Tom Crean has taken a lot of heat about his coaching performance at Indiana thus far - but for the third time in four years - he has the Hoosiers dancing in March. Indiana finished up this season at 20-13 with a 9-9 record in B1G Conference play which was good enough to earn a #10 seed. The Hoosiers will be matched up against Wichita State in Omaha on Friday. While this is the first ever double digit seed awarded to Indiana - they are at least in the dance with a chance to make some noise.
For his career, which has included head coaching stops at Marquette and Indiana, Crean has a .602 winning percentage (311-206). That includes a .524 winning percentage (121-110) at Indiana. In his 9 seasons at Marquette, Crean coached future NBA players in Dwayne Wade, Dominic James, Steve Novak, and Travis Diener. That has continued in his 7 seasons at Indiana with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, and Noah Vonleh. Several members of the current team - namely Kevin Yogi Ferrell, James Blackmon Jr, and Troy Williams - are likely to playing in the NBA in the future as well.
In sixteen seasons as a head coach, Crean has made the NCAA Tournament 8 times and the NIT Tournament 3 times which leaves 5 years of no postseason (4 of those have occurred at Indiana). His NCAA Tournament record stands at 9-7 with one Final Four appearance in 2003 with Marquette and Dwayne Wade. On two other occasions - his teams have advanced to the Sweet 16 (2012 & 2013 Indiana). His 2013 Hoosiers were given a #1 seed - but fell to Syracuse and their dominant zone defense. The four other NCAA appearances have resulted in 3 first round exits and 1 second round exit.
Even with his final four appearance - the knock on Tom Crean is that he has never been able to win when it matters most. His record in the NCAA Tournament certainly lends itself to that reputation - but it is still a relatively small sample size. Keep in mind the first three seasons at Indiana were off the charts bad and no one would have been able to do any better given where the program was after Kelvin Sampson departed following a recruiting scandal. However, many Hoosier fans point to that game against Syracuse in 2013 as a perfect example where Indiana appeared to not even be prepared for the zone defense. The year was made even more disappointing when Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo were both drafted in the Top 5 of the NBA Draft showing that Indiana had more talent than anyone else in that tournament.
Indiana is not used to being an underdog in the NCAA Tournament and that is where they find themselves this season. Tom Crean has a perfect opportunity to prove he can win when it matters in a tough spot. If he is able to guide these Hoosiers to another Sweet 16 appearance - I think that will be met with high praise given the pre-season expectations which had the Hoosiers in 10th place in the B1G Conference. But then again - it's Indiana - and the fan base may only settle on the impossible - a National Championship.