While many fans are still holding out hope that IU might land another high-caliber recruit for next fall, one major offseason question was answered Wednesday.
Confirming speculation from early this week, Steve McClain, former Colorado associate head basketball coach, has been hired to fill the vacant assistant coaching position on Tom Crean’s staff.
“It means a lot to me to be able to bring in someone with the knowledge, experience and aggressiveness of Steve McClain,” Crean said in a press release Wednesday afternoon.
The 47-year-old McClain spent three seasons as an assistant for the Buffaloes after serving as head coach at the University of Wyoming from 1998-2007.
McClain was a favorite among many of the Colorado players and fans to land the head coaching job after Jeff Bzdelik was hired by Wake Forest. The Buffaloes instead opted to hire Northern Colorado’s Tad Boyle.
During McClain’s nine-year tenure at Wyoming, the Cowboys went 155-117, including two Mountain West Conference championships and a trip to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in 2002.
In 1999, McClain brought the Cowboys to Assembly Hall, losing to the Hoosiers 99-80 in Bob Knight’s final season at IU.
Prior to his Wyoming days, the Orient, Iowa, native served as an assistant at Texas A&M and TCU. His coaching career began at the junior college level, where he quickly established a strong name for himself.
He was named National Junior College Coach of the Year in 1994.
Though McClain has spent his entire coaching career a number of miles from Bloomington, he realizes the significance of basketball in Indiana and is looking forward to coaching at IU.
“I am excited to have the chance to walk into a building with five banners and be a part of a program that believes that what is on the front of the chest means much more than what is on the back of the jersey,” McClain said. “That is what college basketball is all about.”
McClain will join current assistants Bennie Seltzer and Tim Buckley, taking over for Roshown McLeod, who was dismissed by Crean in early March.
On Tuesday, McLeod was named the head coach at St. Benedict’s Prep in his home state of New Jersey. In an interview with The Star-Ledger, the former IU assistant said he and Crean “saw the game of basketball differently.”
IU’s head coach and newest assistant, however, appear to share the same beliefs.
“Our philosophies are exactly on the same page in terms of how you ought to play and the toughness it takes to win a championship,” McClain said. “Whether it’s what you do in the office or what you do on the court that day, how you go about things determines how quickly you can reach that goal.”
McClain’s hiring comes at a critical time, as the Hoosiers are trying to address recruiting needs during the current late signing period.
Crean said McClain “brings a toughness” to the IU program, which he feels can pay off on the recruiting trail.
Even with McClain now in the fold, Crean still has another opening to fill as director of operations Brian Barone will be leaving to take a position at Wisconsin-Green Bay.
Wisconsin-Green Bay is now coached by Brian Wardle, Barone’s former teammate under Crean at Marquette.
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