Tom Crean was a very good coach, bringing Indiana back from the brink of disaster to a level of success the program hadn’t seen in decades. Things got stale in Bloomington, and a collapse last season was enough for IU to show Crean the door. Crean will likely coach again in the near future, but in the meantime, he’s making a great impression as an analyst.
Crean was no stranger to television, having done NCAA Tournament work for Turner early on in his Indiana tenure before working alongside Adrian Wojnarowski for The Vertical’s well-received draft coverage. He earned raves for both, and has done solid studio work for ESPN since joining last fall.
Tonight he was the color man alongside Boog Sciambi for Kansas’s trip to take on Trae Young and the Oklahoma Sooners, and things went very well.
Jon Sciambi and Tom Crean is a dynamic duo.
— T.J. Walker (@TWalkerRivals) January 24, 2018
Trae Young’s been impressive but Tom Crean is the star of this game. He sounds like he’s been a color analyst for 10 years.
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) January 24, 2018
I think Tom Crean probably wants to coach again. But I also genuinely think he’s good enough as an in-game announcer to do Final Fours and massive, massive events for years to come.
— Sam Vecenie (@Sam_Vecenie) January 24, 2018
Crean’s success is another win for perhaps the truest sports broadcasting axiom: the best analysts are those who were recently involved with the sport itself. Crean was coaching high-level college basketball as recently as last spring; he knows the players, he knows the coaches, and he knows the ins-and-outs of the schemes.
This was perhaps best personified when Crean did his best Tony Romo impression, calling Oklahoma’s clutch, game-sealing three pointer before it even happened:
That’s absolutely fantastic analysis, without taking viewers out of the moment (unlike the fan’s hand that obscured the basket itself.) Romo’s act wore a bit thin, but not for the knowledge he brought; he was just obviously a bit green in terms of knowing when to talk and when to let the game breathe.
Crean seems much more comfortable, which makes sense given his years of studio work. He seems likely to coach again soon, and his TV work might actually help his prospects, even; Crean has sometimes struggled to connect with fans, and this is a great outlet for him.
ESPN should look to put him on marquee games down the stretch while they can.