BOZICH | What kind of friend is Indiana coach Tom Crean? Trey Sc - WDRB 41 Louisville News

BOZICH | What kind of friend is Indiana coach Tom Crean? Trey Schwab knows

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IU coach Tom Crean has a special relationship with his former assistant coach Trey Schwab. IU coach Tom Crean has a special relationship with his former assistant coach Trey Schwab.

DES MOINES, Iowa (WDRB) – They moved Trey Schwab to palliative care at the University of Wisconsin Hospital in Madison this week. His body is rejecting both lungs that were transplanted into his body more than a decade ago.

For years, Schwab has separated himself from other coaches by exceeding goals. On Friday afternoon, Schwab told me his next two.

“I need to get off the phone with you so I can finish my Kentucky scouting report for Coach (Tom) Crean,” Schwab said. “Then I’ve told my doctors that I want to watch the Indiana-Kentucky game (Saturday).”

“I know Trey,” said Crean, Indiana’s coach. “He’ll do that.”

Once a coach, always a coach. At tournament time, coaches live on caffeine and determination. You know the words that matter: survive and advance. For Schwab, those words now have a daily, literal meaning.

On a day when the basketball world has been losing its mind about how Yogi Ferrell will match up against Tyler Ulis or whether Indiana or Kentucky will advance to the NCAA Tournament East Regional semifinals, Tom Crean choked up and asked me to turn off my tape recorder as we discussed another topic:

Schwab, the 51-year-old basketball lifer who worked on Crean’s staff when he built his first college program at Marquette.

Fifteen minutes before Indiana started tournament play by defeating Chattanooga Thursday, Crean was texting Schwab encouragement and support from the IU locker room at Wells Fargo Arena. Crean asked Bill Raftery to give a nationally televised shoutout to Schwab on the CBS broadcast.

One of the first calls Crean made after the victory was to Schwab, who promised his coach that he would never surrender, even as his nurses have administered morphine to reduce his pain.

The friends chatted again Friday as IU rode its bus to practice. The phone calls, encouragement and prayers will continue.

“Tom means the world to me,” Schwab said. “I love him. The group of guys we had together at Marquette was special in my life.”

“He’s a tremendously respected basketball man, advance scout, jack of all trades,” Crean said. “I brought him in and it’s one of the best things that ever happened.

“The focus of being able to talk to Trey, pray with Trey and know that I was getting him in touch with other guys, that has been uplifting to me because Thursday was a very tough day.”

Dwyane Wade, Steve Novak, Travis Diener, former assistant coach Darrin Horn and others with Marquette ties called Schwab to offer their prayers and love Friday. That was the group that revived Marquette basketball, making the Golden Eagles relevant nationally again by upsetting a Kentucky team seeded number one in the 2003 regional final in Minneapolis.

In October 2001, before Crean’s third season at Marquette, Schwab and the head coach developed pneumonia. It can happen. Guys don’t sleep. They eat the wrong foods. Their immune systems are compromised.

Schwab and Crean eventually went to the doctor. Antibiotics were prescribed.

“My pneumonia went away and his didn’t,” Crean said. “That’s what really hurt.”

This is why: Crean had pneumonia. Schwab had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis in both lungs. Lung transplants were the only cure. He packed tanks of oxygen everywhere he went during his three-year wait on the transplant list.

Schwab underwent the surgery – and exceeded every goal. Back to health. Back to work, first at Marquette, then with the Minnesota Timberwolves and then at the University of Wisconsin.

“To see him recover the way that he did has been unbelievably inspiring,” Crean said.

Schwab became a passionate spokesperson for organ transplant donations, directing the outreach program for the University of Wisconsin hospital. He coaches everybody he encounters on how they can help save lives.

Last fall he developed an intestinal infection. To treat the infection, Schwab’s doctors had to reduce the dosage of his anti-rejection medication. He beat the infection and digestive issues, but before Christmas he noticed that walking on stairs left him out of breath.

His body was rejecting the transplanted lungs that served him so well for more than a decade. Because of his age, health and status as a transplant recipient, Schwab was not eligible for another surgery from the University of Wisconsin.

Crean helped him research other programs, making calls, asking questions and trying to open doors.

“That doesn’t surprise me at all because that’s the kind of person Coach Crean is,” said Ryan Burton, a senior on this Indiana team. “He’s one of the most caring and spiritual people you’ll ever meet. Everybody in this locker room understands he’ll do anything he can for us.”

A month ago Schwab was a candidate for surgery at the University of Maryland. I talked to him about his complications several weeks ago while driving to Notre Dame. His outlook was trademark Trey Schwab. He planned to win, just as he won during his initial surgery in 2004 when he nearly died on the operating table.

“I’ve been blessed,” Schwab said.

Schwab has refused to surrender, even after he was told several weeks ago that he would not be accepted by Maryland program. The move to palliative care this week confirmed how serious his fight has become. On Friday he made the same pitch Schwab always makes:

Encourage people to join organ transplant programs. Move past the emotion of this story and make a difference.Schwab asked that everybody visit donatelifeky.org or donatelifeindiana.org and sign up.

Then Trey Schwab said he had more work to do. He promised Tom Crean he’d text him a game plan for how to attack Kentucky.

“I’m excited for that game,” he said.

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