A funny thing happened when I moved to Indiana eight and a half years ago. I started watching basketball. See, I’m from Minnesota and the only winter sport there was hockey…at least the only one anyone cared about. But you know what they say, when in Rome…do as the Hoosiers do. Or something like that.
I knew there was a storied history of Hoosier basketball here. I had heard the legend of Bobby Knight. I think I lived here for five years before watching Hoosiers, but yes…I’ve seen it. Good flick. I’ve also seen the relics at Plump’s Last Shot in Broad Ripple. So, yes…I think that makes me a Hoosier.
But, do you know who really made me a Hoosiers basketball fan? Tom Crean.
That’s right. Not Victor Oladipo, not “Big Handsome” Cody Zeller, not even Yogi Ferrell, who played high school ball right up the road. All great players and great guys. But it was Tom Crean who really made me a fan.
I like fiery coaches. I like coaches who wear their emotions on their sleeve. I like watching a coach pace up and down the sideline like their ticker could blow at any second. And I like coaches who aren’t afraid to hug their players and shed a tear at the end of a big game.
Because that’s how I feel as a fan.
Watching Tom Crean’s intensity while Indiana is playing is almost like a side-show in itself. As I have said, there needs to be a “Crean Cam.” I really wish someone would get on that.
Put a sharpie on a string around Tom Crean’s neck…and who do you have? Jim Harbaugh. Which is really funny, because the two are brothers-in-law. Is it just me, or were those guys separated at birth and reunited by marriage? That’s my theory anyway. And now, I have to hold my breath during Crean’s post-game handshakes too.
Actually, I think Tom Crean sincerely regrets the incident with Jeff Meyer following the Michigan game. Jim Harbaugh (with Jim Schwartz)…not so much. And again, Crean was standing up for IU and its players, even from the time before he was coach. Here is a guy so passionate about what he does, that he cares deeply about what happened even before he got here.
Is that a guy I want coaching my team? Absolutely. In a second. Without a doubt.
When I am watching my team and my insides are in knots, I want to look at the guy on the sideline and know he feels the same way. And somehow, watching Crean pace burns off some of my nervous energy as well.
This is Indiana. Tom Crean is Indiana. Tom Crean is a Hoosier. And so am I.