Indiana picks Marquette’s Crean
By Michael Marot
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — Indiana is turning to Tom Crean to bring respectability back to Hoosiers.
A couple dozen wins each year would help, too.
After a tumultuous season and turbulent coaching search, the Hoosiers finally hired Crean on Tuesday as what they hope will be a long-term replacement for Kelvin Sampson. Sampson resigned in February amid a phone-call scandal that included five major allegations from the NCAA.
The Hoosiers’ rabid fans hope that the tinge of NCAA allegations, the craziness that overshadowed basketball for the past six weeks and the disciplinary problems that have continued in the program will all be forgotten now. Crean is expected to be introduced at a news conference Wednesday morning.
"I think he’s a great choice," university trustee Philip Eskew said after confirming the hiring. "He has a Big Ten background, a Midwest background, he’s recruited in the state of Indiana and he has an impeccable record, so I think Indiana is on the road to recovery."
For most Indiana fans, the changes can’t come soon enough.
Sampson’s resignation Feb. 22 led to the promotion of interim coach Dan Dakich, a threatened players boycott, and the ultimate indignity of losing four of their last seven games including a first-round NCAA game to Arkansas. The Hoosiers finished the season 25-8.
Losses were only part of the problem.
Six players skipped Dakich’s first practice and never played with the same zeal after Sampson’s departure. Dakich gave guard Jamarcus Ellis a one-game suspension for disciplinary reasons, and on Tuesday dismissed Ellis and Armon Bassett, another starting guard, after they missed a scheduled appointment last week and then failed to run extra laps as their punishment the next day.
Those with ties to the program believe Crean may finally be the solution.
"I think it’s a very good move," said Jared Jeffries, a former Indiana star now playing for the New York Knicks. "He’s proven himself to be a successful college coach at this level, a very good recruiter, recognize talent. That’s who we need at Indiana, we need somebody who is going to be stable, a foundation for our future."
Marquette wished Crean and his family well, saying he rebuilt the basketball program into a consistent winner.