Indiana Basketball: Tom Crean Should Be the Naismith College Coach of the Year

Doug BrodessCorrespondent IFebruary 29, 2012

COLUMBUS, OH - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to Verdell Jones III #12 of the Indiana Hoosiers during a game against the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 15, 2012 at Value City Arena in Columbus, Ohio.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

It's all coming together for Tom Crean and Indiana University basketball.

Crean has paid his dues in Bloomington. In his first three seasons, the Hoosiers only won eight conference games and 28 games overall. Last week, Indiana finished its first undefeated non-conference season since 1989-90.

After beating No. 5 Michigan State last night, they became the first Hoosiers team to defeat three top-five teams in the regular season (Kentucky, Ohio State and now the Spartans).

Indiana (23-7; 10-7 Big Ten), who also beat Notre Dame and Michigan this year, will be selected for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008.

A number of college coaches have had compelling stories in the 2011-12 season.

Frank Haith, in his first year at Missouri, has helped the Tigers (25-4, 12-4 Big 12) to be one of the top teams in the country.

Steve Prohm, in his first year as a D-1 head coach, has led Murray State to be the last team to lose a game this season, and is currently 28-1 and ranked No. 9.

Gregg Marshall has elevated the Wichita State program, making the Shockers (26-4, 16-2 MVC) one of the best mid-major teams in college hoops.

However, no one deserves to be the 2012 Naismith College Coach of the Year more than Tom Crean.

If he wins this award, Crean will be the first Big Ten coach chosen for this honor since Bruce Weber (Illinois) won it in 2005 and the first Indiana head coach since Bob Knight won the inaugural award in 1987.