Ugly present clouds Hoosiers' future

Tom Crean has seen the Hoosiers swoon this season. Matthew Holst/Getty Images

Exactly one year ago, Tom Crean was on top of the college basketball world. Crean’s Indiana Hoosiers were 23-3 and ranked No. 1 in the country.

In the 2013-14 season, Crean is just trying to make sure his team doesn’t free-fall into the CBI.

There were lofty expectations in Bloomington despite the fact that Indiana lost its top four players from last season’s team that wound up getting upset in the Sweet 16 by Syracuse. Crean lost a pair of high-lottery picks to the NBA in Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller. He also lost two seniors who eclipsed the 1,000-point barrier in Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford.

Fans in Bloomington, at least the realistic ones, knew there would be a dip -- but no one quite expected Indiana to be battling just to get into the NIT. Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey were both back, and the Hoosiers added a highly touted freshman class that included McDonald’s All American Noah Vonleh and three more top-100 players.

Ferrell (17.9 PPG) has done his part, and the same can be said of Vonleh -- who is nearly averaging a double-double. But Sheehey has been disappointing relative to the expectations, and the rest of the team has been inconsistent.

One of the highly regarded freshmen, skilled big man Luke Fischer, left Bloomington in December -- and wound up transferring to Marquette to be closer to his Wisconsin home. Another heralded recruit, sophomore big man Hanner Mosquera-Perea -- who has been a non-factor for most of this season -- remains suspended following an arrest for operating a vehicle while intoxicated.

It’s a mess right now in Bloomington.