by Kent Sterling
Indiana Basketball coach Tom Crean is an interesting guy. Regardless of whether you like, love, or loathe him, he’s a lightning rod in Indiana sports who is impossible to ignore. Heading into his sixth year, the challenges of being the head coach at IU will evolve toward a new level of pressure.
For the first four years, the immediate challenge was to improve from the previous season after the program was thrown into a full scale reversal that forced it to hit bottom.
Now, the challenge is to rebuild again, but not from his predecessor’s amoral and arrogant mopery, but from the successes that landed his two best players in the top four of the NBA Draft.
Crean initially built with an indomitable energy, and that’s the way he’s attacked this process as he and his staff built an excellent class of incoming freshmen.
For a few years, Crean was able to survive and be embraced because he was so completely unlike Mike Davis and Kelvin Sampson. He’s also very unlike Bob Knight, which is either great or awful depending upon who you talk to. Now, Crean starts down the road where he will be compared to himself, and that will make the reception to his work much different.
The next couple of years will be different for Indiana Basketball and Tom Crean – not necessarily better or worse, but every bit as unique as the previous five.