Tom Crean earns mid-season Jim Phelan Award

Indiana coach Tom Crean was given the Jim Phelan Mid-Season Coaching Award which goes to the top coach at this point in the season. The release, as forwarded from IU Sports Info.


BOSTON (MA) — After leading Indiana to a 12-0 start, Tom Crean earns the
Jim Phelan award mid-season coaching honors.

Most experts expected very little from the Hoosier’s this season, but
instead they are off to the best start since the 1975-76 season when
Indiana went 32-0 on their way to the national title and the last
undefeated season in NCAA Division I.

After two home wins to the start the season, Indiana went on the road and
beat Evansville. It was the first road victory for the Hoosiers in over a
year. Wins over Butler, NC State and Notre Dame followed but the biggest
win came on Dec. 10 when the Hoosiers knocked off No. 1 ranked Kentucky.

After spending nine seasons as the head coach at Marquette, Crean is now
in his fourth season at Indiana.

The Jim Phelan award is presented annually to the top Division I coach in
college basketball. The award is named after Jim Phelan who coached his
entire career at Mount Saint Mary’s University. He led the Mountaineers to
the 1962 NCAA Men’s Division II Basketball Championship. When he retired
in 2003, after coaching for 49 years, he amassed 830 wins (overall record
of 830-524) in over 1,300 games in all divisions. In those 49 years, 19 of
his teams amassed 20 or more wins in a season.

The winner of the 2012 Jim Phelan Award will be announced on March 30 in
New Orleans, site of the NCAA men’s basketball championship. Previous
recipients include Stew Morrill (Utah State 2011), Jamie Dixon (Pittsburgh
2010), John Calipari (Memphis 2009), Bo Ryan (Wisconsin 2008), Tony
Bennett (Washington State 2007), Ben Howland (UCLA 2006), Tubby Smith
(Kentucky 2005) Phil Martelli (Saint Joseph’s 2004) and Mark Slonaker
(Mercer 2003).


  1. Though there is still a lot of the season to go, congrats to Coach Crean. There were probably many others coaches considered for this midseason award. Can only hope for good things to come.

    Go IU

  2. @ Chet, LOL!

    My comment was deemed too short? Now I know why some of you guys write the blog versions of War & Peace.

  3. There is a reason for this trophy. His name is Cody Zeller.

    The Big Ten season won’t be as much fun for Zeller as the 12 game run that preceded it, at least defensively, but he makes Indiana so much better offensively, comparing this year to last is a waste of time. Zeller isn’t just good, he makes everyone else much better.

    Matt Howard […] was a similarly generous player for Butler. Matt made his teammates at Butler better than they would have been without him. The selflessness he showed on and off the court was the engine behind the magnificence of the past two seasons for Brad Stevens’ Butler Bulldogs, and that’s the case for Zeller at Indiana this year.

    Zeller isn’t just very adept at getting the shot he wants, he’s especially good at getting looks for his teammates. If you want to see a truly happy kid playing basketball, watch Jordan Hulls as Zeller finds him on the perimeter after facing a double team down low.

    Inside out passes that are on target to a three-point shooter like Hulls make shooting fun. Zeller cares that his teammates get a good look, so he passes accurately. The passes are almost always straight into the pocket of the shooter, and the ball dives straight through the hoop. Nothing gets a great shooter into a rhythm like pinpoint accurate inside-out passes.

    And nothing makes coaches look smart like players who want their teammates to succeed as much or more than they want to succeed themselves. Tom Crean looks brilliant these days after looking a little, well, slow, the past three seasons. Thanks, Cody.

  4. Is it the players or is it the coach? Stuff that only lonely trolls debate and obsess over.

    Here are some other philosophical subjects: is it the sperm or the egg which REALLY creates the baby? Is it the gin or the tonic that makes a Gin and Tonic?

  5. T an
    O range
    M an, but

    C harismatic
    R elentless
    E nergetic
    A damant
    N ext great coach at IU!!!

    Great job coach so far this year! Well-earned!

  6. It’s very entertaining to see the Crean-haters struggle to find things to criticize IU’s coach about. Some of course, have gone silent. Some may have even changed their screen names and jumped on Crean’s band wagon.

    Crean’s team achieves something no other IU team has ever achieved (beating the #1 and #2 ranked teams in the country within three weeks), signs a top five recruiting class for 2012, secures a top-15 ranking for the first time in years, and still they cling to their delusions and disdain.

    Chet, their heads are not big enough to explode. I think the more apt word would be “pop,” kind of like zits on a teenager.

  7. I am trying to ascertain the point of post #7… Is Rico saying that Crean is a bad coach because he recruited a good player? He’s only good if he can win with Tom Pritchard starting at center?

    My assumption is that The Rico Crew wants Brad Stevens to replace CTC… But that very same story in #7 gives credit to Howard (not Stevens). How awesome is Stevens now that all his NBA talent has moved on? Butler is 8-7 with losses to Evansville, Ball State, Valpo, etc… Is Steven’s all of a sudden a bad coach? What excuse does he get that Crean does not get the benefit of?

    Coaches prove how good they are by getting the most out of their teams on a consistent basis, and I’d say this team is getting the most out of their ability. Bad coaches take talent and allow it to under-achieve. We haven’t seen that from Crean yet.

  8. Geoff: who cares what Rico is trying to say? Inanity is inanity, so don’t waste your time trying to figure it out.

    Stevens should have left Butler for a bigger job and more money after last year’s run. Now that Crean is getting the pick of the litter in Indiana, Stevens is going to have a much harder time duplicating his recent success. I think he’s a good coach and I commend him on his success, but if he wants to win National Championships, he needs to coach at a school that allows him to secure top talent on a consistent basis. Butler’s success was a great story, but I doubt they will duplicate that success for many years to come.

  9. Foom!…there goes another one.

    Stevens is on record as saying no one ever contacted him about a ‘better’ job. Basketball is not football. There just aren’t many schools that are willing to offer a million bucks because the revenue simply isn’t there.

  10. Chet, if what Stevens said is true, that’s suspicious. He takes his team to the finals in back to back years and no big school is interested in offering him a job? I can think of a bunch of schools that should have been interested and would have the potential to significantly upgrade his compensation. And looking at some of this year’s teams that are failing to meet expectations, my guess is there will be numerous openings by the end of the year. If Stevens fails to get any serious nibble this spring, then one has to wonder if Stevens has a bad rep or something else is askew.

  11. I don’t follow the NBA very much…Are the ex-Butler players doing anything but riding pine? Geoff referred to them as “NBA talent.” A lot of IU guys were able to milk a few years out of an NBA team, but outside of Isiah Thomas, and more recently, Eric Gordon, I can’t think of very many that actually saw a taste of success(I guess Jared Jeffries has sustained a bit, too).

    I’m curious if Geoff truly thinks Mack, Howard, and Hayward are a better fit for the NBA than a guy like Watford? Is Hayward still on Utah? Last time I watched the Jazz he was just seeing sporadic PT.

    Did Stevens really make those Final Four appearances with deep, sustainable, NBA talent like we see on a Kentucky roster?

  12. And that reminds me…

    Geoff, since we were talking about Dakich earlier, did you hear him drooling all over Stevens and Butler during the IU vs OSU broadcast? Dakich seemed to be feel it’s a bit premature to discount Butler this year. Do you think he’s accurate with that statement/assessment or was that just some of his love for the Indiana Hoosiers(so not to diminish our win against a squad gutted any likeness to its Final Four team) oozing out his highly objective Stevens-schmoozing mouth?

  13. Harvard – Concerning post #23, yes I do think that Mack and Hayward are legit NBA players. Hayward is the starting SF for Utah, is 3rd in minutes/game and averaging 8.5 ppg as a 21 yr-old second year pro. He is also a purer shooter, more athletic and has a higher bball IQ than Watford. He was a lottery pick and his future is bright. Mack is struggling to get minutes for the Wizards, but he is also playing behind John Wall who the Wiz have committed to as the future of their franchise. Mack not only was a great college player, but dominated as a National Team player as well. He is a rookie, so we’ll see what happens. Obviously, as a player he is nothing like Watford, so you can’t really make a comparison there. He is certainly a lot bigger, quicker and stronger than Hulls, and was just as accomplished a shooter and playmaker. Howard was never going to be an NBA player. He is actually a lot like Hulls except from the center position – undersized, unathletic, but high IQ and effective team player at the college level.

    concerning post #24, I do think Butler will improve over the course of the year, just like almost every team will. However the difference between a team like Butler and IU of the past 3 years is that Butler’s schedule gets easier as the season progresses, while IU’s always got more difficult. Butler should get better results after playing high-majors in the non-conference portion. However, the fact that they lost to mid-majors during the non-coference shows that it’s tough for even the great Brad Stevens to succeed without a lot of talent. The Crean detractors will fail to comprehend that little nugget.

  14. Oh, and no, IU has not had a lot of players have sustainable NBA careers, which says a lot about why IU has been so mediocre (as far as college basketball royalty goes) for 25 years. Besides the guys you mentioned Calbert Cheaney, DJ White and Alan Henderson all have had decent careers. Cheaney played 13 seasons scoring about 8000 career points. Henderson played 12 seasons scoring 5000 points. DJ is currently the starting PF for the Bobcats averaging 11 ppg.

  15. If you’re gonna go all the way back to Zeke there have been other NBA successes. I think longevity (say, 5 years +, which is longer than the average career) and being at least a part time starter qualifies. Besides the guys previously mentioned there’s Butch Carter, Dean Garrett, Jim Thomas, Ray Tolbert, Randy Wittman. There’s several more that had a cup of coffee or so in the league.

  16. Geoff, I will let you guys do this…I want NO part I can promise you that. IU has been pretty good at times in the last 25 years. Just off the top of my head I think of 92 or 93 when they almost beat Duke in that final 4 and Leary hitting those shots. 2002 one game away from national champs with Hornsby leading the the way with 15 or 16 points. Heck, Sampson had IU like 5 or 6 ranking before it all came apart. When I was at IU it was hard for anyone to beat the Guyton squads. Anyway, carry on but IU has been pretty good at times in the last 25 years in my opinion!

  17. You are 100% correct, JPat. Again, a simplistic comment from Geoff. We haven’t hung a banner, so we’ve been chopped liver. Personally, I don’t think Hayward will last any longer than Alford did in the NBA. Not powerful enough..Not quick enough…Not enough ball skills…Not enough personality. The NBA has little room for baby faces like Hayward. Every instance I’ve seen Hayward on the floor with those freak athletes he looks like he’s ready to wet himself. He’s not even clutch. He missed a 10-footer that should have hung the banner in Hinkle. I don’t know how Geoff puts Jordy in his wet dreams and then concludes Hayward size will get him outside the same fantasy realm. Unselfishness is not part of the NBA game. It’s a show more than anything approaching five-on-five. No more David DeBusscheres in the NBA.

    Sampson loved to his rollover minutes, but the guy could coach. He didn’t rule kids out because of the streets they grew up on.

  18. It was not a simplistic comment. I said “as far as basketball royalty goes”. Sure, we have had our moments. I didn’t say we haven’t had splashes of success over the past 25 years. Just that we haven’t been a consistent dominant team compared to the other Basketball Royalty. If you really need me to expand on my comment… Basketball Royalty in my opinion is Kansas, Kentucky, Duke, UNC, Syracuse, Michigan, OSU, Texas, UCLA, Lousiville, Arizona, Uconn, Michigan State, and you could argue a couple others. Within that group, IU has only been mediocre over the last 25 years. We have only had 3 25+ win seasons over the last 20 years. Sure that’s great by John Feinstein’s brother’s standards, but compared to thier elite peers??? Duke, Kansas, UNC, Kentucky, Florida, UCLA, MSU, OSU, and even a couple mid-majors have more than that in the last decade.

    Hey I still have the bracket I filled out from the 2002 run… because it was so improbable. I have never stopped loving IU, but don’t sit there and tell me we have been an elite program for the last 25 years. We have been good, but we’re friggin IU!!! compared to the other teams that SHOULD be great all the time because of their tradition we have only been mediocre.

    I will make sure to expand all my statements from now on.

  19. When you’re old, 25 years looks like a teardropper in the opening minutes. I still believe Indiana is an elite program. She fell on hard times because a coach that didn’t want to leave on his own was fired. A lot of small-minded people running around in Alford short-shorts that can’t leave Bloomington alone, F&%*%ed the program over because year after year after year they can’t accept anything that doesn’t fall from a Knight tree. It still divides the program today. Even with success, there is that element(Dakich) that lurks like a cobra snatching a desert mouse for a chance to put the whole thing in rewind again. Don’t believe that east coast establishment hogwash from Geooff. Our basketball is the envy of the nation. The state of Indiana breeds talent that has been stolen during much of the ‘prominence lost’ time period.

    We’ll be back. Send all the doubters to Maine fro all I care.

  20. Talk about a simplistic statement… you clearly don’t watch enough NBA to be able to judge whether it’s team-oriented or not. You are obviously forming opinions based on cliche, stereotypes, watching highligts, and either watching bad teams, or watching too little.

    NBA is certainly a different style of ball from college, but the most successful teams are always team-oriented. They work well together on offense to get good shots and are superior communicators on defense and work well as a team.

    I can’t think of a single situation where a player that was talented enough to help a NBA team was not given a chance to make a team. There are draft camps, summer leagues, the NBDL, and other opportunities for undrafted FA’s to join on teams if they are good enough. The only reason that players aren’t on NBA teams is because they either aren’t good enough, aren’t smart enough, are too individualistic, can make more money overseas, or are terrible people.

  21. I am not a doubter. I am not talking about the future of IU basketball. I am talking about historical fact and what has happened over the last 25 years. I am not talking about outside perception, whether positive or negative of our program.

    You continue to put words in my mouth and paint me as something I am not.

    I am sorry if the truth offends you. I love IU hoops and hold it to a higher standard than you apparently.

  22. I also still believe IU is an elite program. I also believe that IU is beginning it’s return to glory. I am a Crean supporter.

    Please if you are trying to debate me, you must stay on topic instead of changing it every time I corner you.

  23. Winning at any cost is not my standard. That’s the trend. That’s the fact. That’s not the standard I want for Indiana. There is a balance between finding the best talent and being the best program. The influence of the NBA upon the college product has moved it in that unfortunate direction. I’m not sure if Kentucky “elite” is where a lot of fans of the game want to see amateur athletics, a student/athlete purpose-driven game, strive to become.

    As much as you defend the NBA, you fail to see how it has dipped its greedy hand into the college game far too much.

  24. Winning at any cost is not my standard either. Are you implying that Duke, Kansas, UNC, and Michigan State have done it the wrong way? Would you not want the success they’ve had over the last decade? Again, you are putting words in my mouth, or at least implying it…

    The influence of the NBA is a fair point, although it really doesn’t have much to do with anything we’re talking about. Bottom line is that it’s the players decision and a lot of guys want millions of dollars over studying for a mid term. If I was assured of that $ I am sure it would be a tough decision. Don’t even try to say you understand the situation that a lot of thes kids are in…

    I don’t fail to see the NBA’s impact on the college game. It just didn’t have anything to do with any of the debates we were having. If you want to debate some point along those lines I’ll be happy too. I am sure even though I’ll agree with your basic premis that you’ll try to say I don’t and then go off in some other direction that’s off topic.

  25. It’s not that they’ve done it the wrong way..Indiana’s program was in disarray. Kids that have the level of talent that want to play in the NBA look for exposure. Once a school begins to gain advantage in being a destination for that type of talent, it’s tough for any program to convince the McDonald’s All-Americans to look to a program that needs to rebuild. The rich get richer, the poor stay on talent food stamps.

    Thank goodness there was an exception to that trend twith the kid named Cody Zeller. He picked something unique and everlasting. He wanted to be different.

  26. I am not talking about the last 3 years. I am talking about the last decade, the last 20 yrs, the last 25 yrs… The program hasn’t been in disarray that entire time. And if it had why would you make the argument that they were better than mediocre?

    The programs that I listed have done it the right way and have been in contention and have attracted those elite type of players over those time periods. Don’t tell me you wouldn’t want the players that those programs have been getting. Look at how closely we follow all the recruits on IU’s radar, and how we celebrate when we get them.

    Just because Cal and Pitino are slime bags doesn’t mean every program I listed isn’t worthy of some admiration (not envy, that’s different). I hold IU to the standard that the Duke’s and Carolina’s and kansas’s have achieved, because we are in that class. We just haven’t showed it lately…

    Sorry if you can’t see that. (by the way I do think we’re on our way back under Crean’s leadership)

  27. Chet is the best.

    We have five banners…a couple things go our way and we likely have seven or eight. How many does any other team in Indiana have hanging in their gyms?

    I don’t think Knight was ever willing to bend over backwards for recruits…The NBA was gaining influence through the hand of slimy boosters that heavily influenced recruiting at many of the so-called “elite” programs. Knight wouldn’t play that game. We always survived on a rather restricted focus on Indiana a bordering states. Once Knight was ousted from the program, even local guys started to get more thoroughly plucked by Duke, NC, OSU, etc.

    I’m not sure if Indiana will ever have the extended arm of influence many of those programs you mentioned seem to have. I think part of that is a strange desire to give the fan base a certain amount of what they want by looking very close to home for talent. I don’t think we can ever be dominant with that philosophy. Hell, we don’t even look to Norhtwest Indiana the way we should for recruits..We lost out on Harangody, Martin, Hummel, Novak, E’Twaun Moore, Brandon Dawson, and Mitch McGary(originally out of Chesterton).

    I guess I’m confirming your own argument to some extent. Our focus has been narrow and the years we were being thoroughly robbed of talent(post-Knight exit), our competition was feasting on the better talent from our state. Thus, be have been somewhat bitten by the hand that fed us.

    Crean landing Zeller was a huge turning point on the home front. Actually, Eric Gordon could have started that talent turn without the Sampson/NCAA ridiculous targeting of our program. I still think Crean will have to expand his horizons..start looking to Chicago, NW Indiana, Ohio, California, and try to build beyond the borders. Now that we are getting some momentum reestablished, a lot of doors may begin to open on that front.

  28. oops.

    Thus, we have somewhat been bitten by that hand that fed us(the recruiting doctrine that focuses heavily on 2/3 of the state of Indiana.

  29. I think CTC is going to reach recruiting horizons we’ve never dreamed of. He’s a born recruiter and now he has ‘Indiana’ on his business card. Seriously, all things being equal, who is more appealing to you (assuming you are sane and not a fanboy) Tom Crean or RMK? I mean, I respect the hell out of my USMC drill instructor, but 16 weeks was about it for me. Tom Crean is more like Tony Robbins. He’s a salesman. I also think he’s a helluva coach with a great resume’. If this year finishes halfway as good as it has started, considering what he has done with pitiful records, the sky is the limit.

    I bet LeBron commits.

  30. I cheer for Indiana because it’s Indiana. The coaches have always been a sideshow for me. I think a lot of them are turned into gods that have been benefactors of great kids..A lot our unfairly targeted and removed from duties because they don’t fit the political landscape of the school/fans. I get into the game because of the young classy Hoosiers that achieve often in spite of them and in spite of us. We didn’t do right by many of those kids that were here when Crean stepped in. Young kids that I never saw to be much different than making mistakes and bad judgments I was foolish to partake in at similar time in my life. Did their horizons deserve such banishment from our perfection?

    And Goeff is totally right…no coach can thrive on a consistent basis without a replenishment of talent year after year. “Horizons we’ve never dreamed of” sounds like the title of the next Joyce Meyer book Crean may soon be quoting on Twitter. As far as I’m concerned, there is no better time than now.

  31. …a lot are unfairly.

    I’m not only totally insane, I think I’m getting tired.


  32. Yeah, Crean is certainly the best recruiter IU has (ever?) had in my lifetime. He’s already successfully recruited out of Indiana, with several talented guys he brought to Marquette. He has done a great job reclaiming Indiana as well. I am not going to judge him yet on the guys he has missed out on because IU still wasnt at the level of the programs they committed to when they signed. I think he will be able to recruit blue-chippers outside of B1G country, but even if he just brings the top in-state players to IU they should be championship contenders every year. Here’s a decent starting 5 of Indiana-bred players currently in the NBA from the very recent past…

    PG – Mike Conley
    SG – Eric Gordon
    C – Greg Oden
    PF – Josh McRoberts
    SF – Gordon Hayward

    I think that team could have competed for a title. I’m sure there is a decent bench that can be made as well, but I don’t feel like thinking that hard this late. And there are obviously a bevy of players currently at other schools that have a bright future.

    If all he ever does is recruit successfully in Indiana we should be title contenders year in and year out.

  33. Crawford, DJ White, Harangody, and Jeffries off the bench? Oops,…wait, DJ and Crawford weren’t from the state of Indiana.

    I always thought Earl Calloway had the talent for a role player in the NBA..Goes to show what I know. The sky seems to be the limit for Eric Gordon..if he can stay away from the nagging injuries.

    Don’t hate me for being infatuated with EJ. It would take three Hulls and two Cody Zellers to keep him off the rim…and the range..OMG.

  34. I don’t know about politics and it might speak more about the environment at the school than the environment at home, but I would have been pretty appalled if, at the Cincy/Xavier post game presser, those young men proudly stating they were ‘gangsta’ after a game ending brawl, were wearing candy stripes. I don’t care how good they are. I’ll pass. Vic is an urban kid, too, but he has only made me proud and not just by his basketball skills (that young man is talented). I like the players CTC is bringing in.

  35. You don’t see Duke’s, UNC’s, or kansas’s kids acting like that either though Chet. For that matter you don’t see Kentucky’s or Louisville’s being jackasses either.

    I believe Crean is a good enough recruiter, and IU is a high-profile enough program for us to start bringing in more of those type of guys. The 2012 and 2014 classes are proving that.

  36. Emotions have to run pretty high after you’ve just seen a teammate bloodied with a sucker punch and stomped on. I agree with you, Chet. I would not be very proud to see any of what took place in that game coming from kids wearing candy stripes..That being said, I don’t think an 18-year-old kid running off at the mouth in front of a microphones is necessarily indicative of what is taking place outside the view of a camera. Not letting kids express their emotions and have an open line of trust from their coaches can breed a culture of obedient secrecy and fear that could grow into the ugliness of a Penn State shower room. A lot of clean-cut All-American talk coming out of that very nice place that the nation perceived as the model for college athletics.

    I’m not in the position to judge a kid’s upbringing by what he says in front of a microphone. Nor will I pretend to know a man by what he says on a blog or a Twitter page.

  37. The last thing I want at IU is that snooty and preachy Duke culture with those hopping bunny rabbit fans in the stands. I distrust anything wearing blue(unless it is of freakish genetic mutation…e.g. “Blue Lobster”).

    Before I say anything that could make me be painted as a Twitter-hatin’ Hoosier gangsta, I think I’ll just conclude my time on this thread with a short bitchin’ rap song.

  38. Brilliant song… Somehow I don’t ever remember hearing that before. I assume the first sentence of your post was your own ironic sense of humor coming through…

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