|Crean's departure leaves Marquette searching for new coach|
|Written by Admin|
|Wednesday, 02 April 2008 07:23|
Sure, the school should have been ready to face a day like Wednesday, when Crean was introduced as the new coach at Indiana. For all his coaching and recruiting ability, Crean seemed just as skilled a job hunter over the years as he flirted with several high-profile openings.
But just as it once seemed another Wisconsin sports icon, Brett Favre, never meant it when he grumbled about retirement every year, it had begun to feel like Crean would never really leave Marquette.
Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, a former Marquette player and current school trustee, was sorry to see his close friend go.
``It's a tough loss for us, I'll say that,'' Rivers said. ``A great gain for Indiana. ... They're getting a great guy. That program, it looks like they need somebody who's going to work their butt off, and there will be no one in college basketball that will work harder than Tom Crean.''
Marquette remains an attractive job with a top-notch practice facility, enthusiastic fan support, a good recruiting base and considerable financial resources. Crean's annual salary was believed to be about $1.5 million.
At his IU introduction Wednesday morning, Crean said he felt some ``incredible sadness'' over leaving Marquette.
``I walked away from one incredible job to take another one,'' he said.
And it's not like Crean's legacy will be impossible to follow. He made the Final Four with Dwyane Wade in 2003, but the Golden Eagles hadn't won another NCAA tournament game until they beat Kentucky in the first round of this year's tournament.
So now what?
Count out Rivers, who joked that he ``would make more than the extra calls'' to recruits as a college coach - a reference to the circumstances that led to Kelvin Sampson's departure from Indiana. The first name that came out of Rivers' mouth was former Marquette coach Rick Majerus, who coached three seasons at his alma mater in the 1980s.
Chicago Bulls interim coach Jim Boylan, the point guard for Marquette's 1977 national championship team, said he wasn't shocked by Crean's departure. So will Boylan, who is not likely to be retained by the Bulls, throw his hat in the ring?
``We're having a press conference tomorrow morning at 9, so we'll let you know,'' Boylan joked Tuesday night.
That didn't happen, of course.
Marquette athletic director Steve Cottingham, who has only been on the job full-time since February, was in Colorado with the Marquette women's basketball team when news of Crean's departure came Tuesday. Cottingham has returned to campus where he and Marquette players are scheduled to address the media at 3 p.m. Wednesday.
The list of potential replacements for Crean could include several of the same names that surfaced during Indiana's search.
Marquette's home-run hire would be Washington State coach Tony Bennett, who has strong ties to the state because of his father, former Wisconsin coach Dick Bennett. But the younger Bennett didn't jump when Indiana expressed interest, and it is unclear whether he would listen to Marquette.
Other names of interest could include UNLV's Lon Kruger, Vanderbilt's Kevin Stallings, Xavier's Sean Miller, Butler's Brad Stevens and Wright State's Brad Brownell.
Majerus is coaching at another Jesuit school, St. Louis University. But the Billikens had a so-so first season under him, and the gregarious coach made waves with controversial comments off the court - two strikes against him.
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee coach Rob Jeter could be considered despite his ties to rival Wisconsin and his mentor, Bo Ryan. Then there's Milwaukee Bucks coach Larry Krystkowiak, who had success at Montana before jumping to the NBA and could be out of a job when the Bucks hire a new general manager.
It also wouldn't hurt to put out feelers to Illinois coach Bruce Weber, a Milwaukee native who might not be feeling appreciated by Illini fans who have pressured him to recruit more big-name players.
AP Sports Writer Andrew Seligman contributed to this report from Chicago.