Tom Crean: Sure, absolutely. I look at the NBA drafts right now and everybody is talented. Everybody's got skill but the will to win and the toughness comes out so much in the series. In my mind, in my opinion, the Warriors out-toughed the Dallas Mavericks in this series. And the Dallas Mavericks had an incredible year. You know what? In the Michigan State game, we got out-toughed.
Dennis Krause: And that's rare for a team like yours.
Tom Crean: No question, there was no question. Now, did Jerel's absence have something to do with that? Probably a lot more than even I am willing to admit. OK, but it had a lot to do with it. But we didn't compete at any physical level, we competed, but we were not at a physical level. This spring has been the spring board I think for what could be a great season for us hopefully based on the fact that we are getting better all the time at that physical part of it. We got beat on a Thursday night (Michigan State) and we were back in the weight room by Monday afternoon and we were back on the court by Tuesday. We weren't taking one of those two or three week breaks because that's not the message that needed to be sent at that point. We needed to get better. We needed to get right back after it.
I thought we had an excellent year. We are one of three teams in this league in the new Big East to win ten or more games in the first two years. Pittsburgh and Georgetown, the other two. But there was nobody running around in the locker room happy that we lost in the first round. I know the fans aren't happy either. OK? We had an excellent year. The Dallas Mavericks had an excellent year. All these teams that lose in the end, they got to the playoffs. Of course you want to go further. Well, we're the same way, so the spring has been a spring board for that but now once they are on their own because the only time we get to be with them in any kind of working capacity, is in our summer camps. So they are on their own. This is where we are going to have to find a way to separate ourselves. And I am looking forward to seeing what that does. There was a lot of addressing what we need to do on a continual daily basis with our group and I think that's a very important for progress.
Dennis Krause: What has your interaction been with Tom Izzo since the NCAA tournament game? Has it changed at all?
Tom Crean: No, we talked later that night. I talked to him the night before. No one will ever understand how bad Jerel wanted to play in that game and the begging of the doctors to let him do it. And I couldn't get involved in that. We couldn't risk him going out there with one hand and having that right hand being jarred, having that thumb be jarred because where it was injured was right in this area (points to base of thumb). And there was too much risk. We even talked the night before that. I said, hey, help me tell him, to ease his mind a little bit. You know our relationship won't ever change. He (Tom) is as good a friend as I have had or will ever have.
Dennis Krause: Are coaches judged too much by NCAA tournament success or lack thereof? Now that could be a double edge sword. You went to the Final Four in 2003 and that was great. But the other times, maybe you lose in the first round and some of the alums or boosters go, well, "you know it was a disappointing season." You have to look at the totality of what you just said and say, heh, it was a great regular season. We got to the tournament to begin with.
Tom Crean: I think so. I think what happens, and I think this is so driven by fans, by media, we start talking about the tournament. OK? I mean look at it right now. Joe Nardi is pretty good, ESPN.com. He's been running brackets basically under 360 days a year. That's too much. It really is. And what happens is, for the people who really pay attention and really have an objective view, will lost sight of what the regular season was like. I think you can lose sight real quick if you look at the success of a program, good or poor, just in the NCAA tournament setting, just in the college bowl setting, just in the NBA playoffs, just in the major league playoffs, just in the NHL playoffs.
You know, we want to have above about our program 365 days a year. 12 months a year. 52 weeks a year. We want to have excitement about that. We had a meeting this morning. Let's start selling tickets earlier. What can we do? And you want people to be excited? I don't want people to get away from understanding that college game was one of the greatest experiences they will have in college sports and be a part of that. I think for the most part people don't. I think the fans really have to realize that as disappointed as they get, it fails in comparison big time to what players and coaches feel because we have to live with what we did or didn't do and I have been on both sides of it now. Having not been in the tournament, losing in the first round, then all the way to the Final Four. There is a euphoric state when you are winning games. There is an absolute misery when you're not. And you have to bounce back up right away which is exactly why we went back to work right away on that Monday and Tuesday after the tournament.
Dennis Krause: I know there is no off-season and in the summer you have lots of camps going. Right?
Tom Crean: Absolutely and it's a great time. When we are constantly trying to restructure what we are doing with that. I lost a couple of my key guys who helped run that. Todd Townsend went to Northeastern and Derrick Deprey got a promotion to go to the University of Utah so it's like again we are starting over with it. And I enjoy it and we are really, really going to attack offensive improvement and skill development and keeping kids in stances and left-hand layups and things like that.
I always want to run that camp like they do over in Europe, where it is so skilled oriented. I had a great talk with Charlie Bell about this recently because he had some real success, and I think a lot of his game really took off when he was over in Italy. He would talk about the practices that they were the two a days and he went to two a days all the time. The first practice was total skill development. The night practice would be scrimmaging and he talked about the young players. He was referring to a young man whom he played with that entered into the draft now, Marco Bellini, and he talked about what kind of player he was at 16. And he talked about how young he started and that kind of stuff motivates me and even more so, let's not let somebody leave there without really understanding how to make a left-hand layup. Let's not leave there without guys understanding the slide shot and all these different things, so I am really looking forward to our camps this summer.
Dennis Krause: If someone wants more information, how can they get it?
Tom Crean: They can call 288-7130. They can go on our website, GoMarquette.com, we have three sessions. June 11 is the one. The middle of July is selling out quickly because that's when it's 8th grade and below, but we have two camps the 11th and the 18th, which we still have room. We cut one of our weeks, so we are down to three because our last week in July I just didn't feel I could do enough justice to that camp and to the recruiting trail. And July is our time and they keep trimming days, July is our time to recruit in the summer and I always felt that when I would not be there for a day or when I would leave early to go off and recruit but we have to recruit, so we eliminated that week.
Dennis Krause: You mentioned the word recruiting. Do you enjoy it?
Tom Crean: I love it. I do. I absolutely love it. In April we just finished our recruiting period. I love being out in that. I don't like leaving during the season as much and that's where, again, being in the university where I can jump on a private plane now and again because I'm not missing a practice. And I really don't want my coaches missing practice. I know we have to every once in awhile. We are truly there. We talked about that in recruiting. I may see you a little less during the winter, but I am going to see you in the summer. I'm going to see you in the fall. I'm going to see you in the spring, so I love it. I love being out. I love the evaluation part of it. I love talking to the summer coaches, the high school coaches, the assistant coaches and it's great. I mean that's where you get a feel for what somebody is all about.
Dennis Krause: Is part of it, and I am oversimplifying this, chasing the next Dwyane Wade? I mean there had to be such a buzz with you know what, I was right on this guy before a lot of other people and there are other kids out there that maybe I can find that others don't know about?
Tom Crean: I make mistakes doing that. I think you can trip yourself. I think that's where you trust your instincts. We've got a lot of success stories at Marquette and we also have a few failure stories. And when you're the head coach, you're a part of all that. Where I have made mistakes in this job has been on character. There is definitely some talent, but more on the character and the willingness to put your teammate first, the willingness to put winning first. Finding someone that absolutely wants to win and compete on a continual daily basis is the hardest thing about recruiting. So you've got to see them in all these different environments. You've got to see all the different elements of what make them successful. And I think when you go in there, I never try to compare anybody to Dwyane because that would be unfair to them, but you do try to look for those nuances and you do try to talk about what Dwyane did. You know one of the things I'm telling everybody now would be for every five conversations I have with Dwyane, four of them are through a text message.
And that's the way it is. I mean I didn't learn how to text message until last August and now they're taking it away from us with recruiting. Great example. Last Thursday night, I texted him before I went in to the building and I asked, how is your knee, OK, and are you getting therapy for it? What most people don't know is that it wasn't his shoulder that was the problem, it was his knee. The knee was the problem. He didn't have the lift. He didn't have the speed coming back and his knee was killing him. He said he just got therapy … on my way to the gym now. When that text came at 8:56 central time, which means in Miami it was 9:56 p.m. He was on his way to the gym on a Thursday night and they played the next game on Friday. Now, that's what you are looking for. OK, chase for the next Dwyane Wade. I'm going to chase that work ethic. So, that's what we are looking for and it's hard to find. That's why you've got to see it in as many different environments like I said as possible.
**This segment was printed with permission by Dennis Krause of Time Warner Sports. Krause is a two time winner of the Wisconsin Sportscaster of the year and is the Programming Manager for Time Warner Sports. Time Warner Sports can be found on Time Warner channel 32. You can also reach their website at: Time Warner Sports 32