As many people that listen to the Wendy’s Big Show know, I am a person that tends to hold grudges and not let things go all that easily. If you know me or listen to the Wendy’s Big Show fairly regularly, you also realize my dislike for Indiana head coach Tom Crean. I will say that the first day I met him while working at WISN radio, I thought he could do great things. I remember telling the host that I produced for at the time that Tom Crean was clearly the right man for the Marquette job at that point. He was similar to Bruce Pearl in that both of them had that “used car sales guy” side of them. If you can recruit, you don’t have to be a great X’s and O’s guy. You can have those assistants with you on your staff to help you along with that.
I remember the stories I would hear about Dwyane Wade when he was a freshman and just how jaw-droppingly good he was in practice every day. I’ll admit that I wasn’t really buying into what I was hearing. However, when I watched him play in the Great Alaskan Shootout during his second season (first with eligibility) I couldn’t believe my eyes. Now again, I didn’t think he would turn into an NBA superstar, but I knew he was going to be a damn good college player and the sky was the limit for Marquette. A Final Four appearance later, Dwyane Wade was headed to the NBA, and things had changed forever for Tom Crean.
With the Final Four appearance comes the pressure of keeping the team at a high level and not letting the program slip back to mediocrity. With the Final Four appearance came other schools calling wanting him to leave and go coach for them. With the Final Four appearance came the challenge of not letting his success change him.
People thought that Crean could just go find another Wade, however, even at that point fans still didn’t realize how good they had it. I think Tom Crean knew that finding another Dwyane Wade while at MU was going to be like finding a needle in a haystack, so when Indiana came calling he left for his “dream job”.
The challenge at Indiana was probably a greater challenge than what he undertook at MU when he first arrived, considering all the sanctions that IU had placed on them because of the transgressions of former head coach Kelvin Sampson. Crean hasn’t looked back since taking over and has turned Indiana back into a powerhouse program in relatively short order.
Did the Final Four change him as a person? I think you could ask a bunch of different people in Wisconsin and get a bunch of different answers. However, if you ask Dwyane Wade, Tom Crean may have changed the course of basketball history http://tinyurl.com/aj665xt
After having read that great piece by Chris Tomasson, while I may not let go of my grudge with Tom Crean, I couldn’t be happier to see the relationship he has kept with Dwyane Wade. Let’s face it, both are at much different points in their life, but for Crean to reach out like that at that moment is truly heart-warming.