For the first time in his career, Tom Crean has been named Big Ten Coach of the Year.
The league made the announcement on Monday night, but Crean found out through a call from team spokesman J.D. Campbell. Crean said he held on the message for 10 minutes before telling his wife, Joani.
"I was really flattered, I don't think there's any question about that," Crean said. "When you get the respect of your peers and of the media that cover this league on a daily basis, it means a lot."
Crean's selection was unanimous by both the coaches and the media. He led the Hoosiers to their second outright Big Ten title in four years, a feat that had not been accomplished by a head coach at Indiana since 1983.
The conference title was also Indiana's 22nd overall, tying Purdue for most in league history.
He didn't take full responsibility for the award, though. It took him less than 30 seconds into his live interview on the Big Ten to share the credit with his coaching staff and players.
Those players the outright title and a 15-3 record in the Big Ten (25-6 overall) playing without their second-leading scorer in sophomore guard James Blackmon Jr. the entire conference slate and a key perimeter defender in sophomore guard Robert Johnson the final three games of the regular season.
"When you have somebody go down like James, obviously you don't have any idea what your'e going to be like when you lose somebody that had the contributions that he was making," Crean said. " But because the guys like OG (Anunoby) and Juwan (Morgan) had a respect level with their teammates early, it helped their confidence."
Crean also attributed the team's turnaround to the leadership of senior guard Yogi Ferrell, whose first-team All Big Ten selection was also unanimous by the coaches and the media.
"He's always had a great knowledge, he's had a competitiveness, he's had a work ethic, but he's taken experiences and his knowledge and he's really made that a part of his teammates' fabric," Crean said. "He took a lot of ownership in them and in turn in made his confidnece go up to an even higher level."
Since the 20-point loss to Duke, Indiana has gone 20-3 and earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament with the Hoosiers looking at a No. 3 seed in the NCAA Tournament.
As the team cut down the nets with their families, he was reminded of the credit that was due to the coaching staff and players who also played a key part in the turnaround.
"I immediately jump to how fortunate I am to have the staff that we have," Crean said. "Anything you do is family oriented, and to get an award like this, it says as much about the people that I'm with as it says about me personally and it says even more about the players that we have the opportunity to coach."