UK's Calipari shows IU what it has in Crean

May 21, 2010
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University of Kentucky Coach John Calipari shows all that is right with IU Coach Tom Crean.

While I’m not convinced in the effectiveness of Crean’s offense or his recruiting tactics, at least the Hoosier faithful don’t have to go through all the off-season hand wringing that Kentucky is enduring right now.

It’s just the sort of thing you get with guys like Calipari and Louisville’s Rick Pitino, who are constantly looking for the BBD (Bigger, Better Deal) and aren’t too fond of telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth.

I had to laugh this morning when no less of an authority than Dick Vitale said on ESPN that Calipari flatly denied that he is looking to jump to the NBA after one year at Kentucky. Vitale said, “People need to get into reality. All this speculation is just a waste of time.”

I think Vitale himself may need a reality check. How many times have high-flying coaches said one thing publicly and turned around and done the exact opposite?

I’m sure if Calipari is considering leaving UK, a mouthpiece like Vitale is the last person he’d tell.

Though IU Athletic Director Fred Glass didn’t hire Crean,  he told me recently regarding the school’s basketball coach, “We absolutely have the right guy.”

I'm not here to address the Xs and Os, but from a business perspective, I see where Glass is coming from.

In Crean, IU has a stable, straightforward guy you simply don’t get with a lot of college coaches these days. Yes, I know Crean knocks down about $2 million annually in cash and prizes from IU, but it seems a relatively small price to pay when you stand him next  to Calipari.

To catch you up on the latest drama in Lexington, word is that a character by the name of William Wesley, who slides along the underbelly of college and pro hoops orchestrating deals of all types and declining interviews, is putting together a deal to get Calipari delivered to the same NBA team that signs LeBron James.

World Wide Wes as he is known in basketball circles has a long history with King James, including ushering him (just after his high school graduation) to the World Basketball Championships in Indianapolis in 2002 to assure he met all the most important people in the basketball kingdom. As a side note, former Indiana Pacer Jalen Rose claimed yesterday he coined the nickname World Wide Wes.

It should also be mentioned that Calipari has piloted two teams to the Final Four that had to later abdicate those wins due to player eligibility issues. Something a certain former IU coach pointed out recently.

It’s rare in the ego-driven world of big-time sports to get a straight shooter. Indiana college basketball has three notable folks of this ilk. I could have just as easily written this post about Purdue’s Matt Painter or Butler’s Brad Stevens.

But neither of those two are under fire for their win-loss record as Crean is. The IU coach will likely be under more pressure as more losses mount this year. Remember, Rome wasn't built in a day.

Glass is convinced in time Crean will rebuild the powerhouse program that IU knew under Bob Knight.

I’m not convinced of that yet. But I do think Crean tells the truth. I think he’ll stay devoted to the Cream and Crimson and retire from the school if given half a chance.

And that’s something to consider for all those folks who were clamoring for IU to hire Calipari two years ago.

Perhaps IU administrators should have buddied up with World Wide Wes, and lured Calipari to Bloomington.

If they had, though, you'd have to wonder where the program would be now?

And what price would it pay for that decision down the road?
 

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  • Kelvin Sampson
    Convenient that this reporter forgets to mention Kelvin Sampson. Incidents directly linked to Calipari? 0. Sampson? 2. Indiana hire him? Absolutely.
    • Winning
      What we have is a highly paid coach that doesn't win. If you fail to win, other teams don't want to hire you. Its fairly simple.
    • What?
      Josh - The reporter isn't trying to dwell on the past, but obviously he believes Crean is the right guy for all of the reasons Sampson wasn't the right guy. With regard to Calipari, how can his former programs forfeiting their wins not be a reflection on him?
    • expectation
      IU's problem with coaches is the sentiment to Fred Glass has. IU, outside of the Bob Knight years, is just an above average program.

      The ceiling isnt "elite", it is pretty much what Wisconsin is. Until people's expectations start to align with reality, it will be a parade of coaches at IU. It is probably too late for Crean already, the Hoosiers simply wont be good enough the next two years to quell the unrest. And, he'll get fired thereafter, just to start the thing all over again
    • Crean
      IU fans need to be patient. There has never been a coach take over a program that had been so desimated by the 2 previous coaches. When you have only 1 returning player it's going to take some time to rebuild the program back from the ashes. I actually feel sorry for Crean or any coach that would have stepped into that situation. He should be commended for his willingness to do so. It pains me to see how far IU has fallen but I think they have the right guy and given time will resurrect it back to where we should be.
      • IU
        Josh - Memphis has to take down their runner-up banner now and vacate all their wins from that year. That should qualify as an incident. To say Calipari wasn't directly involved doesn't matter - he ran the program. It's no coindence that the same thing happened at UMass.

        Regarding Crean, I am not an IU fan but people need to give him some time. The program essentially had to start over two years ago.
      • A long road back
        Before passing judgement on Coach Crean's record at IU to date, don't forget how devastated the IU basketball program was by the Sampson/Greenspan/Herbert debacle - not to mention the previous Coach Davis years of lax academics and mediocre play. Coach Crean inherited a mess that could take years to get back on track. Unless you're a "One and Done" expert like Calipari, it takes time (probably another 2-3 years)for a program like IU to recruit a steady supply of top flight players that can compete nationally. We're also talking doing things right again at IU. Athletes who get their grades, stay out of trouble and bring back the pride IU fans once had in the caliber of players on the team. That's a really big goal to achieve.

        Even if Calipari came out and said, "Hey, I'm committed to Kentucky!" - nobody would believe him. Well, maybe the NCAA would as he's somehow managed to escape punishment for trashing the reputations of the UMass and Memphis basketball programs.

        Calipari represents the "win at any cost" mentality that's gaining
      • blogs
        Crean is, apparently, a nice man and a very good coach. Does that fact make it necessary to attack others? I think not, unless there is an ulterior motive lurking in the background. Here the blogger seems to think top players, who are all selfless and interested only in team and others, should gravitate to Mr. Nice Guy. Unfortunately, Mr. Nice Guy gets the top players only if he wins 30 games a year and puts his players in the NBA. Attacking other coaches does little to alter that fact. Neither will the attacks help Mr. Crean and IU's recruiting, as I think the blogger believes such public statements might.
      • CREAN
        I TOLD THE HOOSIER NATION THIS WOULD HAPPEN. WHAT WORRY ABOUT IU WHEN YOU'VE GOT PU AND BUTLER. CHEAPER TO KET CREAN FINISH OUT THEN FIRE HIM. HECK, I'D COACH FOR $5MILLION, FILL THE HOUSE AND MAKE ALOT OF $$$$ FOR IU. JUST A THOUGHT.
      • I haven't forgotten Sampson
        I didn't forget about Kelvin Sampson. There isn't a person associated with IU who doesn't admit the Sampson hiring was a big mistake. But to say Calipari holds no responsibility regarding the teams he coached having to vacate victories in two separate Final Fours is a bit absurd. The coach is supposed to be the CEO of the team. At the very least, I would say that demonstrates gross negligence on Cal's part. A fireable offense for most companies.
      • Hold Up
        I live right outside of Lexington and graduated from UK.... This guy needs to hope off of Calipari and focus on what Crean needs to be doing. I though he was the right guy for the IU job, now I am begining to wonder. IU needs a new arena, they need to change back to there orginal colors and then buy a tickets to Rupp arena and watch some real basketball. So what if Crean does it the right way, it's evident that it doesn't matter because he isn't winning. And I don't see him pulling in any recruit's that are going to help next year.
      • cry baby
        it sounds if we have a bunch of cry babies. all of the reporter's do out there is cry because cal is a good coach and he got terrance jones and washington did not so get over it cry baby.
      • IU
        Substandard program, substandard facility, substandard coach (good guy, though), substandard priorities, substandard players. All leads up to IU will never be what it used to be. Oh so fitting for a program that set up a legendary coach to fail and then fired him.

        Tsk, tsk, tsk.......
      • Remember student/athletes?
        Tom Crean's first job is to restore credibility and stability to the IU basketball program. He is doing this by recruiting student/athletes that have significantly raised the GPA of the team. If you have any doubts about Calipari's priorities, just Google "UK basketball grades" and you will see excactly what a joke he and his ilk have made of the NCAA as an organization for "student/athletes". For the non-alumni IU basketball fans, who only care about the number of wins posted, I am sure this is a moot point. But I think Crean must be given the time to first stablilize, then revitalize the program, before being judged on number of wins. They are showing progress, who knows what they might have done this past season if they had Maurice Creek for the Big Ten?
      • IU Very average
        In Indiana it's

        1) Butler
        2) Purdue
        3) Notre Dame
        4) Evansville
        5) Depaul
        6) Indiana
        This is how we rank them in Kentucky....Can't wait until we play the Hoosier's next year....I'm hoping for a shutout. As far as Sportswriter's are concerned you are about a year to late on this one....must not be anything else to WRITE about in Indiana !!!
        • stupid
          Depaul is in Chicago. Depauw is in Indiana. way to represent KY. Ball State, IUPUI, Indiana St., and U of Southern Indiana would crush Depauw (and Depaul). If its all about hiring good people to coach student atheletes, go support your local elementary school.
          • Jealous
            Whatever, You know if Cal was Indianas coach
            you would be defending him instead of criticising him. Tom Crean does recruit elite players. Just because they are not interested in Indiana doesn't mean hes "O so much holyer" than Cal. I think your a jealous fan.
            • sour grapes
              you wished you had cal.if he was at IU we would not be having this conversation.
            • IU Less than AVERAGE !
              Revision: Sorry about misspelling Depauw.....Should not have received my MBA from Indiana....should have stayed in Ky.
              Also I meant to list Valpo sixth and IU seventh. I'm really concerned about the spread on the IU Vrs. Ky. This year....Can anyone give me an educated guess ?
              • Winning
                Well, let's be honest. It really does not matter how much of a "straightforward guy" your coach is...if he does not win, he does not stay. As for a "certain former IU coach"...well, I have not seen Calipari assault anyone yet...LOL. IU is basically a has-been in the world of basketball. It was good while it lasted, but no more. This should be another good year for UK...and another mediocre year (at best) for IU.
              • If the post is incomprehensible, it's probably from south of the Ohio River
                Easy to spot trolls - look for KY sentiments, fallacies in logic, and rampant errors in spelling. Sorry, Wildcat fans. You have a legitimately proud program, but you're making a grave mistake with Cal. I don't see it ending well.

                Rebuilding a basketball program is difficult. IU already experimented with the "quick fix" approach and it humbled us greatly. I do believe we have the right man with Coach Crean. I agree with Mr. Schoettle in that Crean has a clean record, good past success at Marquette, and an excellent opportunity to prove himself at IU. He's the sort of coach that could grow into an Indiana University institution provided alums like me have the requisite patience. I have my doubts regarding the high screen/dribble-drive half court set but am willing to let a talented coach convince me and Hoosier Nation.

                Please remember your rash comments when you're jumping on the bandwagon in '11 and '12.
              • Misinformed
                "And thatâ??s something to consider for all those folks who were clamoring for IU to hire Calipari two years ago."

                After everything we had just been through, do you really think that any knowledgeable IU fan, booster, or administrator seriously considered or "clamored" at the thought of hiring Calipari? Come on Anthony. That's a bit overstated.
              • Maybe
                He'll get a shot if he can land a good 2011 class and a GREAT 2012 class.
              • I
                I played on the 1928 IU basketball team.
              • positive thinking
                Please consider that blogs and reporting that speaks of uncertainlties and concerns do no good for the program.
                Thos that care for IU need to play a positive role in Bringing us back. We can all help by being silent about our criticisms and concerns and stress the good. If you want to help the program versus looking to recognition "Make it Happen". Leadership is have a vision and the ability to get others to follow. Those that are being critical are not leaders, not followers but disenferanchised. IU does not need you.
              • Agree
                Agree. However, it was also gross negligence on the part of IU's administration to hire Sampson, and if we're going to discuss a dishonest coach, we need to include our own mistakes in the conversation.

                None of which disagrees with what you're saying. I'm just still so disappointed at how little respect our own university gave the basketball program back then.
              • Patient
                I agree with you, Randy. At the same time, we were patient when Knight went fishing instead of recruited (he was quoted in an interview that he "hated recruiting" and let his assistants do most of it - not a bright thing to say).

                And we were patient when Davis lingered far too long, even as Indiana high school coaches knew right away the guy was a terrible hire. Where was the oversight?

                And Sampson? Incredible.

                Now here we are. Yes, we have to be patient. But let's not forget we've been patient for nearly a generation now.
              • What?
                Who were the IU fans clamoring for Calipari 2 years ago- nobody I know, and I'm on Peegs and friends with a lot of IU fans. This guy is making things up as he goes along.
              • Kentooky spelling
                Bad spelling aside, I hate to admit you have good points.

                The fact is, UK became an instant monster with one great hire, and we're supposed to be patient for an eventual, slow, gradual turnaround.

                Time will tell which is the right approach.
              • Idiocy
                You can make an idiotic statement like this if you want, but it has no credibility. By the way, "Depaul" isn't in Indiana. Obviously, you're having fun stomping on IU right now. What comes around goes around.
              • not in Indiana
                Got to love that Kentucky education. Depaul is in Chicago. I know that you probably didn't learn any geography down there but Chicago is in Illinois which is not Indiana
              • Patience
                The program was decimated and everyone know this is no ordinary program which make the fallout worse. It will take more time.

                I will say that Crean has to lock up some of these young Indiana recruits running around the state. IF he struggles signing some of these guys then he might be in trouble.
              • Look in the mirror
                Come on now... Crean is looking for the Bigger Better Deal (BBD) every chance he can get, and we've already seen him run off a few players so that he could bring in more talented ones. How do think the 2011 recruits are going to fit on the roster without him pushing someone out the door. While Crean may be good coach, some of his ethics are a little bit questionable.
              • Bitterness all over
                There is only one right way in sports, and that is winning. Cal is a winner and a relentless recruiter. He adopted a system in which basketball superstars flourish while other coaches are still perfecting their zone defense.

                Knight had character flaws but was tolerated because he was winning. I hated his guts but wish he was still at IU because the rivalry was exciting. Now, IU is irrelevant in basketball jusy like UL has become as a result of Pitino's personal issues.

                Cal has not been implicated in any of the infractions. This is a fact. Another fact is that Crean cannot be compared to Cal as IU cannot be compared roday to UK. Cal also has the best job in all of basketball Where would he go after UK? I quote Pitino: " ââ?¬Å?The University of Kentucky is the Roman Empire, they are Camelot, it was the biggest mistake of my life leaving Lexington.ââ?¬Â? It appears John Calipari took note.
              • Get yourself a dose of REALITY
                Are you crazy? I'd love to have Cal coaching IU. Crean has been here for 2 years, he's not making any progress in recruiting and there's no sign it's going to change! While Cal has had 2 top ranked class and he's stolen our best player in 2011 (Teague) for what looks like another top class. I'd much rather have a bit of a headache cuz unfounded speculation, in order to have a successful team. UK will end up making noise in the tournament while we're still atleast 2 years away from making it! A headache right now seems like a small price to pay right now, we haven't made the tourney since 08, there's no sign we'll make it in the near future! We as IU fans have way too low of expectations. The last time we did any damage in the tourney was 02, and even that year we weren't even very good, got lucky making the final!
              • What??????
                What????? Please rephrase so that what you said makes sense.
              • depaul? mba?
                What's the correlation between blowing the name of a nationally known private college in Indiana and having rec'd your MBA from IU? Actually, making a mistake mixing up DePaul and Depauw is predictable but blaming it on your MBA is just plain nuts. Most likely it has to do with your Ky roots.
              • Do the math
                I stand corrected-at least one person from Kentucky can count to 6.
              • Stable
                I'm sorry, but anyone who thinks Tom Crean is 'Stable' has no clue what they are talking about. I've seen few people who are more full of it than Crean. Even 15-year-old recruiting prospects can see right through his BS and recognize his inferiority complex.
              • hillbilly
                When you can't win and you you feel so much superior to everybody else you can demean a whole state to make yourself feel big. Name calling shows ignorance and you seem to have a lot of it.
              • Hilarious
                Where would Indiana be? Probably would have already had two elite eight appearances at least and a final four and National Championship on the horizon. And that is exactly why this reporter is bitter and trying to make a case for accepting a mediocre coach by saying that having an outstanding coach that every year will have offers from other teams is a bad thing. That is alright, you keep your losing record and we in the BBN will keep our 30+ win seasons and elite eight appearances while Calipari is at UK. I am glad IU does not want great coaches, that means less competition for ours. :)
              • What you don't say speaks volumes. . .
                It is unfortunate that the IU faithful can't seem to come up with much of a response to the UK fans other than being critical of their spelling and geography.

                I feel safe saying IU will not have to worry about the NBA or anyone else trying to hire Crean away from IU. Not because they can't, but why would they want to?
              • Crean
                Crean is not the answer for IU. His insane offense does nothing but stifle athleticism and creativity (see the flourishing of Wes Matthews and Jerel McNeal AFTER Crean left MU). His entire career is built off of Dwyane Wade and this cannot be argued. I give the IU faithful credit for believing in Coach Crean but the sad reality is he won't do much better for you than eventually qualifying for the tournament followed by a 1st round exit. You could pay someone a lot less than $2m for results like those.
              • IU & Crean
                IU and Crean - Billy Preston summed it up best in his 70's hit, "Nothin' from Nothin' Leaves Nothin'!

                They gotta have somethin' and never will - no more......
              • UK will be sorry
                Look back on this in 5-7 years and compare where the programs are at that time. Time will be the only judge, not a bunch of malcontent bloggers.

                My guess is that in 5 years Crean will still be coaching at IU, and Cal will be long gone from UK. UK will return to its mediocre years pre-Cal, while IU will be a consistent top 25 team - but probably not an "elite" school.

                I don't see how recruting 3-4 one and done players every year is ever satisfying. They'll never win championships, the NCAA history has shown experienced teams do well in the tournament, regardless of talent-level.
              • Also Can't Wait
                Can't wait to come back to blogs like this in about a month or so when Cal announces he's leaving to go coach Lebron, UK loses every recruit, and they end up going 6-24 next year.

                It's going to be awesome.
              • KEEP DREAMING
                Please take a look at the history of IU and UK before you go making outlandish statements. Like Coach Cal is going to make or break our entire basketball program. Even if he does leave we'll rebound and continue adding on to our 2000+ wins and 7 NCAA titles. We've been runnin the show for a long time fellas... KEEP HATING HATERS!!!!
              • IU & UK
                Many IU fans are like many KY fans - LOSERS! They have their priorities askew. Oh, yeah, it's all about basketball.

                Everything else comes in second or less...

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