After an 18-16 season, Indiana had to make a change. On Thursday, Head Coach Tom Crean was fired after nine years with the program.
Crean’s time in Bloomington has been quite the mixed bag. There have been plenty of high moments, with two Sweet 16 appearances and the famous Kentucky game in 2011 that will live on in the hearts of all Hoosier fans. At the same time, Crean often seemed to struggle to keep his team from making routine mistakes, and keeping turnovers to a minimum.
This season may have been his most frustrating, with debatably one of his most talented teams incapable of getting out of their own way. Much like the rest of his time at IU, this season saw wins against Kansas and North Carolina, and losses against just about everyone else. It may come as a surprise to some that, in the last hundred years, Tom Crean has the second worst winning percentage amongst IU head coaches (.551).
Crean’s greatest success at IU was his ability to run a program that exuded integrity. He brought in recruits and made a home for them, taking boys and turning them into young men that the IU community could be proud of. Tom Crean served himself well, led a team that understood it’s importance to the school as a whole, and represented the heritage of what it means to be a Hoosier. As a man, he will be missed.
At the same time, as a Hoosier fan, I can’t help but respect the fact that the athletic department has a demand for excellence. After yet another season of immeasurable talent that never came to be, it’s about time to see a change. If Tom Crean wasn’t going to be the guy who produced wins in February and March, we need to go and get ourselves a coach who will.
Over the next several months and years, it is to be expected that Indiana will go through a major culture shock from the loss of our leader. Many players will declare for the NBA draft earlier than they should, and still more will transfer to other schools altogether. But, as a long history of proud Hoosiers will tell you, the championship pedigree and rabid fans will always show up in Assembly Hall.
Tom Crean deserves a massive thank you for all he has done for the Indiana basketball program. He led with integrity, helped to guide young men into the limelight, and demonstrated his values both on and off the court. He has brought the Hoosiers to the doorway of success on a number of occasions. And now is the time for someone to take us over the threshold.