Coaching search profile: Chris Mack

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our fifth profile takes a closer look at Xavier coach Chris Mack.

Born in Cleveland and a graduate of Xavier in 1992, Mack does not have any direct ties to IU basketball, so no “double check plus” there.

Before transferring to Xavier to graduate, Mack spent two years as a student-athlete for the University of Evansville. So technically, he has spent time in the Hoosier state.

Mack’s coaching career began at the high school ranks in 1993, but he quickly worked his way up.

In 1999, Mack was hired as director of basketball operations for Xavier, where he worked alongside Skip Prosser. When Prosser left to move on to coach Wake Forest in 2001, Mack followed, this time in the role of assistant coach.

Over five seasons with Prosser, Mack was a part of a program that won 20 games every season and made the tournament four times, including a trip to the Sweet 16 with Wake Forest in 2003-04.

Prosser’s teams were known for high-octane offense, and in his final year with Mack, the Demon Deacons had the most efficient offense in the country (117.9 adjusted efficiency for the 2003-04, per KenPom).

On Dec. 2nd, 2003 of that season, Wake Forest never trailed in a 100-67 thrashing of Indiana in Winston-Salem. The Demon Deacons shot 51 percent from the floor and scored 38 points off 22 IU turnovers. Chris Paul, who Indiana coach Mike Davis said was one of the best point guards he’d seen while at IU, scored 20 points, eight assists and had five steals. It was, at the time, the largest margin-of-victory in the history of the Big Ten-ACC challenge.

Other than Paul, notable players under Mack from 1999-2004 include David West, Josh Howard and Darius Songaila .

Mack returned to Xavier in 2004 to become an assistant for Sean Miller. When Miller left Xavier for Arizona after the 2008-09 season, Mack was promoted to head coach.

In his first season at the helm, Mack took a team led by Jordan Crawford (who transferred from Indiana) to an Atlantic-10 regular season title, a No. 6 seed in the NCAA Tournament, and a trip to the Sweet 16. The team had no returning double-figure scorers and just one senior, but Mack finished the season with more wins in his debut season at Xavier than any coach not named Thad Matta.

Nearing the end of his eighth season as the head man at Xavier, Mack’s resume is very good. He’s taken the Musketeers to the NCAA Tournament seven times, including four trips to the Sweet 16.

On the downside, Mack is winless in the Sweet 16 and his players haven’t been able to stay completely out of trouble.

Final Analysis: Mack has been around the game of basketball his entire life. Under the tutelage of some of the greatest offensive minds in the game, Mack has become a respected figure himself.

It isn’t known whether Mack is interested in the opening at Indiana, but his name has been floated nationally as one the Hoosiers could be interested in.

2017 signees Clifton Moore, Al Durham request release from Indiana

A pair of Indiana class of 2017 signees have asked for a release from their National Letters of Intent with Indiana.

Class of 2017 Hatboro Horsham (Pa.) forward Clifton Moore requested a release from his National Letter of Intent with Indiana, his AAU coach Jonathan Michels confirmed to Inside the Hall on Monday.

Mike Miller of The Bloomington Herald-Times was the first to report the news. Moore is ranked the 143rd best prospect nationally according to the 247Composite.

Berkmar (Ga.) guard Al Durham Jr., ranked the No. 239 prospect nationally by the 247Composite, also requested his release on Monday, his father confirmed to Inside the Hall.

“Indiana is still an option,” Durham Sr. said. “The new coach would have to recruit him.”

Recruits opting to re-open the process is not uncommon following coaching changes.

Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass said on Thursday that the department had already reached out to all three of the signees for the 2017 class.

The Hoosiers also signed Justin Smith for 2017.

Moore and Durham are scheduled to play in the Derby Festival Basketball Classic at Freedom Hall in Louisville on Saturday, April 15.

Coaching search profile: Tony Bennett

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our fourth profile takes a closer look at Virginia coach Tony Bennett.

Tony Bennett was reportedly a candidate for the Indiana job when it was open in the spring of 2008, but talks never advanced past the interest stage. That was Bennett’s decision and Indiana moved along, eventually hiring Tom Crean.

Bennett, the head coach at Washington State at the time, took the Virginia job in 2009. He did terrific work at Washington State, going 69-33 over three seasons and winning three NCAA tournament games. In 2007, Bennett was named the Associated Press and Naismith national coach of the year.

At Virginia, Bennett inherited a mess, but it didn’t take long for him to build a winner in Charlottesville. In eight seasons at UVA, Bennett has compiled an 188-83 record with two outright regular season ACC championships.

Overall, he’s 10-7 in the NCAA tournament with his deepest run coming in 2016 to the Elite Eight. Bennett’s teams are built with an emphasis on defense and taking care of the ball.

He’s never consistently had elite talent, but has consistently produced elite results defensively. Virginia has ranked in the top seven nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency in five of his eight seasons. Why is that relevant? No team in the KenPom era has won a national championship with a defense ranked outside of the top 21 nationally.

The one hesitation that gets brought up with Bennett is that some fans may not enjoy watching his style of play. Virginia routinely plays the slowest pace in the country in terms of average possessions per game. Still, it’s a style that produces wins and Bennett came into Indiana and landed Kyle Guy, 2016’s Mr. Basketball. He’s also produced successful NBA players at Virginia in Malcolm Brogdon and Justin Anderson. At Washington State, he recruited Klay Thompson, now an all-star in Golden State.

Bennett played collegiately at Green Bay and played in the NBA for three seasons with Charlotte. The son of former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett, Bennett was an assistant in Madison from 1999 to 2003.

The other notable factor to consider with Bennett is the fact that his sister, Kathi, was the Indiana women’s coach for five seasons before resigning in 2005. There have been suggestions his sister being forced out hurt Indiana’s chances to land Bennett in 2008, but the athletic department and administration has turned over since that situation unfolded.

Final Analysis: In many ways, the system Bennett has carried out at Virginia is Wisconsin on steroids. The Cavaliers win with fundamentals. There isn’t much flash, but the results are hard to argue.

This past season was Virginia’s worst offensively over the last four as the Cavaliers finished 51st nationally in Ken Pomeroy’s adjusted offensive efficiency metric. The three seasons prior to that, Virginia was in the top 27 in the country. Whether or not Bennett would be interested in the Indiana job remains to be seen, but he’s certainly proven himself to be a candidate worthy of consideration.

Coaching search profile: Archie Miller

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our third profile takes a closer look at Dayton coach Archie Miller.

If you’re making a list of the best young coaches in America, your list includes Archie Miller.

Miller, who played point guard at North Carolina State, began his coaching career as an assistant coach under Darrin Horn at Western Kentucky. The 38-year old had stints as an assistant at NC State, Arizona State, Ohio State and Arizona before landing the Dayton job in 2011.

Under Miller’s guidance, Dayton has flourished. The Flyers have reached the NCAA tournament four consecutive seasons, including a trip to the Elite Eight in 2014.

This season, Dayton won the outright regular season Atlantic 10 championship and earned a No. 7 seed in the South region. Miller was named the league’s coach of the year. His reward for a great regular season? A first round matchup with Wichita State. The Flyers lost 64-58.

There’s no questioning Miller knows how to build a winning program. In six seasons at Dayton, his winning percentage is 68.8 percent. In conference games, he’s won at a 66.7 percent clip.

So what’s next for Miller? A bigger stage.

He had a chance to jump to his alma mater this spring, but didn’t take it. That suggests he’s waiting for the right opportunity to come along. One of those jobs could be Ohio State, which would be a natural fit for Miller because he spent time there under Thad Matta and already recruits in Ohio.

Another job that could interest Miller, of course, is Indiana. He was asked about the opening following his team’s loss to Wichita State and had no comment.

With his age, familiarity with the Midwest and ability to build strong defensive teams, Miller will be a great long term solution for the program that eventually pries him away from Dayton. While Dayton is a private school, it’s believed that he earns in the $2 million range annually, which is an elite salary at the Atlantic 10 level.

What Dayton can’t offer that Indiana can, however, is the opportunity to build a national powerhouse with elite resources. As Fred Glass said in his press conference on Thursday, the school is hungry to win at an elite level and is willing to commit the resources to doing so.

Final Analysis: Miller might be young, but he’s a proven commodity. He’s been an assistant under several elite head coaches (Thad Matta, Sean Miller) across the country and has coached in the USA Basketball system as well. Dayton has finished in the top 40 nationally in adjusted defensive efficiency the last three seasons, according to Ken Pomeroy. And that’s with talent that is a step below what Miller would have access to at the high major level.

The son of a coach and the brother of Arizona’s head coach (Sean), it’s only a matter of time before Archie’s time to move up to the next level in the profession comes. Will Indiana be that opportunity?

Coaching search profile: Steve Alford

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our second profile takes a closer look at UCLA coach Steve Alford.

Steve Alford is a polarizing candidate in discussions amongst Indiana fans. There’s a segment who believes that the school needs a former player and point to Alford as the best of the potentially available candidates who fit that description. Alford has things rolling right now at UCLA. The Bruins are a popular Final Four pick after beating Cincinnati 79-67 on Sunday night.

And there’s also a segment that doesn’t believe Alford’s head coaching resume or past qualify him for a serious look from Indiana.

So, where does the truth lie in the debate? It’s possible that both sides have a case.

The 52-year old Alford is in his fourth season as the head coach at UCLA and has the Bruins in the Sweet Sixteen for the third time in four seasons. UCLA is back on the national stage this season after a disappointing 15-17 performance last season that ended with Alford apologizing to fans and returning his contract extension.

Prior to arriving at UCLA, Alford built New Mexico into a power in the Mountain West Conference, but the Lobos never broke through in the NCAA tournament. Alford was 155-52 (74.9 winning percentage) in six seasons at New Mexico, but never made it out of the second round of the NCAA tournament. Prior to his stint at New Mexico, Alford was at Iowa for eight seasons and won just 58.9 percent of his games.

In his 22nd season as a head coach, Alford hasn’t advanced past the Sweet Sixteen. He’ll have his chance this weekend as the Bruins face Kentucky in the South Regional semifinal in Memphis. UCLA is 31-4 this season and already beat the Wildcats earlier this season in Rupp Arena. Alford’s overall winning percentage is quite strong at 66.8 and only four of his coaching seasons have been at a traditional basketball power.

If we’re looking at Alford in the present, it’s hard to argue against the fact that he’s done a very good job this season with UCLA. He secured commitments from two of the nation’s best freshmen this season in Lonzo Ball and T.J. Leaf. And in a season where the pressure to succeed has been significant given last season’s results, he’s delivered. On the recruiting trail, UCLA is rolling. The Bruins have the nation’s No. 2 ranked recruiting class for 2017, headlined by North Central forward Kris Wilkes. That suggests he could resonate quite well with recruits from Indiana.

The past, however, is hard for some to forget.

Alford’s handling of the Pierre Pierce situation at Iowa is still discussed and he was asked about it as recently as last week in a press conference. It would be an issue that the Indiana administration would have to address in some form if he were hired.

Final Analysis: There’s been a lot of smoke pointing in the direction of Alford, but is it coming from Bloomington? Fred Glass has played the process very close to the vest and it’s unlikely that, even if he views Alford as a serious candidate, he’s communicating that information publicly.

It’s very possible and probably likely that Alford has significant interest in the job. It’s unclear how much of an obstacle his buyout would be to his candidacy.

POTB 168: End of the Crean era, coaching search talk

Podcast on the Brink is back for a new episode with host Jerod Morris of The Assembly Call. The show is currently available weekly.

In this edition of the show, Morris and Inside the Hall editor Alex Bozich are joined by Chris Korman, the former sports editor of The Herald-Times and currently of USA Today, to discuss a variety of topics. And in the second segment of this show, Jerod and Alex talk about the last week and the IU coaching search.

· Are Indiana fans unreasonable with expectations?
· Korman’s recent piece on Crean on For The Win
· The turning point in Crean’s tenure
· Korman’s reaction to the Michael Rosenberg piece with the Harbaugh’s
· The importance of this coaching hire to the long term future
· Is it necessary for Indiana to hire an “IU guy?”
· How will Indiana fans remember Tom Crean?
· The last week in IU basketball
· The ongoing coaching search

And much, much more. As always, feel free to drop the show a note at [email protected].

Listen in the audio player below, download the episode, subscribe via iTunes or subscribe to the RSS feed.

The year it all ended

A confidence-boosting win over Kansas in Hawaii set the year off with a bang. ESPN’s post-game interview with Tom Crean on the court turned into a celebration, his players preening and pumping their chests as they tussled his hair.

This was a confident, maybe even cocky, bunch of Hoosiers with their eyes set on big things. The stage seemed set for a special year. This team looked deep and talented, maybe even the deepest and most talented of the Crean era.

He’d found another diamond in the recruiting rough in OG Anunoby. Crean may not have landed loads of five-stars, but he could certainly coach you into one. Like Cody Zeller before him, McDonald’s All-American big man Thomas Bryant eschewed the NBA after his freshman season, instead deciding to learn more under Crean’s tutelage in his sophomore campaign. With Yogi Ferrell departed, a healthy James Blackmon Jr. seemed ready to take the big shots in the big moments — and knock them down. The team could still shoot and score with the best of them, though any drop in offense looked like it could be made up for with a defense featuring great interior size and Anunoby — hailed as one of the best defenders in the country.

Crean continued to tout a system trickled down from the NBA. He placed a high value on the 3-point shot and promoted a positionless mantra, where bigs went through guard drills and were not chained to the paint, instead free to roam the perimeter and shoot from distance. And if you played for him, he’d make you better year over year as one of the better skill developers around.

This was the Indiana Way Under Tom Crean and all seemed quite well.

A loss to Fort Wayne 11 days later was explained away with the narrative that while Indiana had the talent to beat anyone in the country, it was also a team vulnerable to the upset. Its dominant win over North Carolina at the end of November seemed to confirm that. Assembly Hall remained an intimidating place to play and the Hoosiers were on one of the longest home winning streaks in the country.

Indiana’s loss to Butler in mid-December was a sign of things to come and started to show this team wasn’t what it appeared to be. The Hoosiers lacked awareness on defense and gave up their most points per possession to date. The Bulldogs put on a clinic taking care of the ball. The Hoosiers did not. Indiana also missed all eight of its 3-point attempts in the first half in a season it regressed from an elite 3-point shooting team to one that was merely pretty good.

Its home loss to Nebraska to kick off the Big Ten season was bad. Really bad. Indiana didn’t defend and didn’t take care of the ball, a common refrain in Crean’s final year in Bloomington. But most concerning was the Hoosiers didn’t come out ready to play. They didn’t have the right mindset. It happened again against Wisconsin in its next Big Ten game and another home loss hit. After 26 straight home wins, Indiana now had back-to-back home losses in conference to start the season.

The rest of the Big Ten season didn’t bring much more hope for a strong conclusion to the season and every game seemed like a repeat. Injuries to key players didn’t help. While Indiana still played hard and didn’t give up, it could never make the plays down the stretch to pull out close games. It lacked a leader to bring them home and to steady the ship. They lost seven of eight at one point — the lone win in that stretch coming in triple overtime against Penn State … at home. Indiana’s bench starting holding up signs with reminders for players and it didn’t go over well with observers.

With its losses coming in similar fashion and Indiana’s chances at the NCAA tournament dwindling, there was a growing sense that the wagons were beginning to circle around Crean for good. But even as Indiana seemed destined for the NIT, the situation wasn’t so black and white. There were pros and cons. Crean resurrected the program from near death. He did things the right way. He won multiple Big Ten Championships and made the Sweet 16 three times. These are not easy things to do.

But there was this reality, too: Crean was about to miss the NCAA tournament for the second time in four years. He’d barely been above .500 in the league in that time (38-34). And the Sweet 16 appearances could be looked at in another way, a coach unable to make a deep tournament run for a fanbase thirsty for it, his loss to Syracuse still a sore subject for Hoosier Nation. So the winning was too inconsistent and the results too variable. Crean’s players love him. He represented the university well. He preformed random acts of kindness in the community he wanted no attention for.

But there was an adversarial nature that stewed within him. He was defensive and defiant with the media and sometimes the fans, too. He and those around him sought to control the narrative and message. A softening of his guarded energy could have helped humanize him a bit more and defuse the situation. These things didn’t matter more than the inconsistent winning. Win banner No. 6 to hang in the rafters and nobody cares. But in the total picture of the Indiana job, with all the pressures and responsibilities that come with it in a season his team struggled, they did him no favors, either.

In the end this year, Crean never lost his players, but he’d lost momentum. He hadn’t lost the belief that his system worked, but he’d lost the fans who’d grown tired of its worst parts — the laughable defense and the careless turnovers. Most importantly, he’d lost the boosters who were in Fred Glass’ ear imploring him to make a change. The noise was just too much for Glass to ignore. The tide had turned on Indiana’s coach and there was no coming back from it. Crean had to go.

Tom Crean is a very good basketball coach and whoever gets him next will be lucky to have him. Indiana, meanwhile, will move on and look for a coach that can move them up another rung in performance.

The budget, the facilities, the support and the brand is all there for someone to come in and take it to the next level. But so comes with it pressure and expectations and a hunger for more.

It’s no easy job.

Is Indiana a top 10 coaching job? National voices weigh-in

Indiana Athletic Director Fred Glass spoke without hesitation in his comments to the media on Thursday afternoon. Glass, an IU alumnus, believes the head coaching position in Bloomington is an elite job nationally.

But how good of a job is Indiana? Does rich history, fertile recruiting ground and resources keep the IU job among the nation’s best? Or, 30 years removed from its last national championship, is IU’s place on the national stage fading away?

Inside the Hall reached out to national writers across the country to get their input. Is Indiana a top 10 job? Here’s all of the responses we received:

Eamonn Brennan, ESPN.com:

For me, it’s easily a top 10 job — in a vacuum. Throw out the history and culture of the program, even, and you’ve still got the financial support, the facilities there now, the fan base and interest and local talent pool. It’s a no-brainer.

That said, I do have a caveat, and one that I think is genuinely damaging, and that’s the provincial dynamic at work there. To me, the worst thing Indiana fans could have heard was that their athletic director considered it doubleplusgood (or whatever the Orwell-adjacent phrase was) that a prospective candidate have “Indiana ties.” If that’s just red meat for the fans, then it’s silly pandering at best. If it’s a genuine hiring criteria, that’s way worse.

Mike Krzyzewski didn’t have Duke ties. Dean Smith didn’t have North Carolina ties. John Wooden didn’t have UCLA ties. Bob Knight didn’t have Indiana ties.

This idea that to be successful at Indiana means you have to have played there or coached there or matriculated there in some form or another is nonsense. It leads to decisions based on fuzzy qualities other than pure quantitative success. It leads to decisions based on things other than merit. And it’s the kind of thing that, were I an extremely capable up-and-coming coach with proven credentials and a good setup already, would scare me right off. Am I really ever going to be accepted? Am I ever going to get the benefit of the doubt? How much shorter will my leash be? How long until I have “Indiana ties” too?

If IU — whether its fans or boosters or athletics department or whomever — can start acting like it’s 2017, and not 1987, then there’s no reason it’s not a top-10 job. Top-five, even. If it insists on perpetuating this provincial, closed-minded “one of us” myth, then it will put itself at an inherent disadvantage for the foreseeable future.

John Gasaway, ESPN.com and ESPN Insider:

The question of whether Indiana’s a top-10 program is itself an Indiana question. To call upon some illustrative and diametrically opposed examples, we wouldn’t entertain the same question for a moment with regard to either Duke or Wake Forest, Kentucky or Vanderbilt, Kansas or Kansas State, or North Carolina or NC State. Those answers are all easy and instant. It is only with IU — and, possibly one or at most two others — that many of us pause and ponder. It is strange, surely, that we do so. How did we get here, exactly?

Mike DeCourcy, The Sporting News:

I’m honestly a little surprised to be asked the question. It’s like asking if you give me a Rolls Royce and I take it for a ride and dent the fender, is it still a great automobile? People get caught up in recent performance and forget what’s really important in a job: support, facilities, tradition, brand, talent base. There aren’t 10 that are superior to Indiana basketball. Not a chance.

It has been a while — too long, really — since Indiana basketball has been exactly right. There are multiple reasons for that, but the basics have only been enhanced over the past several years as Cook Hall was built, as Assembly Hall was refurbished. Indiana basketball lacks for nothing at the moment other than the right coach: someone who’ll interact ideally with the recruiting base, the fan base and even the media, who will embrace the challenge and the tradition.

Think about where Michigan was in 2007. They hadn’t been to the tournament in nearly a decade, and the last two of those trips were wiped out. And they smartly hire John Beilein and they’re in the tournament two years later and the championship game four years after that.

Michigan is a tremendous brand, a tremendous university, but it has not historically been the basketball program Indiana has been. That’s really the answer right there. If John Beilein can do this much at UM, what can the right person do at IU?

Myron Medcalf, ESPN.com:

I covered a near sellout at Assembly Hall during the early (Tom) Crean years. I went to a taping of Crean’s radio show in the single-digit win years. Indiana fans were still there, believing in their squad. You combine that passion with the facilities, tradition and promise, and you’re definitely talking about a top-10 gig. This ain’t an ’88 Pontiac with 300,000 miles on it. It’s a ’67 Chevy waiting for somebody to see how far it can go.

Rob Dauster, NBCSports.com:

Honestly, I find it weird that this is even a question. Indiana has a huge fan base, they have money, they have a recruiting base in the state, they play in a league that’s winnable for them. I don’t think I’d call it a top five job, but it’s certainly top ten for me.

Jeff Goodman, ESPN.com:

Top 10’ish. Fan base is awesome, good players in the state. You can make a case as high as six or as low as 15.

Jeff Eisenberg, Yahoo! Sports:

To me, Indiana possesses most of the things you look for in a truly elite job — a fertile recruiting base, strong regional and national brand recognition, administrative and fan support, state-of-the-art facilities and ample resources. The job does come with pressure to match or at least approach the heights of the Bob Knight era, but which of the top jobs doesn’t have that? Texas is the only one that comes immediately to mind, and that’s only because that program has historically underachieved.

Ultimately, I see Indiana as a cut below Duke, North Carolina, Kansas and Kentucky yet still clearly one of college basketball’s most attractive jobs. It belongs right in that next tier alongside programs like UCLA, Louisville, Arizona, Texas and Michigan State, all places where you should regularly contend for league titles and be in the Final Four hunt at least a couple times a decade.

Randy McClure, Rush The Court:

Yes, although the Indiana head coaching job has lost considerable luster since the Bob Knight era, it is still a top 10 destination. Kentucky, Duke, North Carolina and Kansas comprise the top four (in no particular order, depending on what appeals to you most), but the mishmash of schools in the next tier includes the crimson-colored seat on the sidelines in Bloomington. The fact remains that Indiana is a basketball school in a basketball state that will commit the appropriate resources to Make Indiana Great Again. It agitates Hoosiers from Terre Haute to Evansville that the state’s flagship program has fallen out of favor in the national consciousness, but with considerable recruiting clout in talent-rich Indianapolis as well as Chicago and much of the Midwest, the right coach can immediately turn Indiana into a contender. A series of poor hires in the post-Knight era have marginalized the attractiveness of the position, but those five National Championship banners on the wall in Assembly Hall show what is still possible at Indiana.

Sam Vecenie, Sporting News:

This is kind of a cop out answer, but I think for the right candidate, it’s absolutely a top-10 job. But I also believe it’s a bit more dependent on getting the “right guy” than some of the other elite jobs. For instance, I would say Texas or Ohio State, where expectations are low and support from the athletic department is uniquely high, are probably less dependent on getting the perfect coach. At Indiana, the scrutiny and expectations are so high that you need to have someone who can deal with the weight of that while also winning games at an extremely high level. He also needs to have experience within the fertile Indiana recruiting ground and be able to hold players in-state within an area that is ripe to be picked by national recruiters due to its relative position in the middle of the country. But the benefits of success at Indiana are clear: you will always have an absolutely rabid fan base that is among the best in the sport. You have a legendary home court advantage at Assembly Hall. You have institutional support from an athletic department that seems to have trust in its coaches given that Crean got nearly a decade. Salary should also not be an issue given that Crean was up over $3 million. For the right coach, that’s absolutely a top-10 job. But it’s not for everyone.

Jeff Borzello, ESPN.com:

I think they’re a top-10 job, yes. I think they have a long way to go to get back to being a top-five job, or top-five program — but top-10, sure. It’s a clear basketball-first school, has a rabid fanbase, has a long history of success, and can get players from all areas of the country. Holding the fanbase’s expectations against the job itself doesn’t make sense. Just because Kentucky has over-the-top fans doesn’t change the fact it’s one of the best jobs in the country. It just means it’s not for everyone. Indiana needs to hire someone that can handle the pressure and expectations that come with being at a top-10 program. One just needs to look at recruiting to see why it’s a notch below the top-four or five jobs; Kentucky, Kansas, Duke and North Carolina (maybe even Arizona lately) can get involved with any kid nationally. Indiana hasn’t been able to do that lately.

Jon Crispin, Big Ten Network:

First off, there’s no hiding the fact that I am, and have always been a fan of the Hoosiers. Shoot, I even got engaged to my former IU cheerleader fiancé in an empty Assembly Hall in December in her parent’s seats. We are even getting married in French Lick in late May this year. I come from a basketball family too. A family of coaches and former players. My dad (who chose to play football at Villanova but was recruited by Coach K at Army) coached his high school team to a state championship before becoming a Superintendent of Schools and my grandfather played in two final fours at Temple and coached at Camden County Community College in South Jersey. My brother and I grew up around the game and even though we are Jersey kids, Indiana basketball was something we looked up to and could only dream of being a part of. I’m not alone in my affinity for the Hoosier basketball program and that is why so many people think of the IU job as one of the best in the country. The only issue is that there is much more below the surface that high-level coaches around the country have to consider before taking on the challenge and the honor of being the Head Coach of one of the greatest programs in College basketball history.

One thing I would look at as a coach is whether the expectations (for success) are realistic based on the amount of time it takes to get to that point and whether that time is granted by the athletic department and fan base. In this case, the expectation is Final Fours and Big Ten Championships and 3-5 years is simply not enough time to develop and grow a new system that will truly thrive for years to come. If you want what IU fans and administrators want lasting and continued success and consistency from year to year you’ve got to look at the next coach as a long-term guy from day one…..and not just once he shows (within a couple of years) that he should be given more time. A key for me would be to establish a plan and a timeline with milestones that the administration, university and fan base can truly get behind and support. If that can be done, the job looks even better to me.

The IU situation is similar to my experience at UCLA as I was there for Lavin’s last two years and Howland’s first year. Most people don’t understand that the pressure that is on a coach, his family and his staff is clearly felt by the players and it certainly effects the way the players approach every day. If I’m a coach, I would want to maximize the potential of my players and staff and get them all to play, perform and live as fearlessly as possible. In order to do that, I have to coach the same way….fearlessly. I have to have peace and security in myself and my team that we are not defined by wins or losses but by the way we go about our business. That’s much easier said than done as the job requires us to win. That being the case, job security and support is of the utmost importance. Coaching at a place where the previous coach was Big Ten Coach of the Year (a year ago), won the conference reg season (a year ago), lost in the sweet 16 to the Final Four runner up (also, a year ago) and had numerous injuries to deal with in the year he was fired, would say a lot to me as a prospective in-coming coach. Some coaches accept that as a norm in the profession but it definitely has a negative effect on their ability to maximize the potential of themselves, their players and their staff. It’s hard to have confidence with those truths looming in the back of my head. Especially when you’re going through tough times as all programs do at some point or another.

Considering the history and tradition of the program, I’d also look at how the past is used to grade my performance in both the short and long term. Using the past and tradition as a way to grade current and future success shows a lack of vision and direction. As a coach, I would want to use the past and the traditions of the institution to build something even better in the future. If the successes of my predecessors do not help me and my staff build what we are trying to build, then the past is more of a ball and chain and less of the springboard that it should be.

A ‘good’ hire and the ‘right’ hire are two different things. A good hire is hiring the next best thing or the hottest coach out there. The right hire is less about the coach and more about the desired direction and vision of the university and its athletic administration. If I were a part of the athletic department, I would be spending every hour I could laying out the vision for the program and the department as a whole. As an individual, I have my own personal mission statement. My personal mission statement is less about what I want to get and more about how I want to go about getting it. If I maintain my focus on doing it right and for the right reasons, then the rest falls into place. Every high-major program in the country that has the history and tradition of an institution like IU wants to win championships. If the administration can layout a clear vision of what they want the program to look like and how they want a coach and staff to represent the University, then they can find the right individual for the job.

All that being said, I still think being the Head Coach of the Indiana Men’s Basketball team is a great honor. Being a great honor may get many high level coaches interested in the job but that doesn’t exactly mean they’ll be in the best position to thrive in that role. Also, remember this, the past has to be used as a tool to improve the future, not as a crutch and a flag to wave in the face of those who don’t live up to expectations of the fan base and administration.

If the focus remains on the “what” (championships) and not the “how” (building upon the positives of the past to create a better future) then I’ll bet we are having this same conversation another 5-7 years from now.

Side note that is totally unrelated…..some Hoosier fans may have thought I have been too positive when things got ugly at times but as a fan of this game, I don’t see the need to ever be overly-critical of players and coaches who dedicate so much of their lives to competing and winning at everything they are required to do. If you truly understand how much goes into being a coach, player or manager you’d probably have a better understanding of why I see things the way I do. If I sincerely want each and every team in the Big Ten to thrive, there’s no reason to feed into the anger of a frustrated fan base and crush someone else’s hard work. That doesn’t help anyone. I do try to focus my analysis on what they can be doing or what they need to do to win but that’s about it. Those who choose to be critical and judgmental are making it more about themselves and are trying to show you how much they know. The truth is, we only know a few layers deep, while the coaches of these programs understand what’s going on at the core. So why would I act as if I had all of the answers?

I hope this all makes sense. I do give this stuff a lot of thought and hope that my perspective has value to the conversation. I wish for the best for IU and for Coach Crean and his staff as they now have to face some serious life changes for themselves and their families. People can say what they want but they’re still human and regardless of the honor they have and the income that comes from it, they still hurt and have to face the realities of the business and how it effects those closest to them.

Coaching search profile: Billy Donovan

After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head coach and the search for his replacement is underway.

Inside the Hall will profile some of the candidates who are being discussed for the job over the coming days. Our first profile takes a closer look at Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan. 

Billy Donovan to Indiana? It seems like a serious reach, right?

Donovan built a national power at Florida over 19 seasons. He won the SEC tournament four times and the SEC regular season championship six times. He reached four Final Fours and won two national championships.

With little left to achieve in Gainesville, Donovan took the Oklahoma City job in late April of 2015. The Thunder fired Scott Brooks, now looked at as one of the better coaches in the NBA for he job he’s done with the Wizards so far, and grabbed Donovan as the man who could get them back to the NBA Finals.

Donovan, 51, has been successful in Oklahoma City. But the job Donovan accepted in the spring of 2015 isn’t the one he holds today. After the Thunder blew a 3-1 lead to Golden State in last season’s Western Conference Finals, Kevin Durant bolted for the Warriors.

A primary reason for Donovan taking the job in Oklahoma City was the chance to work for a great front office, headed by Sam Presti, and the chance to coach both Durant and Russell Westbrook. The departure of Durant has changed the outlook for the Thunder for the foreseeable future.

Oklahoma City is still a playoff team in the Western Conference, but the Thunder are not a contender for the NBA title. And with a core of Westbrook, Steven Adams, Victor Oladipo and Enes Kanter, it’s fair to ask if Oklahoma City can seriously contend in the coming seasons. Without a major trade to land a marquee player or a free agent signing, it’s hard to see a path to the NBA Finals for Oklahoma City.

All of these things, particularly Durant’s decision to depart, have led to speculation that Donovan might be willing to listen if Indiana comes calling. And with a chance to squash any speculation, Donovan didn’t totally kill the idea.

“I am totally happy here,” Donovan said on Thursday. “I love it here. I love the guys I work with every day. I love our staff, the organization. As far as I’m concerned, my commitment is totally here and doing the best job I can while I’m here.”

This was a much difference response than the one Boston Celtics coach Brad Stevens, who shot down any talk of a move to Bloomington.

There was also a comment in Thursday’s press conference with Fred Glass that did nothing to dispel the possibility of a sitting NBA coach becoming a candidate for the position.

“Ultimately,” Glass said, “if someone wants to be the head coach at Indiana University, I think that’s a detail.”

Final analysis: From a coaching standpoint and potential impact, it would be hard for Indiana to do any better than Donovan. He’s a proven, elite coach that would instantly restore national credibility to the program. But is he even interested? It’s a question that has no clear answer at this point.

Further complicating a potential pursuit of Donovan is the logistics of hiring a sitting NBA coach. Donovan is in the stretch run of the NBA season. The regular season ends April 12 and the playoffs begin on April 15, which means he might not be available until late April at the earliest.

Roundup: What potential candidates are saying about the IU job

Indiana’s coaching search is less than two days old, but several potential candidates have already been asked publicly for their thoughts on the opening.

In our roundup below, we bring you public comments made by potential candidates over the last 48 hours:

Dayton’s Archie Miller, who was asked about the opening immediately after his team’s 64-58 loss to Wichita State on Friday night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse:

Q. Archie, I know you just lost, but your name’s been linked to the Indiana job. I just wonder what your thoughts were. I know it’s close.

COACH MILLER: No thoughts.

UCLA’s Steve Alford, who was asked about the opening on Thursday in advance of his team’s NCAA tournament opening round matchup with Kent State:

Q. Coach, when and how did you hear about Crean at Indiana’s firing today, and is it your goal to get back to Indiana? If so, would you take a phone call at the end of the season?

STEVE ALFORD: I don’t know how I found out. It’s just news. It’s March Madness, and unfortunately in our business you’re either on top or something like this is happening to all of us. 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.

Q. Would you take a phone call?

STEVE ALFORD: That’s really going to be my comment about that situation. I don’t want that to be what this is about. This is about us. This is about what this group of guys are doing and that’s what my focus is.

Wichita State coach Gregg Marshall was asked about job openings on Thursday in advance of his team’s first round NCAA tournament game against Dayton:

Q. Every year, your name comes up when there’s coaching vacancies and, obviously, that’s kind of happening again this year. I’m wondering with those frustrations or challenges with scheduling and seeding, could that ever be a tipping point for you to go elsewhere? Are those things you consider when you’re getting offers?

COACH MARSHALL: Not really. First of all, I don’t know what you’re talking about. No one’s talked to me or no one’s talked to anybody that represents me. There’s been no discussion of any of these jobs. In fact, I don’t even know what jobs are open, to be honest.

There’s a lot of action that takes place every day and every week, it seems.

We value the life that we lead. Whether we’re taken care of, we’ve got a great administration at Wichita State. They’ve been very, very supportive and generous and kind to my family. I’ve got — not just me, but I’ve got my family and I’ve got my players.

We think we’ve got something really good going, so I don’t really worry about it. I think it’s very humbling to have your name mentioned with these jobs. Sometimes, I listen. Ultimately, maybe I’ll take one. But right now, we’re very, very happy where we are.

The City of Wichita is a wonderful place to live, and it’s treated my family and a lot of people very, very well. We’re very content. But at the same time, we don’t bury our head in the sand. I’ve said that before. We listen. Maybe there will be a time for to us make a move, but I don’t know when that’s going to be.

Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan, who was asked about the position on Thursday afternoon:

“I am totally happy here. I love it here. I love the guys I work with every day. I love our staff, the organization. As far as I’m concerned, my commitment is totally here and doing the best job I can while I’m here.”

Boston coach Brad Stevens, who shot down the possibility of a move to Indiana on Friday:

“I don’t speak to the rumor mill or anything else, but I’ve made it pretty clear I’m going to be here. I’ve been asked about that quite a bit and my answer will be the same — I’m going to be here until the Celtics decide they want to move in another direction,” he said before last night’s game against Brooklyn.

“Maybe a little bit,” he said of whether he hears from people back home at a time like this. “One thing about it — I grew up in that state and spend a lot of time down there. I certainly love the state of Indiana and what basketball means in that state. IU means a lot to the people in that state. I was no different as a kid, but again, I’ll be here. Doesn’t mean I’m not a fan of the teams in the state — I root for one a heck of a lot more than the rest.”