach. It won't matter that much if Indiana is as good as advertised, but if Crean's team underwhelms again in 2015-16 (or if they flame out early in the postseason), it's going to be fuel to the flame and could put Crean in a world of hurt. The head coach went from a potential hot seat to potential Big Ten Coach of the Year to potential hot seat throughout a whirlwind season last year and the Hoosiers promising outlook for this upcoming season is what has mainly influenced the relatively positive outlook for Crean. That being said, there has been a growing amount of frustration with the program's disciplinary issues that seemingly refuse to go away.
Both Crean and Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass have acknowledged that this needs to stop, but so far it hasn't. If Crean can field a winning team most of this will be forgiven and things will be relatively fine in Bloomington. But if Crean can't keep it up and the Hoosiers underwhelm once again, his players actions off the court could play a considerable role in any decision to move on from the current head coach. The school can't police the players 24/7, but it's becoming a running joke at how often the players here keep getting in trouble with the law. And it really needs to stop.