Around the Hall: Reaction to IU’s decision to fire Tom Crean

  • 03/17/2017 8:11 am in

Around the Hall is recommended reading from the Inside the Hall staff.

Pat Forde of Yahoo! Sports writes that Tom Crean’s firing was a surprise:

I talked to Tom Crean on Wednesday afternoon. He said he had “heard nothing” from Indiana athletic director Fred Glass about his future at the school, but he talked matter-of-factly about next season. He certainly did not sound like a man who thought he could be fired less than 24 hours later.

I talked to a source with firsthand knowledge of Crean’s situation at Indiana last week, not long after Crean representatives met with IU administrators to discuss his standing at the school. The takeaway from that meeting: “Tom’s fine at Indiana,” the source said.

Rick Bozich of WDRB.com asks: Can Fred Glass recruit a five-star replacement for Crean?

Skeptics wonder. It’s been 15 seasons since IU’s last Final Four appearances, 30 since Keith Smart’s shot beat Syracuse for IU’s last NCAA title in New Orleans. Crean won a Big Ten regular-season title in 2013 and backed it up with another last season.

Not good enough, not without making the Final Four or winning the Big Ten Tournament.

Is Indiana still a five-star destination, a program that can generate more than three NCAA Sweet Sixteens, the highlight of Crean’s post-season resume since 2009?

Gregg Doyel of The Indianapolis Star writes that Tom Crean wasn’t enough for Indiana:

Didn’t win enough.

That wasn’t the actual trigger, though.

You were.

You, if you’re an IU basketball fan and you started skipping games because it was just too painful to watch what had become of this program. The leaders at IU noticed. That’s why the school went to the embarrassing lengths it went to this week when it told the NIT it wanted to play in that tournament, but it wanted to play in a better environment than the one at Assembly Hall.

Matt Dollinger of Sports Illustrated writes that Tom Crean played more defense in press conferences than his teams did on the floor:

Crean had been on IU’s hot seat for years despite delivering relatively respectable results. He reached the Sweet 16 three times, won two Big Ten titles and sent plenty of Hoosiers to the NBA, but he never earned the trust of the fans. No matter how many times he raved about IU’s proud history, it always came off as phony.

Crean didn’t do himself any favors in the media, or on the sidelines. He played more defense in press conferences than his team did in games. His in-game facial expressions have been made into bronze busts in the Meme Hall of Fame. And over the years his passion turned into frustrated urgency, desperate to silence his critics and prove he belonged at the helm of Indiana.

Michigan coach John Beilein calls Crean’s firing an “unfortunate part of the business”:

“It’s an unfortunate part of your business that so many of your friends, so many guys you coach against every day, that there’s a change in direction at the schools,” Beilein said Thursday at an NCAA Tournament press conference at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

“I don’t know a lot about it. All I know is Tom’s a heck of a coach. We had some — he’s won some championships there, right. But I think we all understand, given the way we are — the way we are compensated, it’s a part of the business and we better be ready to roll with it if it happens to us or to others.

Jeremy Price of The Herald-Times writes that change is the only way forward for Indiana:

“It’s Indiana,” Crean famously intoned, endearing himself immediately to a fanbase hungry for a return to glory.

But if those two words once suggested salvation for the Hoosiers, they also turned out to be a harbinger of damnation in the end.

Many schools would dearly love to win two conference championships and reach three Sweet 16s in six seasons.

At Indiana, that’s the minimum, not the maximum.

Fellow coaches offered their well wishes to Crean on Thursday, Mike Miller of The Herald-Times writes:

“Hard profession,” Kentucky’s Calipari said. “It’s just disappointing. I feel for him and his family. I’ve been fired. I know what it’s like. I know what it is to your family, your wife, your kids. They take it harder than you take it.

“Two Big Ten titles the last four years, had injuries this year, beat North Carolina, beat Kansas, have injuries, stuff happens. But you know what? In this profession, you’re hired and you’re fired. That’s the two things that happen. And you have to buy into that coming in.

“Whether I think it’s right or not, I’m just disappointed. I’m disappointed for him and his family. But let me say this, someone will hire him because he’s Tom Crean. He can coach. He works. Great integrity. There will be a job. If he wants to take another job, he’ll get it. If not, he’ll sit out and do what I did. I became the highest paid amateur golfer in the country for about six months.”

Filed to:

  • Steven Brown

    Crean helped to partially rebuild IU’s basketball program after the mush that was left by Kelvin Sampson. There is no doubt about it. However, I have never agreed with Crean’s style of play. I think that IU’s turnover statistics point out that the team is not at a point where they can run Crean’s style and be consistently successful.
    I understand that with the shot clock, three-point arc, and everything else in the game favors a fast transition inside-out game. Unfortunately it seems that IU can’t play this style without giving the ball to the other team. I guess that Tom Crean has not realized this. Add on top of that the fact that IU has suffered numerous disciplinary issues that have embarrassed the university and almost cost the life of a wonderful student.
    I guess that it is time for Crean to leave, but the next target needs to be Fred Glass. You have to ask what progress that the football and basketball programs have made in the last 10 years. I see coaching changes but little progress toward the real goal of consistent success. Fred deserves a large part of this responsibility.
    All I can say is that IU students should be prepared for tuition increases as Fred tries to conjure up his latest plan for success. The buy-out for Crean will be expensive, and the contract for a replacement may be higher than anyone would ever believe!
    Fred Glass is responsible for setting the direction of the basketball program now. Can he retain the current talent on the team? Can he lure a top level coach to IU at a reasonable price?
    The next two or three months should tell the tale. IU fans, I would look for another rebuilding period. Only God knows how long that will be.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    ,,,,,,and they bounced back to win Championship Titles. We are an elite program otherwise we never would of gotten back to where we are and have been for the last 5 or 6 years. The next coach will get us to the Championship level with the universities you mentioned

  • Tcuomo

    Something that also needs to be considered is the unbalanced conference schedules. Each team plays a considerably different schedule in conference, making the path to a conference title easier for some than others. The fact that teams don’t get to do home and home all throughout the conference slate kind of diminishes the accomplishment for me a little.

  • Fifer39

    I agree with your view of what a program should be, but in fairness Cal’s not responsible for the system. And while most Hoosier fans value our 3 and 4 year players above all, we wouldn’t turn our noses up at the odd top 10 one and done. Heck, we were courting Thon Maker!

  • Fifer39

    That’s the price of expansion and a price not worth paying in my opinion. Not in basketball terms anyway.

  • Ms hoosier

    My feelings exactly!!!

  • Carolina Hoosier

    They left off the end of Calipari’s quote: “If he’d just cheated like I do, he’d probably still have a job.”

  • Ortuando

    Let’s cut thru all the kudos for Crean being a great guy. He was a GREAT recruiter, but an absolute idiot as a bench coach. Can anyone tell me if we had any type of offense other than chaos? Defense was a word he couldn’t spell let alone teach. I say good bye & good riddance. Get us a real proven winner, like a Billy Donovan or Brad Stevens or at least a Steve Alford who will make us proud to be Hoosiers again.

  • Right, the “occasional” one-and-done or two-year player is fine. I mean, I didn’t have a problem with Isiah Thomas, obviously. That’s why I said “one-and-dones as the norm.” And really, I’m in principle against players who _know_ they’re one-and-dones and have absolutely zero interest in attending college, going to class, getting a degree, etc. — they should go straight to the NBA, IMO.

    Whether Cal is “responsible” for that system or not doesn’t matter to me. He’s sure taking advantage of it and perpetuating it.

  • LeeTimmer

    “He played more defense in press conferences than his team did in games.”

    Well stated.

  • Cehood40

    I read an article sometime last year about how Cal wanted the IU job when they gave it to Sampson. He was apparently a finalist. And was very disappointed he didn’t get it. I tried finding the article again but can’t seem to locate it.

  • Jeff Bryant

    Cal wins in an environment that is often times the norm. He’s a good coach. Yes he gets tremendous recruites (You can when you win like Kentucky), but as an IU transplant now living in Kentucky, I have to give the man his due. No, I’m not part of the Big Blue nation in any respect, but Cal takes green players, and they play better at the end of the season by far, than at the beginning. Crean was a good guy and was part of the fix to get us back on track, but he was only the first of numerous steps we need to make. He was a decent recruiter, but was really a mediocre coach. I don’t want us experimenting with former players that have no better records than Crean, I want us to get a top tier coach even if we have to steal him from somebody else. Hey, we are still IU, if we play our cards right, we can still be a blue blood team.

  • IU Hoosiers # 34, 1979-83

    Calbert, are you watching the Michigan state Spartans game? Wow.

  • Tony Bobay

    I would prefer Stevens, but the chances of that happening are slim to none. Second is Alford. His response to the job opening was far less than assuring for UCLA fans. Seriously, he just rambled on about nothing and never said a single word about staying or “being committed” to UCLA. Methinks he is either already locked up, or is stunned from hearing about his ultimate dream job opening up. See his response below:

    “It’s March Madness, and unfortunately in our business you’re either on top or something like this is happening to all of us,” Alford said. “I’ve been in a long time, 26 years now. So I’ve seen things evolve and how they go, but that’s never been something that I look at, whether it be that job or other jobs. I learned a long time ago, when I was probably four or five years into the job, I started interviewing for jobs that that’s what I wanted.

    “When I quickly trusted God and my faith my journey has taken me to places I had no idea that that was going to be my journey and I’ve fallen in love with every spot. I’ve met great people, great institutions. Obviously, that was 30 years ago. I was a part of that. I stood on stage with a great group of guys and won a national championship. It’s my home state. I played there.

    “So obviously all that comes up, but I love UCLA. I love Los Angeles. You’re talking about arguably the greatest brand anywhere on the planet, and we got things going at a very high level now and we’re very excited about it. We’re excited about being in this tournament and seeing what we can do in this tournament.”

  • General Zod

    Frankly, I’m not so high on alford. If you look at his resume, it does not stand out against crean’s. If you compare alford’s results with crean’s bringing steve in would be more of a lateral move.

  • General Zod

    A deep run with crean was not going to happen. It was inevitable that he would run into a better coach. Crean’s foundation was built upon fast break transition buckets. When he runs into a coach who has b- or better level talent and emphasizes the importance of transition defense, crean has no solution for it. Watching an iu squad under crean be forced into playing a half court game was just painful to watch there really wasn’t any structure. It resembled watching aau ball where there isn’t a real plan or identity.
    Along with poor defense & high turnovers, a result of those 2 problems was the team had numerous periods where they would have major scoring droughts. I’m talking periods of 8, 9, 10 minutes or more. When you’re throwing the ball away and can’t run a half court offense, scoring droughts are inevitable. Ive seen some marquette blogs and they were ready for a change when he left.

  • Dave Carnes

    Except when it comes to integrity.The rape charges at Iowa against a player he new was scum and let back on the team better exclude him.

  • IULore

    You realize, “slow it down” has loong been the precription for beating teams with more talent. Brad Stevens got to two final fours doing exactly that, its not just Crean that has fallen victim to these kinds of teams that have a lot of experience and a deliberate style.

  • IULore

    I think you would be surprised to find how often scoring droughts happen if you had a lick of honesty. Every sentence above shows how little you really know. There is not one valid way to play this game, there are many. Of course turnovers and poor defense are bad! Who doesn’t know this? Pace of play and the offense were never a problem though.

  • General Zod

    A lick of honesty huh?
    Pace of play was never a problem huh?
    Well, i couldn’t disagree more. When your team is throwing the ball away 15-20 times a game and not forcing turnovers, it’s a problem. The majority of iu’s turnovers were due to trying to play at a frantic, out of control pace, Much like their former coach.
    Scoring droughts do happen but not like crean droughts. Those happened multiple times every year. The droughts were always the result of having to play half court because the other team would shut down the easy transition buckets. Clappy never had a real half court offense. Weave & heave doesn’t count.

  • SCHoosier

    Why worry about Cal? Can’t even get the NCAA to lock up NC which deserves the death penalty for the premeditated academic scandal that the NCAA brass is basic ignoring.

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