Tom Crean, Georgia
AP Photo/Butch Dill

Will Tom Crean Ever Make Georgia a Contender?

Tom Crean has been around the block in the college basketball world. Crean began his career as an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, Pittsburgh and Michigan State before taking over as head basketball coach at Marquette. Crean took the Golden Eagles to the 2003 Final Four and reached the NCAA Tournament five times in his nine years in Milwaukee. Crean went to Indiana next and led the Hoosiers to three Sweet 16 appearances and two Big Ten regular-season championships.

That being said, his combined record isn't anything to write home about. Crean went 356-231 at Marquette and Indiana before being fired in 2017. The experienced men's basketball coach hopes to improve upon that record and build a winning program now that he's in Athens, Georgia

Georgia's Tom Crean

Tom Crean replaced Mark Fox as head coach of the University of Georgia men's basketball team on March 15, 2018. In his first season, Crean went 11-21 and 2-16 in the SEC. Key wins came against in-state rival Georgia Tech, Texas, and Florida, but the Dawgs stumbled down the stretch and finished the season 2-13 in their last 15 games.

The 2019-20 season is headlined by the No. 11 recruiting class in the country, according to 247Sports. The biggest attraction in the class is shooting guard Anthony Edwards. Edwards — an Atlanta native — is projected to be a top-two pick in the upcoming NBA Draft. He joins other elite talent coached by Crean such as Dwayne Wade at Marquette and Victor Oladipo at Indiana.

As the season turns to February, the Georgia Bulldogs matched their win total from last year. Marquee wins have come against Georgia Tech once again, Memphis and Tennessee. Despite the improvement, however, UGA has struggled in SEC play and are currently 2-6 in the conference and tied for 12th. The team suffered losses against Kentucky, Ole Miss, and Auburn with Texas A&M, Florida, Vanderbilt, and LSU still ahead.

Crean is due to make $3.2 million this year, which puts him 16th among the highest-paid coaches in college basketball.

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Crean's proven his ability to recruit high-level players to Athens. Last year's class ranked above perennial college basketball powers Louisville, Gonzaga, and Kansas. The 2020 class ranks 26th and consists of four-star recruits K.D. Johnson and Josh Taylor.

The second-year head coach's recruiting prowess is a good sign, but it's how he develops those recruits on the court that matters. His tenure as Georgia's head coach has been about on par with his previous stops even though his record is below .500 thus far. Georgia fans have to be wondering if Crean can turn this program into an SEC contender or if they'll experience the same story as Indiana fans did in Bloomington.

Only time will tell if Crean is the right guy to turn Georgia into a contending college basketball program.

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