BOZICH | Oladipo, Wade remains captains of the Crean Team - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | Oladipo, Wade remains captains of the Crean Team

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Former Indiana star Victor Oladipo will play in the NBA exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center Wednesday night. Former Indiana star Victor Oladipo will play in the NBA exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center Wednesday night.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – You’ve heard the chirping about Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean. Too many players in the headlines for the wrong reasons. Not enough wins to remember in March.

Indiana is one of those jobs where the basketball world stages a referendum on your performance every 40 minutes.

There are two guys – Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo -- who do not participate in those referendums. Tom Crean is their coach. Always has been. Always will be.

He is the coach who believed in them when the world ignored them. He is the coach who shaped their dazzling trips to the NBA.

The first, of course, is Wade, the guy Crean developed at Marquette before he made 11 NBA all-star teams and won three championship rings with the Miami Heat.

The second is Oladipo, the former IU all-American, the player that Crean developed into the force that the Orlando Magic selected with second pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

Wade will face Oladipo at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when the Heat meet the Magic in an NBA exhibition game at the KFC Yum! Center. Wade and Oladipo are friends. Have been for years. One of their bonds is Crean.

“Coaching is just what (Crean) was born to do,” Wade said. “Some people are born to it. He loves to coach.

“I always say that if he’s driving home and he sees kids playing basketball, he is going to get out of his car and coach them. He’s just a born leader, a born coach.

“He meant everything to me (at Marquette) and he still mean a lot to me now. He’s a mentor, a voice of reason, a lot of things. He just pushed me. He means everything to me, when I needed him the most in college. Being a father figure. Being a friend. Being a disciplinarian. Being tough on me when I needed him to be.”

Oladipo does not have an NBA championship ring. His goals are to make the NBA playoffs for the first time and grind his way into an All-Star game. If he makes it, Oladipo will also credit Crean.

“I only had one college offer coming out of high school and it was Indiana,” Oladipo said. “He believed in me when pretty much no one else would. So he means a lot to me.

“Coach Crean was like a father figure away from home, He developed me as a man and as a player. He definitely flourished me and put me in a position to be successful. He believed in me.”

Wade and Oladipo are aware of the chirping at Indiana. They hear chirping about themselves.

For Wade, there are questions about whether the Heat can again become a force in the Eastern Conference without LeBron James. There is more chirping about Wade’s ability to play an entire NBA season now that he is 33 and operating on tender knees.

For Oladipo, there are questions about whether the Magic are better than the team that won 23 games when he was a rookie or the team that won 25 last season.

“(The criticism) is for every coach,” Wade said. “That’s every coach if they’re not having success all the time.

“It’s just the way it is. It doesn’t take away from the coach he is. If you’re not winning national championships, if you’re not winning the way that people want you to win, in today’s society there’s going to be a lot of things said about you. I don’t think that affects him much.”

Oladipo, Cody Zeller, Christian Watford, Jordan Hulls and other teammates were never in the headlines for the nonsense that has forced Crean to dismiss three players since the end of last season.

What’s the difference between the 2013 guys and the 2015 group?

“Plain and simple we realized that it was much bigger than ourselves,” Oladipo said. “We had fun. We were college kids. We had fun.

“But we did it the smart way. We didn’t do what they were doing, obviously. Some of the stuff they were doing was just crazy. We were just smarter about it.

“You can have fun in college. I’m not telling you that you have to sit in your house or sit in your dorm room or your apartment and not do anything. You can have a good time. You have to be smart about what you do."

“You have to realize that everybody is watching you when you put on that jersey. Everybody. Everybody is watching you. If you get in trouble, everybody is going to know. So you have to be smart about what you do, who you hang out with and who you associate with.”

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