Indiana coach Tom Crean was in Fort Wayne on Sunday night to deliver a speech for the "Youth for Christ of Northern Indiana" dinner event. Crean talked about a number of topics, including the development of freshman Thomas Bryant, the recovery of sophomore James Blackmon Jr., and how he got into coaching in the first place.
But Crean captivated the audience with his lengthy, honest discussion of the Nov. 1 incident involving former IU forward Devin Davis and sophomore Emmitt Holt. Davis was struck by a car driven by Holt, and was hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury. Davis was dismissed from the team in May after being cited for marijuana possession in a campus dorm room.
Courtesy of the Fort Wayne Journal-Gazette, here's what Crean had to say about the Halloween night incident on Sunday.
"I thought I was doing everything I could possibly do to help our team understand that we had to grow up. I was disciplining. Let's help them understand the three things I hope they all leave Indiana with. That's the understanding of how to be selfless. That's the understanding of how to solve problems. And that's the understanding that somewhere down the road, they're going to have to be the spiritual leader of their home.
"We got into that moment. I'm standing there talking to my team after an outstanding practice. I'm talking to my team about all the things we're not going to do that night, Halloween night. We've got a big event the next day, a lot of fans coming in for a really big practice. I'm talking about it. They're looking back at me. I'm thinking I'm reaching them. I'm feeling OK.
"All of a sudden I get a knock on the door at 2:45 in the morning. I'm in a dead sleep. I look at my phone. I notice I missed a call. I go to my door and see our media relations director. He says, 'We've had an accident.' No matter what I thought about my leadership at that point, I couldn't have felt a greater failure. Driving to the hospital, getting in there, I've got a team of guys who are looking at me a little differently than they were looking at me at 4:30 in the afternoon. I'm somewhere between crazy anger, which I might have shown, disbelief and trying to get to the bottom of what happened. I go into the room. We had a young man right there not looking good. I had to tell his parents. Then I had to gather up the team.
"What I was able to do was ask God to help get me centered on what was most important. Because I love those guys. I think they love me back. Some made a mistake. Indiana's going to get a lot of attention in basketball no matter what. Things started to swirl around. This person said this. This person wrote that. My wife and I were heading up from the first floor to the third floor, she says, 'You know what, Tom? We're going to be OK. We've got God with us.'
"From that moment on, I learned right then and there at the age of 48 you can't internalize the negatives of the world. You can't internalize the back slaps. You can't internalize the punches. Because the moment you internalize them, you make them bigger than your faith in God or your faith in yourself or your faith in your mission or your faith in what's most important. It's real easy to feel good when people are telling you how good you're doing. It's real easy to feel really bad when you hear about how you're not doing it right.
"You know what? God didn't put any one of us here to be better than the next person. He gave each and every one of us gifts and talents. It is our job to figure out every day how we're going to do that by trusting Him and by helping those around us. I'm embarrassed to say I was 48 before I figured that out. Forty-eight. You think about the 10-year-olds, and the 11-year-olds, and the 12-year-olds, and the 13-year-olds, and the 14-year-olds, and the 15-year-olds, and the 16-year-olds, and the 17-year-olds, and the 18-year-olds, and you can keep right on going. God put us here to help. He puts us here to serve, to lead, to encourage, to inspire, to motivate, to give people chances.
"We went through our hard moments that year. We recovered."