Crean's departure – player reactions

A day after Tom Crean's abrupt departure to coach the University of Indiana, his former players at Marquette reacted.

MILWAUKEE – A day after Tom Crean's abrupt departure to coach the University of Indiana, his former players at Marquette reacted.

"My initial reaction was like everyone else really – shock," said sophomore Lazar Hayward

"I was like, ‘April Fools," said junior Dominic James. "That was the ironic thing about it. My mom called me, and I was like, ‘Stop playin.' I turned on the TV and there it was on the ticker. So I was like, ‘Wow.'"

Perhaps the biggest shock for the players was the fact that they were not notified – by Crean or anyone else – before the story broke in the national media. The first official word that Crean had accepted the Indiana job scrolled across the ESPN Bottom Line around 4:00 p.m. locally. At around 6:00 p.m. the same day, the players met at Crean's home to discuss the recent turn of events and have dinner with their coach one final time as a team.

Many on the team felt that the way they were informed of the departure was the most penetrating blow of all.

. "It was tough for me finding out like that, said Hayward. "He could've done a little better job of getting us to know. But it happened, and we all went out there and talked to him and got it settled."

"When your leader leaves, and with him being the sole purpose that you came, that hurts," said James. "And for me to find out, and for the rest of the guys to find out, along with the rest of the country at the same time, that's what hurt the most."

Others will be staying away from their TVs to avoid watching the story of their coach's departure again and again.

"I'm sick of it," said junior Jerel McNeal. "I got sick of it quick. I watched it twice on Sportscenter. Once on College Gameday, I was done after that. I can't watch ESPN for the next couple days."

Many of the players maintained that playing for the charismatic Crean was their number one reason for coming to Marquette, and they struggled with the emotions of losing their mentor.

"I'm upset where I'm going to miss him more," said Hayward. "I looked at him, as a person, like he was in my family."

"Things are going to change," said McNeal. "My relationship with Coach, now that he's gone, is going to change. Other guys' relationships are going to change because he's not here anymore."

And how do the players think Crean's departure will affect next year's recruiting class?

"We really don't want to know," said Hayward.

Amid rumors that several of next year's signees have already asked out of their letters of intent, James said that, while he still intend to do everything in his power to keep the four incoming freshmen committed, he would understand if they decided not to come to Marquette.

"They placed their future in the hands of Coach Crean," said James. "They shouldn't have to put their future in someone else's hands who they have probably never talked to before in their life."

Yet, as the players try collect themselves and restore order at the corner of 12th and Wisconsin, one thing remains constant – the players' will to stay strong for each other and keep to working towards becoming a better basketball team.

"I still feel really confident about where we are at," said Hayward. "People will want to see how things will turn out and if they will get worse. We have too many great guys on this team to let that even come remotely close to happening."

"Marquette is bigger than any one person," said James. "Marquette is Marquette. We're all family."

Jeff Wolf is the head student writer at

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