Tom Crean Can't Coach: Wrong Again

Tom Crean, the owner of three straight 20 loss seasons has been lambasted by rivals and his own fans on his ability to coach. Coach Crean is the general of the write him off as terrible army. No facts you throw at anybody can convince them that he doesn’t just throw talent out there and let them do the work. Instead they’ll harp on how he needed a 5 star in Zeller to be good this year, or needed Dywane Wade to go to the Final Four with Marquette.

Never will they point to the 2006-2007 season where Marquette was picked to finish 12th in the Big East and instead stormed out to a 20-11 record and tied for fourth in the nation’s best conference. The detractors are mum on the Conference USA championship that still included Memphis, Louisville and Cincinnati. No one ever talks about how Crean won 19+ games in every year of his career before taking over the DII team that was the Indiana Hoosiers. The fact is, Tom Crean has turned out to be the perfect man for the rebuild job in Bloomington and is now starting to show his chops as an Xs and Os guy as well.

Luke Winn of SI.com pointed out in his most recent power rankings (IU was #10) that Indiana this season is the fourth most efficient team out of timeouts this season. Indiana has 302 points after a timeout and 0.971 points per possession. That means that whatever Tom Crean is doing in timeouts it is extremely effective. Other teams in the top 10 of ATO? OhioState, Duke, Creighton, Wichita State, Kentucky and Saint Louis. All of them have coaches with considerable respect in the basketball community (some hate on Thad Matta, but that is just as unwarranted as Crean’s hate) as X and O coaches.

In more advanced and complete metrics, Tom Crean’s teams have finished well in the national races also. Ruling out Crean’s first two years at IU where he was playing a majority of walk-ons, his teams have finished in the top 40 of Ken Pomeroy rankings 6 times and every team he has had besides those first two Hoosiers teams fell within the top 100. Pomeroy metrics only go back to 2003, so that leaves out his first two years on the job of Marquette, a ’01 second place finish in conference and a ’02 Final Four run. This doesn’t say that Tom Crean is an elite coach by any means, but it tells me that he can compete with the big dogs when it comes down to it.

Crean’s teams when including the right horses have been incredibly successful in the past. He is one of only four coaches in the conference that has actually seen a Final Four. You can’t knock him for Dywane Wade being on that team either, because Purdue’s Matt Painter had an All-American and All-B1G player on his roster last year and fell to VirginiaCommonwealth. It still takes a lot of coaching gusto to make a Final Four, even if you have the horses to do it.

In the end, it probably doesn’t matter what Crean’s accomplishments are. He’ll win Coach of the Year for the Big Ten this season, if the Hoosiers finish strong, but people will still find ways to write the man off. Lindy’s (one of the premiere college basketball publications) picked IU to finish 11th in conference. They’re most likely to finish 5th with a shot at getting as high as 3rd. But that won’t matter to detractors, they’ll find a way to downplay that and point to his 6-8 losses as a sign of his ineptitude. Despite what the haters are going to say, Crean can coach and recruit and a top 5 National Coach of the Year finish will cement that.

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