Indiana Coach Tom Crean said he learned from his N.F.L. coaching brothers-in-law, John and Jim Harbaugh, to treat players as equals and not solely as business partners.
“I think what those two have done and what I’ve continued to take from them is they don’t come in with a business mind-set,” Crean said. “They don’t treat their players like it’s business. There is a business aspect to it, but they really do try to build one-on-one relationships.”
Many of Crean’s colleagues have a “my way or the highway” approach to coaching. But Crean does not have a problem with relinquishing control when it comes to solving basketball problems.
Before his team fell to Syracuse on Thursday, Crean agreed with his players that they needed to change the way they defended a particular play. The players were right, and their solution made sense.
“If they’re locked in and absorbing it, I’m all for it,” Crean said. “I don’t know if college coaches look at it this way, but I don’t care. That’s how I look at it. If you have a player-run program, you can run into an issue, but when it comes to how we’re going to play that pick-and-roll, I’m all for it.”
There was actually a great example of this last night in the San Antonio-Miami game with Tony Parker making a point to Coach Gregg Popovich and then sharing it with his teammates.