By MICHAEL MAROT
AP Sports Writer
BLOOMINGTON -- Devan Dumes would have done anything to focus on just basketball Monday.
Instead, the humbled junior guard was apologizing in front of reporters.
One day after coach Tom Crean suspended the Hoosiers' top scorer for throwing flagrant elbows at Michigan State, Dumes answered his first questions about what prompted his actions and subsequent ejection Saturday at Michigan State.
Clearly, Dumes struggled with it. He spoke in a virtual whisper as he reiterated an apology the school released in a written statement Sunday night.
"It was a mistake on my behalf and I'm taking responsibility," he said. "I've seen the tape once, and I felt like it was not a smart move. But I apologized for it and I truly meant it."
The problem for Dumes: It wasn't the first time.
It wasn't even the first time in Saturday's game Dumes came under the scrutiny of the officials.
In the first half, he drew an offensive foul for an elbow that hit Travis Walton's face. Then in the second half, as he was running down the court with Michigan State's Goran Suton, Dumes hit Suton in the midsection with an elbow. No foul was called, but the referees reviewed the play.
Finally, Dumes threw an elbow that hit Spartans center Tom Herzog in the shoulder, drawing the flagrant call and an ejection with about 2 minutes to go.
Apparently, Big Ten officials had seen this trend before.
Crean said he had been contacted by the league following another incident Jan. 28 at Northwestern. At that time, he was instructed to discuss the situation with Dumes, which he did though no official warning was issued.
But after returning home and reviewing Saturday's game tape, Crean concurred with Saturday's referees that Dumes' action was deliberate and he wasted no time in sending a strong message to his young team -- a message conference commissioner Jim Delany supports.
"We can't get caught up in retaliation fouls. We've got to stay above that and when you're trying to get a new team to understand, that's part of it (the learning process)," Crean said. "We want a tough, physical, aggressive basketball team. There's a line, and there have been a couple of times that line has been crossed, so we're doing some things to help Devan understand that."
Crean would not elaborate on what is being done internally other than to say he has spoken with new athletic director Fred Glass and that Dumes is not undergoing counseling.
Still, Crean acknowledged that showing up for Monday's news conference was part of the healing process.
Losing Dumes deals yet another significant blow to the Hoosiers, who have been improving despite their worst season in decades. They are 6-16 overall, just 1-9 in Big Ten play and ended a school record-tying 11-game losing streak last week with a victory over Iowa.
On Saturday, they were blown out 75-47 at Michigan State and now head to Minnesota without Dumes, who has averaged 13.8 points per game.
How much longer Dumes will sit out has not yet been determined.
The suspension creates other problems, too.
Crean's already short bench will lose one of its nine scholarship players, and the suspension appears to have made an impact on the Hoosiers' psyche.
"If anything, in practice today, it was almost like we were gun-shy of being aggressive and we don't want that," Crean said. "We're not out there playing dodgeball."
Crean said either Malik Story or 3-point specialist Matt Roth will likely replace Dumes in the lineup Tuesday night in Minneapolis.
Dumes' suspension may even further tarnish a program with a reputation for doing things the right way.
Over the past year, the Hoosiers have gutted their program. Former coach Kelvin Sampson accepted a $750,000 buyout after being caught up in an NCAA phone call scandal, none of his assistants were retained and all but two players from last season's roster left. The school also reorganized the compliance department and replaced the athletic director.
When Crean was hired last April, he found out there were academic concerns, and then, in December, former Indiana standout Eric Gordon said some of his teammates last season were taking drugs.
Crean spent part of the news conference distancing this situation from those by saying the suspension was not issued because of a flunked drug test, poor grades or a social issue.
And the usually soft-spoken Dumes expressed remorse though he declined to specifically address the scrape with Suton.
"I never meant to hurt anyone," Dumes said. "Sometimes people say it's not a physical sport, but it is. But that's not how it's supposed to be done."