Tom Crean (basketball)

Thomas Aaron Crean (born March 25, 1966) is an American college basketball coach and the current head coach for the Georgia Bulldogs of University of Georgia in Athens, Georgia. Crean was previously the head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers men's basketball team. Prior to that, he served as head coach at Marquette University (1999–2008), where his team reached the 2003 NCAA Final Four.

Tom Crean
Current position
TitleHead coach
Biographical details
Born (1966-03-25) March 25, 1966 (age 54)
Mount Pleasant, Michigan
Alma materCentral Michigan
Coaching career (HC unless noted)
1987–1989Alma (assistant)
1989–1990Michigan State (GA)
1990–1994Western Kentucky (assistant)
1994–1995Pittsburgh (assistant)
1995–1999Michigan State (assistant)
Head coaching record
Tournaments11–9 (NCAA Division I)
2–3 (NIT)
Accomplishments and honors
NCAA Division I Regional – Final Four (2003)
C-USA regular season (2003)
2 Big Ten regular season (2013, 2016)
C-USA Coach of the Year (2002, 2003)
Clair Bee Coach of the Year (2003)
Big Ten Coach of the Year (2016)

Crean's basketball philosophy emphasizes fast breaks and transition offense. His guidance of the Indiana program to success from "unthinkable depths" was regarded as one of the most remarkable rebuilding projects in NCAA basketball history.[1] In 2012, he was named the mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year, the Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year, and the National Coach of the Year. In 2016, Crean was named by the coaches and media the Big Ten Coach of the Year after coaching Indiana to their second outright Big Ten regular-season championship in four years.

Personal lifeEdit

Crean was born and raised in Mount Pleasant, Michigan, where he played basketball for four years. According to Crean, "I didn't play a lot, although my coach called me his biggest tool, but I knew I wanted to coach."[2] While a student at Central Michigan University, Crean was an assistant coach at Mount Pleasant High School for five seasons,[3] and at Alma College. Crean received his bachelor's degree in parks-and-recreation studies from Central Michigan in 1989.[2] Crean is married to Joani Harbaugh, whom he met while an assistant to Ralph Willard at Western Kentucky University (WKU) through a mutual friend, Ron Burns, at a gym where she was working as an aerobics instructor.[4] Her father, Jack Harbaugh, was the head football coach at WKU at the time Crean was an assistant basketball coach there. She is also the sister of the first pair of brothers in NFL history to serve as head coaches: Baltimore Ravens head football coach John Harbaugh and former San Francisco 49ers head football coach and current University of Michigan Wolverines head football coach Jim Harbaugh.[5] Crean and his wife have three children: Megan, Riley, and Ainsley.[6] Riley is a right handed pitcher for the Georgia Bulldogs baseball team.[7] Crean is a Christian.[8]

Assistant coaching careerEdit

Crean spent two stints at Michigan State, first during the 1989-1990 season as a graduate assistant under then head coach Jud Heathcote at the behest of then assistant coach Tom Izzo, whom Crean had befriended on the summer camp circuit.[9] From 1990 to 1994 Crean served as the associate head coach under Ralph Willard at Western Kentucky. When Willard left Western Kentucky to become head coach at Pittsburgh in 1994, Crean was considered to replace him as head coach.[10] Ultimately Crean followed Willard to Pittsburgh, serving as associate head coach for one year.[3]

In 1995, Crean returned to Michigan State as assistant coach under the leadership of Tom Izzo. Izzo and Crean became such good friends that Crean lived in Izzo's house and Izzo was an usher in Crean's wedding. According to Crean at the time, "It was a great opportunity for me to go back home. We've been friends a long time. I don't think I would have left Ralph for anything else."[11] During this period Crean served at various times as recruiting coordinator and, for the last two seasons, associate head coach.[12] In each of Crean's four seasons, Michigan State's win total increased, culminating with a 33-5 season and a 15-1 Big Ten ledger in 1999. Michigan State later went on to honor Crean with a 2000 National Championship ring; even though he wasn't on the staff at the time, he'd helped recruit and develop many of the players on the title team.

Marquette UniversityEdit

Crean on January 17, 2007 coaching at Freedom Hall

On March 30, 1999, Crean was named head coach at Marquette University.[3] According to Crean, "Once Marquette became available, that's where my sights were. I had unbelievable respect for the tradition and the name. When I thought of Marquette, I thought of a true basketball school and to me that had a lot to do with it."[13] Crean immediately made a number of changes at Marquette, creating a new team image by increasing the significance of the team's media day and instituting a "Midnight Madness" event commonly held by schools on the night teams are allowed to begin practice.[14] Crean's first recruiting class was considered by experts to be among the top twenty in the country, Marquette's first in a long time.[15]

In his nine years with Marquette, Crean's teams earned five NCAA Tournament bids, one more than the previous four Marquette coaches had in the 16 years prior to his arrival. During his tenure there Crean recruited, developed and coached a number of skilled players that made significant contributions in both the NCAA and NBA, including Dwyane Wade, Dominic James, Steve Novak, and Travis Diener.

Over his final seven seasons at Marquette, Crean compiled an aggregate record of 160-68 (.702). The 2002-03 season was one of the best in Marquette history. The team made a Final Four appearance for the first time since winning the NCAA Championship in 1977. Crean has referred to the team's run as "one of the greatest four or five days of my life."[16]

Later that year, Marquette accepted an offer to leave Conference USA for the Big East Conference after the 2004–2005 season. Big East commissioner Mike Tranghese cited his friendship with Crean as contributing to the invitation, saying, "That, to me, was one of the great appeals, to get Tommy as well as Marquette into the league."[17]

Indiana UniversityEdit

"The tradition at Indiana could be stacked up against the tradition of any other college sports team anywhere because of everything that has gone on here, in the sense of how many players have played here, how many championships have been won here. The players were household names to me, so it's very, very easy for me to promote that and to want to be a part of that and to welcome that. That's our lifeline ... The tradition is what Indiana stands for and what I want it to stand for, and so we want to reward that and embrace that at every possible turn."

Tom Crean, 2008[18]

On April 1, 2008, Crean was hired as head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers, succeeding interim head coach Dan Dakich. Dakich had replaced former coach Kelvin Sampson, who resigned after NCAA recruiting violations. Between Crean's hiring and the start of the 2008–09 season, freshman Eric Gordon opted to leave early for the NBA and star forward DJ White graduated. Two players kicked off the team by Dakich were not allowed back by Crean, one was dismissed by Crean and two transferred.[19] As a result, Crean began with a roster consisting only of two walk-ons who had scored a combined 36 points in their careers. Despite the long odds, Crean was known to approach games and practices as if Indiana could compete in each one and to continue stressing Hoosier Hysteria and the long tradition of success at the school.[1] He was well aware that he was walking into a difficult situation. However, when asked why he left Marquette, Crean replied, "It's Indiana. It's Indiana, and that is the bottom line."[20]

With a depleted roster and damaged recruiting lure, Crean's first three seasons saw consecutive losing records of 6–25 (the worst in school history), 10-21, and 12-20. However, during this period Crean's recruiting classes progressively improved, most notably with the signing of five-star recruit and McDonald's All-American Cody Zeller, an Indiana native. Zeller was the highest ranked recruit to join the Indiana program since the Sampson era.

Despite his difficult early years at Indiana, Crean did much to establish goodwill with the fans. For instance, at the first "Midnight Madness" festivities before his first season, Crean brought back "Martha the Mop Lady," the subject of a popular ad that opened Hoosier basketball games on WTTV for 30 years. It featured a cleaning lady whistling "Indiana, Our Indiana" while cleaning Assembly Hall. Since the actress who had appeared in the original ads was unavailable, singer Sheila Stephen stepped in as the new Martha. Starting with the 2010–11 season, video of the original ad was shown at home games after the National Anthem and right before tip off.[21] Later, the video was shown just before the Hoosiers took the court.

The 2011-2012 season was a watershed one for Crean and the program, which saw a 27–9 record and a sweet 16 appearance. The season also saw home wins over #1-ranked Kentucky (on a buzzer-beater at the end of regulation), #2-ranked Ohio State, and #5-ranked Michigan State. This made Crean the first Indiana coach to defeat the #1- and #2-ranked teams in the same season and the first Indiana squad ever to defeat three programs ranked in the top five in a single season. The Hoosiers earned a number four seed in the 2012 NCAA Tournament and defeated New Mexico State in the Round of 64. After defeating VCU in the Round of 32, the Hoosiers lost in the Sweet Sixteen to rival Kentucky, who would go on to win the national championship.

The fifteen game win improvement in 2011-2012 was the largest single turnaround in the NCAA that season.[22] Crean's guidance of the program to success from "unthinkable depths" was widely regarded as one of the most remarkable rebuilding projects in NCAA basketball history.[1] As a result, he was named the mid-season Jim Phelan National Coach of the Year,[23] the Sporting News Big Ten Coach of the Year,[24] and the National Coach of the Year.[25]

For the 2012–13 season, Crean signed five highly touted recruits, self-dubbed "The Movement." Combined with the returning players from the previous season, Indiana dominated the college basketball landscape, spending 10 weeks ranked #1 in the country and all but two weeks in the top 5.[26] The Hoosiers won their first outright Big Ten regular season title in 20 years, and garnered a #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament, also their first in 20 years. The team, led by seniors Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls, along with eventual top-five NBA draft picks Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller, advanced to the Sweet Sixteen in the NCAA tournament before losing to eventual Final Four participant Syracuse. The next two seasons, 2013–14 and 2014–15, the Hoosiers slipped to records of 17–15 and 20–14 with eighth and seventh-place finishes in the Big Ten, respectively. Despite these low finishes and player arrests,[27] Crean was retained after appearing on many media "hot seat" lists.[28] After a slow start to the 2015-2016 season, Crean and the Hoosiers would eventually go on to be outright Big Ten Regular Season Champions and Crean was named by the coaches and media the Big Ten Coach of the Year. During the 2016–17 season, the Hoosiers missed the NCAA Tournament for the 5th time in 9 years under Crean despite being ranked #3 in the AP Poll earlier in the season and finished with an 18–16 record, losing in the first round of the NIT to Georgia Tech.

Crean was fired by Indiana on March 16, 2017.[29]

University of GeorgiaEdit

On March 15, 2018, Crean was named head coach of the Georgia Bulldogs.[30][31][32]

Coaching style and philosophyEdit

Crean's basketball philosophy emphasizes fast breaks and deflections. On offense, he has a reputation for the magnitude of his offensive sets and their multitude of options, with one opposing coach estimating about 400 different sets run.[33] Shot selection is extremely important, with a focus on spacing, inside-out attacks, penetration and kick.[34] On defense Crean emphasizes contesting each of the opponent's steps on the court. Crean utilizes the halfcourt defense which requires great ball pressure, help from teammates, challenging shots, and defensive rebounding.

Crean is considered an excellent recruiter and one of college basketball's best talent evaluators.[13] A hallmark of Crean's programs is the notion that players are joining a family and making sure that players' families are involved in the program.[35] Crean is also known to excel in public relations.[36] At Marquette he began the tradition of Midnight Madness, which was seen as an immediate success.[37] Between 1999 and 2006, Marquette saw a 70% overall increase in attendance, three total attendance records broken, and 1.5 million fans pass through the turnstiles.[13]

On the court Crean is known to walk the sidelines with an intensity normally reserved for football coaches.[1] For inspiration, Crean has a library filled with biographies of coaches and business executives, with favorites being Jim Collins' management guide "Good to Great" and the story of Bill Belichick's rise in New England, "Patriot Reign".[1]

During his time at Indiana, Crean was criticized by fans and media for the amount of turnovers his teams committed,[38] poor defense,[39] lack of team fundamentals, poor in-state recruiting,[40] large numbers of players transferring,[41] and his "blow-by" handshakes of opposing coaches.[42]

Awards and recognitionEdit

Crean has been chosen to coach a number of national teams. In 2001, he was selected by USA Basketball as one of eight coaches. In 2004, he served as an assistant coach for USA Basketball's under-20 team in the FIBA Americas World Championship. The team won its second title since the tournament.

Head coaching recordEdit

Statistics overview
Season Team Overall Conference Standing Postseason
Marquette Golden Eagles (Conference USA) (1999–2005)
1999–00 Marquette 15–14 8–8 4th (American) NIT First Round
2000–01 Marquette 15–14 9–7 3rd (American)
2001–02 Marquette 26–7 13–3 2nd (American) NCAA Division I Round of 64
2002–03 Marquette 27–6 14–2 1st (American) NCAA Division I Final Four
2003–04 Marquette 19–12 8–8 8th NIT Quarterfinal
2004–05 Marquette 19–12 7–9 9th NIT First Round
Marquette Golden Eagles (Big East Conference) (2005–2008)
2005–06 Marquette 20–11 10–6 T–4th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2006–07 Marquette 24–10 10–6 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2007–08 Marquette 25–10 11–7 T–5th NCAA Division I Round of 32
Marquette: 190–96 (.664) 90–56 (.616)
Indiana Hoosiers (Big Ten Conference) (2008–2017)
2008–09 Indiana 6–25 1–17 11th
2009–10 Indiana 10–21 4–14 T–9th
2010–11 Indiana 12–20 3–15 11th
2011–12 Indiana 27–9 11–7 5th NCAA Division I Sweet Sixteen
2012–13 Indiana 29–7 14–4 1st NCAA Division I Sweet Sixteen
2013–14 Indiana 17–15 7–11 T–8th
2014–15 Indiana 20–14 9–9 T–7th NCAA Division I Round of 64
2015–16 Indiana 27–8 15–3 1st NCAA Division I Sweet Sixteen
2016–17 Indiana 18–16 7–11 T–10th NIT First Round
Indiana: 166–135 (.551) 71–91 (.438)
Georgia Bulldogs (Southeastern Conference) (2018–present)
2018–19 Georgia 11–21 2–16 13th
2019–20 Georgia 16–16 5–13 13th
2020–21 Georgia 0–0 0-0
Georgia: 27–37 (.422) 7–29 (.194)
Total: 383–268 (.588)

      National champion         Postseason invitational champion  
      Conference regular season champion         Conference regular season and conference tournament champion
      Division regular season champion       Division regular season and conference tournament champion
      Conference tournament champion

See alsoEdit


  • Coaching Team Basketball. Wheaton, IL: McGraw-Hill, 2006. ISBN 978-0-07-146565-6. (with Ralph Pim.)


  1. ^ a b c d e Carpenter, Les. "Tom Crean pulled Indiana from unthinkable depths to the NCAA tournament in four arduous years". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved March 20, 2012.
  2. ^ a b "Crean's Road to Final Four Began in Michigan". Grand Rapids Press. Booth Newspapers. April 5, 2003. p. C4.
  3. ^ a b c Nickel, Lori (March 30, 1999). "Marquette Will Name Crean as its New Coach Today". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  4. ^ Nickel, Lori (September 16, 1999). "Man in Motion". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  5. ^ Ken Murray (January 7, 2011). "Jim Harbaugh joins Ravens' John Harbaugh to form first pair of NFL head coaching brothers". Baltimore Sun.
  6. ^ "Player Bio: Tom Crean". Indiana Athletics. October 2009. Retrieved January 13, 2010.
  7. ^ "Riley Crean - 2019 Baseball Roster". Georgia Bulldogs. Retrieved December 11, 2018.
  8. ^ "Tom Crean talks Christianity at FCA banquet".
  9. ^ Weiss, Dick (March 4, 2002). "Marquette's Marquee Name Crean Bringing Glory Days Back". New York Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. p. 65 (Sports).
  10. ^ Dulac, Gerry (April 12, 1994). "Willard Adds Aide and Woos Recruits". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. p. B3. Meantime, Willard's assistant at Western Kentucky, Tom Crean, will join him at Pitt. That became official yesterday when Jacksonville Coach Matt Kilcullen was named to replace Willard at Western Kentucky. Crean was being considered for the Western Kentucky job. Crean is married to the former Joanie Harbaugh, who attended Pitt when her father, Jack, was assistant head football coach under Mike Gottfried.
  11. ^ Dulac, Gerry (June 8, 1995). "Miller May Succeed Crean as Pitt Assistant". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. p. D2.
  12. ^ "Spartans Assistant Hired as Marquette Coach". The Columbus Dispatch. Dispatch Broadcast Group. March 31, 1999. p. 2E.
  13. ^ a b c Rosiak, Todd (December 9, 2006). "Road to Marquette Shaped Crean". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  14. ^ Nickel, Lori (October 6, 1999). "New-look MU has Touch of Crean". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 9 (Sports).
  15. ^ Nickel, Lori (November 11, 1999). "Crean's First MU Class Draws Rave Reviews". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 9 (Sports).
  16. ^ Scoggins, Chip (March 15, 2006). "The Big East Surprise". Star Tribune. Avista Capital Partners. p. 1C.
  17. ^ Rosiak, Todd (November 5, 2003). "MU Makes Move Official". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 8 (Sports).
  18. ^ Ryan Corazza. "How We're Gonna Be Indiana Again". ESPN The Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2012.
  19. ^ Decker, John. Thomas Dismissed, Ellis and Bassett Also Gone. Hoosier Nation, May 2, 2008.
  20. ^ Crean: It's Indiana and that is the bottom line". Inside Indiana Business, April 10, 2008.
  21. ^ Bozich, Alex (November 10, 2010). "Martha the "Mop Lady" is coming back". Inside the Hall. Retrieved April 2, 2012.
  22. ^ "Big Ten Men's Race is Sprint to the Finish « Big Ten Network". Big Ten Network.
  23. ^ "Jim Phelan Award: Indiana's Tom Crean earns mid-season honors".
  24. ^ Sporting News conference awards, retrieved March 6, 2012.
  25. ^ Ranking the Sweet 16 field, retrieved March 20, 2012.
  26. ^ "NCAA College Basketball Polls, College Basketball Rankings, NCAA Basketball Polls - ESPN".
  27. ^
  28. ^
  29. ^ "Crean out as Indiana coach after 9 seasons". March 16, 2017.
  30. ^ "Georgia officially announces Tom Crean as next basketball coach". DawgNation. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  31. ^ "Tom Crean, Georgia agree to head coaching contract, according to report". SB nation. March 15, 2018. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  32. ^ "Ex-Indiana coach Tom Crean reaches deal to take over Georgia basketball". CBS Sports. Retrieved March 15, 2018.
  33. ^ Nickel, Lori (March 8, 2000). "Masters of Mystery". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  34. ^ Nickel, Lori (November 15, 1999). "Restoring Tradition: Crean Hopes Winning Feeling Returns". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  35. ^ Bauman, Michael (April 4, 1999). "Crean's World Continues to Move Full Speed Ahead". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  36. ^ Nickel, Lori (November 16, 1999). "Hard-working Crean has Marquette Men's Basketball Moving in Fast-forward". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  37. ^ Nickel, Lori (November 17, 1999). "Golden Eagles Ring in a New Year". Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Journal Communications. p. 1 (Sports).
  38. ^ "Indiana Basketball – National perspective more likely to absolve Tom Crean of blame #iubb". February 28, 2017.
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^
  42. ^ "Tom Crean with Another Blow by Handshake for Wisconsin".

External linksEdit