BLOOMINGTON -- Indiana basketball is poised for a breakthrough season, and coach Tom Crean does not bask in the accolades. He understands that potential and achievement don't always come together, that preseason expectations do not guarantee postseason glory.
If you work hard, you have a chance. If you don't, it won't be pretty.
Crean knows the not-pretty scenario. He endured the worst three-year stretch in program history (28-66), the result of NCAA sanctions and roster housecleaning necessary after Kelvin Sampson's disastrous two-year run.
Along the way Crean and his staff recruited hard and, at times, recruited young. They upgraded the talent, maximized the development and built a team that, by some publications, rates No. 1 for the upcoming season and bears the burden of a national champion favorite.
Yes, life in the Cream-and-Crimson basketball world is good again. How good? Crean will provide insight and perspective Sunday night at Autumn Ridge Golf Course during the Craig Neal/Grant Delagrange Celebrity Golf Classic and the Celebrity Live Auction to benefit the Special Olympics.
Crean has always been good about giving his time, whether it's for causes such as the Special Olympics, or just signing autographs and mingling with fans.
And if the Fort Wayne area has become a recruiting hotbed (think James Blackmon, Raphael Davis, Bryson Scott and Chris Kramer, among others), well, an appearance is smart.
Crean promotes his program and the others at the university. He connects with IU supporters and with former players and coaches. He doesn't forget the tradition and passion that helps make this one of America's superpowers.
Crean tweets and re-tweets inspiration. Sometimes it pertains to basketball. Sometimes it has religious significance. Sometimes it just makes you think.
For instance, there was this quote from Bob Knight: "Popular people don't make particularly good leaders. Decisive people with judgment, who aren't afraid to tell other people who don't have such good judgment that their judgment isn't very good, make good leaders."
Yes, that suggests arrogance, which has more to do with Knight than Crean, but that misses the point, which is sometimes good leaders tick people off.
Or this one from Abigail Adams, the wife of John Adams, the second president of the United States: “The habits of a vigorous mind are formed in contending with difficulties.”
Or these: “Prayer turns parents into prophets who shape the destinies of their children” and “Positive Energy is like a boomerang. It comes back to you.”
There's plenty of positive energy heading into the upcoming season. IU returns most of its top players from a 27-win, Sweet 16 team, plus adds one of the top freshman classes in the country even after the departure of guard Ron Patterson because of academics (which solved the over-signed dilemma).
There is Cody Zeller, the sophomore forward who has a chance to be the nation's best player and the No. 1 NBA draft pick next June if he decides to enter the draft, which is a strong possibility.
There is Jordan Hulls, the senior guard who has upgraded his midrange game to complement his three-point and free-throw shooting accuracy.
There is senior forward Christian Watford, the Kentucky-beating star who can hurt you with his offense and his defense.
There are high-energy junior guards Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey, junior forward Derek Elston, and sophomore guards Remy Abel and Austin Etherington (who is being counted on to replace Matt Roth's three-point sharpshooting).
Then there's that freshman class with point guard Yogi Ferrell, small forward Jeremy Hollowell, power forward Hanner Perea and center Peter Jurkin. All are expected to make instant impact.
It all makes for the kind of optimism the program hasn't seen since Calbert Cheaney was lighting up Big Ten scoreboards in the early 1990s.
You won't see Crean basking in the possibilities. He's too busy working to make it happen.