“I am always their coach:” Tom Crean returns to Milwaukee for MU’s 100 Years of Hoops celebration

Tom Crean

MILWAUKEE — Marquette University recently celebrated a century of basketball at the school, and one of the men most responsible for getting the program to where it is today was glad to be on hand for the event.

So many of the people responsible for building MU’s basketball tradition were back in town for the school’s 100 Years of Hoops celebration in June. The school’s coach for nine dizzying years, Tom Crean, was able to reconnect on some level with the community and reunite with many of his players.

“Everybody that’s gone on to play, I always said, ‘OK, I am not their present coach, but I’m always going to be their coach.’ Your whole job is to get them to be as strong and as good and as positive and as inspiring as they could possibly be, right? So we all need it. I’m 51 and I need it, and you know what? Over a period of time, they’ve done it for me and so that’s the beauty of relationships, and I hope I am always their coach,” Crean said.

Tom Crean

Having spent the next nine years of his life coaching at Indiana, Crean can reflect fondly on his time at MU.

“We took the program, at a time when it needed to make a jump, and it did, and we had a lot of help. No one person is bigger than the overall program, but in the case of Marquette, every person that was involved in it helped make it the program that it is, and trust me, I know the difference now. I know the difference when you’re really together and aligned. When we started here, the attendance was around 6,700. It was not a great student section, other than when Wisconsin and Cincinnati were here. All of a sudden, we had 28, 29 30 sellouts over that nine-year period of time, and the average attendance got up to be almost 16-and-a-half thousand. That doesn’t happen because of any one person or any one team. That happens because a bunch of people worked together and that’s what I want my legacy to be here,” Crean said.

Tom Crean

Tom Crean

So what’s next for Crean?

“Well, I want to coach, but I want to coach at a championship capacity type of place. I would think I’m going to be on your side of the camera for the year, maybe more, maybe longer, but I want to get better at whatever I’m doing. I want to be able to learn, and I think I’ve done some of that over this period of time. I never want to lose that, but I want to be involved in things that really, really matter and that are bringing value and that’s my biggest hope,” Crean said.

Crean is likely to do some college basketball announcing this season, but he wants to be back on the bench somewhere down the road.