New Georgia basketball coach Tom Crean is taking over a stable program from longtime coach Mark Fox, but his biggest immediate challenge will be bringing the program to another level.
Crean went on the March Madness 365 podcast with Andy Katz this week and discussed the fan support that will be necessary for the Bulldogs to win on the hardwood.
“For anybody to win, you’ve got to have a connected fan base,” Crean said. “You got to have people look forward to it and help you win. The old adage of, ‘you win, we’ll come’ … That’s hard. It’s gotta be, ‘you come, we’ll win.’ We’ll build the home-court advantage based on the fact that people are behind it. They’re excited about. They’re early. They’re engaged. I just want to have fun.”
Crean doesn’t have to deal with a complete overhaul — Fox was a respected coach who ran a clean program and kept a solid locker room. But the Bulldogs do need to win more, hence Fox’s ousting and Crean’s hiring.
Georgia made just two NCAA Tournaments under Fox in nine years, and never got to the Sweet 16. In fact, the Bulldogs haven’t made the second weekend of the Big Dance since Tubby Smith was their coach in the 1995-96 season.
Getting to the second weekend was something Crean specialized in at Indiana. He made three Sweet 16s in a five-year stretch from 2012-16. However, he was never able to make it over the hump and get to the Elite Eight or Final Four.
Crean discussed a number of other topics with Katz, but perhaps most notably how he’s grown as a coach and a person since his time with the Hoosiers.
“I think you continually grow no matter what,” Crean said. “I think everybody does no matter what you do. But I think it’s then what you can absorb and carry over, and right now I feel in a way that there’s very little things that are going to get me rattled.
“I think when you’ve been through a couple different situations like I have, especially with the Indiana situation, you realize that there’s very few things you’re going to see that are ever going to be like that was in the sense of what you dealt with when you walked in.”