Despite being ranked in the top 3 earlier this season, the University of Indiana fired head basketball coach Tom Crean after his team failed to make the NCAA Tournament. CBS and Turner College Basketball analyst Wally Szczerbiak joined The Jim Rome Show on Thursday and shared his initial reaction to the firing.
“Shocking. That really is. He had a great team this year that was dominating early, had some big wins early on in the season and then they had catastrophic injuries that really derailed their season,” Szczerbiak said. “And if I’m another team out there, I’m looking at Tom Crean really, really seriously. A place like NC State, I think, should love to have a guy like Tom Crean. What he’s done with that program at Indiana. He’s got players there, you look at (Victor) Oladipo, you look at (Cody) Zeller. He had really good teams, never really huge runs obviously, but it’s not easy.”
Szczerbiak pointed out that it’s tough to win in the Big 10 Conference historically.
“You look at a guy like Thad Matta, who’s made Final Fours, he’s struggled the last two years to win in that league. There’s a lot of parity, there’s a lot of good coaches, a lot of good teams,” Szczerbiak said. “I’m surprised they moved so quickly on him, because of the fact they would have been a top 10 team had they not gotten hurt, a lot of their players, and they’re major impact players.
“Hey, if I’m looking at Crean, I’m hiring him quick if I’m another team.”
The former NBA All-Star feels like the school’s expectations at Indiana are too high at this point.
“I think it’s going to be tough for them to compete with places like, you look at Duke, UCLA, and Kentucky, Kansas the players that they get, are they going to get those caliber of recruits? I don’t think so,” Szczerbiak said. “I think they want a guy in there who’s going to get those kind of caliber recruits, and that’s why they felt Tom Crean wasn’t able to go in and sell guys on the Indiana program. It’s not easy, though. You have to have some kind of pedigree and background, the last few years of success, and there are a lot of other schools, Arizona too has been there perennially, Oregon has been there perennially, that you’re going to have to beat out. So it’s going to be interesting in the direction they go. I can’t imagine it happening overnight. It’s going to take a long time to get that program where the expectations of that fan base are.”