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Column: A coach’s comfort

Acting as co-host at the Shine 4 Lauren concert, Crean’s role as head basketball coach transcended the hardwood and placed him as the voice of a community trying to bring peace to a family whose daughter has been missing since June.

Crean didn’t need to be in Dunn Meadow, where temperatures in the 50s and a steady downpour failed to hamper the spirit of a steadfast crowd.

He could have been watching film, at home or any place with a roof.

But he was at Dunn Meadow, standing before Lauren’s parents and the Bloomington community, delivering a message he believed was at the core of the efforts to find Lauren.

“We have got to do the right thing, no matter how painful that is, no matter how challenging that is, certainly no matter how unpopular that is, and that’s where we sit right now,” Crean said.

Amongst musical acts that included Clayton Anderson, Dot Dot Dot and Daniel Weber and Bryce Fox, Crean served as the leader of a community — a figure that could be looked upon as a source of guidance and motivation.

The same exuberance fans are used to seeing Crean exhibit on the sidelines was used to ignite a crowd and a community that has banded together as an extended family.

“I think what has gone on here, in this community, since the disappearance of Lauren, has been one where people have to look and say, ‘That is so sad. That is so terrible. I can’t imagine what’s going on, but look at that community trying to help figure it out,’” Crean said.

His huddle was a mass of umbrellas. His opponent, an unfathomable wrong committed against a 20-year-old IU student and those who knew her.

His arena was a muddied field. His focus, though, remained the same.

Although Crean signed a contract to become the head coach of one of the most storied college basketball programs in the country, he has learned that being at the helm of the basketball team is about more than the game that crams Assembly Hall every season.

It’s about helping a community when it’s in need, helping a student’s parents when their daughter has gone missing and becoming a voice to rally around, just when it seemed the rain had washed away any remaining hope.

Thursday night, there was a buzz in the air.

It went beyond five national championships or a top-ranked recruiting class. It was about one city, one university, one family — all striving for the same goal.

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