Indiana announced that it has fired men’s basketball Coach Tom Crean mere minutes after the NCAA tournament tipped off Thursday afternoon.
Crean spent nine seasons at Indiana but only made the NCAA tournament four times, never advancing past the Sweet 16. Such lack of accomplishment led to constant speculation over his job status in recent years, even when his teams were successful (the Hoosiers were the preseason No. 1 in the AP poll during the 2012-13 season and regained that slot for four weeks in February, but top-seeded Indiana fell to Syracuse in that season’s Sweet 16).
This year’s team rose to No. 3 in the country by late November but was out of the polls soon after the new year as it entered the toughest portion of its schedule. The Hoosiers finished 18-16 and earned a bid to the National Invitation Tournament. Paired against Georgia Tech, higher-seeded Indiana had the right to play its opening-round game at home but instead allowed it to be moved to Atlanta. Glass cited the fact that Indiana’s students were on spring break, an excuse that generated a sizable amount of skepticism and led to further speculation that Crean would be fired.
The Hoosiers lost to the Yellow Jackets, 75-63.
Crean finished with a 166-135 record at Indiana, a mark dragged down by three truly terrible seasons at the start of his tenure that were hardly his fault. Besieged by recruiting scandals under former coach Kelvin Sampson, the Hoosiers went a program-worst 6-25 in 2008-09, 10-21 in 2009-10 and 12-20 in 2010-11. Recruiting steadily improved, and Indiana won Big Ten regular season titles in 2012-13 and 2015-16, but it wasn’t enough to satisfy a program and a fan base that is used to far better than that.
Speculation about Crean’s successor started almost immediately after his firing was announced. One coach who seems unlikely to want the Indiana job is Boston Celtics head man Brad Stevens, who took Indianapolis school Butler to consecutive NCAA tournament championship games in 2010 and 2011. Stevens said Wednesday that he has no interest in leaving the Celtics, whom he has coached since 2013 and this season has led to the Eastern Conference’s second-best record.
“Nobody calls,” Stevens said, per the Boston Globe. “The only thing people usually call me for is to ask questions about candidates. Everybody has a pretty good idea of where I stand, and I think ultimately I’m going to be here. I think that’s pretty well known.
“I think it’s all flattering, but it’s certainly flattering to ever be considered, because there aren’t that many jobs out there,” he continued. “But at the same time, I’m really flattered to be here and thankful to be here.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Matt Bonesteel