After coaching IU to a first-round exit in the NCAA Tournament – a game that turned out to be his last as head coach – Dan Dakich made his case for why he should be the permanent head coach at IU. He said all the right things. \nDakich talked about his understanding of the IU basketball culture. He talked about his desire to do things the right way in restoring the program’s former glory. He talked about how IU basketball “needs to be built back with a foundation of discipline and accountability.” \nAll respectable points. All points the next head coach, Tom Crean, should heed. \nBefore Crean was even formally announced as coach, Dakich had already begun the rebuilding process, dismissing sophomore Armon Bassett and junior Jamarcus Ellis from the team after the players failed to show up on time for a pre-arranged meeting, and then blew off a 6 a.m. punishment run. Discipline. Accountability. That’s the foundation on which this program needs to be built. There’s just one problem: Dakich still had the interim tag pinned on his chest when he dismissed the only two returning starters from this year’s squad. It will be remembered as his final act as IU’s head coach.\nNo one was ever casting Dakich as Moses with a whistle, so it begs the question: Why would a lame duck coach assert his authority in such a demonstrative manner days before he is relieved of duty? \nThe players shouldn’t be totally absolved of fault. They basically acted like big-time college babies under Dakich, consistently tuning the coach out and undermining his authority. Dakich’s last stand basically confirmed the worst of speculation: The players didn’t respect him and refused to even appease him in the end. But Dakich doesn’t have to win the players over anymore. Crean does – at least for the players that remain.\nMaybe this was the plan all along. Blow up the current team. Weed out all the miscreants and malcontents. Let the new guy start with a bare cupboard. If so, it has been executed to perfection.\nCrean will be announced as IU’s next head coach in Bloominton today, greeted with more fanfare than a former U.S. president (sorry, Bill). He will bring with him an impressive resume which includes an average of 20 wins over nine seasons at Marquette and a 2003 Final Four appearance. Crean is no stranger to the Big Ten, either. He began his coaching career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State and later became an assistant coach under Tom Izzo.\nHe inherits an IU team that appears to be returning zero starters from a month ago. Crean doesn’t have a rebuilding job ahead of him as much as a resurrection. Upon entering the scene, he will find this program to be essentially dead.\nCrean’s hiring, however, is the first positive news involving IU basketball in months. He may not be the big name some people wanted, but he has the necessary experience to be a successful Big Ten coach. Most importantly, he has never run afoul in the NCAA. It may take a season or two depending on the outcome of the hearing this June, but eventually he will get this program back on firm ground. A light can finally be seen at the end of this tunnel.
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