TREBBY: Leave Crean Alone

Buzz Williams is in his fourth year as head coach of the men’s basketball team at Marquette, and most are just focusing on the present and how the team is currently tied for second in the Big East.

But, on Tuesday night, as I was making my way from the media room at the Bradley Center to press row, I heard three guys in the courtside club talking about how much it annoys them that Indiana is having success under former Marquette head coach Tom Crean. I thought nothing of it, and kept walking.

I went back about five minutes later, and they were still talking about it and how they hoped Wisconsin puts a whooping on the Hoosiers tonight.

Four years after Crean’s departure, people still think of him in a predominantly negative way. There were many aspects of his exit that bugged people and made them forget everything he’d done for the program.

I’m here to tell you it’s about time to remember the positive things Crean did for the program, and why it wouldn’t be the same without him.

People may be mad his players heard about his exit on SportsCenter instead of from the man himself. Crean waited until he agreed with Indiana before telling the team he was considering a departure from Marquette. But what good would come from informing his team about it and having nothing come of it? He was right to wait. It was just unfortunate the news was leaked before his team knew.

Also, he had little time to negotiate with the Hoosiers. Tony Bennett, current coach at Virginia (then of Washington State), was the school’s first choice, but he turned the job down. Crean was option “B,” with Brad Brownell, then of Wright State, being third. Indiana wouldn’t have wasted any time in going to Brownell if Crean had any hesitation.

If you’re mad about him leaving, well, it’s Indiana. It is one of the top-tier programs in the country. It’s full of rich tradition.

With no prior connections to Marquette, Indiana could only be seen as a promotion. Crean would have been stupid not to go. At Indiana, he could build a perennial national championship contender. Doing that at Marquette is nearly impossible. Crean did all he could for Marquette. His stock would never be higher — it was as good of a chance as ever to leave.

Also, think about everything he did while here for the program.

Marquette was a mediocre team in Conference-USA when Crean arrived. Then, everything changed with his arrival from Michigan State, where Crean served as an assistant coach under Tom Izzo.

The Golden Eagles won just 14 games in the 1998- ’99 season, Crean’s predecessor Mike Deane’s last season in charge. Four years later they were in the Final Four.

Crean built that team, obviously around Dwyane Wade, to whom many may give all the credit. But Crean made Wade.

Wade had scholarship offers from Illinois State and DePaul before Marquette offered. There’s no chance Wade would have become the player he currently is if he went to Illinois State or DePaul. Talent goes undeveloped and wasted all the time. Without Crean, Wade’s talent would have wasted away as well, and Marquette would never have gotten to Final Four.

Marquette has only had two coaches take it to the Final Four: Crean and Al McGuire. That run in 2003 with Wade changed the program forever.

Would Marquette be in the Big East without that Final Four appearance and Crean? Maybe. But it still might be in the currently average Conference-USA. Crean deserves credit for bringing Marquette back to the national stage, which started with the Final Four run and concluded with its entrance into the Big East.

So next time Tom Crean’s face is on the jumbotron before a game, think about where the program is, and where it came from. I hope you realize none of this would be a reality without Crean, and I hope you don’t waste your time booing him.