UCLA coach Steve Alford says he's not focused on openings

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

Steven Branscombe-USA TODAY Sports

He would love to hire someone with ties to IU, is from or lives in the state and has experience in being a college basketball head coach. The Illini were starting to get their hopes up about an NCAA Tournament bid before losing to lowly Rutgers in the regular-season finale and being blown out by MI in their opening game of the Big Ten Tournament. Would he be retained? "However, ultimately, we seek more consistent, high levels of success, and we will not shy away from our expectations".

We will learn more in the 3 p.m. ET press conference at in, which will air live on BTN & BTN2Go.

Crean began his career at IU in the 2008-2009 season. He was a rising star, having led the Golden Eagles for nine seasons and going 190-96 overall with five NCAA trips. The Illini initially attempted to lure former National Basketball Association coach Monty Williams, who passed on the job, a source said, and they were interested in making a deal with Cuonzo Martin, who resigned at California and took the Missouri job Wednesday.

On the surface, the 6-3 Hunter appeared to be exactly the type of recruit Crean coveted when he arrived at IN nine years ago: an explosive Indianapolis guard who is likely, barring injury, to end his high school career as the leading scorer IN Marion County history. The program hasn't won it all since. Injury-riddled IN was perhaps college basketball's biggest disappointment this season, finishing at 18-16 after a first-round loss Tuesday night IN the NIT. The Indiana brass had seen enough.

UCLA coach and former Hoosiers star Steve Alford had to address the situation Thursday as he prepared the Bruins for their NCAA Tournament opener Friday against Kent State in Sacramento, Calif.

Other than Bob Knight, no name is more synonymous with IN basketball than Alford, the all-American talent from the little town of New Castle, nestled less than 50 miles outside of Indianapolis. But that's not likely to happen.

It's just something worth monitoring because Alford's words sound similar to what he said when he took the UCLA job from New Mexico. The move signaled the start of another overhaul just as when Crean replaced Sampson in '08. The goal was to rebuild this illustrious program and bring back a championship hue.

If we judge Crean's tenure starting with that 2012-13 season, when walk-ons were no longer seeing the court on a regular basis, his record at IN looks pretty good. In the past three seasons, he's taken the Cavaliers to the Sweet 16, Round of 32 and the Elite Eight.

For years, a segment of fans had been calling for Crean's job. That's something that would change if Crean made a decision to leave Indiana. Crean will leave with a 166-135 record overall with a 71-91 Big Ten mark. From 2012 to 2016, IN won two Big 10 titles outright and advanced to three Sweet 16s.

In a written statement, IU Athletic director Fred Glass called him a good man and a good coach, saying we owe him a debt of gratitude.

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