Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2014-2015 Indiana Hoosiers. We conclude the series today with a look at Tom Crean.
What a wild one for Tom Crean in year seven.
The season had yet to begin, and Crean faced crisis and calls for his head in the wake of the Devin Davis incident. But his team did not crumble in the wake of the accident, it bonded together and thrived. Slipups in the non-conference season happened — the home loss to Eastern Washington was particularly concerning and a sign of things to come on the defensive end — but Indiana pushed the pace, scored the ball at a strong clip and rebounded well despite its size issues. Wins against SMU, Pittsburgh and Butler, along with a close overtime loss to Georgetown gave hope.
So did a 5-1 start to the Big Ten season. The Hoosiers weren’t supposed to be this good. One prominent college hoops voice placed Crean in the coach of the year discussion. Another separated fact from fiction in the Crean saga.
But as the conference season rolled along, the mob re-emerged with their pitchforks. On paper, the back half of the Big Ten schedule was supposed to be easier. But the Hoosiers limped to the finish line — finishing 4-8 in the their final 12. Crean did a fantastic job creating a top 10 offense out of the pieces he had. He put in the work over the summer and the results were strong — something I wrote about last week. But that’s just one side of the ball. And Indiana’s defense was curiously — and historically — bad. (Alex went in depth on this last week.)
A week after Indiana’s season-ending 81-76 loss to Wichita State in the NCAA tournament, athletics director Fred Glass spoke out in support of Tom Crean, who just finished his seventh season in Bloomington.
In a statement sent to The Indianapolis Star, Glass reiterated his support for IU’s head coach, while also stating that he expects more from the school’s signature athletic program in the future.
“While from a team perspective, there were certainly some positives this year, from a program perspective, we are not where we want to be,” Glass told the Star.
The Hoosiers finished the season 20-14, but were at one point 15-4 overall and tied for second in the Big Ten standings after a win over Maryland on Jan. 22.
Indiana finished seventh in the conference, which was slightly higher than where the Hoosiers were projected by most at the beginning of the season. After there was speculation late in the season that Crean might be coaching for his job in IU’s final home game against Michigan State, Glass told both The Bloomington Herald-Times and ESPN.com that wasn’t the case.
Indiana coach Tom Crean is not in danger of losing his job, IU vice president and director of athletics Fred Glass told ESPN on Thursday.
In an interview with Andy Katz, Glass said that he met with Crean on Wednesday and reassured him of his job security and the AD added that he remains “bullish” on IU’s head coach.
“He’s a great coach,” Glass told ESPN. “He has my full support. I have a great deal of confidence in Tom’s body of work. This team overachieved early and then hit a tough patch.”
Glass also told both ESPN and the Bloomington Herald-Times that Saturday’s result against Michigan State has no bearing on whether or not Crean remains the Hoosiers coach — he said to ESPN “it’s ridiculous to say that someone is coaching for his job for one game.”
In regards to the Hoosiers’ recent slide in results, Glass on Thursday blamed it on a variety of factors — that James Blackmon Jr. “has hit the freshman wall,” that Collin Hartman is out injured and that they have also been without Devin Davis for the entire season.
The Big Ten Conference announced on Wednesday afternoon it has informed the NCAA of several reformations to student-athlete benefits it wishes to enact, similar to those in the IU Student-Athlete Bill of Rights released in July.
The conference has proposed giving its student-athletes full cost-of-education financial aid, guaranteed four-year scholarships, lifetime scholarships that will allow former student-athletes to complete their degree should they leave school early to pursue professional careers and “improved, consistent” medical insurance.
According to a release from the conference, it hopes to achieve these proposals through individual institutional action, conference-wide action or under the new NCAA semi-autonomy structure, which grants the major five conferences — the Big Ten, ACC, SEC, Pac-12 and Big 12 — more authority to create their own governing rules.
The proposals were first raised by Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany at the Big Ten Football Media Day in July 2013 and were designed to enhance the quality of student-athlete life while maintaining amateur status and educationally-sponsored intercollegiate athletics in a time period in which support for pay-for-play and student-athlete unionization models have been growing.
“I know athletes at a younger and younger age are asked to select a sport or either select a sport and that they train for it very rigorously,” he said at the time. “And this is not just an American phenomena. I think it’s an international phenomenon. So I want to make sure that our rules, regulations, constraints, and standards are properly balanced so that once a student is admitted, he or she has the opportunity to do what they need to do academically to continue to move forward.”
This past July, IU led the NCAA in enacting student-athlete benefits reform by producing its Student-Athlete Bill of Rights, a document which ensures student-athletes at IU will have access to a lifetime degree assurance (in which former student-athletes can return to finish their degree with the University paying for their tuition, books and fees), a guaranteed four-year scholarship and full cost-of-education aid, among other reforms.
Indiana athletics director Fred Glass was on The Zone with Jason Anderson on Thursday afternoon on ESPN 680 in Louisville and discussed a variety of topics, including his outlook for next season, fan frustration, his thoughts on Tom Crean and much more. Glass also discussed the Indiana baseball team, which opens regional play on Friday as well as the football program.
Here’s a transcript of some of his basketball-related comments:
On whether it’s easy to turn the page from last season:
“Well, it’s always more welcome to turn the page when you didn’t really like what that page was. Like in Louisville and Lexington and all of the strong programs right in the heart of your listening area, if at IU we’re not in postseason play, it’s by definition a disappointing season. There certainly were bright spots, we had a lot of big wins and we were nurturing a really young team and playing in a really tough conference and so forth and so on, but ultimately, Tom Crean would be the first one to say that this isn’t really where we want to be.
“So we’re looking forward with great optimism. We’re going to have, I think, a really exciting team next year, a couple of McDonald’s All-Americans in the backcourt, maybe the best point guard in the country in Yogi Ferrell, some exciting other players. We’ll be playing an uptempo, fast style that I think our fans will enjoy so we’re very much looking forward and excited about what Tom Crean has built and I think last year was a little blip on the screen not to be unexpected when you’re reloading from having five guys that are playing professionally now on that team two years ago.”