March Madness Fans Feel for Fired Tom Crean

Nine seasons, four trips to the big dance, and two conference titles isn’t enough for Indiana’s Tom Crean to last in Bloomington.

The basketball program now looks for its next head coach, as some of its biggest rivals play for a title. The Hoosiers flamed out in the NIT after a first-round loss to Georgia Tech.

School leaders say Crean helped bring the program out of the dark, but his tenure in Assembly Hall is over.

March and madness go hand in hand, much like the colors cream and crimson. How maddening this month can be depends who you ask.

“Everybody gets together you get to cheer on your team, get to watch the Cats win!” says Donna Conley of Owensboro, who clearly bleeds blue.

She and dozens of others are in downtown Evansville for the Blake Shelton concert at Ford Center, but their pregame consists of TV screens consumed by basketball.

“I-who?” Conley says with a smile. The butt of too many jokes, Indiana was. They wave goodbye to their coach who led teams often plagued by inconsistency.

Rivals of course, revel in their demise.

“Go Boilers!” says Michael Siebert, unhappy IU let Crean go, if only to give fans more grief. “I wasn't totally upset,” he jokes.

Indiana has had its share of success under Crean, leading the team to 29 wins in 2012, and 27 wins in two other years. But he's also been at the helm of 14, 15, and 16 losses in three of the last four years.

“They don't even make the tournament and then they get beat in the first game of the NIT,” says Mike Cronin, a Hoosier fan from Huntingburg, “I think it was time for a change in leadership.”

Crean's teams never advanced beyond the Sweet 16. School officials say a national search is on to find his replacement.

Skeeter Pugh is from Ohio but roots for Kentucky on the hardwood. Not a big fan of the team, Pugh says he doesn’t mind their now-former coach.

“I think he's a very good coach, but evidentially the folks in Indiana don't.”

March is a time for madness, and some Hoosiers may be mad. Now they look to the future, and March -- just a year away.

“Basketball is big in Indiana, so they'll come back,” says Pugh.


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