Tom Crean was fired on Thursday morning by the University of Indiana. Some are celebrating, and judging by the dwindling crowds at Assembly Hall, it will be more than a handful celebrating.
But, let’s unpack how we got here for a moment. Wrap our heads around the fact that a man who has won more outright Big Ten regular season titles than anyone in the conference since his arrival at Indiana was fired. A man
Nevermind the curious timing, happening on the morning of the NCAA tournament. Nevermind the fact that Tom Crean was a good man with love for all of his players. There’s just one fact that really matters — winning.
Doing that at an elite level is a must at Indiana.
However, it is also likely not a coincidence that it hasn’t happened at a consistent level since the dismissal of Bobby Knight back in the spring of 2000.
Every coach since then has been expected to win like Knight did with the Hoosiers, only do it on a much more clean level. Being the “next Bobby Knight” is a nearly impossible task for any coach, let alone doing it in a clean fashion.
It certainly has been for Mike Davis, Kelvin Sampson and now Crean.
Davis was let go following the “decline” of the program on the court. All he did was go 115-79 and win a conference title and make four NCAA tournament appearances in his six years at the helm of the program. But, following in Knight’s legendary footsteps required way more winning on a national level.
Sampson followed him up and appeared to have brought winning basketball back. It came with a severe price though, as Sampson allegedly broke some major recruiting rules and was bought out of his contract less than two seasons in to his time in Bloomington.
He was also hit with a five-year show-cause penalty by the NCAA and he jetted off to the NBA as a result.
That’s how we got to Crean, who ends his time in Bloomington with a 166-135 record. It’s a .552 winning percentage, which puts him fourth on the all-time list (for coaches with more than two seasons at IU).
It should add up to a coach who has a little leeway, especially in a season full of so many injuries to so many key players. But, Crean likely wore out his welcome with a program that hit a peak and couldn’t stay there consistently.
For those rejoicing, you better hope Indiana hits a home run with the hire. Otherwise, exactly what did you accomplish by forcing Fred Glass’ hand and ousting Crean? Is there a coach in this country that can win as consistently as you are demanding in a league like the Big Ten?
Credit Fred Glass for daring to live up to those insane level of expectations, but this isn’t the Big Ten basketball conference of the 1970’s and 80’s anymore. This is a Big Ten with 10 teams who can jump up and be a winner on any given year.
Indiana is just one amongst a group of six or seven teams who have a shot at winning a Big Ten title today. That wasn’t the case in the bygone era some IU fans want to continue to live in.
Unless you’re finding the next Coach K or Roy Williams or Bill Self, that return ain’t happening. Are you, the fan who rode Crean out of town, prepared to become a revolving door for coaches once again?
It certainly will be an interesting offseason for the Hoosiers basketball program, and it likely has little to do with players getting in trouble for once.
Only time will tell if Glass is able to accomplish what no one has since Knight left the program in 2000. Good luck, because you’re going to need it on this hire.
Archie Miller not afraid to set aggressive tone at Indiana
There is no doubt that new Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball head coach Archie Miller has high expectations to live up to. Athletic director Fred Glass’ firing of Tom Crean and rational for it made those expectations very clear.
Miller wasn’t afraid to set his own tone for how to meet said expectations. He did so in just one word — aggressive.
That aggressiveness should be easy to see the second Miller’s team steps on the floor for the first time in the 2017-18 season. He made that much clear in his introductory press conference.
“I think the more we’re on the run in the full court and the half court, which means a lot of movement and a lot of pace,” Miller said. “I think our teams at Dayton were known for great ball movement, unselfishness.
“But I told these guys, it’s going to be pace, it’s going to be player movement, flow, and it’s going to be an attacking, aggressive style.”
Miller will want his team to be aggressive, and so was the process of his hire.
A seven-year deal that will doll out $3.35 million a year certainly highlights just how serious Indiana is about getting back to being one of the bluebloods of college basketball.
“I see him as a 20-year guy that is our guy, and will create his own era here at Indiana University,” Glass said, via the Indianapolis Star. “The son of a coach, coaching family, brother at a big-time program … he sees the opportunity as I see it. He’s embracing high expectations.”
Miller’s words also indicate just how serious he is about that ideal as well.
It is also clear that Miller gets what it will take to be successful at Indiana, mainly everyone involved with the program pulling in one direction. From outreach to former players, to making current players feel comfortable in the new style, and making Bloomington, Ind. a destination for the best of the best of the future of basketball — Miller already has a plan in his mind.
Executing that plan will be key to any success Miller and Co. will have at the helm of the Hoosiers basketball program. It will start with the embrace of the former players.
“We’re going to approach our program — I think Fred and I discussed this probably more so than anything, we’re going to approach the program on three levels, and those three levels are going to really be embraced and attacked very hard,” said Miller in his introductory press conference.
“The first level is obviously our past. Every player, every former coach, every former manager that laid the groundwork for this place to be what it is today, we owe them a lot, and our effort level and our give-back has to be really unmatched, and they have to feel that they’re a part of everything that we do, and our players have to feel that power. That’s something we are going to really fight hard for.”
He also made it very clear how aggressive he is going to be in recruiting the state of Indiana and the Big Ten footprint. While others have talked about it, Miller is setting his sights on getting the best players the state has to offer to come on board like they haven’t been.
“The last part of the level, the third level, is the future,” said Miller. “And the future is the recruiting. And we’re going to have a great way about us, and the term that we’ll use is called inside-out. We have to start inside this state of Indiana, and we have to start moving outside very slowly, because the footprint is there.”
“The inside-out approach means that we have to dedicate ourselves to the high school coaches in this state, the high school talent in this state, the grass-roots programs in this state, and they must feel like they’re being dominated by Indiana University. You’re not going to get every player; you understand that.
“But if we want them, we should have a great chance of getting them because of the commitment level that we’re putting forth 24 hours a day at home.”
Betting against a coach with the success he has had and the pedigree of his coaching blood isn’t a smart move. At least he’s willing to embrace high expectations and not dampen the thirst for a national championship-caliber program once again.
5 names Indiana should consider in replacing Crean
Whatever you think of the choice of the Indiana Hoosiers to fire Tom Crean, there is no going back now. There’s also a very clear expectation for the next coach in Bloomington and that is to get back to winning national championships.
Two outright conference titles in nine years and only five NCAA tournament appearances won’t cut it in Hoosier-land anymore.
It certainly is a high bar set by athletic director Fred Glass, but also a bar he isn’t afraid to acknowledge and
Now that the dust has settled and we’ve had some time to gather our research and talk to our sources, it is time to give you the names we’d be considering if we were Fred Glass.
This list is based on our thoughts and knowledge and not meant to be a full list of names that are officially under consideration. With that in mind, here are the names we’d be making calls to if we were Fred Glass.
Steve Alford, UCLA Head Coach
This is easily the most controversial name on this list, but it is also the most obvious name. Alford was one of the darlings of the golden era of Hoosiers basketball in the 1980’s. He’s also been one of the most controversial figures in Hoosiers history as well.
He’s got himself a heck of a gig at UCLA right now, but can an IU legend really turn down the Hoosiers if and when that call comes? Fred Glass certainly will make an interesting case, and it is clear that he wants a coach with Indiana recruiting ties as well as an understanding of what wearing the Crimson and Cream means.
Alford fits that bill for sure. However, he also brings with him a propensity to rub a lot of people the wrong way. He also isn’t exactly a proven winner on the national level despite many big-named gigs in his coaching resume.
Let’s remember he managed to bring Iowa basketball up a level and finish second in the conference once. However, he has never won a conference title beyond the mid-major level or below in his career and he’s never had a team advance beyond the Sweet 16 in his 22 years coaching.
No doubt I’m making the call if I’m Fred Glass, if for no other reason than to appease the fanbase. In the end, I’m moving on to other candidates that can fit the bill better.
Chris Mack, Xavier Head Coach
We’ve heard this name talked about on a few lists, and some of the folks we speak with also have this as a name to watch in this search. Indiana could do far worse than Mack and ultimately he is amongst the realistic candidates in this search.
All Mack has done is lead a steady program at Xavier over the past eight years. He’s led the Musketeers to the NCAA tournament in seven of his eight seasons in Cincinnati and reached the Sweet 16 three times so far.
Xavier just got done handling Maryland in their NCAA tournament Round of 64 matchup and will face No. 3 seed Florida State in the Round of 32 this year.
Perhaps the best case made for Mack is that he took his team out of the Atlantic 10 and in to the Big East and has never missed an NCAA tournament in four years in the conference.
If I’m Fred Glass this is one of the most serious candidates on my list.
Archie Miller, Dayton Head Coach
Few coaches are as like Teddy Roosevelt in college basketball as Archie Miller, you know…in the “speak softly, carry a big stick” kind of way. Miller has made Dayton in to a perennial Atlantic 10 power and a real threat in the NCAA tournament.
The Flyers were bounced by Wichita State in the Round of 64 this year, but that was a “down year” if you will for Miller’s crew. This has been Miller’s only head coaching job, but it has been a consistently good job too. His Flyers teams have reached the NCAA tournament in each of the last four years, including a run to the Elite 8 in 2014-14.
Dayton has also finished no worse than second in the A-10 over the last three years, including back-to-back regular season championships the last two years.
If I am Glass, this is one phone call that was made the next day after the Flyers were bounced. Few young coaches have the pedigree on the recruiting trail and the winning ways on the court as Miller does.
Bryce Drew, Vanderbilt Head Coach
The timing may not be right, but if the Hoosiers brass is smart this is a name they have begun to reach out to. Being a successful head coach is in the blood of the Drew family.
His father, Homer Drew, led Valparaiso to a Sweet 16 berth while Bryce hit one of the most iconic shots in NCAA tournament history to get his time to the then-named second round (today’s Round of 32).
There is also brother Scott Drew, who took one season at Valpo to become the head coach at Baylor. You know, the neon-clad squad that scares the crap out of a lot of teams these days.
As for Bryce? He led the Crusaders to four Horizon League championships in five seasons and reached the NIT final last season. That led to him taking the Vanderbilt job.
Of course, his one season in Nashville will likely be remembered for the blunder by Matthew Fisher-Davis, who committed a foul that didn’t need to happen. It led to the late-game loss and some argue that Bryce should’ve handled the coaching of that situation differently.
However, that was one situation in a career that has shown plenty of quality coaching. If Glass truly is looking for someone who coaches a quality style of basketball, understands Indiana high school basketball and recruiting players in the state, well you could do far worse than Drew.
There’s also the fact that he runs a clean program and has long focused on being a “players coach” in that he cares more about the player of the court than on it. For me, this is the call that happens next after Steve Alford’s quick call to appease some in the donor and fan bases.
Linc Darner, Green Bay Head Coach
While you aren’t likely to see this name on a lot of lists, and it isn’t likely to happen, this is a name that Glass should be looking hard at. Chances are if you are reading this you also aren’t likely to know this head coach very well.
However, he fits a lot of the boxes that Glass would like in a head coach. He turned around a dreadful D2 program at St. Joseph’s (Rensselaer, Ind.), won a D2 national championship at Florida Southern and has gotten the Green Bay Phoenix to the postseason each of his first two years at the helm of the program, including an NCAA tournament appearance in his first season in Green Bay.
He does it by playing a high-tempo style that includes defense from baseline to baseline and getting out quickly in transition. Given the athleticism on the Hoosiers roster, it sure would be interesting to see a highly conditioned team go quickly for 40 minutes straight.
Sure it may also be a bit controversial, as Darner played his college basketball at Purdue, but that should be water under the bridge. What should be important is that he is a success on the court, can recruit off of it and he understands the in’s and out’s of Indiana high school basketball.
Oh, and did we mention he plays a style of basketball that literally no one plays in the Big Ten? If the Hoosiers want to break out of the middle of the Big Ten it may be time to do something really different. Darner represents that and we’d be bringing him in for an interview as soon as possible.
2017 talking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards Special
The Big Ten may have its awards, but what is the point of watching endless hours of Big Ten basketball without putting our two cents in, right?
Welcome to the 2017 taking10 Big Ten Men’s Basketball Awards special. Our hope is to educate you on the names that dominated our conversations and the hardwood across the Big Ten this season.
So, sit back and enjoy our special for your viewing pleasure.
Tom Crean or Greg Gard for Big Ten basketball Coach of the Year?
The Big Ten basketball season is winding down, and with one game left to play for most teams we have a regular season champion. Conference play has also provided those of us in the media a really difficult choice for Big Ten Coach of the Year honors.
Usually this honor sorts itself out pretty easily, but in the 2015-16 season there were two big surprises. Those surprises were the Indiana Hoosiers taking the regular season championship and the rise of the once-dead Wisconsin Badgers.
With the play of their teams, head coaches Tom Crean (Indiana) and Greg Gard (Wisconsin) have each made a serious case to be named B1G Coach of the Year. So, who should the award really go to?
Let’s break down the cases for and against each man, shall we?
The Case For Tom Crean
A 10-3 start to the season has turned in to a Big Ten championship-winning team, something that has only been done one other time under Crean. If winning a regular season title with two games to go isn’t a model of consistency, then what else is?
There was no choke-job, no head-scratching losses. What there was was a team who fought through injuries and adversity from the offseason on to become a true champion. Crean deserves a ton of credit for figuring out the formula that works early and sticking with it even with a guy like James Blackmon Jr. gone after non-conference play was finished.
Yogi Ferrell finally put it all together in his final campaign, while the team had four double-digit scorers and three of them playing all season long. It was a true team effort in 2015-16, unlike anything we’ve seen from the promising Hoosiers of the past.
Voting for the coach of the Big Ten regular season champions seems like a pretty solid bet.
The Case Against Tom Crean
Is it really that surprising to see the Hoosiers at the top of the Big Ten standings? After all, they did have stars like Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon, Jr. and Troy Williams to work with. Even BTN analyst Jon Crispin had them No. 2 in his preseason poll.
The unofficial BTN poll also had the Hoosiers 2nd too. Going 10-3 in non-conference play also proved to be a pretty good indicator this was a team ready to compete for a Big Ten championship. It isn’t like this was an improbable run or something so impressive that Crean is a no-brainer choice.
The Case For Greg Gard
Taking over for an iconic figure midway through a season? Could you ask for anything tougher for an interim head coach with exactly zero head coaching experience at the collegiate level? In the case of Greg Gard you actually could, as the Badgers that he took over faced the very real possibility of being the first team coached by Bo Ryan to not make the NCAA tournament.
Instead of folding and keeping with the status quo, Gard took full control of this team and molded it in the image he believed would make them successful.
After taking over a team that was just 8-5 in non-conference play, Gard’s team went out to a 1-4 start to Big Ten play. That start featured losses to the likes of Purdue, Indiana and Maryland — hardly slouches in conference play.
Still, this team worked and figured out how to work the swing offense quickly. Once the lightbulb went on with their collective backs against the wall, Wisconsin has ripped off 11 wins in the last 12 games and own three wins over Top 10 teams.
Getting little-used point guard Jordan Hill to be a key contributor off the bench and Vitto Brown to become a three-point threat were things few saw coming — but they all happened.
No team in the Big Ten is as hot as the Badgers are, and no team is a bigger surprised based on early season results than UW. A lot of the credit for the turnaround has to go to Gard and his coaching.
The Case Against Greg Gard
While there is a happy feeling to what Gard has accomplished, there is a really bad loss on their record in Big Ten play — at Northwestern. It’s a blemish that Tom Crean and the Hoosiers simply don’t have on their record this season.
Additionally, Wisconsin’s 1-4 start in Big Ten play also coincided with the start of Gard’s tenure. Feel-good story aside, the totality of Gard’s Big Ten season is not nearly as impressive as the mark Crean’s Hoosiers have put up.
There’s also a consistently maddening feature to the 2015-16 Badgers…an ability to find an extended scoring drought in each half of just about every contest this season. Product of youth? Maybe. But also something that should’ve been figured out by now.
Wisconsin and Gard may be lucky it hasn’t suffered further losses given its inconsistency on the offensive end of the floor.
After all of that, voting for this award in this year is perhaps the most subjective in recent memory. Do you value a mild surprise and winning the conference title, or do you value doing what no one thought was possible?
If you love a feel-good story, you’d be totally justified in voting for Gard. If you value championships and quality play over the whole of the season, then Crean is your man.
Ultimately, this writer prefers to wait and see what happens on the final day of the regular season. Should the Badgers upend Purdue on the road to end the season, they will finish as the No. 2 seed and won 12 of their last 13 games to end regular season play. That’s consistency, and that would also mean four wins against Top 15 opposition in conference play.
How could you not vote for that kind of production from a team who was left for dead at 1-4 in B1G play early in January?
Should Wisconsin not win on Saturday at Purdue…well, the choice becomes much clearer and Tom Crean becomes the choice. This is a rare season in which the choice isn’t wrong no matter which way it goes.
Perhaps the bigger question is if we see a split vote like last season with Maryland’s Mark Turgeon winning the media vote and Wisconsin’s Bo Ryan winning the coaches vote.