He didn’t need to call himself “Joe Six-Pack” or make any references to hockey moms. But by the end of the night, everyone in attendance knew Tom Crean was a regular guy.
Bringing back a school tradition untouched since the days of Bob Knight, Crean delivered an enthusiastic lecture to the IU student body Monday night inside the IU Auditorium.
A self-described “42-year-old man with a fair amount of energy and passion,” Crean spoke to about the 600 in attendance before taking a wide-variety of questions from the audience in an event presented by the Union Board.
Illuminated by a lone spotlight and a cream-colored “IU” symbol on the curtain behind him, Crean took center stage to talk about his team.
He opened by telling the audience he didn’t want to talk too much about the past but rather what the team faces ahead. He became animated when he talked about IU’s proud tradition, listing off a who’s who of Hoosier legends.
He told fans he’d been following the Hoosiers since he was 10 and counts the 1987 NCAA Final Four as one of the greatest IU games he’s ever seen.
The coach, who is famous for speaking a mile a minute, told the audience he loves to listen to stories about IU basketball, and that they, too, would have their own stories one day when they return to Bloomington.
Then Crean told his own story, one currently filled with challenges and adversity. He spoke candidly when discussing the problems the men’s basketball program faces.
Quoting Bill Cosby, who had been on the same stage just three weeks ago, Crean said, “‘I don’t know the key to success, but I know the key to failure is to try and please everybody’.”
Crean stressed patience to the Hoosier fan base.
“We are in a process right now,” Crean said, channeling Billy Crystal in Analyze This. “As a coach you’re judged by wins and losses, but the bottom line is this process that forms ... as you’re watching Indiana basketball go through this process, it’s going to shape memories. That’s what I’m excited about.”
Crean was equally enthused when he ended his speech and opened the discussion to questions in the audience. He ripped off the watch from his left hand and said, “I got time if you do.”
One student said she had lost faith in IU basketball stemming from the recent NCAA sanctions. Crean spoke of the school’s tradition and explained “there has to be something that keeps you going.”
Many students asked Crean if he would support a unified student section, which has been long-held student goal.
Crean carefully tip-toed around the questions before apologizing, saying he couldn’t “give you any concrete answers.”
He asked the audience if they would like the student section to be unified, and the crowd erupted.
“I would like that, too,” he said. “Is that something you all would like to do? Wear the same T-shirt or something like that? Well then, that’s something that has to be looked at,” he said. “Give me time. Give me time to look at that. And we’ll go from there.”
The question-and-answer session concluded when a student asked about Crean’s wardrobe plans. The student noted that IU’s last coach was famous for a shirt-and-tie combination and a previous one was famous for his red sweater.
Would IU’s 28th men’s basketball coach have his own trademark article? The student asked if a candystriped jacket or a full crimson suit was in the realm of possibility.
“I’m not dressing like Bruce Pearl,” Crean said with a smile. “A crimson full suit, my team might not take me seriously. I know my own children wouldn’t.”
Crean left the answer at that, took a few steps and then added, “I don’t drink, but I think I’d have to, to do something like that.”
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