|Friday, March 7
Updated: April 12, 7:10 PM ET
Post-Final four, Crean focused on his mother's health
By Andy Katz
PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- Tom Crean keeps referring back to 5:07 p.m. CT, Saturday, April 5.
That's when his life became a blur. And a week later, it's still not clear.
Crean, at the Portsmouth Invitational earlier this week, is still on the move and far from catching up with himself. The Marquette coach flew here from Milwaukee on a private jet with an assistant coach and a strength coach to watch Marquette's Robert Jackson in his quest to make an NBA roster.
But Crean's thoughts were back in Milwaukee, with his mother, Marjorie, who is recovering from a stroke she suffered during Marquette's national semifinal loss to Kansas. He left late Thursday night to check in on his mother again and see her Friday, before leaving for Los Angeles to be with junior guard Dwyane Wade -- one of the five finalists for the Wooden Player of the Year Award.
Crean's world was turned upside down from the opening tip last Saturday at the Superdome in New Orleans. The Golden Eagles, who had shocked Kentucky to win the Midwest Regional, were blistered early and often by Kansas. Marquette was down 40 at one point and lost 94-61.
Crean looked beaten and worn when the game ended and during his postgame news conference. As soon as he left the podium in the bowels of the Superdome, he found out his mother had suffered weakness in her arm and was ushered out of the building and sent to the hospital.
Crean never made it back to the locker room.
"I didn't have a chance to dwell on the game for long because a minute and a half after the news conference, I was in a speeding police car to the hospital,'' said Crean, in between chants of encouragement for Jackson. "My No. 1 focus right now is to support my players like Rob here and Dwyane this weekend and making sure my mom gets everything she needs. She's the top priority.''
Crean said his mother told team doctors and Superdome medical personnel to not tell him about her condition until after the game. Crean said she wasn't released from a New Orleans hospital until Monday at 5:30 p.m. Marquette didn't leave the Final Four until Tuesday, so Crean's mother flew home on the charter with the team, which stayed to watch the national championship game on Crean's request.
Crean's mother is expected to go home with his sister to Mount Pleasant, Mich., this weekend.
Crean said his mother never lost her speech or had trouble walking, but she needs to strengthen her arm. He said doctors continue to perform a battery of tests to ensure she'll be fine.
"When things were going on, she didn't want me to know until after, but that's the way she is,'' Crean said. "She always bore the burden herself. Everyone was unbelievable with her and I'm thankful. She's been getting so much support from all over the country and even got flowers from the Green Bay Packers. I can't begin to tell you how meaningful that is.''
Crean hasn't had time to dwell on the embarrassing loss, at least for too long. He said he did sit and think about it late into the night on Monday, as he sat next to his mother in the hospital. That was probably some of the only quiet time he has had since 5:07 p.m. CT last Saturday.
"I haven't had time to sit back and reflect again,'' Crean said. "The game is a game of runs and we didn't get ours. We had ours a week before.
"We were a very good basketball team that worked extremely hard and was unselfish," Crean said. "That carried us a long way. Our guys were playing pickup games Wednesday night and that says a lot. I didn't expect that. We're thinking about next year already. But the first thing is to make sure my mom gets better.''
And, then, Crean was gone. Back to Milwaukee, off to Los Angeles and on the go, keeping moving in what has been one of the longest weeks of his life.
What else we're hearing:
Purnell becomes the first African-American coach in men's basketball or football.
"It's significant for Clemson because it shows the state and the rest of the country that this is a place ready to embrace diversity,'' Purnell said. "Hopefully there will be a unifying force. I won't do anything different from what I've done and that's run a good program.''
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His Weekly Word on college basketball is updated Fridays throughout the year.