That’s A Wrap: Tom Crean

  • 04/18/2013 9:49 am in


Welcome to “That’s A Wrap,” our recap of the 2012-2013 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Head coach Tom Crean.

Tom Crean knew the Indiana job would be a challenge when he accepted it some five years ago. He had to rebuild the program from the very bottom, and he successfully restored it to a place where the Hoosiers could be the No. 1 ranked team in the preseason.

What Crean has accomplished has been truly remarkable and praiseworthy. But the difficulty of the head job in Bloomington didn’t end when Crean got the top recruits to start coming to town or when he built a team that earned a No. 1 seed this season. Crean dealt with a number of different challenges this season.

The most difficult one was expectations. The Hoosiers had plenty of them this season, and they sometimes struggled to handle and live up to those lofty expectations. They were expected to win, and when their season ended early with a Sweet Sixteen loss to Syracuse in Washington D.C., it was viewed by some as a disappointment.

Indiana accomplished some great things this season. It won a Big Ten title outright for the first time in 20 years. Beat Michigan twice. Beat Michigan State twice. Won at Ohio State. Earned a No. 1 seed. Reached the Sweet Sixteen for the second consecutive year. But the Hoosiers didn’t win it all, and when you play or coach at a school that has hung five banners, championships become the standard to which you are held.

In some ways, Crean handled the expectations well. He did numerous national radio and television interviews in which he was charismatic and engaging. He continued to develop his players throughout the season and constantly reminded the media that the team hadn’t accomplished anything because of its preseason ranking.

But as the season went on, some of the outside criticism seemed to get to Crean, and it seemed to wear him down at times. He constantly mentioned some of the things people were saying about him and his team outside the locker room, and Crean too often came off as trying to defend his program rather than simply leading it. He faced a tough situation this year, one in which his team went from having little expected from it to suddenly regaining the spotlight and having the weight of the college basketball world on its back. That can’t be easy for anyone to deal with.

But Crean received tons of criticism following the season, and most of it was unfair. The fact is Crean is a very good coach who is responsible for bringing the Indiana program back. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon, and he shouldn’t.

My opinion on Crean remains the same as it always has: Great recruiter, unbelievable motivator, superb player developer who sometimes struggles with in-game coaching. By no stretch is he a poor in-game coach, but he sometimes fails to adjust his gameplan when something goes awry within the game.

Bottom line: Crean has his flaws as every coach does, but he’s the right man for the Hoosiers, plain and simple. Expectations will level off a bit next year, and Crean seems to be at his best when his team is doubted and he’s an underdog.

If Crean can develop a guy like Victor Oladipo the way he did, what can he do with talents like Noah Vonleh and Troy Williams?

PreviouslyHanner Mosquera-PereaPeter Jurkin, Yogi Ferrell, Jeremy HollowellCody Zeller, Remy AbellWill Sheehey, Victor Oladipo, Maurice Creek, Derek ElstonJordan Hulls, Christian Watford

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  • calbert40

    I don’t think anyone is suggesting that CTC should have a lifetime “get out of jail free” recruiting card. As you point out, not every recruit will pan out. They don’t for any coach. However, when someone points to how good of a job he did with Vic and Will as proof that he is a good recruiter/developer of talent…that was last year!!!! It isn’t in the distant past!

  • Jersey Hoosier

    I find your comments puzzling. First of all, you make no mention of Victor Oladipo in your comments – a player of the year runner-up who will be drafted before Zeller. Second, you make no mention of the fact that this was a seasoned team starting two seniors and with a player coming off the bench (W. Sheehy) was voted Big Ten 6th Man of the year. As to the size issue, Crean recruited plenty of size in the 2012 class. Either his recruiting choices were poor or he was unable to develop the talent that he recruited. In either case, the failure is his. As to the disappointing performance in the tourney, blaming our loss on the seeds is something that only an abject Crean apologist would do. I’m willing to suspend judgment to see how Crean does with next year’s team, but let’s all be honest with each other. Crean’s performance as head coach at Marquette was mediocre at best, and last season’s performance as IU’s head coach does not auger well for the future.

  • calbert40

    Sure, but the reason Duke lost that year was because Coach K was lousy and got outcoached by Mike Davis. Everyone knows this! The best team always wins the tourney without exception.

  • calbert40

    If a player doesn’t have the will to be excellent, he won’t tap into all of his potential regardless of the quality of his coach. If a player has the will and drive to be excellent, he will have much more opportunity to become that type of player.

    However, when you combine a player with talent and the will to be excellent with a coach that motivates him to tap into all of his potential, you get a player like Victor Oladipo. I don’t think one should underestimate the impact BOTH can have on the development of a player.

  • Small point but UW went to the Final four in 2000. We went last in 2002. Either way I do not agree that our glory days are WAY behind us. It seems that some individuals feel that a fan must be 100% pro CTC or they are disloyal. My allegiance as a supporter of the University basketball team are with results and the student athletes. I realized that as a 25 year old the amount of passion I throw into a game played by 18-22 years olds is pretty questionable. It is in fact just a game, but what a wonderful game it really is. It was nice to win the B1G outright and this team and coaching staff were very enjoyable to be fans of.

    That said this team did not get better down the stretch. Fatigue, stronger competition, injuries/ncca sanctions. . (insert excuse) etc. In all, this team seemed to fade quietly in the final two tournaments and it seems that a majority of us saw it coming.

    My irrelevant and irrational viewpoint: We need to pray that CTC takes an NBA job or moves on to anything else. He has done so many things right over the last handful of years, seems to be an all around nice guy that recruits nice kids and has been loyal to Mo Creek which is impressive. All of these are OUTSTANDING! BUT I really want a coach who takes blame for his mistakes. Or how about the entire teams mistakes? That would be a nice characteristic to see in your leader. How about a gracious winner/loser? That seems like a quality that would be important in an overall solid head coach. . the in-game coaching is something that is brought up a lot, but we have seen him adjust wonderfully in some and poorly in others. He is a solid coach who would be great at Marquette. I do not see us winning a Championship in the next 10 years and we will continue to stack up awesome individual sweet 16 banners. Dan dakich said it best when he said, “what hardships did these seniors really go through” We need a coach with enough confidence to sit there on the bench, analyze the situation, let his players play and then when necessary insert his huge, rock solid d*&^ into the game! If we got the man coaching in Hinkle we would have 8 total banners by 2025.

  • NC Hoosier

    Thanks for the correction on Wisconsin. Either way, I agree with you that we can continue to look forward to Sweet 16s. Don’t know if I want CTC gone though. While I want to see us go further in the dance, I think what he’s done this far is pretty solid.

  • Well said

  • plane1972

    You mean Kyrie Irving, not Teague.

  • calbert40

    True, but if we won the national title this year, but then lost in the first round of the NIT the following year, I bet there’d be some weeping and gnashing of teeth!

  • calbert40

    I think the NEXT step in the process is Final Fours, but I think saying that we will only be “back” once that happens is inaccurate.

    First off, we have only made the Final Four 8 times in program history…and we are one of the “blue bloods.” The NCAA tournament is 75 years old, so we make it slightly more than 10 percent of the time historically. It is really difficult to make it, but like you, I’d like to see us get there in the very near future though, but not as an arbitrary condition of being “back.”

    Secondly, Knight struggled to get there at the end of his tenure. He went 8 consecutive seasons without making it, and that was without dealing with the garbage CTC has recently. Speaking of Sweet 16 berths, IU made the Sweet 16 in consecutive seasons very rarely when Knight was coach: 75 & 76, 80 & 81, and then 4 straight years from 91-94. I just mention this to suggest that what CTC has accomplished in the last two seasons has been pretty remarkable and, despite our memories suggesting otherwise, pretty rare.

  • Jersey Hoosier

    Are you going to respond, or do you agree that my comments are accurate?

  • Jersey Hoosier

    Let’s dispassionately look at what Crean had to work with during this last season and why we accomplished so little. He had the preseason player of the year who ultimately turned out to be less of a factor than he was in his freshman year. He had a player who was a runner-up for the player of the year and the Big Ten defensive player of the year. He had a seasoned team starting two seniors and with a player coming off the bench (W. Sheehy) who was voted Big Ten 6th Man of the year. His acolytes on this forum have complained that the team was too short. However, Crean recruited plenty of size in the 2012 class. (The “Movement” – remember them.) Either his recruiting choices were poor, or he was unable to develop the talent that he recruited. In either case, the failure is his. Some claim that we were done in by unfavorable tourney seeds. Only an abject Crean apologist would use such a pathetic excuse to justify our early exit from the tournament. Because I have no choice, I’m willing to suspend judgment to see how Crean does with next year’s team, but let’s all be honest with each other. Crean’s performance as head coach at Marquette was mediocre at best, and last season’s performance as IU’s head coach does not auger well for the future.

  • Kenneth234

    Sorry for the delay in my response, had to work and had a prior commitment. Whether or not they had returning players does not mean that the talent level was raised that much. I did insinuate Victor because he is certainly included to any list of players that gets talked about over-achieving. When I talk about over achieving, just consider what each player in the normal rotations class rankings was coming out of High School. Based on that, each player brought more to Indiana than what could or should have been expected to most likely in the 2011-2012 season. Which only elevated expectations further, but outside of Victor, they all were pretty similar to the player they was the prior season.

    When mentioning the draw in the tournament, consider the other Sweet 16 teams. I will list them all: Louisville, Oregon, Michigan State, Duke, Witchita State, LaSalle, Arizona, Ohio State, Kansas , Michigan, Florida, Florida Gulf Coast, Marquette, Miami, and Syracuse. How many of those teams do you believe Indiana matches up with better stylistically, and within player match ups with than Syracuse?

    I am choosing to ignore the Crean apologists comment because it is a ridiculous assertion. I simply see things how I believe they are. I do not blame Crean for poor shooting nights, or for having to depend on players that he was lucky to sign to come to Indiana at the time and condition that the program was in when they made that choice. They were certainly the best players he could get at the time, and not one of Watford, Elston, or Hulls are NBA level players. This was the core of last year’s team.

    I do find fault in Crean to the point in which he made the decision to make Sheehey a 6th man, rather than a starter and allow Yogi to play behind an established team leader in Hulls. But none of that matters, because I think Crean had a plan for the season and put a lot of faith in a true freshman point guard, an undersized Senior Shooting Guard, and Watford playing out of position as a PF (not that there was a better solution this season). But none the less, he is closer to the day to day operations than I am and most likely you as well. And he probably did a better job than either of us, or 99.99% of the rest of the world would have done, especially considering the injury situations that this team had to endure as well, that only further shortened a bench that was really the biggest disappointment of the season. .

  • Jersey Hoosier

    Crean would have done a better job than me, for sure, and better than you also, I’m sure. But SO WHAT? IU is not paying me $2MM+ to coach the team or to post fundamentalist Christian posts on Twitter (which are totally inappropriate, given his position as a representative of a public educational institution). He is being paid to do more than act like an A**hole in press conferences and in post-game handshakes with coaches like Bo Ryan who seems to outcoach him in every game in which they meet. As for as your comment on teams that IU might have met in the tourney, another big SO WHAT? He doesn’t get to choose his opponents, and neither do you.
    His record marks him as a mediocre coach. You can conjure up all of the potential pairings in which he might have been successful, but again SO WHAT?
    As an IU alum who had no appetite for a month after we lost to the Kentucky d**chba*gs in the 1975 tourney, I hope he is successful in re-establishing the program, but I am afraid that he is going to break all of our hearts.

  • Kenneth234

    SO WHAT? I am sorry that I wasted my time responding to you, obviously there is nothing that can be mentioned to cure your butt hurt from this season and the probable unrealistic expectation that you had for it.


    Well put. I also point out that a player of Wades ability has access to virtually anything he wants to make his game better, and is more than knowledgeable enough to know what will and won’t work for him. It isn’t a weird quirk of fate that he goes back to his college coach for advice and help when mired in a slump and then suddenly shows up in the very next NBA playoff game after doing that looking like the NBA all star player he is once again.


    My sentiments exactly. I know your comment is two days old but I am way behind in my ITH reading. IUMIKE1 hangs his head in shame and promises himself that he will do better. lol


    The rationale you use in this comment is legit to say the least IMHO and is a good analysis of the situation.The only other team that made the Sweet 16 that would come close to being a bad match up for us would have been UL but then it turned out that they were a bad match up for everyone in this year’s tournament.


    LOL, please insert the first sentence of my reply to your comment before this one.


    If he won’t jump on his own, I’ll distract him and you casually walk by and hip check him over the side.

  • Ole Man

    Knight is long gone. Don’t trash the man. You probably weren’t around when he coached.
    Not a Knight defense….just sayin’…..

    Having said that…….
    I don’t remember Crean talking “blame” for any loses. He never said, “It was the coaching staff, etc.” He almost always said, “we didn’t execute.”–meaning the team. We needed to to do this and that (on the floor).
    Crean does a lot excellent things. Don’t do the same with him as you accuse the Knight fans of doing.
    He does some great things, as did Knight.
    He does some head scratchers, as did Knight.
    He has fans and detractors, as did Knight.
    Don’t make enemies by vilifying others; particularly if you weren’t there from the beginning, or at all.

  • Ole Man

    I politely disagree.

  • Ole Man

    Well, from what I have “witnessed” on these pages, there are definitely those who worship at the alter of Tom Crean.
    (As there were with Bobby Knight).

  • Ole Man

    Means more if you cite the sources.

  • pcantidote

    It was more a matter of the team being overrated than anything Crean did wrong. You cannot win championships when your 4 and 2 are not great athletes, your 5 has no fundamental basketball skills (e.g. post moves, shot fakes, etc.) and your bench other than Sheehey is a total bust. I am circling 2015 as the next team that could be a contender, and Crean is the guy to help us get there.

  • calbert40

    Fair enough, but I have read enough irrational posts from some on here to question if you would be right. I would certainly HOPE you are right!!!!

  • Ole Man

    Yes; and that happens with every fan base, as I’m sure you read when you around.
    I only meant that I thought a NC would be so wonderful, that people might actually notice that we lost 4 starters and cut him some slack for a year or two. But, unfortunately, you’re probably right.
    We’ll be “slightly rebuilding” this year and I’m sure the howls are forthcoming.

  • Michael Funke

    Tom Crean has never coached in an elite 8 game. The man is a fraud and kisses his teenage son like his son should kiss his high school sweetheart.

  • Michael Funke

    Actually he made a final 4 in 2004, my bad. Still a pedo fraud though.

    Indiana should dump that joke and hire Brad Stevans.