April 03, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Tom Crean's offseason is still pretty busy.

The Hoosiers' coach is recruiting feverishly, working the phone lines to get information about three NBA hopefuls on his team and on Friday, he spent 75 minutes signing autographs and taking photos with fans in Indianapolis before rushing to another event.

Now comes the hard part - sorting things out.

''We're working hard, and there are still decisions to be made,'' Crean told The Associated Press at the NCAA's Final Four Fan Fest.

There are plenty of questions about where Indiana's program is heading as Crean embarks on his seventh season in Bloomington.

Point guard Kevin ''Yogi'' Ferrell has already made it clear he's seriously considering giving up his final year of college eligibility to leave for the NBA.

Forward Troy Williams, a sophomore, and shooting guard, James Blackmon Jr., are also contemplating turning pro.

Two players, freshman Max Hoetzel and sophomore Stanford Robinson, have already announced they will transfer, and the Hoosiers are still awaiting the decision of 6-foot-10 prep star Thomas Bryant. NCAA rules prohibit coaches from talking specifically about recruits until they've actually signed a national letter-of-intent.

But Crean is making enough some noise with NBA decision-makers.

''I think the most important thing is, if you're going to be accused of anything, it should be telling them the truth,'' Crean said. ''You've got to trust the process. You have to tell them `This is what I'm hearing.' It's a good a good process because you learn a lot from it.''

It could also be a crucial step for the Hoosiers.

Critics attacked Crean for most of February and March as Indiana struggled. The Hoosiers finished 20-14 and reached the NCAA Tournament, losing to Wichita State in the round of 64 - not nearly enough to satisfy the legions of fans who expect Big Ten titles and national championships.

At times, the calls for his ouster grew to a fever pitch and some fans even tried to interpret some of Crean's comments as a signal he might leave for another job.

Athletic director Fred Glass tried to tamp down the speculation by repeatedly backing his coach.

And if things don't change next season, the pressure could get even worse.

Now, though, Crean is taking advantage of increasingly friendlier environments.

''He's a good guy, and I think a lot of people are still supporting him,'' said Mike Johnson, a 44-year-old from New Castle who stood in line with his son and his son's friend to get a photo with Crean.

Johnson was hardly alone.

Though he wore a Butler shirt and others who went through the line were clad in gear from Kentucky, Ohio State, Purdue and Syracuse, Crean shook hands with each one and could be seen thanking many for their comments. Crean even stuck around an extra 15 minutes to make sure everyone in line and even those who surrounded him after he walked off the stage.

''It's pretty awesome being able to go up there and see what Indiana basketball has put together,'' 12-year-old Jackson Clapp said.

But for Crean, this offseason isn't about platitudes.

It's about getting back to business.

''We're working to get as much research and information as we can that's of substance and concrete,'' Crean said, referring to the work being done on behalf of those NBA hopefuls. ''One thing you have to stay away from is rumors and what's being written. You have to trust the undergrad committee.''

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