"My rule was I wouldn't recruit a kid if he had grass in front of his house.
That's not my world. My world was a cracked sidewalk." —Al McGuire

Monday, March 26, 2007

Tom Crean: Member of an Elite Club.

A recent message board post suggested that Tom Crean has seen minimal success as coach of Marquette. The fact that MU has only made four NCAA tournaments in the last six years, and only one Final Four seem to be a big bone of contention for some.

While Crean has been on the receiving end of criticism for the recent loss to Michigan State in the NCAA tournament, suggesting that he's seen minimal success at Marquette is a bit of a stretch.

He inherited a team coming off a losing record. Since then, he's never had a losing season, and after a couple years of rebuilding effort, he's guided Marquette to four of the last six NCAA tournaments, including one final four.

Just how rare is a final four coach?

Consider that just 20 active coaches have led their teams to an NCAA final four since Tom Crean became head coach.

Six of those 20 have done so more than once.

And these final four coaches don't always lead their teams to the NCAA tourney.

Just seven of those elite 20 have been to every NCAA tournament since 2002.
Another four coaches have been to 5 of 6 tourneys.
Five coaches (including Crean) have been to 4 of the last six

For the 2002 through 2007 NCAA tournaments, here's how the coaches break down:

Three Final Fours:
Donavan (6 NCAA bids in the last 6 years)
Izzo (6 of 6)
Roy Williams (6 of 6)

Two Final Fours:
Howland (5 bids in 6 years--twice with Pitt, three times with UCLA)
Krzyszewski (6 of 6)
Gary Williams (4 of 6)

One Final Four:
Illinois - Weber (6 of 6)
Texas - Barnes (6 of 6)
Arizona - Olson (6 of 6)
Ohio State - Matta (5 of 6 counting 3 at Xavier, 2 at Ohio State)
UConn - Calhoun (5 of 6)
Oklahoma - Sampson (5 of 6, including once at Indiana in 2007)
Pitino - Louisville (4 of 6)
Crean Marquette (4 of 6)
Boeheim - Syracuse (4 of 6)
Brady - LSU (4 of 6)
Georgetown - Thomspon (3 of 6, one at Princeton, two at Georgetown)
Davis - Indiana (3 of 6)
Hewitt - Georgia Tech (3 of 6)
Larranaga - George Mason (2 of 6)

In addition, three retired coaches have made the Final Four in the last 8 years:
Bennett from UW
Guthridge from UNC
Sutton from Oklahoma State

Minimal success? Hardly.


Anonymous said...

Not sure that your data supports your conclusion.

The beef with Crean is his record within post season play. He has won only one post season conference game in the last 5 years (vs St John's 07) and has not won any NCAA games ever outside the final 4 run.

The proper data would include the post season records of each of those 20 final 4 coaches, I don't think TC would rank well there.

I am a Crean supporter, but this is clearly a weakness that need to be adressed.

Anonymous said...

I think the point is that Crean has been living large off 2003 (and Wade's post MU success) and perhaps rightfully so. Unfortunately, since #3's departure, we've seen no uptick in recruiting and zero post season success. Quite the opposite, really.

I think people are just starting to wake up from the New Orleans haze to look at Crean's entire body of work with a critical eye. When you combine the post season difficulty with some of the difficulty he's had with transfers and assistant coaches and it seems to me that the natives are starting to wonder.

It's legitimate thinking for any fan.

Anonymous said...

I am a big Crean supporter. It takes time. Marquette was a nobody for a long time. Keep up the great job Coach Crean.

Anonymous said...

Everyone needs to take a chill and shut up! Tom Crean is the best thing that ever happened to Marquette since Al McGuire. We are starting to sound like Kentucky fans. Who else would you like. Take it easy everyone and enjoy the man and the success we will have at Marquette for at least the next 10 years.

Anonymous said...

It's not nice to pretend to be someone you are not...and putting a post there under SJS1's moniker is pretty pathetic.

Then to suggest that there has been no uptick in recruiting since Wade left is devoid of any intellectual capacity on your part.

MU signed arguably their best class in 20 years two years ago with three top 65 players and an overall top 5 class. How is this not an uptick in recruiting I would love to know.

If you keep up the crap of posting under someone's moniker that is clearly not yours, then your posts will be deleted immediately.

Consider yourself warned

Gene Frenkle said...

I had a discussion over Crean and MU today with my friend who works for the University of Michigan (in need of a coach). Possibly, MU will need one should Crean leave. No, they don't now, but it got us talking as to where MU is on the coaching ladder.

The one thing we agreed on is that today, if Crean were to leave, the school is in a much better position to choose a successor than in 1977 w/Al leaving. Mix in the large attendance, the fact MU men's hoops is the sole money maker for the school, the coach is the BMOC, enthusiasm is huge for alumni and students, did I mention the Big East, and throw in tons of games on ESPN, and I would like to think MU is somewhat of a premier job. But...

At the end of the day, both of us consider MU a solid, solid program. Unfortunately, for MU, it will always require the good fortune of luck and skill to get a coach that doesn't view the school as a stepping stone to bigger and (traditionally) better opportunities. Would a solid up-and-coming coach or a proven one rather go to Marquette or Michigan. I say Marquette. My friend isn’t sure. MU definitely has better facilities and a passion for hoops vs. Michigan which is and always will be viewed as a football-first school.

My whole point is, this whole criticism of Crean’s shortcomings in the eyes of some and wanting a replacement is partially good to see. It shows expectations are much higher today than they were when Mike Deane was here. That's a huge credit to him.

On the flip side, if Crean were to leave, I have NO idea whatsoever who MU would/could bring in here to coach. Again, I think the job is a top 30 job. But, would the Lon Kruger's of the world view it that way? Or, is it a way to get back to a premier program? What about another up and comer like Chris Lowery at Southern Illinois. Young, passionate, hasn’t been to a program like MU yet. Do you go for a guy like that and hope he stays at MU for 8+ years (like Crean has)?

My friend read on a blog another "rumor" that Stan Heath would be a good replacement for Crean should he leave. At first I was incensed over this thought. "I don't want some reject from Arkansas." But after a little while I got to thinking that maybe that's the type of person MU will be "stuck" with if Tom leaves.

I say "stuck" because someone like Heath would have been welcomed nine years ago I think. He isn't a bad coach at all, but again, expectations are now higher than in the past and getting a recently fired coach would be a step back. At the end of the day, that's what counts and Crean should be commended for it.
Winning changes everything. From expectations, to a feeling of entitlement, to feeling like a hire like a Heath would be a step back.

Now...about that post season record, Tom…

Anonymous said...

As a big fan of Stan Heath, I would refrain from describing him as someone who failed at a higher school. He got unfairly dismissed at Arkansas because of impatience from fans and especially their AD. Heath inherited a mess from Nolan Richardson and had that program going in the right direction. Next season, Arkansas should be a top 20 team (assuming their players don't leave) with the chance to be finish at the top of the SEC. He's proven to me that he can build a successful program in a major conference, which would give him an edge in my eyes over a Chris Lowery. The only realistic candidate I would take over Heath would be Anthony Grant, since Grant played a major part in building Florida's powerhouse team.

TB said...

Zero Tolerance, thank you.

We're watching

Gene Frenkle said...

In the last 14-hours, I've done more reading on Heath and the more I see, the more I definitely conclude he was pushed out because Arkansas MUST have some insight into getting Gillespie to take the job. Otherwise, I can't see why they'd make this move unless they had someone lined up. Personally, I think they're gonna give Gillespie whatever he wants.

Anonymous said...

This past season, Marquette was a top 20 team. Won a tournament over Duke. Beat a number of coaching legends. Next season the team will be even better with strong recruiting. And people are talk about wanting to get a new coach? Get your heads examined.

Anonymous said...

Too bad Don Haskins isn't still coaching at UTEP, MU could have bragged even more about beating "coaching legends." That's just a joke. And are you really still impressed with the Duke win? They finished 6th in the ACC!

Anonymous said...

Joke, Duke was a sixth seed in the NCAA. Clearly not their best team but one most teams would envy. If you don't think Pitino, Knight, Calhoun and Coach K aren't legends, no exam necessary, go straight to medication.

Anonymous said...

I didn't say Duke was a joke, I said talking about defeating coaching legends is a joke. Save that kind of talk for Tom Crean's write-up in the MU media guide. It has nothing to do with anything. Oh, and I'd put Tom Izzo in the "coaching legend" category, too. Of course, he had a decent team this year.

Crean isn't Kentucky material, that's for sure!!

Anonymous said...

Crean may not be Kentucky material, but that will be for Kentucky to determine, not some idiot poster on a blog.