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Coach Tom Crean to give preseason speech tonight


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By DeAntae Prince



When former IU coach Bob Knight made his first preseason address to fans in 1971, he stood before 50 people in a cramped room of the Indiana Memorial Union.

Last year, 37 years later, IU coach Tom Crean gave his first IU preseason speech to a crowd of 800 in the IU Auditorium.

Crean will once again revive a yearly tradition that nearly died when Knight was fired from IU in 2000.

The second-year coach is set to speak at 7 p.m. today at the auditorium for a talk sponsored by IU Athletics and the Union Board.

After a season that left many issues unresolved, Crean will begin the year with a talk to the student body about his expectations for IU men’s basketball in the future before question-and-answer and autograph sessions.

Crean said he and his team have learned a great deal since he last took the podium.

“Last year was a lot of fun,” Crean said in an e-mail. “It is great to be able to share
what Indiana has meant to me. We are a year wiser and smarter, and we have a better idea of what it is going to take to bring the program back.”

The speech will be about Crean and men’s basketball, but the event is a way to bring people together, said Caitlin Van Kooten, Union Board lectures director.

“IU sports is something everyone can get behind,” Van Kooten said.   

Athletics Director Fred Glass said he believes Crean’s speech will be a way to pull students and IU Athletics closer.

“My effort is to better engage athletics with students and to be transparent,” he said. “This is a great opportunity to live up to that.”

The fact that Crean has had a year in the public eye as IU’s coach might work in his favor and attract more people to the auditorium.

“We’re expecting a large turnout this year because he’s more popular now,” Van Kooten said.

Van Kooten is also counting on luring students to the auditorium by giving attendees the chance to register for free courtside tickets to one game.

Whether the two tickets get students in the seats or not, Glass is counting on Crean’s enthusiasm to keep them there.

Glass said Crean’s passion for the sport will come across in his address.

“His enthusiasm is contagious,” he said. “When people go and get a load of him,
hopefully they’ll go right out and get basketball tickets.”

And with a team that won only six games last season, optimism is a must.

Crean used unwavering enthusiasm to keep IU fans supportive of the losing 2008-09 IU men’s basketball team.

Crean said IU fans have mirrored the excitement he has shown.

“Since the moment we arrived,” he said in an e-mail, “I have said that our students create an unbelievable environment that makes Assembly Hall so tough for the visiting team.”

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