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A spate of off-the-court woes intensifies the pressure on Indiana's Tom Crean

A spate of off-the-court woes intensifies the pressure on Indiana's Tom Crean

Having finished a disappointing ninth in the Big Ten and lost in the opening round of the league tournament last season, Indiana coach Tom Crean began practice last month in dire need of a bounce-back campaign to quiet his growing legion of critics.

The pressure on Crean has since intensified as a result of a spate of embarrassing off-court incidients that suggest he is losing control of his program.

Crean announced on his radio show Monday night that he has suspended sophomores Troy Williams and Stanford Robinson for the first four games of the season. The suspensions for Williams and Robinson were a result of failed drug tests, ESPN.com reported.

The timing by Williams and Robinson could not be worse because Indiana was already recovering from another off-court crisis. Early Saturday morning, freshman Emmit Holt was cited for illegal consumption of alcohol and for operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol after a car accident that injured teammate Devin Davis. Holt struck Davis with his car, leaving the sophomore forward in serious condition with a head injury. 

Throw in Hanner Mosquera-Perea's OWI arrest in mid-February and citations for under-aged consumption of alcohol for Robinson and Yogi Ferrell two months later, and that's four incidents this calendar year involving drugs or alcohol.

Taken individually, each incident can be written off as college kids showing their immaturity. Taken collectively, they're the sort of thing that can get a coach fired, especially one coming off a 15-loss season in his sixth year on the job.

"It comes down to choices," Crean said on his radio show. "We have to get our team to understand there is nothing normal about being a college athlete. You don't get to have the same freedoms that others have when you have that responsibility. We have to continue to get that across the most powerful way possible."

At this point, it should be simple enough to deliver that message to Indiana players. If they like Crean and they want him to continue to be their coach beyond this season, they better lay off the booze and drugs and stay out of the police blotter.

Crean received more patience than any other Indiana coach because he took over a program decimated by the Kelvin Sampson recruiting violations. Hoosiers fans forgave Crean for losing a combined 65 games his first three seasons on the job because he inherited a roster consisting of two walk-ons and he promised better days were ahead once his recruits became upperclassmen.

Although Crean validated that faith with back-to-back Sweet 16s and a 2013 Big Ten championship, the success didn't last as long as Indiana fans hoped. Replacing both the production and leadership provided by Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls proved more difficult than anyone in Bloomington imagined.

Between the graduation of Will Sheehey and the early departure of lottery pick Noah Vonleh, Indiana isn't especially well positioned for success this season either. A return to the NCAA tournament is possible as a result of a strong backcourt highlighted by point guard Yogi Ferrell and a collection of talented wings. Another 15-loss nightmare isn't out of the realm of possibility either because the Hoosiers have little in the way of proven frontcourt talent.

Crean has to hope he can deliver the former rather than the latter because his future in Bloomington could depend on it.

A coach at a blue blood program seldom survives consecutive sub-par seasons. Add in recurring off-court trouble, and the odds only get worse.

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Jeff Eisenberg is the editor of The Dagger on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at daggerblog@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter!