Ex-college basketball coach Tom Crean scolds teams for skipping NIT


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Usually, teams who miss out on making the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament will take part in the National Invitation Tournament (NIT) to get some postseason experience under their belt.

St. John’s, Pittsburgh, Memphis, Ole Miss, Indiana and Oklahoma decided not to participate in the NIT after missing out on the field of 68 for the Big Dance.

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Tom Crean at Indiana

Tom Crean of the Indiana Hoosiers is seen during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Assembly Hall on Feb. 12, 2017 in Bloomington, Indiana. (Michael Hickey/Getty Images)

Tom Crean, who coached at Marquette, Indiana and Georgia, appeared on ESPN and scolded teams for choosing to start their offseason early instead of participating in the NIT.

“There’s no question about it – I would want to coach. I would want to develop my team. You’ve got bigger staffs than you’ve ever had. There’s plenty of time for the portal, there’s plenty of time to talk to recruits, there’s plenty of time to negotiate NIL deals,” Crean said.

“There’s not plenty of time to play, there’s not plenty of time of time to get your players on the floor and give them a chance to get better. There’s not plenty of time for guys to continue to play that may never get to play again.”

Tom Crean at Georgia

Georgia Bulldogs guard Aaron Cook, #10, and Georgia Bulldogs head coach Tom Crean watch a shot in the air during a game between the Vanderbilt Commodores and Georgia Bulldogs, Jan. 29, 2022, at Memorial Gymnasium in Nashville, Tennessee. (Matthew Maxey/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

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Seton Hall, Princeton, Providence, LSU, Wake Forest, Ohio State, Virginia Tech, Georgia, Saint Joseph’s, UNLV, Boston College, North Texas, Appalachian State, Cornell, Richmond and Xavier make up the 16-team field. 

Seton Hall coach Shaheen Holloway and Providence coach Kim English were upset about being snubbed from the tournament but decided to continue to play. Rick Pitino went the other route.

“And that to me is absolutely ridiculous,” Crean added. “It’s each coach’s choice, I get it. But you take away a chance to play the games and put your team on the floor. Let (the players) opt out. The bowl season has it all the time. Let it happen, who cares. 

Tom Crean and Dwyane Wade

Former NBA and Marquette Golden Eagles player Dwyane Wade poses for a photo with former Marquette head coach Tom Crean at half-time during a game between the Providence Friars and Marquette Golden Eagles at Fiserv Forum on Jan. 18, 2023 in Milwaukee. (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

“Give your players and coaches a chance to keep coaching and playing … if a guy doesn’t want to play, go sit down. If a coach doesn’t want to coach, go recruit. But there’s got to be enough people to put five, six, seven people on the floor and go play. It makes absolutely zero sense.”

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Crean coached in four NITs during his career. He made three with Marquette and one with Indiana.

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