By KEVIN HARRIS
JEFFERSONVILLE — In the 25 minutes Tom Crean spoke at the Jeffersonville Rotary Club’s Service Above Self Dinner on Tuesday night at Kye’s, he addressed a number of topics.
The Indiana University head men’s basketball coach talked about Sunday’s loss to Iowa, former IU players who have been honorary captains this season and his former star player at Marquette, Dwyane Wade. He even told an old boxing tale.
Even though they were different topics, it centered around the same theme — being a good teammate.
Crean said that’s one of the things his Hoosiers must learn to become if they are to reach prominence in the NCAA Division I ranks.
“That’s where we’re at. We’re trying to raise them on winning. We’re trying to raise them on being teammates. We’ve got to find an identity,” Crean told more than 300 people at Tuesday night’s 24th annual dinner. “When you win, you win as a team. When you lose, you lose as a team.
“We can never get discouraged — ever. We’ve got to keep that teamwork going.”
Crean used two former Hoosier greats as examples of good teammates — Damon Bailey and Ted Kitchel. Both have been honorary captains for IU in the past two home games and Crean has tried to inspire his players to be teammates like they were in their Bloomington days.
“When the former players come back, that’s special to me,” Crean said. “They’re special because they’re teammates.”
Crean said he had to show tough love to Wade, a Miami Heat star, to make him a better teammate.
“When he got with us, I threw him out of five practices because he had to learn how to be a teammate. He had to learn how to be a worker,” Crean said.
Crean referred to one sign in the IU locker room that surrounded his theme on Tuesday. It was four rules for being a Hoosier basketball player.
After mentioning the first three rules — be on time, say please and thank you and bring enthusiasm and energy every day — the fourth rule was “Don’t ever let your teammate fail.”
“Teamwork doesn’t happen without teammates,” Crean said.
Crean talked some about IU’s rough setback to Iowa last Sunday, which broke a two-game winning streak. He said rebounding was a determining factor in the contest and he was disappointed with his guards only grabbing two boards.
His post-game message to his players was pretty straightforward.
“I said, ‘Don’t point the finger but at yourself when you look in the mirror,’” Crean said. “We can’t win without rebounds and we can’t win without guard rebounds.”
In the opening minutes of his speech, Crean made a request to the Hoosier fans.
While driving down to Jeff with IU assistant athletic director for media relations, J.D. Campbell, Crean referred to a billboard that said, “Welcome to Southern Indiana — Home of the Louisville Cardinals.”
“I have four tickets for the person who rips that billboard down. We’re the home of the Indiana Hoosiers,” Crean shouted, drawing a roaring applause from the crowd.
It was the second consecutive year Crean has spoken at the dinner.