Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Tom Crean’s whirlwind week got even crazier Monday.
Upon returning home from the Super Bowl, the Indiana coach found out he is leading America’s No. 1 men’s college basketball team — again.
It was another crowning moment in a time full of success for the Crean and relatives.
Indiana beat No. 13 Michigan State, archrival Purdue and No. 1 Michigan in a seven-day span, before Crean headed to New Orleans. There, he watched one brother-in-law beat his other brother-in-law for the Super Bowl title. Finally, he saw the Hoosiers reclaim the top spot in the Associated Press media poll after seven weeks.
“Our guys appreciate winning. They appreciate the task that it is and I think because our older guys have been through so many hard times, they appreciate it that much more,” a weary-sounding Crean said Monday. “And I think our younger guys were raised on winning. Guys like Yogi (Ferrell), Cody (Zeller), Remy Abell, those guys were really raised on winning, and that helps.”
It is the fifth straight week there is a new No. 1 team in the poll.
Duke started the streak and was followed by Louisville, Duke again, Michigan and Indiana. The last time there were five No. 1s in as many weeks was the last five polls of the 2008-09 season, when it was Connecticut, Pittsburgh, Connecticut again, North Carolina and Louisville.
The Hoosiers, ranked No. 1 in the preseason poll, held the top spot for the first five weeks of the regular season. They moved up two spots Monday after their victory over the Wolverines and then-No. 2 Kansas’ loss to Oklahoma State.
Indiana received 58 first-place votes from the 65-member national panel, while Florida, which jumped two spots to second, got the seven others.
The next four teams in the poll are Michigan, Duke, Kansas and Gonzaga. The Zags moved up from seventh to No. 6 in both the AP and USA Today-ESPN coaches polls.
The change at the top of the AP poll came as no surprise in Bloomington, Ind.
Even before Saturday’s game ended, fans were chanting “Number one, number one.”
“We’ve been playing with a chip on our shoulder since the day I got here,” junior swingman Victor Oladipo said. “We’ve got to continue to play with that chip because it can be taken away at any time.”
Indiana found that out the hard way with an overtime loss to then-unranked Butler on Dec. 15.
For the next seven weeks, the Hoosiers were trying to get back to No. 1.
The lone stumble was a home loss to Wisconsin. But last week, they played their best basketball all season, leading almost from start to finish in all three games and handing Purdue its worst home loss.
Crean flew on a private plane Sunday morning to New Orleans, where he watched the Super Bowl with his wife, Joani, the sister of Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh and San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh. The Ravens beat the 49ers 34-31.
“It’s really hard, certainly for Joani and her parents, because you’ve got such great joy for one and such pride,” Crean said.
He received a text message Sunday from Celtics coach Doc Rivers, who has had three children play college sports. Crean showed the text to his father-in-law late that night.
“He (Rivers) said as a parent, you’re only as happy as your unhappiest child, and I think it’s an amazing statement and one of the most profound things that I’ve ever heard, and it probably fits what Joani’s parents are going through,” Crean said. “But in a sense, it could be a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so there’s incredible joy in being able to be a part of it and see it.”