Tom Crean gets screwed in Georgia loss – and #iubb fans should feel no joy because of it

Tom Crean grabs the PA microphone and admonishes Georgia fans for throwing a stuffed animal on the floor.

A Georgia fan threw a small stuffed bulldog toward a Mississippi State player about to shoot a free throw with 1/2 second left in a tie game.  Georgia coach Tom Crean ran to the scorer’s table, grabbed the PA microphone, and admonished the fans.

The referees convened and assessed a technical foul for fan behavior.  The Mississippi State player knocked down a free throw, and they won by a point.

Crean was irate.

Georgia has had a tough season – winning only one SEC game so far this season.  A win at home against Mississippi State would have been nice for Crean, the Bulldogs, and fans in Athens.

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That the refs decided to call a technical without a warning was strange.  It’s also odd that there is no proof the stuffed animal came from a Georgia fan.  It’s likely, as the game was played at Georgia, but there are a number of clever visiting college fans who might try to manipulate the outcome of a game by tossing something onto the floor in the hopes of generating a T for their hosts.  (Of course, none would come from Indiana University, whose best effort to disrupt Purdue Tuesday night was to yell “***k you, Haarms!” – which revealed IU students as a group collectively incapable of anything clever.)

The point is not to berate IU, claim injustice for Georgia, or decry the lack of rationality by fans who throw stuff (even harmless items like small stuffed animals) on a court or field.

I was no fan of Crean as a basketball coach at Indiana, and he was no fan of mine as someone who held him accountable for his leadership of Indiana’s basketball program.  As outspoken as I was about Crean’s mismanagement, last night’s loss gave me no joy.

Georgia got screwed last night.  A game that very likely was headed for overtime ended because of the technical foul called on Georgia because of the idiotic but benign behavior of a fan.

Losing eats at coaches, and last night’s loss was as brutal for Crean as any loss for any coach this season.

Georgia showed a level of fight Crean should be proud of in coming back against Mississippi State after being behind by as many as 17 points in the second half.  That’s a hell of a thing – leading a team that had lost 11-of-12 SEC games going into last night’s debacle to battle like hell for 40 minutes.

My disdain for Crean as Indiana’s coach was never personal.  He was not the right fit as coach at IU for a variety of reasons, but that’s no reason to celebrate his unearned misery last night.  I hope he gets Georgia turned around.

Last night’s game should have given Crean a night to breathe easy and enjoy the fruits of his team’s labor and continued willingness to work hard and believe in each other.

Georgia’s loss was a shame because the referees overtly affected the result of a game that deserved to be determined by the players.

Crean and his Bulldogs deserved better, no matter where he worked prior to Georgia.

Kent Sterling hosts the fastest growing sportstalk show in Indianapolis on CBS Sports 1430 every weekday from 3p-7p, and writes about Indiana sports at

8 thoughts on “Tom Crean gets screwed in Georgia loss – and #iubb fans should feel no joy because of it

  1. Mikey72

    As a former SEC sportswriter, I know Georgia is a passionate place to play hoops.
    I think the league needs to revisit the idea of a warning first. Eventually, someone will identify whoever threw the toy. Then we will have a better idea of which team that fan backs.

  2. Cravin

    who cares. Crean is gone. No longer coaches at IU. Why media and fans continually hold onto and follow ex IU coaches is beyond me.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      Ironically, Crean’s Georgia team has lost 13-of-14! First year – not apples to apples – but interesting.

  3. philboyd

    Crean was a clown. But he’s John Calipari compared to the guy Indiana hired to replace him. I absolutely promise you Crean would generate enough offense with Morgan and Romeo and the seven dwarfs to make the NCAA tournament and have a winning record in the B-10. How many games in this rock-fight conference are first-to-fifty, and IU has two elite scorers — under any other system besides no system at all.

    By the way, am I the only one who thinks Archie “Don’t Call Me Jughead” Miller looks like AJ Soprano after getting suspended from school for cheating for the seventh time? Not a look that inspires confidence.

  4. Tim Kramer

    The ending of the Georgia game was bizarre. Crean has had a rough first season in Athens, possibly lowlighted by his calling out of his own players in an inappropriate way a couple of weeks ago. He apologized, however, and secured a commitment from one of the best high school players in the country in the following days.

    I don’t want to come off as overly glowingly pro Tom Crean, but other than his personality quirks and well documented tactical shortcomings, some of which have become overstated, I have been perplexed by the media and fan base’s despise of his tenure at IU as a whole. When compared objectively to where the IU program had been in the past 20+ years, I am completely baffled when supposedly knowledgable media members and fans totally dismiss what he accomplished.

    Bob Knight’s last Big Ten title: 1993
    Bog Knight’s last #1 ranked team: 1993
    Bob Knight’s last Sweet 16 appearance: 1994
    IU Between 1995 and 2011: Did not win a Big Ten title or surpass the second round in the NCAA Tournament in all but one of those 17 seasons (Mike Davis’s 2002 National Runner-Up team is the exception)

    After building the program back up for three years after it was left in shambles, Crean recruited, developed and led three of IU’s four best teams since around 1993-1994. Again, Mike Davis’s 2002 team is the other team in the four. I have heard people on message boards claim that Crean should’ve been fired about six years earlier. I guess those people wouldn’t have wanted IU to win the Big Ten outright for the first time since 1993 or achieve its first number one ranking since that same year. As fans know or should know, IU won the conference outright again in 2016, just three seasons ago.

    Although the Sweet 16 is clearly not the ultimate goal, Crean’s IU teams reached that level three times in a five year span when IU had been to just one Sweet 16 since 1994. I realize that plenty of fans and writers will claim that it was Crean’s coaching shortcomings that prevented those IU teams from achieving even greater success. While one could try to make a case for that, the more objective analyst could chalk up his inability to win quite big enough or consistently enough to a lot of bad luck. Whether it be injuries, roster turnover from early pro departures or difficult tournament draws, IU seemed to face all of those things in Crean’s final six seasons. If anything, Crean’s failure rested in his inability to recruit quite well enough to cover for the early departures and injuries. His final two teams were riddled with major injuries. They overcame them in 2016 to big success, but could not do the same the following season.

    Too often, I believe that the irrational fans, media and others continue to want to believe that IU is on the same plane as Duke, Kentucky, North Carolina and Kansas. The reality is that IU has not been on the level with those schools since the early 1990s. Multiple schools in the Big Ten alone have been better than IU by most measures for 20 years. Compared to IU, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Ohio State, Purdue and Michigan have each been either more consistent, achieved greater heights or both in that span. After restocking and restoring some credibility to the program, Crean brought IU back on par with those rivals and bested them by winning the conference outright twice. Crean’s Sweet 16 losses came to Anthony Davis-led National Champion Kentucky in 2012, an athletic and much bigger Syracuse team in 2013 (yes it was ugly, but it was not nearly the upset that many claim) and National Runner-Up North Carolina in 2016.

    Interesting fact: In an eight game span that includes the 2016 NCAA tournament and the early part of the 2016-2017 season, IU under Crean defeated Kentucky, Kansas and North Carolina.

    1. Kent Sterling Post author

      All good points, and I agree with most – despite being seen as an anti-Crean zealot. One of the very good reasons for Crean’s dismissal was his inability to recruit the state of Indiana. He was universally disliked by HS coaches as well as summer coaches of Indiana teams. He did a great job building the 2012-2013 team, but that was never going to happen again.


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