"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

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Tom Crean should just...well....SIT DOWN!

As I watched tonight's nightmare unfold, I took notice of Tom Crean on the sidelines doing his usual routine. Back and forth in the coach's box, barking out plays, clapping, grabbing his diet soda, more back and forth...same routine really for the last 9 years. Don't get me wrong, the guy is averaging 20 wins a year with that routine and done some things around here that haven't been done in decades.

However, sometimes you need to shake things up a touch...or a lot. I can hear and see the plays we're running on tv with his hand signals and shouting, I'm certain the other team 45 feet down the line can figure it out as well. Besides, when you're team is constantly looking to the bench to come up with a play, it sometimes pollutes their game thoughts. To much over thinking, not enough instinctive play. Basketball players become robots.

Here's an idea....SIT DOWN. Not a whole game, maybe not even a whole half. How about from one media timeout to the next? Yeah, I know, it's just a silly notion and everyone has silly ideas after a loss. Everyone wants to play Tuesday morning coach. Well, indulge me. Sit down. For just a touch.

Allow these juniors and seniors to be leaders....there are none right now that I see demonstrating any true leadership qualities. Crean said himself during the post game press conference that communication tonight was at an all-time low. Well, does that surprise anyone if the only person that is talking 99% of the time is the coach barking out plays and sets?

Coaches have to adapt just like everyone else. Time to take a chill pill every once in awhile....take a seat Jack. I'm not saying roll the ball out there and just let them play for 40 minutes without adult supervision....not at all. You can call out a few plays from your derriere, or even let them figure out the flow on their own, that is what they practice for every day. It's one thing to be the ring leader 24/7 and many teams need that. Some coaches need it apparently, too. However, I see an experienced and talented team right now that is looking for a leader on the court (a player) ....why not let them seize that moment and find that leader?

Sit down, take the weight off your feet, you may just find out that your club grows a bit more with a longer leash. At the very least, they will learn to trust each other a bit more and force them to communicate with one another while playing the game.

Just a thought from 2000 miles away.


Anonymous said...

I could not agree more. I have noticed this for year's now... Crean barking out plays and players looked confused with his call.

It can become stiffling. Some with think your post is an after-loss rant... I think it is long coming.

Anonymous said...

It was a frustrating loss, and the first things that come out after a loss like that are things that annoy us. Like with 5 minutes to go, the ESPN announcers aren't even talking about the BBgame but about the superbowl. Tom Crean has his idiosyncrasies and maybe even faults. It's almost a personality trait and we all know how hard those things are to change. Louisville is a very talented team. It was not a fast blow out but a gradual descent. Could we beat them if we play them in the Big East Tourney? Probably, but it will take a new strategy and using our players in the best possible way. Still appeared we were experimenting with personnel again. We can get away with that playing a cream puff, but middle of the game against Louisville isn't the time to experiment. Got to have a set plan. Oh well, Go MU we are behind you! We’ve played Louisville twice now. We ought to have a good strategy in place if we play them again.

Anonymous said...

I agree. I think his emotional involvevement in every play being run on the floor doesn't give him an oportunity to find the weaknesses of the opponents and develop in game strategies to exploit them. I hope that he may consider changing his style.

Unknown said...

a coach who has won no ncaa tourney games sans wade. a coach who had recruited one inside presence (jackson) in 10 years. a coach who cannot teach his team to play against a zone defense.

i want a new coach.

Anonymous said...

Crean stomping around is a way for him to get camera time. You don't see Roy Williams doing it. John Wooden didn't do it. Coach K doesn't do it. Dean Smith didn't do it. Al McGuire didn't do it. Crean is a poser, plain and simple. Unfortunately, I think we'll be saddled with him for a while.

Anonymous said...

Maura --
Crean didn't recruit Jackson. He was a transfer.

Anonymous said...

I think you can criticize Crean for many things about last night - the lack of an offensive output, the lack of a spark to start the game, etc. However, I don't think you can criticize a coach for coaching how he coaches. Sitting on his chair just observing the game works for Phil Jackson...it doesn't work for Tom Izzo.

Gene Frenkle said...

Maura, who do you want? Name a candidate? Just one. Throw all of us Crean haters a bone. Dying to know who you'd pick to come up her and coach MU and bring in the recruits to keep this program winning in the Big East. I mean, look at MUs storied history pre-Crean. Who on earth could imagine that the program faded to back to mediocrity again, right? Give us all a name of someone that's willing to come up to Milwaukee that has bonafides. Please, we are all dying to know.

I do think maybe Crean should adapt his style a little, but I also think nobody suggests he does this after an MU win. There are 50 comments after the UConn loss. 8 after the road Cinci win. I think this is more of a losing rant than anything. I don't think his sitting for four minutes during a game will allow a leader to jump out. At this point, shouldn't this team, these players, take it upon themselve to communicate.

Or, is it a sign they've tuned the coach out? That would be my biggest concern. And we won't know that until the season's over. Too early to say this yet.

As for Crean being too close to the game to not see what's in front of him (i.e. adjustments that should/could be made), isn't that what assistants are for?

Look, Crean doesn't walk on water. He has his faults and idiosyncricies. He did a terrible job leaving Lazar in there w/3 fouls in the second half. I don't know what it is, but the team right now doesn't have "it". Maybe Crean sitting down will help, I'm just saying this sounds more like a rant.

Anonymous said...

Solid entry, MUWarrior.

A few quick comments. I don't want to dwell on this one too long, but for some reason, this one bothered me...a lot:

-Does it seem like we were more competitive with less talent? Our losses this season are abysmal. And if true character shows itself when faced with defeat, then things don't look too promising.
-Did anyone else notice Crean shake Pitino's hand then turn around and head for the locker room without "good-gaming" the LU players? Unless he addressed this in the press conference and I missed it, that was pretty classless.
-I applaud an earlier poster's good spirits, but I'm worried when we start judging the expediency of the blowout. This rivalry is starting to lose its luster.
-Can the crowd be less interested? Students sitting during timeouts? Kids, you are right behind the opponents bench. Unless you're listening in on Slick Rick's plays and then communicate them to the MU bench, you should not be that quiet. It seems our crowd checks out quickly.
-Finally, while Henry Sugar's stats show the players improving, the team results have faltered over the last three years. And unless we go 6-2 over the next eight games, we'll have regressed each year in the BE — with virtually the same talent (minus Novak's senior season).

With tilts against Notre Dame, Georgetown, Pitt, Nova, and Syracuse still ahead, I'll be happily surprised if we finish better than 10-8 in conference.

Finally, Henry, can you crunch the stats for conference games? Maybe you do that already, and I'm passing over it. But it seems any stats accumulated before conference misrepresent the current state of the team.

Okay, I'll stop. I'm frustrated, and likely irrational right now. It just sucked watching the game look more like a Varsity/JV scrimmage than a bout between two elite teams.

This team and coach right now remind me of that scene from Planes, Trains, and Automobiles:
MU fans: "You're going the wrong way!"
Coach and players: "How do they know which way we're going?"

Anonymous said...

Gene Frenkle,

Regarding your question about a new coach that is disingenous. AD's are supposed to do this and MU does not have one. They have TC's father-in-law. Purdue has done a good job and so has Xavier and Dayton with replacing coaches. I don't buy for a minute that very good replacements aren't available and for less$$$$$.

Regarding the role of assistants during the game when is the last time you saw TC step back at a time out and talk to the assistants before talking to the team. TC's interaction with assistants is .........

Gene Frenkle said...

I think you hit on a HUGE point of contention that I do agree with. That being MU has given Crean too much control and has been negligent in not locating a full-time AD. Note to MU - you are in the B.East now. Playing with the big boys. Get your act together.

The fa-in-law thing is sketchy, but at least Harbaugh seems qualified for this job (look at his background). MU desperately needs an AD. Like anyone that doesn't have a boss over them all the time, you sometimes tend to go on doing what you do knowing there's nobody around to tell you "no". And checks-and-balances wouldn't hurt either.

Criticizing a coach like Crean, making the money he is, is fair game. And expectations this year are certainly high. My point is that we are in the B.East now and the difference between "failure" and "success" is a fine line (look at Villanova this year). There's no rest for the weary.

And if you are comfortable chancing the next coach to hoping to find someone better for less money, well, good luck then. I'm just not as comfortable as others making blanket statements that "there's someone better, cheaper" without any names or logic behind a replacement that would make basketball- and business-sense.

As frustrated as all of us MU fans are about no post-season wins since the final four and the lack of a low-post player, I would think that everyone on this board agrees that MU hoops is at a level nationally that it hasn't been on in 30 years. Underperforming last year and potentially this year to me, doesn't mean Crean can't coach. But it does mean he needs to get a low-post guy, or adapt.

(sorry for the long posts C.Sidewalks staff)

Anonymous said...

I think the original poster is misinterpreting his/her feelings.

I believe your desire to have Crean sit down during the game likely stems from the fact that, if he wasn't MU's coach, you'd dislike him as much as everybody else seems to (other than Tony LaRussa). You're sick of looking at the guy and realizing he's Marquette University's most recognizable representative. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

For all the Crean defenders out there - let me ask you a question. Do you believe that Crean can delivery a National Championship to MU?

Yes, than keep supporting Crean with all your heart.

No, lets try and improve the program and get a coach that can.

I agree that Crean has raised the level of MU program to a top 25 program in the country, but I do not think he can make MU an elite program or bring a Championship. If you don't thing Crean can bring a Championship, why not get another coach that may be able to raise the program up another notch.

You are asking who MU should bring in. Crean is paid in the top 10 of college coaches, that means that besides the 9 other coaches, the rest of the field is avialable. MU has top of the line practice facilities, Big East, Nationwide recruiting, paid top dollar. The MU coaching job is a premier job - better than 80% of Big 11 jobs or any other BCS confernece.

If you don't believe that MU can ever when a NCAA or become an elite program, I hope you enjoy your Union job, average looking wife, C student kids, and Hillary as President. I personally believe that MU can and will win another NCAA.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Everybody talks like Crean is the only coach Marquette can ever hire that is worth a dam. Sounds like no one has any pride in the University we graduated from. Personally I enjoyed my years at Marquette and living in Milwaukee.I am not a Crean basher, but I definitely have concerns. He constantly seems to be outcoached, when was the last time you saw him make a great in game adjustment to an opposition"s game plan? As for all the great recruiting, well it is better than Deane's but great??? Every body is saying next year's class is great but O'toule is nothing but a project and Fulce was an afterthought. We are not getting our prime #1 targets year in and year out.We need to break the ice and get a couple of top 25 players. Marquette hardly ever is mentioned by them when asked about interest. I was at MU from 1968 to 1975 (yes I went to Grad school also- it didn't take me 7 years to graduate, so maybe I'm spoiled being there in the "glory years" But, don't forget, McGuire came from Belmont Abbey and look what he accomplished. I guess I am just tired of people saying we shouldn't criticize because we can't get any better. It sure is a shame towaste great guard play because we have no low post play at all. Haywood is good but he is playing out of position. He is more a SF. Being a great recruiter is getting what your team needs . Look at Louisville's or Georgetown"s incoming classes.

Anonymous said...

I don't care if he stands out in the rain all night. I just want him to make some adjustments when his team is floundering. The fact that he continues to play Burke more than a minute at the end of the game makes me wonder if he has a clue.

Anonymous said...

Whoever said that our losses this year are "abysmal" is getting carried away. Come on. Remeber East Carolina? That was abysmal. ALL our losses this year are to good teams with RPIs in the top 50. So let's not exaggerate. It could be, and has often been, way worse.

I was there last night, and one thing I have to say (right before I throw up in my own mouth) is that Pitino is a better coach than Crean. Magnanimous, he is not. But after EVERY mistake a Louisville player made after which he could bench him, Pitino walked to the player and crouched down and coached him, at length. Not yelling or screaming at him, coaching him. How often does Crean do that? I don't like Pitino all that much but you've got to respect his coaching ability in the college game. In the beginning Crean was known to be a better recruiter than a coach, and that's fine, he was young. But I wish he had developed more as a coach. Even McGuire had Hank. Maybe Crean just needs a solid wingman?

Anonymous said...

Good point. By abysmal I meant more "dismal" in quality. Or non-competitive.

Losing to such solid competition isn't a problem, it's how we're losing that's alarming to me.

Anonymous said...

It's not as if Crean hasn't tried out new "wingmen" every season. Take a look at our coaching staff during games. Does it look they enjoy the working environment?

Gene Frenkle said...

You are asking who MU should bring in. Crean is paid in the top 10 of college coaches, that means that besides the 9 other coaches, the rest of the field is available.

Are you high? Seriously, are you high? I'd want to be "anonymous" too with that ridiculous statement.

You want an elite coach. Crean's not it, apparently. So you say hire a new one. O.K. How much time will you give him to create an "elite" program? How many seasons? If the team does poorly in year three, ship him out and start all over? Another "anony" person just talked about how MU hired Al from Belmont Abbey. Funny, but I have a feeling in today's sports-fan world that if MU hired some unproven coach from a small school like that, you would be screaming bloody murder that MU has no idea what they are doing and that they didn't select a winner.

Fact is, in today's world with rare exceptions, the grass is always greener.

How fickle are some of you people? How unrealistic are some of you people? An "elite" program is built up over years and time of success and continuity. I love MU hoops like no tomorrow, but it's not an elite program. Could it be? Sure, but over time. It's a very, very good program with a solid foundation, great fans, excellent tradition/history, and a world-class student athlete facility.

O.K. this conversation's definitely gotten off the topic of the original post. Enough Crean bashing/supporting. Let's talk about the upcoming games, recruits, etc..

Anonymous said...

More cowbell.

If MU makes a practice of firing everyone who does not have immediate and unparalleled success, NOBODY will take the job at any price! Who needs to be fired after 3 yrs - lets realize that we are not N Carolina and get a grip.

As Gene said continuity is key, so everyone should sit down, take a breath and enjoy a crisp rereshing Diet Pepsi - we will be serving it for quite some time.

Anonymous said...

Continuity is key? Is that what you're telling us?

Maybe you can tell that to Crean when he turns over another entire coaching staff.

Anonymous said...

Steve Lavin or John Calipari. I'd take either one over Crean.

Anonymous said...

The problem, Gene, is that we are not an elite program, but at $1.65 million per year, TC is paid very much an elite program salary, and yet after every loss, he places the blame squarely on his players.

They lacked energy, or focus, or didn't talk enough, or need to be challenged more. Never once will he admit that the gameplan or gameplan adjustments lacked something.

Remember, ALL of this goes away if he simply does what he is paid to do: win a game in the NCAA. And I for one, hope he does and will celebrate his and the teams success.

Jack 82

Anonymous said...

The father-in-law thing "sketchy". Come on, his presence is a deterent to any potential AD. TC has no one to whom he needs to be accountable to except Fr. Wild, and that is not a good arrangement. No AD is bad for everyone at MU.

As a coach (considering all aspects) I really don't think it is realistic to say TC has matured as a coach. Not shaking hands with the UofL players is petty and terrible PR for Marquette. Who's going to tell him that Doddsy? You can knock Pitino all you want but his track record is impressive.

Unknown said...

1) i know that jackson was a transfer, but coaches still somewhat recruit transfers

2) i don't know who i want. i'm just venting my frustration over having a great deal of talent and it not being organized and maximized.

Rob Lowe said...

Finally, while Henry Sugar's stats show the players improving, the team results have faltered over the last three years. And unless we go 6-2 over the next eight games, we'll have regressed each year in the BE — with virtually the same talent (minus Novak's senior season).

Finally, Henry, can you crunch the stats for conference games? Maybe you do that already, and I'm passing over it. But it seems any stats accumulated before conference misrepresent the current state of the team.
I did say that the comparison of player improvement was best suited for after the season. Also, even though a number of players did improve last year, we also lost an extremely efficient player in Steve Novak as well. (ps - I will do a view of player improvement and team expectations in the offseason)

The stats for the conference games are not nearly as good as for the entire season.

Season ORtg is 108.4 ; BE ORtg is 102.4

Season DRtg is 92.4 ; BE DRtg is 100.7

We have a lower eFG% and lower OR%. Turnover Rate Free Throw Rate are about the same, although FTR is higher for our opponents (that's bad)

Based on how we've been playing the last five games, our projected BE record is 9-9.

Anonymous said...

Dayton? Xavier? Are you kidding me? Marquette has come closer to a national championship under Crean than either one of those programs have EVER!!

Is he "overpaid?" Probably. Why does it matter to you? It's not as though ticket prices would be any lower if he were paid less.

I don't know what you people want. Being a consistent top 20 team with an occasional deeper NCAA run is probably the best Marquette can do in today's college basketball world. And if you start dropping coaches because that isn't good enough any longer, you get the likes of Bob Dukiet.

Anonymous said...

jce, you are exactly right! I couldn't agree more.

Anonymous said...

Who do fans like jce -- with their ever present inferiority complex -- insist that if we didn't have Crean we'd immediately revert to the worst quality of coach we've ever had. Are we still so shell shocked by Bob Dukiet that we accept overpaid mediocrity? We wouldn't you use a comparison like Kevin O'Neill or Mike Deane? They both had success at MU.

I think the mistake MU made was giving Crean carte blanche after the Final Four. He's got no supervision and a contract he couldn't get elsewhere. If he fails to make the NCAA this year, who is going to question the direction we're heading?

Anonymous said...

MU would probably get a good coach, but the problem is that since McGuire, the average length of stay by MU coaches has been 4 years until Crean.

So if you get a good one, he's probably gone and the stepping stone label we finally shook is squarely back on the forehead.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous:

I use Bob Dukiet as my example because that is exactly what happened with Rick Majerus. We pushed out a clearly outstanding coach because he didn't do enough without fully understanding that MU's potential downslide is a lot greater than its potential upslide. You think I have an inferiority complex? I use history as my guide while you seem to use nothing but wishful thinking.

I realize that economics are stacked against the program. Do you realize that since 1990, Marquette is only one of *four* schools to make the final four who doesn't have a football team attached to it? Marquette does an amazing job with basketball considering where some of our peers from 30 years ago are right now. Dayton, St. Louis and Xavier? Stuck in a second tier conference. De Paul? Barely hanging on. Detroit? Please.

Tom Crean deserves a great deal of credit for that. There is no doubt this season has been disappointing, but this is so much better than the alternative - and I think the University adminitration realizes that.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Clearly Identified JCE --
Marquette spends more on its basketball program than all but FOUR TEAMS!! Don't give me that crap about how hard we've got it at Marquette. You're being sold that, but it's simply not true. We have a state of the art facility to sell to recruits, play in an NBA facility, have one of the most prominent NBA players as an alum and play in a great conference -- and we still can't get top level recruits.

Unfortunately, Crean's got you all believing that he's the reason for all the above. That's the biggest bunch of crap I've ever heard.

Hold this guy responsible for mediocrity!!

Anonymous said...

Mr. Anonymous:

History suggests that since Al left, Crean has been our most successful coach. By far. No one else is really all that close.

I don't think it would be smart for us to dump him. The chances of us getting someone much better are slim...much worse is pretty damn big.

Anonymous said...

Dump him? I think everybody just wants some accountability and proper behavior.

Incidentally, the idea that Crean's success has been far and away the best of anybody at MU since McGuire is not true. O'Neill got to a Sweet 16 and ran into maybe the best Duke team ever. Deane also had some success in the NCAA. Crean had one dream year and has fallen on his face since.

Anonymous said...

Oh I definately agree with the more accountability concept, and that includes hiring a good AD - not just his father-in-law.

And Crean was much more successful than either O'Neill or Deane. O'Neill made the tournament twice, one time making it to the Sweet 16. Deane made it twice, winning one game, and both times losing to a lower seeded team. And the Duke team that O'Neill lost to made the finals that year, but lost to Arkansas - hardly the best Duke team ever.

Anonymous said...

College basketball has changed since high schoolers have made annual leaps to the NBA. And college KIDS still need a strong handed coach to keep their focused. You can't expect Crean to change who he is. His style is akin to Rick Pitino and John Calipari. I wish he'd make better in game adjustments, but I think that will come too. How's our bench production in the last month? Not going well in the few games I have seen. Where's the Cubillan that poured in 20 points against Pitt last season? Fitz's play is down. Blackledge can't earn more minutes. Etc.

George Mason, Butler, and Valpo have been threats in March Madness this decade because they kept players for 4 years.

Still, I think MU's slip has occured earlier this year, and that is promising because it leaves Crean and his staff 3 weeks to correct things so that we enter March with our game PEAKING. No more lame March results as in the Bama ('06) and MSU ('07) games.

And if we can just get to the Big East tournament championship, it would aid recruitment.

"MU '86 alum"

Anonymous said...

YES, Crean can deliver a national championship!

Nobody questioned AL after that miserable loss in the NCAAs to Purdue in 1969; after a horrible upset by Ohio State in 1971; after losing Jim Chones and losing again in the second round of the 1972 Midwest Regional; after yet-another quick exit in 1973.

There's more. A first round loss to Alabama in 1975 and a Midwest final loss to Indiana in 1976. Did anyone ask for Al's head for the inability to win the big one? Hell no!

We didn't question because of two things. First, Al consistently delivered regular seasons wins in Milwaukee. Yes, there were ugly loses along the way, but the fact is that the program, the athletes and the people around the program made us proud of our Marquette heritage. Second, we cognizant enough to know what was life before Al and what might be after.

Tom Crean has done the same thing Al did. Sure, we do not have a center, but so what? I lived through Dukiet, Raymonds, Deane and watched us lose Kevin O'Neill. I firmly believe that Coach Crean is the best thing that happened to Marquette since Al left and, if he is not chased out of town by obnoxious fans who don't like him, he will bring us a national title.

What too many people seem to want is what we don't and can't have! Al has died and gone to his eternal reward. He Coaching the Angel Warriors today!

Coach Crean has recaptured the spirit of Al. But he isn't Al and that seems to be his biggest sin in the minds of many.

Anonymous said...

Nobody is clamoring for the return of Al McGuire. I don't recall a ton of people calling for Deane's head. There were more people upset by his ouster. Why? Because people liked him.

Anonymous said...

warrior92 has way too much time on his hands. You don't have a clue what it takes to coach a college team. You don't have a clue what the dynamics are between Crean and the players. Tom paces, he sips, he claps and yells. That's how he does his job. My god, get the hell over it!

Anonymous said...

Give the guy 2 more years. Next year Tayshawn, Nick, and Trevor will help a lot. I've said before that they will be better than the "big three" and I truly believe that. Mbakwe is the key. All he need to do is rebound, defend, and score inside on occassion. Taylor and Williams are freakin studs. My biggest concern w Crean is that all 3 of the big 3 have regressed without question. Hayward is the only player that has improved from last season.

Anonymous said...

Hang on, Hang on, Hang on.

Crean is a very good recruiter and he's done well to build up MU's program from where it was when he arrived. He's certainly done nothing to merit the comments calling for his replacement...

What he is NOT is a game coach. Remember that he was MSU's "Assistant Head Coach" based on his recruiting prowess... and that's what Izzo needed because Izzo was a good game coach. (not great, but certainly better than Crean, as we learned in the NCAA tournament!)

What MU needs is an "Assistant Head Coach" in charge of offense and in-game strategy/execution. Crean can sit at the end of the bench and act as the figurehead, but take his clipboard away. Until that happens, we'll threaten but never get the best out of our players.

Go Warriors!