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Friday, March 7
Updated: April 12, 7:10 PM ET
 
Post-Final four, Crean focused on his mother's health

By Andy Katz
ESPN.com

PORTSMOUTH, Va. -- Tom Crean keeps referring back to 5:07 p.m. CT, Saturday, April 5.

Tom Crean
Tom Crean didn't have to ask anyone, except maybe his son Riley, how to cut down a net after regionals.

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:

  • If Roy Williams leaves Kansas for North Carolina: The dominoes could fall like this ... Bill Self from Illinois to Kansas; Tom Crean from Marquette to Illinois; Bruce Pearl from Wisconsin-Milwaukee to Marquette. The wild card could be former Bulls coach Tim Floyd. He could sneak back into the picture at Kansas or Illinois.

  • At Wake Forest: The names on hold if Skip Prosser had decided to go to Pittsburgh were Tim Welsh of Providence, John Bielein of West Virginia, Dana Altman of Creighton and Mark Few of Gonzaga.

  • At UCLA: The Mike Montgomery to UCLA rumors were no joke. The Stanford coach did have a serious sit down with UCLA officials but didn't pursue the job any further than that. If the North Carolina search with Roy Williams and/or Larry Brown were to fall through, then Montgomery's name would be on their list with other hot names such as Tubby Smith (Kentucky), Kelvin Sampson (Oklahoma), Tom Crean (Marquette) and Bill Self (Illinois) among others.

  • At Western Kentucky: The Hilltoppers interviewed Texas assistant Frank Haith and present Western Kentucky assistant coach Pete Herrmann on Saturday. Other coaches who are supposed to be high on their list are: Maryland assistant Dave Dickerson, former Western Kentucky player and Marquette assistant Darrin Horn. Other coaches who could be in the mix are: Indiana assistant John Treloar, Kentucky assistant David Hobbs, former Western Kentucky coach and present Holy Cross coach Ralph Willard (also a finalist at South Florida) and American coach Jeff Jones. The Hilltoppers want to have this search wrapped up within the week.

  • At East Tennessee State: Tennessee assistant Kerry Keating makes sense to succeed Ed DeChellis if they give Keating a serious look.

  • At Saint Joseph's: The Hawks have had a rough offseason. The mother of Dwayne Lee died suddenly and the fathers of assistant coaches Monte Ross and Mark Bass passed away, too. Plus, Keon Clark look-a-like Chris Cologer left school for his native France. Cologer, with a long, lean 6-11 build, could alter a game with his shot blocking, but he wasn't able to score well enough to stick on the court.

  • At Clemson: New coach Oliver Purnell said assistant Ron Jirsa would join his staff after he didn't get the Dayton job. And why did Purnell leave Dayton for Clemson. "Terry Don Phillips (Clemson AD) convinced me that there would be a tremendous commitment to Clemson,'' Purnell said. "When I spoke to Clemson a few years ago (before Larry Shyatt was hired four years ago) I didn't get the same feeling. But Phillips came from Oklahoma State where there is a commitment. It added up to be a dream job for me.''

    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.''

  • At Dayton: New coach Brian Gregory could look to the Northeast to grab Mo Cassara, the head coach at Worcester Academy (Mass.). This would be an interesting move by Gregory, grabbing an assistant with strong prep school ties. Dayton is in the Midwest, but plays in an eastern-based league and needs to be a player in recruiting there, too. Gregory said his teams would mirror Michigan State, where he was an assistant to Tom Izzo. He said toughness and rebounding would be the mainstays of the program. Gregory learned the game from Izzo and Jud Heathcote.

  • At Tennessee State, Wright State and Murray State: Three coaches were rewarded for their hard work with new gigs. Long-time South Carolina State coach Cy Alexander finally got out of the MEAC and landed in the Ohio Valley at Tennessee State. Alexander had been passed over for many jobs and deserved to bump up a bit. Paul Biancardi had been Jim O'Brien's trusted assistant at Boston College and Ohio State and his new roots in the Midwest helped him in getting the job at Wright State. Mick Cronin was the hot young assistant under Bob Huggins at Cincinnati and Rick Pitino at Louisville. The track record of coaches doing well at Murray State (see Mark Gottfried to Alabama) should allow Cronin to move if he can win within three years.

    Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com. His Weekly Word on college basketball is updated Fridays throughout the year.








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