Coaching search profile: Tom Crean

With South Carolina Athletic Director Eric Hyman in the process of searching to find USC's next head basketball coach, continues its look at potential candidates for the job. Today, we examine Marquette's Tom Crean and break down what type of fit he would be for the South Carolina position.

In the previous eight and a half seasons as the headman at Marquette University, Crean has compiled a record of 186-92, and currently has the Eagles at 21-6 and 11-5 in the Big East in 2007.

Crean arrived in Marquette after spending four seasons as an assistant head coach at Michigan State University, where he helped guide the Spartans to consecutive Big 10 regular seasons championships and an appearance in the Sweet Sixteen and Final Four.

After two average seasons to start off his career as a head coach, Crean and the Eagles burst onto the scene during the 2001-2002 season when they coasted to a 26-7 record and a 13-3 mark in Conference USA, good for second place. The 26 victories tied for the third-most all time in Marquette history and represented the first 20-win season since 1997.

After being ousted from the NCAA Tournament in the first round, the wins would continue to pile up for Crean and the Eagles as they won the Conference USA crown in the 2002-2003 season and rolled into the Final Four for the first time in over 25 years. MU finished the season ranked number nine in the final AP poll after collecting 27 wins and its 14 conference victories. The 27 wins tied for the second most in the program's illustrious history while its 14 conference wins were the most ever collected by an Eagle team.

Following Marquette's magical run in 2002, the Golden Eagles wound up in the National Invitational Tournament for consecutive seasons before returning to the Big Dance the past two years due in part to 20+ victories in both seasons.

During the 2005 season, the Golden Eagles helped make their case for an NCAA Tournament bid by winning the Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, where they defeated South Carolina and head coach Dave Odom in the championship game.

Not only has Crean consistently won at Marquette, but he has dramatically improved the environment in Marquette's arena. Since his arrival in 1999, attendance at the Bradley Center has increased 70 percent and has set attendance records on three separate occasions, something that, without a doubt, is sorely needed in the Colonial Center.

Needless to say, Crean would be an excellent coach for the Gamecocks should Hyman decide to pursue the Marquette head man. Crean's squads have always possessed a grit and attitude not normally seen on the hardwood. The tenacity and hard-nosed attitude shown by Crean's teams would be a welcome addition to the Carolina family, as the Gamecocks have certainly seemed to lack the fire and passion seen in most top college basketball programs today.

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