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Making his mark – IU highs and lows of Tom Crean

Former IU coach Tom Crean reacts during the Hoosiers' Big Ten tourney win over Iowa in Washington D.C. earlier this month. (File photo by the Associated Press)
Former IU coach Tom Crean reacts during the Hoosiers' Big Ten tourney win over Iowa in Washington D.C. earlier this month. (File photo by the Associated Press)

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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Hoosier coach finishes third in victories

Saturday, March 18, 2017 05:40 pm

Tom Crean will have zero trouble finding another coaching job.

He’s too good a coach, too good a person, for that to be an issue.

The fact that it didn’t work at Indiana is more indicative of the high demands of the job than Crean’s shortcomings.

He did plenty of things right in his nine years in Bloomington, which is why he ranks third in school history in coaching victories with 166, behind Bob Knight (602) and Branch McCracken (364). 

Of course, there were enough things that were not so right for it ultimately to end.

Let’s take a look at some of the highs and lows of the Crean era:


1 RETURN TO GLORY: You can’t overstate the job Crean did in getting the program back from the Kelvin Sampson fueled mess. It required patience, dedication and an unwavering commitment to doing what was right.

It took three years, but Crean delivered.

In the last five years, IU won two outright Big Ten titles and made three Sweet 16s. It also had the nation’s No. 1 team for most of the 2012-13 season.

2 BIG WINS: IU beat Kentucky twice under Crean. In fact, the Hoosiers beat Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas within the last year to have Hoosier Nation dreaming big.

For a while.

In Crean’s last six seasons, IU was 138-69 and led the Big Ten with 25 regular-season wins over ranked opponents. Also, the Hoosiers and Duke were tied for the most wins against top-3 teams. They each had six.

3 STRONG RECRUITING, DEVELOPMENT: Crean arrived in Bloomington with a reputation as a strong recruiter, and kept it going. He consistently landed highly-regarded classes.

Beyond that, he was able to impressively develop players. The best example was Victor Oladipo, who went from a lightly regarded prospect to the No. 2 player chosen in the 2013 NBA Draft. 

4 LOTS OF OFFENSE: Crean teams generated plenty of points. Since the 2011-12 season, IU led all Big Ten teams by averaging 78.3 points while shooting 48.1 percent from the field. 

Since the 2014-15 season, the Hoosiers averaged 9.4 three-point baskets a game, the most of any major college program.

5 INTEGRITY: IU had zero NCAA issues under Crean. Not only did his players graduate, they often graduated early. 


Once Crean had the program back in the national spotlight, he had to keep it there.

He couldn’t deliver.

Seasons of 17-15 and 18-16 — and no NCAA tourney appearances — weren’t close to being good enough. A No. 1 ranked team with two of the NBA’s top-4 draft picks couldn’t get past the Sweet 16 — or beat Butler.

Fans noticed

2 TURNOVERS AND SHAKY DEFENSE: They were a 1-2 punch that derailed this season, and big chunks of others. The Hoosiers pushed a pace that often led to ridiculously unnecessary turnovers, and then made it worse by sometimes seeming clueless on defense.

This was especially frustrating because there were stretches when they were extremely efficient on offense and defense.

3 IN-STATE RECRUITING INCONSISTENCY: Crean connected big with Cody Zeller, Yogi Ferrell and James Blackmon, but wasn’t able to lock up the state. Plenty of outstanding in-state players went elsewhere, forcing him to recruit outside the state more.

Fans noticed.

4 NO KENTUCKY: IU wanted to keep its home-and-home deal with Kentucky. Wildcats coach John Calipari, after losing to Christian Watford’s three-point shocker in December of 2011, said no way to playing at Assembly Hall again, let’s play in Indy every year.

Crean and athletic director Fred Glass said, in effect, no, we’ll play Savannah State in Assembly Hall instead.

And so they did, thus ending one of the best rivalry series in college basketball, which unnecessarily angered fans.

That led to:

5 TOO MANY BAD NON-CONFERENCE HOME GAMES: Every Power 5 team schedules home patsies, but no one did it to the extent the Hoosiers did. They played far too many Houston Baptists and Mississippi Valley States, and fans had enough.

Bad scheduling affected their NCAA tourney seed last season (they were a No. 5 seed despite winning the Big Ten title), and would have affected it this season if the Hoosiers had been good enough to get in.


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ONLINE: For more on sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio


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