"Rab's Words", Signing Off...

He recruited your players, broke down films and developed the talents of departing seniors. He made you laugh with his version of Simon Sez and put a lump in your throat when consoling a dejected player after a rough loss, but Coach Jason Rabedeaux will be remembered most for "Rab's Words", as he took you inside the locker room. As a new staff moves in, Coach Rab looks back with his final entry...

Four of the very best years of my life culminated a week or so ago at Marquette University. Four years of tears, jeers and so many wonderful cheers....four years of meeting some of the most influential, inspirational, generous and gracious people I will ever have the fortune to meet. So here it is, a tribute to Marquette Basketball and it's incomparable tradition and support...enjoy.

I Hate Good Byes...

"From the bottom of my heart, there is absolutely no way I would have left what we had there and what we were building, if it wasn't for what I feel is the pinnacle, the absolute pinnacle of all of college basketball. And that is to be the head basketball coach at Indiana University."

~ Tom Crean - Wednesday, April 2nd - Bloomington, Indiana

Talk about your bad "April Fool's Day" jokes.

One minute we are celebrating a historic season of Marquette basketball, the next minute Head Coach Tom Crean is clad in a red striped tie holding up a t-shirt with the words "Crean and Crimson". ($ 15.50 at the IU bookstore).

That just happened.

Welcome...class... to "Coaching Changes 101"...or as Coach Al would have said... "a real crier".

Remember as a kid the first time you had the wind knocked out of you? April 1st kind of felt that way around Marquette and the McGuire Center...times a 100. Some bully... clad in red warm ups and candy striped pants on a playground in Bloomington, Indiana wound up...slugged us in the gut as hard as possible...took our coach and left us alone on the school yard with 9 years of fantastic memories and no lunch money.

But I'm taking a different approach, so take all your "Bitter Pills" and "Hator - Ade" and flush 'em down the commode...take 'em out back and start a fire. I'm not hearing any of it...I'm here to celebrate the "Tom Crean Era"...a 9 year ride that brought Marquette Basketball out of the bowels of mediocrity and back to the brink of college basketball supremacy, respectability and credibility.

Let's jump in the 'ol time machine for a minute, shall we...set the timer (it's over there by the glove compartment) for April 1st in the year 1999...the day Tom Cean was introduced as Marquette's 15th head coach in school's glorious basketball history. Now that's the kind of "April Fool's Day" I'm talkin' about. Marquette had just finished up a 14-15 (6-10) season in C-USA and the Golden Eagles needed a jolt. Ladies and gentleman meet Mr. Tom Crean...and please...fasten your seat belts.

To say that Tom Crean is passionate about basketball is the ultimate under statement...it's like saying Tiger Woods would make a decent 4th to round out your Saturday morning foursome at Brown Deer CC. Tom Crean eats, sleeps, dreams and wakes up in the middle of the night to have a little midnight snack of basketball.

Driven? Only if you consider devoting his every waking moment to the development of the Marquette basketball program as being driven.

Vision? Ever been inside The Al McGuire Center? This "Taj Mahal" of a practice facility never happens without the vision of Tom Crean and the Marquette administration.

Competitive? Tee it up at a Tom Crean basketball practice some January afternoon and you will see, exactly, what Mr. Merriam Webster had in mind with the word competitive.

Play by the rules? When was the last time you heard Marquette's name in the same sentence with the words...probation...NCAA...allegations...or probe?

Up for a challenge? How about pushing for Marquette to enter college basketball's most ferocious conference, THE BIG EAST, and then, after all the "naysayer's" and "arm chair point guards" predicted Crean et al to fall flat on their face, proceed to win 34 games in 3 years.

Player development? OK, let's talk player development? Who out there truly believes that Travis Diener, Steve Novak and yes, even DWade saddled up to Marquette as 18 year old freshman NBA ready? Their NBA careers don't happen without the passion, coaching, individual instruction and hands on development from their collegiate head coach, Tom Crean and the outstanding assistant coaches he has mentored over the past 9 years.

Graduation? Caps, gowns and sheep skins belong to all 23 seniors that have exhausted their eligibility during the "Crean Era". That, my friends, does not happen everywhere. 23 for 23 is the exception...NOT the rule.

Tom Crean poured his heart and soul into Marquette for 9 years, 190 wins and countless memories that Marquette fans will cherish the rest of their lives.

Like...storming the Bradley Center floor at the C-USA championship win over Cincy, the ride to the 2003 Final Four, 12 state college basketball attendance record setting crowds, Novak's "buzzer beater" vs. Notre Dame, all of those "wimpy" Pitt/Marquette match ups, what about the, "welcome to the BIG EAST Marquette party" with a 23 point win over #2 UCONN, how about a trip to Madison this past December to rain on the Badgers non-conference-home win streak parade, at Notre Dame in '07 with our backs against the wall, Duke in Kansas City...wait a minute...make that "back to back" victories over Hall of Fame coaches that weekend in Kansas City (Mr. Knight and Coach K), Alaska in double OT over South Carolina...two Marquette championship banners now hang in Anchorage...the list as they say (who are "they", by the way) goes on and on.

As the saying goes..."our loss is their gain"...never has that cliche made more sense, echoed so loudly...or broken so many hearts.

So we mourn our loss and celebrate the past. Marquette will be OK...scratch that, NOT just OK, they will flourish. With a hungry, eager, driven, motivated "never took NO for an answer" head coach, in fact this guy puts the "buzz" in...well...Buzz. Arguably the best returning back court in the nation, 'Zar, 'Cubi, a healthy Trevor Mbakwe and an experienced 4th year D Burke...I like the "Blue and Gold's" chances. I like 'em alot.

The tiny downtown campus at the corners of Wisconsin and Wells is a much brighter spot thanks to the dedication, courage, devotion and love of one Mr. Tom Crean. And make no mistake about it...this tiny little campus will FOREVER hold a gigantic spot in Tom Crean's heart. Forever.

Thanks coach. We'll miss ya...alot.

Until next time...wait a minute, there won't be a next time. OK then...keep up the support on the outside Marquette, THE BEST SUPPORT IN THE NATION...in this man's opinion...everything is fine on the inside.
"Coach Rab"
Jason Rabedeaux

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