BOZICH | Who's next for Indiana after Tom Crean era ends?
Indiana ended Tom Crean's nine-season run as the Indiana basketball coach Thursday.
INDIANAPOLIS (WDRB) – Tom Crean’s nine-season run as the basketball coach at Indiana University ended Thursday morning as the school announced Crean would not be retained for the final three years of his contract.
Indiana failed to make the NCAA Tournament for the second time in four seasons this winter, finishing 18-16 and tied for 10th in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers exited during the first round of the NIT by losing at Georgia Tech Tuesday, a puzzling end to a season that began with victories over Kansas and North Carolina, two of the top teams in college basketball.
The Hoosiers have not advanced past the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament since 2002 and won their fifth and last NCAA title three decades ago Crean's first three seasons were difficult as he took over a program without a scholarship player. Crean rallied to win the Big Ten regular season title in 2013 and 2016. His nine-season record at IU was 166-135, 6-4 in the NCAA Tournament.
Here is a short list of possible replacements for Crean (listed alphabetically). The Boston Globe reported that Celtics coach Brad Stevens said he is not interested in leaving for a college job:
Steve Alford, UCLA: Friends of Alford have spread the word that the former IU star would be interested in returning to Bloomington, where he led the Hoosiers to the 1987 NCAA title. Although his UCLA team starts the NCAA Tournament as a three-seed in the South Regional, the Bruins failed to sell out many of their home games in Pauley Pavilion. Only a year ago, Alford was on the hot seat at UCLA, which led to Alford giving back part of his salary for this season.
Tony Bennett, Virginia: A two-time coach of the year at Virginia, Bennett's teams play a hard-nosed, defensive-minded style that many Indiana fans prefer. Bennett was not interested in the position when Indiana hired Crean in 2008 but might be interested in returning to his Midwest roots. The Hoosiers could give him a major salary increase from $2.1 and Bennett could move away from Duke and North Carolina in the ACC.
Billy Donovan, Oklahoma City: A longshot because he's making $6 million in the second-year of a five-year NBA deal, Donovan lost his best player (Kevin Durant) after last season and the Thunder are trending in the wrong direction. Maybe he's committed to making it work in the NBA. Maybe he'd be interested in returning to college and trying to add to the two NCAA titles he won at Florida.
Chris Holtmann, Butler : The Bulldogs defeated Indiana in December, and Holtmann led them to a second-place finish in the Big East and the No. 4 seed in the South Regional. He's taken Butler to three straight NCAA Tournaments.
Gregg Marshall, Wichita State: Marshall has done great things in Wichita, leading the Shockers to the 2013 Final Four and multiple Missouri Valley Conference titles. But Marshall is considered difficult to work with and he has not been interested in leaving Wichita for other Power Five.
Archie Miller, Dayton: Considered a rising star, Miller has directed the Flyers to four straight NCAA Tournaments, including a seven-seed in the South Regional this year. He's the younger brother of Arizona coach Sean Miller.
Here is the statement that the school released from athletic director Fred Glass:
"After deliberative thought and evaluation, including multiple meetings with Tom about the future, I have decided to make a change in the leadership of our men’s basketball program. Tom Crean brought us through one of the most challenging periods in IU basketball history, led his players to many successes in the classroom and on the court and represented our university with class and integrity. While winning two outright Big Ten titles in five years and being named Big Ten Coach of the Year, Tom worked tirelessly to develop great young men and successful teams. However, ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations. Tom is a good man and a good coach and we owe him a great debt of gratitude for his many positive contributions to Indiana basketball. We wish him well.
"The national search for our new coach begins immediately. The Board of Trustees and the President have expressly delegated to me the responsibility and authority for this search and hire. While I will not be establishing a formal search committee or advisory committee, I will consult with basketball experts from around the country and throughout the State of Indiana, including many former Indiana University basketball players. The expectations for Indiana University basketball are to perennially contend for and win multiple Big Ten championships, regularly go deep in the NCAA tournament, and win our next national championship—and more after that. We will identify and recruit a coach who will meet these expectations."
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