Crean holds court

Tom Crean speaks with Paul Klee.

By about 9:20 this morning, 24 people had crowded around the table where Tom Crean was set to speak.

Reporters from Milwaukee, where he used to live, were there to ask about his transition. Reporters from Michigan, the state in which he made his reputation as an assitant coach, had gathered to ask  how it felt to be back in the Big Ten. Reporters from the national outlets waited simply to ask the question: what’s it like coaching the team that remains following the traumatic events of the past year?

Crean’s answers to these questions were not much different than the ones you have probably already read. His transition was rocky, at first, due to exorcism he had to perform on the program. Since then, he’s come to love the job and says he enjoys Bloomington. As for being back in the Big Ten….he’s not looking forward to this season of it because of the challenges he thinks his team will fac. He respects the coaches in the league and believes it is one of the best in the country judging by its success in the NCAA tournament this decade.

And about that whole being in a position unlike any in recent memory? Crean deferred from rehashing the timeline that brough him here — “That’s a tired story. It’s been told well,” he said — and repeatedly referred to “the process” his program is working through now while refuting insinuations that his team will have trouble competing this season.

“We’re going to compete,” he said. “We’re not mailing in the schedule or forfeiting games. We’ll compete. We just don’t have the experience or wherewithal to understand all that goes into that.”

Crean didn’t break much news Sunday, but here a few quick bits:

  • Evan White, the newest walk-on, is on an extended tryout right now. His class schedule conflicts with practice, so Crean is not sure what he’ll do. White, an Indiana All-Star out of Harding in Fort Wayne, originally opted not to play college basketball — Crean said he thought White had an offer from Harvard, among others — but called the IU coaching staff not long ago to express interest in joining the Hoosiers.
  • Crean doesn’t anticipate using an eight- or nine-man rotation. And he thinks all of the walk-ons (Evans would be the sixth) could end up having a role on the court. “We can’t coach this pogram like anybody’s not going to help us win by being on the court,” he said.
  • Crean’s been asked repeatedly about developing chemistry in a team full of players that are entirely new to each other. He’s not worried about it. “Chemistry comes from the million and one things we have to go through to be a team,” he said.
  • As he has done numerous times, Crean said that he did not believe Indiana should be punished by the NCAA when it announces a ruling on the infractions case involving former coach Kelvin Sampson and his staff. There’s been no indication of when a report will be issued — it could be any day now, or not for weeks — Crean said he hopes it will be “fair and balanced.”
  • Small-town life hasn’t prevented Crean from going out to eat, he said. And autograph seekers haven’t annoyed him.”I remember as a kid wanting autographs. And I remember who gave them and who didn’t. I don’t want to be one who didn’t.”
  • Crean said that he has not had a chance to have any sort of meaningful conversation with former Indiana coach Bob Knight. He has seen Knight several times — including at the Final Four right after he took the job and at an event for Calbert Cheaney in Evansville last month — but has only exchanged greetings with him. Rumors of Knight snubbing Crean at the Evansville event circulated through the state, but Crean said that it was difficult to get a word with Knight because of the crowd that night.
  • His best quote of the day? “I’m definitely checking in to where some of the best therapists are in the Bloomington area.”