Thursday, December 6, 2007

Wisconsin-Marquette: Still don't care for Tom Crean

Back in this blog's very first post, so, so long ago (2-1/2 months), I declared that while I did not like Marquette basketball, I was working on developing a healthier attitude about the Golden Eagles or whatever they call themselves nowadays. It's hard work, and there are still slip-ups - like the end of the last sentence - but I'm making progress.

For instance, while watching Marquette blow out Oklahoma State in Maui a couple weeks ago, I sort of had an admiration for how well they were playing - a buzzsaw. Although I think Dominic James and Wes Matthews are a tad overrated, they are still very good players, and for my money Jerel McNeal is the best player on the team and may be the most underrated player in the country. I really admire how Ousmane Barro has worked to improve over his career, even though he seems to have regressed this year. That really just leaves Dan Fitzgerald as an obviously dislikeable player.

I still don't care for Tom Crean, though. Granted, this comes from a fan of Marquette's biggest rival, and I'm sure there are plenty of fans out there who don't care for Bo Ryan. But Crean just bugs me.

It's the seemingly fake tan he's often sporting, leading to the hilarious nickname Tan Cream. It's the way he or his press secretary, Todd Rosiak, usually doesn't go four sentences without mention Dwyane Wade or the 2003 Final Four fluke (there I go again). It's how he had about 25 kids transfer out of his program over three or four years. It's the fact that he wouldn't schedule UW-Milwaukee until the core players from their awesome run had exhausted their eligibility. It's how, according to the postgame sidebar in the Journal Sentinel, Crean kept his starters in pressing and chucking up 3-pointers at the end of a 40-point win over the Panthers.

And at the root of it all, he just seems phony. Again, I'm sure people think the same thing about Bo, but Bo is funny, a great sense of humor coupled with a healthy dose of self-deprecation - he doesn't take himself too seriously. I don't get the sense that Crean has that side to him. Everything seems calculated, even his warm moments. I Googled Kyle Singler last week and the first picture I saw of him was receiving an honor in Maui, and guess who was standing behind him? Tan Cream in a Hawaiian shirt looking like he was ready to hug Singler.

Being an open-minded man, I invite any Marquette fans or people who know Crean to vouch for him here, we're willing to listen. Or do MU fans feel roughly the same way I do, but don't care because the program is in better shape than it was under Mike Deane and Kevin O'Neill?

As for the game, I haven't watched the last two UW-MU matchups, bad for my blood pressure. Last year we listened for the score on our way to Chicago for Christmas, and Nick couldn't believe my anxiety level; it is pretty ridiculous, but I'm working on it. My gameday boycott stems from the 2004 game, where Travis Diener lit us up in a performance that gave me the dry heaves and had me throwing pillows in front of my mother-in-law.

On the court, I predict Marquette pulls out a close one. That was my inclination going into the season, and seeing our performance against Duke only reinforced it. Of course, Marquette doesn't have the shooters Duke does, and this one's in the Kohl Center.

But I don't like the individual matchups. Yes, we have height on them, but I see Joe Krabbenhoft and Marcus Landry struggling to mark McNeal and Matthews. On the other end, I'm not sure Krabby and Landry's height advantage is as big an advantage, both Marquette guys can probably deny the post well or body up, whichever way they choose to play it. This goes back to my thoughts in yesterday's post - with that fourth scholarship do you take a 7-footer or a 6-6 guy in the Matthews mold? I guess we'll see which approach wins out on Saturday.


Conwheezy said...

I'm totally on board with the Marquette bashing. The one thing that bothers me the most besides their unfrozen caveman coach is their fan base. Growing up in the Metro Milwaukee area during the 80s and 90s when Marquette had some quality teams it seemed like their fan base always knew their place in the world of college athletics (2nd tier). Now after a lucky Final Four run, its completely out of control. They have taken on the persona of their coach: Complete arrogance for no reason. Hey Marquette Fan, how did your Football team do this year?

Anonymous said...

50 of 52 players have graduated in the last 15 years, all but one under Tom Crean (Wade is the only one that hasn't yet).

Crean donates time and money to the Children's Hospital cause under the Al's Run moniker.

As for Conwheezy, he admits his immaturity when he says he grew up in the 80's and 90's in Milwaukee, where MU wasn't as good. But for young junior, in the late 60's and all of the 70's Marquette was second in the nation behind only UCLA in winning percentage, national rankings, etc. Hardly 2nd tier.

Of course what is so damn ironic about conwheezy's comments is that Wisconsin-Madison spent 54 straight years not going to the NCAA tournament, talk about 2nd tier. They also had one of the worst football programs in the country as well. It wasn't until the early 1990's that either program did anything, yet they have become one of the most pompous fan bases around.

Conwheeze...pot meet kettle please.

In the meantime, Marquette's players aren't in trouble with the law (like UW-Madison football and basketball players the last 10 years), graduate proportionately higher and do it on a budget of $14 million, not $48 million that UW-Madison has.

Millie said...

While I certainly don't have the distaste for Marquette that most have (perhaps growing up in Minnesota is the cause), I don't even remember Marquette being anything close to a rival when I was in Madison (1993-1997). Did the Badgers even play them back then?

Scott Tappa said...

To Millie's point: the '94 game was actually the turning point in my attitude toward Marquette. I grew up more of an MU fan than UW fan, a Catholic boy in suburban Milwaukee who went to a lot of Warriors games at the Mecca and Bradley Center.

But my folks got me tickets for the '94 MU-UW game at the Bradley Center. That was the Badger team with Rashard Griffith, Michael Finley, et al, that terribly underachieved under Stan Van Gundy. Marquette blew out Bucky that day, and the MU fans' treatment of those of us wearing red was appalling. Again, not saying the same thing wouldn't happen the other way in Madison, but it happened to me that day, and I haven't wanted Marquette to win ever since.

Rob said...

"Now after a lucky Final Four run, its completely out of control. They have taken on the persona of their coach: Complete arrogance for no reason. Hey Marquette Fan, how did your Football team do this year?"

Not sure about that level of arrogance at MU. How has YOUR football team done this year? Disappointing? Very rarely a factor in the Big Ten?

I don't like bashing Wisconsin at all, except for when their fans become too big for their britches. I feel this is one of those times. And don't give me anything about hockey. I am not originally from Minnesota or WI, so the only kind I care about is professional.

Crean is a solid coach. Opponents don't like him, and I think that's a good thing. Who was the last universally-lovable coach with any success?

Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the UW fans are jealous that the success on the football field hasn't been reached that of Marquette's on the hardwood. As for the "Phoniness" of coach Crean, in my opinion it is excusable. I would like to see anyone in his shoes not be a little errogant. On MU's campus, he is portrayed as if he can walk on the waters of Lake Michigan. He is a God on that campus and is one of the top 5 payed coaches. After 9 years of that, a little bit of snoodiness will rub off. It is unevitable.

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