Throughout his 2012 Big Ten Championship season, Tom Crean became a lightning rod for criticism. Whether it was his substitution patterns or in-game adjustments, critics always found something to bash the Indiana University head coach for. In the off-season, critics have grown louder and louder for his alleged practice of offering more scholarships than the Hoosiers could give. Allow me to explain why these criticisms are all off base.
With the exception of garbage time, Crean had perfected a nine-man rotation. All four substitutes: Derek Elston, Will Sheehey, Remy Abell, and Jeremy Hollowell had specific roles within the team. So asking Crean to cut any of them out of the rotation would have been ridiculous. It is silly to Crean for losses because of substitution patterns.
It is true; Crean is not the best in-game coach in the world. But it is hard to argue the fact that he is one of the best developers of talent in the college game. Two of the best examples of this have been his work with Dwyane Wade and Victor Oladipo. According to reports, Hanner Mosquera-Perea is the next Crean player expected to take a big leap.
The biggest gripe against Crean is his recruiting behavior the past two seasons. Last season, he over-signed and then was blamed when recruit Ron Patterson failed summer classes that would have made him academically eligible. People who blame that on Crean make me laugh. Crean likes to be in control of his team on the basketball court, but do not pretend like he is some Big Brother-like character who keeps certain players from passing classes. That brings us to this past recruiting season. Crean was blasted by ESPN’s Eamonn Brennan, among others, for signing six recruits when he knew he would only have three seniors graduating. To that I say, do you think Crean does not fully understand his scholarship situation? Crean knew Oladipo and Cody Zeller would be leaving for the NBA well before the public did. “There’s always going to be things that go on, that those of us that are inside those doors truly have a grasp on,” Crean had been quoted as saying. “That’s just sometimes the way it is. We better have a grasp on it … and we do. You don’t really talk a lot about it publicly.”
It is worth noting that Brennan’s scathing article remained relevant for less than five hours, because Abell announced his decision to transfer later that day. While this solved the scholarship situation, Crean was still criticized for “forcing out” Abell, which amused me even more. Why would Crean force out someone who would be a starter in 2013-14. It defies logic.
By this point, you may be wondering what my point is. Coach Crean is a heck of a coach who is more than capable to be successful at his job. He, and every other coach who seems guilty of “oversigning” knows more about their team than you, or any other member of the public does. Speculation is nothing more than, well, speculation; it is necessary to wait until all the facts are known fingers can start being pointed.
Crean’s consensus Top five recruiting class should help the Hoosiers overcome their personnel losses and be extremely competitive in the Big Ten.
Brian Fox is a Big Ten Basketball Writer for Rant Sports. Follow Brian on Twitter @RealBrianFox