There are two things people associate The University of Georgia with, rigorous academic programs and football, definitely not basketball. Our basketball program has been at the bottom of the basketball rankings for years. As a matter of fact, only ten out of the one hundred fourteen seasons we have had, has our team been in the top ten of the conference. You could say our basketball program could use some revamping and fresh eyes, and I personally believe the right person for that is Coach Tom Crean.
My first sighting of Coach Crean was at the TBT Basketball Tournament 2018 held at Georgia State. You might be thinking why a twenty-one year old female would be at such a thing, two words: my boyfriend. He is obsessed with all things sports and knows the latest news on it all, so of course he was the one that spotted Coach Crean and his family sitting across the court from us. Once he pointed out the Crean family to me and reminded me of who they were, because the last thing I would remember was the name of new the basketball coach, I began to watch Coach and see how he interacted with others around him, especially the players he had coached in years’ pass. The first thing I thought was “Man, these old players love him and his family. As a matter of fact, they all look at each other like they are family,” and from that point I had a feeling Coach Crean was going to do big things at UGA.
The second encounter I had with Coach Crean, which was when my admiration for him truly began, was when he was the surprise guest for my management class and wow, does this man have some energy. Coach Crean came half skipping, half running down the stairs with a board, wrapped in a garbage bag, in his hands and I could feel the energy from across the room he was reflecting and I knew this guy was on a mission. He basically used the fundamentals he requires the men on his team to have and related it back to business management and being a leader. His whole speech, or lecture, whatever you may want to call it was full of energy and passion and maybe I was supposed to get something else out of it all, however the main thing I got out of the whole lecture was, this guy is going to change this basketball program in ways no one sees coming.
Since those first two encounters, I have seen Coach Crean a handful of times and two of them stand out to me the most. The third time I saw Coach Crean he was in the middle of the Tate Center and the Bookstore with a table set up for UGA Basketball to promote Stegmania and was interacting with any student that would pass by and give him the time of day. Now to me, this meant more than anything because what are the odds of the head coach of one of our sport teams taking time out of their busy day to simply interact with any student he had the opportunity to? I would say the odds are slim to none simply because I have never seen another coach do it. Coach Crean doing this, yeah it may have been a marketing tactic to get people to come out to Stegmania, but to me it showed he actually cared about the student body as a whole enough to take time out of his day to come interact with us. He could have sent anyone in his place but instead he came and took the initiative himself to include the whole student body on this ride.
The next encounter was at Stegmania. Again, my boyfriend loves sports so of course we had to be a part of this event. Coach Crean, yet again, was full of energy the entire event and I could tell his energy reflected the players’ energies, an energy I feel UGA Basketball has lacked in the last few years. Not only was he full of energy you could tell he was already passionate about UGA and the basketball team, it was like he had been a part of the program for years. The event was a huge success and I think it reflected what this upcoming season has been so far, full of energy and hope for the future of our basketball program.
This season, thus far, hasn’t been the worst nor the best, but I have a feeling this basketball program is under serious transformation and one day our UGA program will be one to be feared. The support from just students has changed tremendously in a few short months, and I believe it is mostly do to the new energy the team and everyone involved with the team has been giving off. Is Coach Crean just what this program needed? I would personally say yes. This man is someone that is going to change this program for the better, and I can’t wait to watch first hand. Trust me when I say, Tom Crean and UGA basketball program are something to keep an eye on.