Indiana Basketball Coaching Wish List: 7 Replacements For Tom Crean

    An Indiana basketball coaching wish list looking at seven possible replacements for Tom Crean, who was fired on Thursday.

    March 16, 2017

    An Indiana basketball coaching wish list looking at seven possible replacements for Tom Crean, who was fired on Thursday.


    On Thursday, just as the NCAA Tournament tipped off, Indiana announced its decision to fire Tom Crean. While Crean’s dismissal wasn’t all that unexpected, the timing certainly was – a basketball blue blood dumping its coach on the day all eyes are upon the sport is nothing short of curious. Alas, it is, again, time to rebuild for an Indiana program that has never really gained traction since firing legendary coach Bob Knight in 2000.

    Brad Stevens’ name will be flippantly thrown out, but put that to rest immediately. Stevens has the Boston Celtics sitting at No. 2 in the Eastern Conference right now. And with all due respect to Indiana, no coach leaves the most successful program in NBA history, at a time when it is winning, to return to the college ranks.

    Another NBA coach, Billy Donovan, will be mentioned on account of the Oklahoma City Thunder’s struggles this year and his prominence while at the University of Florida. But Donovan knew that Kevin Durant was a flight risk, and would not have left the safe space of Gainesville for only a two-year sojurn.

    So who then are potential coaching replacements? Here’s a possible wishlist for the Hoosiers as they look for a new head basketball coach for the fourth time in 17 years.

    Indiana Hoosiers Coaching Wishlist

    Archie Miller

    Miller’s brother, Sean, will have his name tossed out, but he’s at a flagship program in Arizona and has turned the Wildcats into a West Coast recruiting juggernaut. Moreover, while perhaps not as deep as Indiana, Arizona has a rich history in its own right.

    Archie, on the other hand, seems destined to leave Dayton at some point. It’s a matter of not if, but when. Miller has achieved a level of success with the Flyers that he can essentially wait and take his pick of the litter. If he were to choose Indiana, it would mean spurning his alma mater of NC State – then again, NCSU is no IU, not even on its best day.

    Gregg Marshall

    Since arriving at Wichita State in 2007, he has turned the Shockers into Missouri Valley Conference doormats to its model program. Only once in the last six years has Marshall’s team not won or at least tied for first for the MVC regular season championship, and the Shockers have only lost four conference games in the last four years.

    The 2012-13 Shockers ran through the NCAA Tournament all the way to the Final Four as a nine seed. The next season, Wichita State went 35-1, with the only loss coming to a hot Kentucky team in the Round of 32.

    Marshall’s success at Wichita State, and before that at Winthrop, shows a coach that can take a struggling program and turn it into a winner. Give him the facilities and brand name that Indiana has, and Marshall will make the Hoosiers a winner.

    Tony Bennett

    It’s difficult to remember now, but Virginia had fallen to the basement of the ACC under Dave Leitao. In comes Tony Bennett, and after two years of rebuilding the Cavaliers have not won fewer than 22 games in a given year. A tough, methodical defense helps UVA compete against the likes of the UNCs and Dukes whose rosters are flush with 5-star recruits. Essentially, Bennett has a system that works even if the talent is not there – and when it is, titles are a distinct possibilty.

    Hailing from Wisconsin and having cut his teeth as an assistant under Bo Ryan, Bennett is familiar with the Big Ten landscape. He’s succeeded both on the West Coast (Washington State) and on the East Coast with UVA, proving unlike some other coaches his style translates to success wherever he goes.

    Chris Holtmann

    Now in his third season as Butler’s head coach, Holtmann has kept the Bulldogs as a mid-major powerhouse after Brad Steven’s took them to back-to-back national championship games. Holtmann has an overall record of 68-30 at Butler, and have taken them to the NCAA Tournament all three seasons.

    The Indiana connection is there, as the Bulldogs reside just north of Bloomington in Indianapolis. With his network and relationship with high school coaches in the Hoosier State, he could be an interesting candidate for the job.

    Steve Alford

    Will the prodigal son make his way home? The hiring of Alford would surely rally any of the Indiana faithful who fell by the wayside under Tom Crean’s contentious reign.

    The problem with Alford is his record. Though thriving this year, only one season ago the boo birds were out in UCLA calling for his head. Alford’s teams generally make the NCAA Tournament, but have never advanced beyond the Sweet 16. Also, Alford essentially has the Ball brothers all lined up to go to UCLA, a school, mind you, with a tradition equally as rich as Indiana’s.

    Fred Hoiberg

    While Billy Donovan and Brad Stevens can be dismissed, Fred Hoiberg is an intriguing choice. He made Iowa State a consistent winner and threat in the tournament before leaving for the Chicago Bulls. That move, it could be said, is not going well for Hoiberg or the Bulls.

    The furthest the Cyclones advanced in the tournament under Hoiberg was the Sweet 16, though, and Indiana has bigger aspirations than also-rans. Like Marshall, Hoiberg would be extremely successful when given the facilities and backing that Indiana gives head coaches. He could quickly go from the Mayor of Ames to the Mayor of Bloomington. One hurdle to consider would be the stigma of hiring a coach who has very publicly flamed out in his current gig.

    Richard Pitino

    The coach with the least accomplishments on his resume, Pitino’s Minnesota Golden Gophers broke through this season with a 24-9 record and NCAA Tournament appearance. This was much-needed for Pitino, who entered on the hot seat after posting an 8-23 record in 2015-16.

    Pitino, only 34 years old, would be a major risk for the Hoosiers, but has a coaching legacy that could be enticing. Would Indiana hire someone with just five years of head coaching experience under his belt?

    MORE: NCAA Tournament Live Bracket, Predictions, Analysis

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