Thursday, July 12, 2012

IU's Watford Does it Again: Coaches Get New Titles

Christian Watford did it again.

Specifically, his Kentucky beating three-pointer won the ESPY Award for best play of the year.
Watford and coach Tom Crean were in Los Angeles Wednesday night to receive the award, which was announced during the ESPN show at the Nokia Theater.

The ESPY’s are like the sports equivalent of the Academy Award.

Okay, they’re not THAT prestigious, but any time you can relive beating Kentucky, hyperbole is justified.
Watford hit the buzzer beating shot that beat the top-ranked and previously undefeated Wildcats 73-72. That play beat out 15 other contenders in bracket voting. The top four plays make the semifinals, again based on voting.

“I’d like to thank my family, my teammates, especially Cody Zeller and Verdell Jones, and thank you to the Hoosier Nation for voting,” Watford said in an acceptance speech.

Zeller set a screen to free up Jones, who drove and kicked to Watford for the winning shot.

The opportunity was enough for Crean to pass on the first day of the July recruiting evaluation period to attend with Watford in Los Angeles. His assistants were on the road, with associate head coach Steve McClain attending the Adidas Invitational in Indianapolis.

He’s back on the recruiting trail today.


The Indiana basketball titles might have changed, but the bottom-line roles have not: produce the nation’s best basketball program.

So even as Crean adjusted the titles of his staff members, the goals remain clear – win big, win the right way, do the university proud.

Still, the changes mean Tim Buckley and Steve McClain are now associate head coaches. Assistant Kenny Johnson is also recruiting coordinator. Calbert Cheaney gets director of internal and external player development in addition to his duties as director of basketball operations.

“The chemistry inside of your program starts with the chemistry of your staff, top to bottom,” Crean said in a university release. Everyone in our program continues to work in a diligent and energized pace to keep IU on a continual rise.”

Buckley is in his fifth year in the program. He was the Ball State head coach from 2000-2006. He also was an assistant coach at Iowa and Wisconsin, as well as an assistant coach under Crean at Marquette.

“It’s a great honor,” Buckley said.  “Our staff has been through a lot of things here over the past four years, so I think part of that comes from the success that we’ve had this past season and hopefully for the future, and it’s one that I’m very appreciative of.”

Added Crean: “Tim has been instrumental from day 1 at Indiana with dealing with every aspect of this program. He administers, teaches, coaches and recruit at an extremely high level.”

McClain has been a college coach for 29 years. He was the head coach at Wyoming from 1998-2007, and at Hutchinson Community College where he won a national title. He also was an assistant coach at TCU and Colorado.

“I think, as we all talk about the staff, I don’t think anyone worries about what their titles are,” McClain said. “ I think the one thing that makes this staff so strong is the fact that everybody works the same every day for the same goals every day. It’s a great compliment, yet it’s a compliment of our whole staff.”

Added Crean: “To have two head coaches on this staff, in Tim and Steve, has been instrumental in the program moving forward the last two years. He has exhibited a daily intensity, passion and skill level that has been felt by everyone associated by IU basketball.  Along with Tim and Jayd Grossman, there are very few things that happen in our program that they don’t have a hand in.”

Johnson is in his first year at IU. He was an assistant for a year at Towson University, and was a long time assistant in high school and in travel ball.

“Being with the guys on staff here, just having an opportunity to work with them as well as learn from them, has been a great benefit for me,” Johnson said. “It is a privilege to earn that title and have that label. Working in coordination with the guys, we all do a little bit of everything on staff.”

Added Crean: “In a short period of time at IU, Kenny has made his presence felt on the coaching floor, in our offices and in recruiting. His work ethic, energy level, and attention to detail are at a very high level and I think in due time he will be an outstanding head coach. He now will have the ability to organize, shape and coordinate our recruiting efforts.

Cheaney returned to his alma mater last summer after spending 13 years as a player in the NBA and one season as an assistant coach with the Golden State Warriors.

“This has been an outstanding experience for me and I enjoy working with this group of players and coaches,” Cheaney said.  “I think you always want new challenges in whatever you do and this new role with provide that opportunity for me.”

Added Crean: “We knew Calbert would have an immediate impact on our program but he ha surpassed our expectations with what he has brought to the program. He has a knowledge base and life skill teaching ability and the understanding of what it means to be an IU student-athlete. We want to shine a bright light with not only what they do on the floor, but with how they develop as young men and leaders.  Calbert is a living example of what success looks like.”

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