Tag Archive | "Tom Crean"

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James to The Warrior: “If someone leaves us, we just want to rub it in.”

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

By Robert Fafinski III and Joe Beres

Dominic JamesFollowing this afternoon’s press conference about Marquette’s reaction to the departure of nine-year Head Coach Tom Crean, Warrior reporters spoke with Lazar Hayward and Dominic James, both of whom expressed residual troubles surrounding Crean’s departure on April 1.

“It hurts when the team is losing its leader,” James said in the Al McGuire Center lobby. “But we have to move on.”

Hayward said the difficulties he was having stemmed from the fact that the team seemed to be gelling and falling into place as one of the top five teams in the Big East.

“It’s tough to deal with, especially when we played so well last year,” Hayward said.

In terms of the team’s future, Hayward said his goals have not changed.

“It’s the same goals as last year,” Hayward said. “I’m always trying to get better and improve. No matter what happens I’m always working to improve on last year.”

James, though, went one step further.

“It increases goals,” James said.

When asked whether or not Crean’s departure would affect his decision to leave Marquette early for the NBA draft, James indicated that it would.

“It’s definitely a factor, but it is going to take time. I need to talk to my teammates before I make a decision,” James said. “It’s going to take time.”

Dominic JamesBut to further muddy the waters about his already clouded future at Marquette, James seemed to signal that reprisal was in the front of his mind.

“It increases goals.” James went on, “If someone leaves us, we just want to rub it in.”

In spite of recruits asking for release from their obligations to Marquette and rumors surrounding any future coach – names that include Tony Bennett of Washington State, Bobby Knight formerly of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech, Bruce Weber of Illinois and Sean Miller of Xavier – Hayward’s criteria for a future coach is simple:

“We want someone who’s a hard-worker, allows us to play freely and loves winning,” said Hayward.

Photo Credit: Mike Rudzinski

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“WE ARE…without a coach.”

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Tim Bucher

In 1989, Tom Crean began his coaching career as a Graduate Assistant at Michigan State University and spent four more seasons at the school as an assistant under head coach and close friend, Tom Izzo. Now, as first reported by ESPN on Tuesday, Crean will be heading back to the Big Ten, this time as an Indiana Hoosier. According to the sports network, an IU source close with the school’s hiring process said that Indiana first spoke directly to Crean about taking the job only after Washington State coach Tony Bennett withdrew his name as a candidate but Indiana officials have adamantly refuted that report. What has been confirmed is that IU athletic director Rick Greenspan spoke to Crean over two days, reaching a verbal commitment with the coach around 2 p.m. Tuesday.

At the Indiana University press conference Wednesday morning unveiling Tom Crean as head coach, Indiana athletic director again refuted the report of there being multiple candidates for the position and emphasized the process as “about hiring the best individual who can lead the program to the best level of academic and athletic success,” clearly something they felt they saw in the former Golden Eagle coach. When Tom Crean finally took the stage, he held up a crimson colored shirt with the words “Crean and Crimson” fashioned on the front. Speaking about his decision to leave Marquette after nine seasons, he characterized the past several days as being a “whirlwind of feelings, emotions, and some incredible sadness at the people I’m leaving…There is no good time to leave. No good time to say goodbye. It happened so fast.” When asked whether or not there was anything Marquette could have done or offered that would have made him stay and change his mind he responded with a no but went on to thank “administrators, faculty, athletic personnel, student-athletes, academic support, (the) strength coach, trainer(s), but most importantly, those young men.” Crean cited strong sentiment towards Marquette fans but called it ultimately a “heart decision. Not a business decision. Not a legacy decision.” The coach said he never felt like he did in previous situations in which he was offered to leave his head coaching post at Marquette. He said it simply came down to the fact that “It’s Indiana. That’s the bottom-line.” It is a coaching position that he felt is at the pinnacle of college basketball, referring to the great basketball tradition not only at the university but throughout the state as well.

Although Crean said at the press conference that he and the school will address the many contentious issues facing the program, what still remains unclear is exactly how that will be done. He is inheriting a team that is possibly losing all five of its starters from last season. Two of them, Armon Bassett and Jemarcus Ellis were kicked off the team early Tuesday morning by then-interim coach Dan Dakich. Two others have used up all their eligibility and there is the expected declaration of freshman Eric Gordon to the NBA. Furthermore, Crean is taking over a program facing self-imposed sanctions with further NCAA sanctions yet to come all thanks to hundreds of impermissible recruiting calls made by former head coach Kelvin Sampson. Although facing an uphill battle, if Indiana was looking for a squeaky-clean coach to restore the tradition and integrity the program once held, Tom Crean is an ideal choice.

After firing head coach Mike Dean in March of 1999, Marquette University hired Tom Crean as a young, active recruiting coach from elite program in Michigan State. After posting a 15-14 record each of his first two years, Crean led the team to an NCAA Tournament birth and a year later guided the team to an improbable Final Four run. Tom Crean’s legacy at Marquette will be one most likely marked by his trip to the Final Four but more so his vigorous recruiting ability. Crean was able to bring in a questionable and passed over talent in Dwyane Wade, who flourished under the coach’s system. He also had a continued presence in the Midwest, evident in his most notable recruiting class in 2005-2006. He was also able to bring in highly sought after guards Wesley Matthews, Jerel McNeal, and Dominic James. What Tom Crean brings to the Indiana University basketball program is fierce mental toughness, great basketball IQ, and much needed no nonsense approach. These characteristics and his ability to recruit in the Midwest and beyond played largely into Indiana’s decision to sign the coach to an eight year contract.

What Crean walks away from at Marquette is a contract that was supposed to keep him at the school through the 2016-’17 season, an administration that gave him full reins of the program, an elite practice facility, and an inconsistent but yet proven set of players. With a large compensation package Crean was undoubtedly one of the highest paid coaches in college basketball, something likely to stay the same at Indiana. He leaves behind his trio of guards and even further uncertainty as to whether two-thirds of it (McNeal and James) will take their chances in the NBA. Tom Crean had a strong impact on his staff, players, fans, and students which makes his exit hard to stomach for so many. He helped to bring the program into the powerhouse Big East Conference and turn it into the program it has become today. As Marquette looks to hire a new coach throughout the off-season who can bring a high level of integrity and coaching ability to the sidelines, fans should be sure to thankful towards Tom Crean for setting that standard for Marquette Basketball.

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Taking the next step: Basketball next season

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Eric Hart

While the one point overtime loss to Stanford was especially hard to take for Marquette seniors, it did mark the furthest the men’s basketball team has made it in postseason play over the past four years. If nothing else, the tournament experience that was gained this year should pay off in the future.  Take that experience and mix it with a solid returning backcourt (assuming no one goes pro) and Marquette looks to have a great 2008-2009 season lined up.

“You are always gaining experience in the postseason; you are learning how to win.  The players can take a look at what we did and how we got there and then take the next step,” senior guard Tommy Brice said.

Taking the next step will be key for a Marquette team that has won one NCAA tournament game since their Final Four run in 2003.  The men’s basketball team has always competed well in the regular season and this year was no exception finishing 6th in the Big East, a conference that sent 8 teams to the NCAA tournament.

Most students believe that the team can only get better next year.

“I don’t see why we can’t be one of the best teams in the Big East.  If everyone comes back we will be as talented as any backcourt in the country,” senior Matt Marks, who works and travels with the team, said.

After testing the NBA waters with little success last year, most people believe that Dominic James will return for his senior season.  With a strong performance towards the end of the year, especially against Stanford, the question could be raised if Jerel McNeal will look to go pro.  However, both players will most likely stay which will create a backcourt of three one thousand point scorers.

Junior Maggie Connolly believes that because these dominant three guards have three years behind them, they will be very strong with excellent chemistry.

“We will do very well because we have a strong coach and great players along with good players coming in,” sophomore Mollie O’Brien said.

While Marquette will lose two big men in Ousmane Barro and Lawrence Blackledge, Trevor Mbakwe will be a sophomore and will be able to build off of the playing time he gained late this year.  Marquette also has 6-foot-10-inch Chris Otule coming in next year from Texas.  Dwight Burke looks be a valuable asset especially against stronger post players in the Big East.

“It is a problem being such a short team,” junior Laura Hague said.

But, Roy Hibbert (Georgetown), David Padgett (Louisville) and Kentrell Gransberry (South Florida) are all graduating. Hasheem Thabeet (Connecticut) and Donte Green (Syracuse) may leave school early for the NBA.  This means that the Big East will be getting shorter next year which should play into Marquette’s hands. However, that does not mean Marquette will not run into some larger post players in the tournament.

Marquette will enter next season with confidence that they can compete with the best in the country.  With what will be one of the best backcourts in the nation to go along with postseason experience and a solid senior class, it looks to be a good 2008-2009 campaign for the Golden Eagles.

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From the Editor

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Robert Fafinski

Happy Spring to you all Marquette.

That’s something I thought I’d never be able to say during this winter of nearly 100 inches of snow. Yesterday on our Web site, The Warrior was the first campus-wide news outlet to report on this story, but as of press time, it looked as though Marquette men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean didn’t orchestrate some elaborate April Fool’s Day joke and was actually planning to leave Marquette and accept the head coaching job at Indiana.

The Warrior brought you the scoop first when we confirmed it with one of his players shortly after dinner yesterday. IU is considered one of the top four or five coaching jobs in the nation and we shouldn’t necessarily blame Crean for leaving. After all, it’s an upgrade for him in term coaching prestige- although some loyalty would have been nice. But, it does show that Marquette is not yet considered in the highest echelon of college basketball programs. That’s fine, it leaves something to strive for. And I can’t imagine anybody better to bring us there than the man who brought Indiana into that upper echelon: Bobby Knight.

So, I hope the administration looks seriously at hiring the current ESPN analyst and former head coach of Army, Indiana and Texas Tech. Read on below for more on the Crean departure from Warrior reporter Eric Hart and be sure to check out our Web site for tons of information.

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“Let’s go get Bobby Knight!”

Posted on 02 April 2008 by Eric Hart

Tuesday evening, The Warrior learned that Marquette head basketball coach Tom Crean has signed a contract to be the new head coach at Indiana. A news conference has been scheduled for 10 a.m. today. Crean’s name came up last year in connection with the University of Kentucky job so this is not anything new to the Marquette community. Crean, who just two years ago signed a contract extension through the 2016-2017 season with Marquette, is one of the highest paid coaches in the nation. While the terms of the contract are not public regarding his future pay, Crean made $1.6 million in 2005 and $1.5 million in 2006. It would be a good bet that Crean’s salary was going to go higher than that this year, especially after Marquette signed a huge contract with Converse. However, for some coaches it is not all about the money; it is about the program.

Indiana has been looking for a new head coach ever since Kelvin Sampson resigned (many believe he would have been fired anyway) mid-way through this season amid recruiting allegations. Sampson agreed to a $750,000 buyout in February. In the buyout, most of which was paid for by a unanimous Indiana booster, Sampson agreed to not sue the University of Indiana for wrongful termination. The controversy around Sampson mostly focused on illegal recruiting phone calls. These allegations plagued the program and Sampson the entire season. Working against Sampson was the fact that he faced similar allegations and convictions when he was the head coach at Oklahoma.

Tom Crean has a record of 190-96 in nine seasons at Marquette. He led a memorable run to the Final Four back in 2003 and Marquette to the NCAA tournament five times. He has a 5-5 record in NCAA tournament games. Crean has always said that he and his family were committed to Marquette and the Milwaukee community and that has always shown through events such as Al’s Run and Walk. However, many college coaches will take a better opportunity when available and most consider the Indiana head coaching job one of the best in the country. Indiana has won five national championships in its historic career. So when this position opens, it is hard for people to pass it up. One coach that did repeatedly pass it up was Washington State head Coach Tony Bennett. Bennett is a Green Bay native and son of former Wisconsin head coach Dick Bennett.

Crean’s name had come up in previous head coaching vacancies, namely the University of Kentucky job that was filled by Billie Gillispie. If Tom Izzo were to ever leave Michigan State, Crean’s name will probably be first or second on the list to replace him because of Crean’s close connections to the program. It is very rare for college basketball coaches to stay in one place for their entire head coaching careers, and it appears that Crean will be no exception. Roy Williams left Kansas to coach at North Carolina. Bob Huggins left Kansas State after one year and what many consider the best incoming class to return home to West Virginia. The goal of most head coaches is to have a long tenure at one of the top programs in the nation, assuming they do not go to the NBA. While Marquette is one of the best around, it does not compare to Duke, North Carolina, University of California-Los Angeles, Kentucky or Indiana. So while many Marquette fans will be disappointed to see Crean leave, it will be difficult for them to blame him. I say, let’s go get Bobby Knight!

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April Fools? Nope. Player confirms Crean to leave Marquette.

Posted on 01 April 2008 by Joe Beres

Tom Crean

The news that no Marquette fan wanted to hear on a day that no Marquette fan really wants to believe has arrived. On April 1st, the Golden Eagles head coach, Tom Crean, left our beloved basketball program in pursuit of a job at the University of Indiana. With Crean leaving for a school in need of rebuilding and full of questions, Marquette fans are left with many questions of their own. The two main questions that everyone is asking are: will Crean’s recruits stay at Marquette or will they leave now that he is no longer their coach, and who will be able to fill the job that Crean has left vacant? Unfortunately, for us this very well may mean that both James and McNeal could be going out for the draft, as well as a couple of Crean’s 2009 recruits starting to look at what the Hoosiers can offer them.

However, there is plenty for Marquette fans to be skeptical about. Whether you are angry with him for leaving Marquette or happy to see some change, there is no doubt that he has given Marquette a height of attention that it has not seen since the Al McGuire days. He also did a great job of leading Marquette to becoming one of the most dominant teams of arguably the best conference in basketball – oh, and by the way, he took us to the Final Four in 2003. With all the national attention Marquette has received, we are able to talk to some quality coaches who may not have even considered Marquette previously.

One name that has been floating around between students is Bobby Knight. It would be very ironic if the former Indiana coach ended up at Marquette right after Crean’s departure. Knight retired from Texas Tech mid-season and became a part time analyst for ESPN. Many in the basketball community believe that Knight will coach again, but would he come back so soon? While Knight without a doubt would make a great head coach at Marquette and probably take the team to the next level, the odds may be against the former Hoosier coming back just months after retirement.

Despite their poor finish in the tournament, Drake’s head coach, Keno Davis, would be a great candidate for the coaching job. He led the Bulldogs in a dominating season in the Missouri Valley Conference and achieved a five seed in the NCAA tournament. This all coming from a coach whose team was expected to finish ninth in the conference.

Davidson’s lead man Bob McKillop is also a great option. He has shown a great eye for recruiting bringing in strong recruits such as Stephen Curry, Andrew Lovedale and Jason Richards. He had an extremely successful year in which he led the Wildcats to an Elite Eight appearance.

Now that Lute Olson is back with Arizona and he’s released the interim coach Kevin O’Neill, there is an opportunity to get somebody that had some success in a tumultuous year in and in a power conference. Not to mention that O’Neill used to coach at Marquette.

These are all good options for the lead man, but the best thing to do right now may be to wait and see who else becomes available. Regardless of what happens, Marquette is back on track as being one of the elite programs in the country and it will not take a legend to keep the success coming.

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Ghosts of “Haunted Hoops”

Posted on 08 November 2006 by Daniel Suhr

While all of you were out prancing about in your miniskirts and Dr. McDreamy outfits on the Friday of Halloween weekend, over 85 children paraded around the Al Maguire Center in their costumes. ‘Haunted Hoops’ is a wonderful tradition, providing a fun, safe activity for families and a great opportunity to get a look at our men’s basketball team. It was a fun night overall, but a few things particularly deserve attention:First, Jerel McNeal needs an attitude adjustment. There was one point during the scrimmage when he missed intercepting a pass, and he dropped an F-bomb so loud I could hear it eight rows up. Doubtless the costumed kiddies in the seven rows between me and the court could hear it too. Given all the muttering that happened when he was on the bench, I doubt that was the only time he tossed out cuss words.

Every time the ref called a penalty on him, he went over and complained. Once, when the two squads were huddled up on the court before a free throw, McNeal physically broke away from his teammates, who had put their hands on his body to hold him back, to go argue with the referee. That he had committed a foul seemed clear to everyone but McNeal.

Second, Tom Crean likes to win. During the first twenty minute scrimmage, the team’s talent was split equally between the two squads. During the second, all the starters were on Crean’s squad and all the bench players were on the other. During the first eight minutes of play, the hard-working reserves established and maintained a lead over the starters.

Crean’s solution? He had the high-scoring members of the other squad turn their jerseys inside out and join his team. As Crean siphoned off more and more players, the tide of the game turned and eventually became a rout. It made for bad basketball for the crowd to watch and it was pretty unfair to the reserves, who had struggled admirably in the face of superior talent. But at least Crean’s starters saved face.

Third, Tommy Brice is a class act. This season and last, Brice was the team’s walk-on. I have noticed his admirable character before, but it became particularly apparent watching the scrimmage. For instance, during a timeout team huddle, Brice brought over Gatorade for his team, and when the huddle broke he grabbed a towel, got on his knees and mopped the sweat. In a game of big egos, a true team player like that deserves a gold star.

Finally, a few programming notes. The event was not well-advertised around campus. For as much as Marquette talks about providing alcohol alternative programming, it seemed to miss a great opportunity here. Second, Coach Crean really ought to have taken the mike for a moment to thank everyone for coming out. Lastly, an event with that many little kids in the audience can’t last until 11pm – start it earlier, cut out the Simon Says, and get the kids home at a decent hour.

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As Crean rebuilds, Marquette improves

Posted on 01 November 2005 by Charles Rickert

How can a team that loses Travis Diener be considered much improved?

Answer: the best incoming players of the Tom Crean era.

Contrary to The Verve Pipe, our freshman may very well be held responsible for the success of the 2005-2006 season. Mere freshman? Hardly. Several media outlets consider Marquette’s new kids on campus to be among the best in the country (better than Notre Dame, Cincinnati, Louisville, and UW-Madison).

Dwight Burke, Matt Mortensen, Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, and “the kid”…Dominic James: these five freshmen will combine with transfers Dan Fitzgerald and Jamil Lott to complete an overhaul of more than half of last year’s roster

Last year left much room for improvement, culminating in an opening round NIT loss to Western Michigan (54-40). In that final game, Marquette shot 28.6 percent (16-56) from the field and 4.8 percent (1-21) beyond the arc.

Losing Diener to injuries earlier in the year left Marquette with a Marcus Jackson-sized hole at point guard. Unfortunately, filling that hole with Marcus Jackson proved unsuccessful.During the eight games Diener was out, Marquette could only average 56.3 points per game. Shooting just 36.9 percent as a team, Marquette managed just two wins in Diener’s absence.

Enter Dominic James, point guard of the future and 2005 Indiana Basketball News player of the year. Standing 5’10”, James’ high school legend grew larger last January when photos emerged of him rejecting the dunk attempt of a 6’8” opponent. Last year at Richmond High School, James lead the state of Indiana in scoring, averaging 31.1 points per game. This year, he will lead Marquette’s offense up the floor.

Tom Crean can be expected to plug Dominic James into the starting lineup right away. The remaining four freshmen will likely contribute off the bench as the season starts. At that time, Wesley Matthews and Jerel McNeal will vie to fill the role(s) of dynamic playmaker left by departed guard, Dameon Mason (transfer – LSU).

Both players come to Marquette with high acclaim.Matthews took home Mr. Basketball honors for Wisconsin and lead Madison Memorial High School to a state championship, last season. McNeal was named third team high school all-American by Parade magazine and is already being lauded for his defensive prowess and versatility.

Not to be lost in the discussion of freshmen is Marquette’s talented core of returning players.

Leading all returning starters is senior forward, Steve Novak. Considered by national sportswriters to be a top 50 player in the country, Novak may possess the best outside game of anyone in the country not named J.J. Redick.

Playing beside Novak will be sophomore forward, Ryan Amoroso. My prediction is Amoroso will have a breakout year. While playing sparingly last season, Amoroso proved he could be effective inside and out, shooting a team-high 49.2 percent from the field.

From a Final Four appearance in 2003 to consecutive NIT appearances in 2004-2005, Marquette has slipped but not fallen from the glory days of Dwayne Wade. If anything, the past two seasons have shown that over-relying on one player’s leadership can come with a cost. Our 2005-2006 Marquette Golden Eagles will display a more balanced attack on offense and should hold their own as they enter the Big East Conference.

Anything short of a berth to the NCAA tournament will be a disappointment.

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