Well, it happened. Tom Crean, who is a blistering 1-5 in his last six games against Purdue, has been fired as head coach of the Indiana Hoosiers. Indiana is Purdue’s second biggest rival (our first being the NCAA Tournament itself, which has complete mastery over the Boilers unlike that school in Bloomington), so this merits being big news here.
Not only that, Purdue and Indiana battle for many of the same in-state recruits. It is the most important rivalry in Big Ten basketball, so this is a bit of a big deal for us. It appears that Fred Glass is, to quote Bob Knight, “sick and f***ing tired of losing to Purdue.”
Crean closes his career 5-10 against the Boilers. He won four in a row in 2012 and 2013 when he led Indiana back to the NCAA Tournament after their NCAA sanctions. He went to three Sweet 16s in a 2012, 2013, and 2016 and won two Big Ten championships, but that is not enough in Bloomington.
I have always been fascinated how similar the records are for Crean and Matt Painter. Crean was 166-135 in nine seasons in Bloomington with those three Sweet 16s and two B1G titles. He had a winnings percentage of .551 overall and .438 (71-91) in the Big Ten. He only made the NCAA Tournament four times, however, and the first three years heavily weighed down his one/loss record because of Indiana’s sanctions. Meanwhile, Coach Painter is 288-146 in 12 seasons at Purdue with a .651 winning percentage overall and a .599 (127-85) percentage in Big Ten play. Painter, too, has a pair of Big Ten titles and could be 48 hours from reaching a third Sweet 16. Purdue is in its 9th NCAA Tournament under Painter.
That was the largest difference between the two. Crean had a Ron Zook-like roller coaster of wild highs and dizzying lows, but never delivered the success Indiana fans crave. Painter, meanwhile, has had one awful season (9-19 in year one) two seasons just below .500 (16-18 and 15-17 in back-to-back 2013 and 2014 seasons), but has had Purdue steadily in the top 4 of the Big Ten and in the NCAA Tournament. He is also 8-8 in march while Crean was 6-4
Obviously we will keep an eye on this because Indiana is a rival, a top level Big Ten team with us, and an in-state recruiting opponent. They also have the tradition that makes it easier to recruit high-level talent. if you think those banners don’t matter you’re lying. If Indiana makes the right hire they could be a lot better in a hurry.
The biggest thing Coach Painter needs to do right now is nail down the state’s top talent for 2018 and 2019. Romeo Langford is probably a Duke/Kentucky kid, but why not give it a shot. Robert Phinisee, Eric Hunter, Damezi Anderson. Those are top 80 guys Purdue needs to get. Period. Why not even poached Musa Jallow from Bloomington north to rub it in a bit? Getting Keion Brooks for 2019 out of Ft. Wayne would be nice, too.
We made it Our State this year. Let’s keep it that way.