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Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Tom Crean Finally Gets His Wish

If you have not heard yet, Tom Crean will be the next head coach at Indiana. The move allows Crean to crawl out from under the shadow of Bo Ryan and Wisconsin's large state university and return to his Big Ten roots at another basketball-first school. Now that Marquette has officially confirmed the report, how will this affect Wisconsin?

As a recruiting nerd, the first thing that jumped into my mind was how this might aid in Wisconsin's recruitment of Jamil Wilson. While it's true that Crean will keep recruiting Wilson for Indiana (and offer plenty of playing time), I don't see him following "Tan Tommy" to this new locale. If any place in Indiana has a shot, it would be Purdue, but even that might be a long shot.

The biggest thing Marquette has going for it with any Racine recruit is proximity and nothing has changed on that front. Depending on who becomes the next Marquette coach, I think the Golden Eagles should still be considered the front-runners. Crean's departure cannot hurt the Badgers' chances though. A best-case scenario involving Wilson would be if the coaching changes cleared up his mind enough to make an announcement earlier than the March 2009 date he has previously indicated. Even if he didn't choose Wisconsin, getting that storyline out of the way would benefit the Badgers.

Only time will tell if Marquette shifts its recruiting focus to a more in-state approach under a new head coach, as opposed to the regional, Big East-conscious style of Crean. There are plenty of great coaches that might find the Marquette job a step up. However, the university will be dangerously close to falling off the map if it makes the wrong move here. If I was a Golden Eagle fan, I would not be too excited about the pressure on new AD Steve Cottingham.

A new coach will face the expected issues: players leaving the program, turning pro and previously committed high schoolers rethinking their decision. Incoming swingman Nick Williams, out of Alabama, and Jersey guard Tyshawn Taylor are already planning to ask out of their respective LOIs.

As you know, Marquette is not on my radar for discussion normally. While I might understand the tension behind the UW-MU blood feud that you see on message boards, I think it is stupid. Therefore, I have not stored up any vitriol for Crean (although it sounds like he may be a jerk and does look a bit silly being so tan in Wisconsin). But I think he is a good coach whom Marquette will miss.

So if Marquette dips, Wisconsin can only breathe easier for so long because Crean is a step in the right direction for Indiana--and the Hoosiers play UW twice as often. Trouble is, there are surely dark days and many more steps ahead for Indiana. On Monday, Indiana's interim head coach Dan Dakich ejected two more players from the Hoosier train. The cupboard gets more bare each day for a team that already was set to lose the Big Ten's only two AP All-Americans. The Kelvin Sampson mess also shook some incoming Indiana recruits out of verbal committments, although Marquette and Crean himself stepped in on at least one such player. Others, like Matt Roth, are excited for the Tom Crean era to begin.

On the surface, this looks like a great match for the Hoosiers. Crean is an Izzo disciple that has proven he can build a program in Big Ten country. The Indiana program is in serious need of rebuilding and Crean's strength is recruiting. That skill will be needed at IU to offset the stigma attached to a school that faces impending NCAA sanctions. If anyone can keep the talent level high in Bloomington, it is someone like Crean. The poll and fan comments over at The Hoosier Scoop indicate most Indiana fans are very pleased by the move.

The hire is as good as can be expected for Indiana. As for the Badgers, Bo will still face Tom Crean annually and nothing ought to change as far as recruiting goes. If nothing else, this only cements Wisconsin's status as the people's champ, a fact some Marquette fans will never be able to swallow.

1 comment:

  1. I think IU could have done better. Crean is a pretty good coach, but not a great one in estimation. His players are too reckless and sloppy on defense and his offense seems NBA-ish, and I mean that in a bad way.
    Plus, he gets spray tans, wears ugly glasses, and has some sort of family relationship with Jim Harbaugh.


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