After nine seasons in Bloomington, Tom Crean is out as Indiana’s head basketball coach. Crean, who was fired Thursday, went 166-135 (.551) with the Hoosiers, giving him the second-worst winning percentage in program history among coaches to coach at least 100 games. Indiana went 18-16 this season and lost in the first round of the NIT.
Thus, Crean’s firing, in many ways, wasn’t surprising.
But that doesn’t mean it was right.
“I wouldn’t have done it,” CBS Sports college basketball analyst Gary Parrish said on CBS Sports Radio’s After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “I think they had a good basketball coach. Fans who yearn for a change always assume the next guy is going to get better. It’s like, ‘This guy has been okay, but we deserve greatness. Let’s go get greatness.’ It doesn’t always work that way. Once upon a time, Kentucky thought they could do better than Tubby Smith, so they pushed him out – and they hired Billy Gillispie. It wasn’t better. Now they ultimately got better because they got John Calipari, but the in-between years were rough.
“So I would just tell Indiana to be careful here,” Parrish said. “Tom Crean did win two of the past five outright Big Ten titles. He went to three of the past five Sweet 16s. I know that he’s got zero Final Fours and never got past the Sweet 16, but if that’s what you’re going to focus on – a three-week tournament as opposed to a four-month schedule – that’s not the way I value who’s good and not good at coaching. But the truth is, Indiana fans just wanted a change. They had just got tired of him.”
The Hoosiers went 27-8 and reached the Sweet 16 last year, ultimately losing to North Carolina, which advanced to the national championship. A nine-win regression, however, was too much for Crean to overcome.
“What’s crazy to me is, yeah, he had a bad season this season, but why?” Parrish asked. “He lost two starters. People forget: Collin Hartman got hurt before the season started. Then OG Anunoby (was) out for the year with a knee injury. So you lose two starters from a team that was top 20 – what does that make you? How many other schools in the country lost two starters that were supposed to be good? Probably not many. Definitely not many. So the only reason we’re having this conversation today is because two people got hurt. Is that really what’s going to cost somebody their job? But it did, and now Indiana will start throwing piles of cash at all sorts of A-list candidates.
“I do think they’ll end up with a good coach, but is their good coach going to be able to do what they want them to do?” Parrish continued. “Because what they want is to beat Kentucky. They want to beat Kansas. They want to be a consistent winner without exception, competing for national titles. I’m all for dreaming, but I think you should also be realistic.”
Kentucky’s coach is John Calipari. Kansas’ last three coaches were Larry Brown, Roy Williams and Bill Self.
“Kentucky and Kansas are Kentucky and Kansas, in part, because they have Hall of Fame coaches,” Parrish said. “So can you go get a Hall of Fame coach? Because that is the only way to try to get on that level – and even then, I think you got some stuff working against you. I wish them luck, but I do think on some level they’re holding on to a past that isn’t obviously present anymore.”