The Tom Crean Era at Indiana — The Top 10 List

– Originally published on November 1, 2017.  Updated March 16, 2018 – 

When Indiana fired Tom Crean last March there was little time to reflect on his nine seasons as head coach, as all of the attention immediately shifted to the hiring process for his replacement.  Now that Crean has been hired at Georgia a year later, the former Hoosier coach is back on our minds.  We invite you to take a look at the top 10 Tom Crean moments at Indiana.  Careful, you might shed a tear:

The Top 10:

1. The Wat Shot.  It goes without saying.  It requires no videos or photos.  We’ve all seen it a hundred times.  But the reason why it is number one on the list isn’t because a guy hit a shot at the buzzer to win a game.  It was so much more than that.  It was a win over one of our top two rivals.  It was a win in a game where we were big underdogs against the No. 1 team in the country.  Kentucky was so good that year that it would be one of only two losses on their season as they went on to win the national championship.

But what it really was, more than anything else, was an exhale, and a statement that after more than three years of hell:  We. Are. Back.  And no matter how you feel about Tom Crean, it is undeniable that he stuck his nose into that mess in 2008, and he led Indiana back.

2. The 2013 and 2016 Teams:  Two Outright B1G Titles.  While most of the items on this list represent individual game moments, number 2 represents full season accomplishments.  Winning Big Ten titles is difficult. Winning outright titles is even more difficult.  Before the 2017-18 season Tom Izzo only had 1 outright title in the last 17 years. So we should never diminish the importance of the 2013 and 2016 outright conference championships.

The 2013 title was expected. Expectations like that come with their own challenges and the Hoosiers got it done. The 2016 title was unexpected.  No one saw it coming in December.  The Hoosiers had gotten off to a 5-3 start with embarrassing losses in Maui and a blowout loss to Duke.  One great second half comeback against Notre Dame seemingly turned the whole season around.

3. Yogi’s 2016 B1G Clinching Dagger vs. Iowa.  We don’t really need to say anything.  Big Ten title on the line.  You put the ball in your senior leader’s hands.  Just watch and relive the glorious moment.


4. The 2013 B1G outright clinching victory at Ann Arbor.  Let Don Fischer take you back through this incredible last minute comeback by the Hoosiers as they win the outright conference championship on the road in the last game of the regular season.


5. The 2016 win over Kentucky in the NCAA round of 32.  After winning the Big Ten outright, Indiana was “rewarded” with a 5th seed and a second round match-up with its old nemesis.  This was OG Anunoby’s coming out party to the nation.  Told you there would be tears shed.

6. The Mackey Massacre.  January 30, 2013.  Indiana 97 Purdue 60, at Mackey Arena.  Followed up by an 83-55 IU win at Assembly Hall a couple weeks later.  Need we say more?  Could it get any better?  Not really, or could it?  Purdue fans not only got a ticket to the game, but also a ticket to the Will Sheehey gun show.

7.  Finally Winning at the Breslin Center in 2013.  Talk about getting a monkey off your back.  Indiana had 17 straight losses at the Breslin Center dating back to 1991.  It was a house of horrors for the Hoosiers but 2013 would be different.  Timely 3 pointers from Jordy Hulls and Victor Oladipo would be the difference.  The game is also famous for its own dramatic intrigue — a mysterious “low blow” that will forever be the subject of conspiracy theories.

8.  The 2011 Win Over Ranked Illinois.  This one just felt good.  They were still a year away from being nationally relevant, but this team fought hard every game and finally got to enjoy a few good wins, including this one over Illinois — IU’s first victory over a ranked team since 2008.  The enthusiasm spilled out to the South Lobby, and Crean joined the festivities.

9.  The North Carolina B1G/ACC Wins.  Two games that epitomize what it is like to come into Assembly Hall with the students at full throat.  Opposing players, especially non-conference opposing players often seem to buckle under the magnitude of it all.  Brice Johnson would say it was a very tough place to play.  Roy Williams would say he was envious of the crowd.  Twice they went home losers:

  • 2016:  76-67 over #3 and eventual national champion North Carolina
  • 2012:  83-59 over #14 North Carolina

10. The 2016 Michigan Run.  The game in and of itself wasn’t extraordinarily significant.  No titles on the line, and no one would have been surprised to see Indiana lose.  What WAS extraordinary was the run.  28-0.  It spanned more than 11 minutes and two halves.  It was everything a Tom Crean team can be when it is clicking on all cylinders.  Indiana went from down 24-20 to up 48-24.  Game.  Set.  Match.

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Main Photo Credit:  Haley Ward/IDS