former coach Tom Crean potential candidate for new job, per report

It was nearly two months ago that Georgia fired men’s basketball coach Tom Crean after four seasons. Crean hasn’t landed a new job yet, though a report this week says that he could change soon.

Stadium’s Jeff Goodman reported Thursday that Crean is a “hot name” right now for the Evansville head coaching vacancy. Goodman added Crean talked “quite a bit” about the Evansville job in addition to the Western Kentucky job this past year when it was obvious he would not return to Georgia for the 2022-23 season.

Georgia fired Crean on March 10, one day after the end of his fourth season as Bulldogs head coach. Crean left Georgia with a 47-75 record, including a 6-26 record during the 2021-22 season.

Crean’s final season at Georgia began with plenty of questions that were quickly supplanted by poor performance after poor performance.

Georgia had nine players leave the program following the 2020-21 season then had PJ Horne, the team’s only returning starter, suffer a season-ending knee injury in October. The team took another significant hit when forward Jailyn Ingram tore his ACL in December.

Crean’s remade roster split its first four games of the season before losing three straight games, the last of which was a 68-65 home loss to Wofford.

The Bulldogs had their biggest win of the non-conference slate by beating Memphis 82-79 their next time out before topping Jacksonville six days later. The 11-point win over the Dolphins proved to be Crean’s last winning streak at Georgia.

Georgia bounced back after a loss to George Mason by beating Western Carolina before the skid truly began. The Bulldogs lost 20 of their final 21 games to end the year, with the only win in that stretch being an 82-76 home victory over Alabama on Jan 25.

The Bulldogs ended the year with 12 consecutive losses, the last being an 86-51 loss to Vanderbilt to open the SEC Tournament on Wednesday night.

As if Georgia’s poor performances weren’t bad enough, Crean’s staff faced its own controversy with three weeks left in the season.

Assistant coach Wade Mason was suspended after an altercation with director of player personnel Brian Fish during halftime of Georgia’s loss to LSU on Feb. 16. Crean addressed the incident after Georgia played Ole Miss on Feb. 19, saying, “Obviously, it’s an unfortunate situation that we’re dealing with, but it was all handled correctly and we try to keep our focus on basketball.”

Crean’s situation only got worse after addressing the media following the loss to the Rebels.

Crean’s Zoom with media stayed on once the veteran coach left the table, which allowed those on the call to hear Crean blame a graduate assistant for an apparent news leak and make disparaging comments about Georgia guard Aaron Cook.

Crean’s tenure started with an 11-21 debut season in 2018-19 that was followed by an excellent recruiting class that included future No. 1 overall draft pick Anthony Edwards.

The Bulldogs took a step forward with Edwards the following season, but the team still finished the season with a 16-16 mark, which left the Bulldogs next-to-last in the SEC when the season was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Georgia followed with a 14-12 record in the 2020-21 season.

Crean came to Georgia after taking a year off from coaching following a nine-year stint at Indiana. In his time as the head coach at Indiana and Marquette, Crean accrued an overall record of 356-231 with nine NCAA Tournament appearances.

Believe never made the postseason — be it the NCAA Tournament or the NIT — during his time with the Bulldogs.

If Crean is, in fact, hired at Evansville, the 56-year-old would be taking over a Purple Aces program that went 15-53 in two-plus seasons under head coach Todd Lickliter. Evansville has not made the NCAA Tournament since 1999.

Lickliter was officially relieved of his duties Thursday.

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