Tom Crean (basketball)
|Annual salary||$ 3.16 million |
March 25, 1966|
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
|Alma mater||Central Michigan, B.A. (1989)|
|Coaching career (HC unless noted)|
Michigan State (grad. asst.)
Western Kentucky (asst.)
Michigan State (asst.)
|Head coaching record|
(NCAA): 9–8 |
|Accomplishments and honors|
C-USA Coach of the Year (2002, 2003)
Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2003)
Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year (2012)
ESPN.com National Coach of the Year (2012)
Thomas Crean (born March 25, 1966) is an American college basketball coach. He is currently the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team. Prior to that he served as head coach at Marquette University (1999–2008), where the program averaged 20 wins a year and made six postseason appearances, including the 2003 NCAA Final Four.
Crean's basketball philosophy emphasizes fast breaks, transition offense, and defensive pressure. He is also considered an excellent recruiter and one of college basketball's best evaluators. His guidance of the Indiana program to success from "unthinkable depths" was regarded as one of the most remarkable rebuilding projects in NCAA basketball history. In 2012 he was named the mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, the Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the ESPN.com National Coach of the Year.
Crean was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where he played basketball for four years. According to Crean, "I didn't play a lot, although my coach called me his biggest tool (and I still am), but I knew I wanted to coach." While a student at Central Michigan University, Crean was an assistant coach at Mount Pleasant High School for five seasons, and at Alma College. Crean received his bachelor's degree in parks and recreation from Central Michigan in 1989. Crean is married to Joani Harbaugh, whom he met while an assistant to Ralph Willard at Western Kentucky University (WKU) through a mutual friend, Ron Burns, at a gym where she was working as an aerobics instructor. Her father, Jack Harbaugh, was the head football coach at WKU at the time Crean was an assistant basketball coach there. She is also the sister of the first pair of brothers in NFL history to serve as head coaches: Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh and former San Francisco 49ers head football coach Jim Harbaugh (a former quarterback at both the University of Michigan and in the NFL). Crean and his wife have three children: Megan, Riley, and Ainsley. Crean says he is a Christian.
Assistant coaching career
Crean spent two stints at Michigan State, first during the 1989-1990 season as a graduate assistant under then head coach Jud Heathcote at the behest of then assistant coach Tom Izzo, whom Crean had befriended on the summer camp circuit. From 1990 to 1994 Crean served as the associate head coach under Ralph Willard at Western Kentucky. When Willard left Western Kentucky to become head coach at Pittsburgh in 1994, Crean was considered to replace him as head coach. Ultimately Crean followed Willard to Pittsburgh, serving as associate head coach for one year.
In 1995 Crean returned to Michigan State as assistant coach under the leadership of Tom Izzo. Izzo and Crean became such good friends that Crean lived in Izzo's house and Izzo was an usher in Crean's wedding. According to Crean at the time, "It was a great opportunity for me to go back home. We've been friends a long time. I don't think I would have left Ralph for anything else." During this period Crean served at various times as recruiting coordinator and, for the last two seasons, associate head coach. In each of Crean's four seasons, Michigan State's win total increased, culminating with a 33-5 season and a 15-1 Big Ten ledger in 1999. Michigan State later went on to honor Crean with a 2000 National Championship ring; even though he wasn't on the staff at the time, he'd helped recruit and develop many of the players on the title team.
On March 30, 1999, Crean was named head coach at Marquette University. According to Crean, "Once Marquette became available, that's where my sights were. I had unbelievable respect for the tradition and the name. When I thought of Marquette, I thought of a true basketball school and to me that had a lot to do with it." Crean immediately made a number of changes at Marquette, creating a new team image by increasing the significance of the team's media day and instituting a "Midnight Madness" event commonly held by schools on the night teams are allowed to begin practice. Crean's first recruiting class was considered by experts to be among the top twenty in the country, Marquette's first in a long time.
In his nine years with Marquette, Crean's teams earned five NCAA Tournament bids, one more than the previous four Marquette coaches had in the 16 years prior to his arrival. During his tenure there Crean recruited, developed and coached a number of skilled players that made significant contributions in both the NCAA and NBA, including Dwyane Wade, Dominic James, Steve Novak, and Travis Diener.
Over his final seven seasons at Marquette, Crean compiled an aggregate record of 160-68 (.702). The 2002-03 season was one of the best in Marquette history. The team made a Final Four appearance for the first time since winning the NCAA Championship in 1977. Crean has referred to the team's run as "one of the greatest four or five days of my life."
Later that year, Marquette accepted an offer to leave Conference USA for the Big East Conference after the 2004–2005 season. Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese cited his friendship with Crean as contributing to the invitation, saying, "That, to me, was one of the great appeals, to get Tommy as well as Marquette into the league."
On April 1, 2008, Crean was hired as head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, succeeding interim head coach Dan Dakich. Dakich had replaced former coach Kelvin Sampson, who resigned after NCAA recruiting violations. Between Crean's hiring and the start of the 2008–09 season, freshman Eric Gordon opted to leave early for the NBA and star forward DJ White graduated. Two players kicked off the team by Dakich were not allowed back by Crean, one was dismissed by Crean and two transferred. As a result, Crean began with a roster consisting only of two walk-ons who had scored a combined 36 points in their careers. Despite the long odds, Crean was known to approach games and practices as if Indiana could compete in each one and to continue stressing Hoosier Hysteria and the long tradition of success at the school. He was well aware that he was walking into a difficult situation. However, when asked why he left Marquette, Crean replied, "It's Indiana. It's Indiana, and that is the bottom line."
With a depleted roster and damaged recruiting lure, Crean's first three seasons saw consecutive losing records of 6–25 (the worst in school history), 10-21, and 12-20. However, during this period Crean's recruiting classes progressively improved, most notably with the signing of five-star recruit and McDonald's All-American Cody Zeller, an Indiana native and lifelong Indiana Hoosier fan. Zeller was the highest ranked recruit to join the Indiana program since the Sampson era.
The 2011-2012 season was a watershed one for Crean and the program, which saw a 27–9 record and a sweet 16 appearance. The season also saw home wins over #1 ranked Kentucky (on a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation), #2 ranked Ohio State, and #5 ranked Michigan State. This made Crean the first Indiana coach to knock off the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the same season and the first Indiana squad ever to defeat three programs ranked in the top five in a single season. The Hoosiers earned a number four seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and defeated New Mexico State in the second round. After defeating VCU in the third round, the Hoosiers lost in the Sweet Sixteen to rival Kentucky, who would go on to win the national championship.
The fifteen game win improvement in 2011-2012 was the largest single turnaround in the NCAA that season. Crean's guidance of the program to success from "unthinkable depths" was widely regarded as one of the most remarkable rebuilding projects in NCAA basketball history. As a result, he was named the mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, the Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the ESPN.com National Coach of the Year.
For the 2012–13 season, Crean signed five highly touted recruits, self-dubbed "The Movement." Combined with the returning players from the previous season, Indiana dominated the college basketball landscape, spending 10 weeks ranked #1 in the country and all but two weeks in the top 5. The Hoosiers won their first outright Big Ten regular season title in 20 years, and garnered a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, also their first in 20 years. The team, led by seniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, along with eventual top-five NBA draft picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual Final Four participant Syracuse. The next two seasons, 2013–14 and 2014–15, the Hoosiers slipped to records of 17–15 and 20–14 with eighth and seventh place finishes in the Big Ten, respectively. Crean was retained for the 2015 season despite these low finishes and players running afoul of the law.
Coaching style and philosophy
Crean's basketball philosophy emphasizes fast breaks and defensive pressure. On offense he has a reputation for the magnitude of his offensive sets and their multitude of options, with one opposing coach estimating about 400 different sets run. Shot selection is extremely important, with a focus on spacing, inside-out attacks, penetration and kick. On defense Crean emphasizes contesting each of the opponent's steps on the court. Crean utilizes the halfcourt defense which requires great ball pressure, help from teammates, challenging shots, and defensive rebounding.
Crean is considered an excellent recruiter and one of college basketball's best talent evaluators. A hallmark of Crean's programs is the notion that players are joining a family and making sure that players' families are involved in the program. Crean is also known to excel in public relations. At Marquette he began the tradition of Midnight Madness, which was seen as an immediate success. Between 1999 and 2006, Marquette saw a 70% overall increase in attendance, three total attendance records broken, and 1.5 million fans pass through the turnstiles.
On the court Crean is known to walk the sidelines with an intensity normally reserved for football coaches. For inspiration, Crean has a library filled with biographies of coaches and business executives, with favorites being Jim Collins' management guide "Good to Great" and the story of Bill Belichick's rise in New England, "Patriot Reign".
Awards and recognition
Crean has been chosen to coach a number of national teams. In 2001 he was selected by USA Basketball as one of eight coaches for the USA Basketball men's national team trials in Colorado Springs. In 2004 he served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball's under-20 team in the FIBA Americas World Championship. The team won its second title since the tournament began in 1993.
Crean has also been selected by the media and his peers for the following awards:
- 2003 Conference USA coach of the year 
- 2003 Clair Bee Coach of the Year
- 2004 Conference USA coach of the year 
- 2011-2012 mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year 
- 2012 Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year.
- 2012 ESPN.com National Coach of the Year 
A number of Crean's assistants have become head coaches elsewhere.
- Buzz Williams – Virginia Tech, formerly Marquette University
- Tod Kowalczyk – University of Toledo, formerly University of Wisconsin–Green Bay
- Brian Wardle – Bradley, formerly University of Wisconsin-Green Bay
- Darrin Horn – formerly South Carolina & WKU
- Kyle Green – formerly University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
- Bennie Seltzer - formerly Samford University
Head coaching record
- Coaching Team Basketball. Wheaton, IL: McGraw-Hill, 2006. ISBN 978-0-07-146565-6. (with Ralph Pim.)
- "Indiana extends Tom Crean to 2020". ESPN. December 2012. Retrieved 2012-12-09.
- Carpenter, Les. "Tom Crean pulled Indiana from unthinkable depths to the NCAA tournament in four arduous years". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 20 March 2012.
- "Crean's Road to Final Four Began in Michigan". Grand Rapids Press (Booth Newspapers). 2003-04-05. p. C4.
- Nickel, Lori (1999-03-30). "Marquette Will Name Crean as its New Coach Today". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-09-16). "Man in Motion". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Ken Murray (January 7, 2011). "Jim Harbaugh joins Ravens' John Harbaugh to form first pair of NFL head coaching brothers". Baltimore Sun.
- "Player Bio: Tom Crean". Indiana Athletics. October 2009. Retrieved 2010-01-13.
- "Tom Crean talks Christianity at FCA banquet".
- Weiss, Dick (2002-03-04). "Marquette's Marquee Name Crean Bringing Glory Days Back". New York Daily News (Mortimer Zuckerman). p. 65 (Sports).
- Dulac, Gerry (1994-04-12). "Willard Adds Aide and Woos Recruits". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). p. B3.
Meantime, Willard's assistant at Western Kentucky, Tom Crean, will join him at Pitt. That became official yesterday when Jacksonville Coach Matt Kilcullen was named to replace Willard at Western Kentucky. Crean was being considered for the Western Kentucky job. Crean is married to the former Joanie Harbaugh, who attended Pitt when her father, Jack, was assistant head football coach under Mike Gottfried.
- Dulac, Gerry (1995-06-08). "Miller May Succeed Crean as Pitt Assistant". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Block Communications). p. D2.
- "Spartans Assistant Hired as Marquette Coach". The Columbus Dispatch (Dispatch Broadcast Group). 1999-03-31. p. 2E.
- Rosiak, Todd (2006-12-09). "Road to Marquette Shaped Crean". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-10-06). "New-look MU has Touch of Crean". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 9 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-11-11). "Crean's First MU Class Draws Rave Reviews". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 9 (Sports).
- Scoggins, Chip (2006-03-15). "The Big East Surprise". Star Tribune (Avista Capital Partners). p. 1C.
- Rosiak, Todd (2003-11-05). "MU Makes Move Official". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 8 (Sports).
- Ryan Corazza. "How We're Gonna Be Indiana Again". ESPN The Magazine accessdate=May 9, 2012.
- Decker, John. Thomas Dismissed, Ellis and Bassett Also Gone. Hoosier Nation, 2008-05-02.
- Crean: It's Indiana and that is the bottom line". Inside Indiana Business, 2008-04-10.
- "Big Ten Men’s Race is Sprint to the Finish « Big Ten Network". Big Ten Network.
- "Jim Phelan Award: Indiana's Tom Crean earns mid-season honors". collegeinsider.com.
- Sporting News conference awards, retrieved 6 March 2012.
- Ranking the Sweet 16 field, retrieved 20 March 2012.
- "NCAA College Basketball Polls, College Basketball Rankings, NCAA Basketball Polls - ESPN". ESPN.com.
- Nickel, Lori (2000-03-08). "Masters of Mystery". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-11-15). "Restoring Tradition: Crean Hopes Winning Feeling Returns". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Bauman, Michael (1999-04-04). "Crean's World Continues to Move Full Speed Ahead". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-11-16). "Hard-working Crean has Marquette Men's Basketball Moving in Fast-forward". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (1999-11-17). "Golden Eagles Ring in a New Year". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (2000-03-30). "USA Basketball Tabs Crean". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Rosiak, Todd (2004-08-05). "Crean's Golden Summer". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 8 (Sports).
- Nickel, Lori (2002-04-11). "Marquette Finally Has Its Man". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
- Rosiak, Todd (2003-03-13). "Honor Guard". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (Journal Communications). p. 1 (Sports).
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