Indiana’s Tom Crean is a terrific coach, but has rubbed some the wrong way
BY HERB GOULD firstname.lastname@example.org March 13, 2013 11:43PM
Indiana coach Tom Crean shouts from the bench during the first half of an NCAA college basketball game against Michigan Sunday, March 10, 2013, in Ann Arbor, Mich. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)
11 a.m.: No. 8 Illinois
vs. No. 9 Minnesota, BTN
1:30 p.m.: No. 5 Michigan
vs. No. 12 Penn State, BTN
5:30 p.m.: No. 7 Purdue
vs. No. 10 Nebraska, ESPN2
8 p.m.: No. 6 Iowa
vs. No. 11 Northwestern, ESPN2
11 a.m.: No. 1 Indiana
vs. No. 8/9 winner, ESPN
1:30 p.m.: No. 4 Wisconsin
vs. No. 5/12 winner, ESPN
5:30 p.m.: No. 2 Ohio State
vs. No. 7/10 winner, BTN
8 p.m.: No. 3 Michigan State
vs. No. 6/11 winner, BTN
12:40 p.m.: No. 1/8/9 winner
vs. No. 4/5/12 winner, Ch. 2
3 p.m.: No. 2/7/10 winner
vs. No. 3/6/11 winner, Ch. 2
2:30 p.m.: Championship, Ch. 2
Updated: March 28, 2013 7:34PM
In Indiana, he’s the savior, the man who restored Hoosiers hoops to its rightful throne and the best thing that has happened in Bloomington since Bob Knight was winning national championships and throwing chairs.
Around the rest of the Big Ten, he’s a buzzing hornet. He’s not as unwelcome as ‘‘The General’’ yet, but he really is starting to irritate people.
He’s Tom Crean. And thanks to him and the resurgent Hoosiers, we have a chance to enjoy the most entertaining Big Ten tournament we’ve seen.
Crean has done a terrific job of making Indiana relevant again — and stirring up rivalries. He made headlines this week for laying into Michigan assistant Jeff Meyer, who worked for the disgraced Kelvin Sampson at Indiana before Crean was hired to clean up the mess.
‘‘You know what you did,’’ Crean told Meyer after the Hoosiers’ victory against the Wolverines on Sunday in Ann Arbor, Mich. ‘‘You helped wreck our program.’’
There’s even videotape.
Crean said he later apologized to Meyer, calling the incident ‘‘a professional misunderstanding.’’
Asked about the dust-up, Michigan coach John Beilein said: ‘‘I’m not going to comment on another coach or another university. I will say that Michigan is always going to win with class or lose with class. We’re never going to use victory or defeat as a platform for any frustration we have.’’
In other words, Wolverines-Hoosiers ought to be one heck of a semifinal, provided Michigan — which is ranked sixth in the country but is the fifth seed in the ferocious Big Ten tournament — can get past Penn State and Wisconsin.
Now that’s a tough league.
Beyond Michigan, the Big Ten’s other Top 25 programs have various bones to pick with the
No. 3 Hoosiers.
Crean’s rivalry with Bo Ryan and No. 22 Wisconsin goes back to his days at Marquette, when they had their annual staredown for Badger State bragging rights. After Wisconsin’s upset victory Jan. 19 at Indiana, Ryan got the classic
blow-by handshake from Crean.
After No. 10 Ohio State spoiled Indiana’s senior night last week, Crean reportedly lectured Buckeyes guard Aaron Craft about the finer points of the game. He then caused a stir by having the Hoosiers cut down the nets, even though they lost.
Crean and his old boss, Tom Izzo, also had different views of the cheap shots to the groin exchanged by Cody Zeller and Derrick Nix when No. 8 Michigan State lost to Indiana on Feb. 19.
In another curious moment, Crean grilled Big Ten basketball staffer Dan Mihalik on a media conference call about the selection process for player of the week.
Love the Hoosiers or love to hate them, Crean has become a lightning rod, a worthy leader of a historic program that believes success is its destiny.
It makes sense that Super Bowl coaches Jim and John Harbaugh, who are known for getting in the faces of opposing coaches and referees, are Crean’s brothers-in-law. It would make even more sense if they were his brothers.
Welcome to Chicago, coach Crean and Hoosiers. We’re looking forward to your games — and your postgame handshake lines.