Steve McClain’s experiences with Tom Crean and as a Head Coach with two separate stints made him the obvious choice.
Steve McClain was a part of Tom Crean’s revitalization of the Indiana program and now Crean turns to the former University of Illinois-Chicago Head Coach to fill the role held by current Air Force Head Coach, Joe Scott. McClain fiery persona will be an intriguing addition to the typically mellow bench, at least compared to the Mark Fox era. McClain’s background interestingly fits rather well to spelling the loss of Joe Scott in a number of ways.
McClain’s Experience with Princeton-styled Offenses
Steve McClain has experience with running Tom Crean’s Chin and Point series along with the Princeton-styled elements. McClain was an assistant under Jeff Bzdelik at Colorado from 2007-10 and he liked to run a faster version of the Princeton Offense. Bzdelik coincidentally was the successor to Joe Scott at Air Force when Scott left to become the Head Coach at Princeton. Bzdelik’s Air Force team ripped Dennis Felton’s 2006-07 team to shreds in the NIT.
Bzdelik’s run at Colorado is not remembered fondly and his run at Wake Forest was quite negative as well, but McClain did not follow Bzdelik to Winston-Salem. He joined Tom Crean’s staff at Indiana in 2010.
Indiana’s record with McClain at Indiana.
In Bloomington, there were far better times coming out of a much worse situation than what Bzdelik inherited at Wake Forest.
Steve McClain as a Defensive Strategy and Development Asset
From 2011 to 2015 in the table above was Steve McClain’s run as an assistant. McClain’s biggest contribution was on defense as the defense improved considerably. Indiana’s defense struggled much like the way Georgia’s defense has struggled. It also should be noted that with McClain, the Hoosiers were able to have Top 10 teams in Offensive Efficiency in three of the five seasons he was there.
At Illinois-Chicago, McClain’s defenses improved after the 2016-17 Season and he was able to get his team to a defensive efficiency that was better than Georgia last season. He also did this all with teams that played a brisk tempo.
McClain’s Experience as a Head Coach
Steve McClain has 14 years of experience as a Head Coach, he is an experienced resource of knowledge and there is not much of a learning curve for him when it comes to picking up any new systems. He actually picked up a lot from his experiences at Colorado and Indiana. His time at Illinois-Chicago is viewed as cut short by some, but Tom Crean wanted to bring him back in the fold immediately after failing to win the Horizon League Tournament Finals to Bradley, coached by former Tom Crean Assistant, Brian Wardle.
A lot of things fall into place here…
- McClain takes a prominent assistant role for Tom Crean once again in Crean’s third season.
- Crean’s rebuild is in a clear upward trajectory and McClain’s addition shores up past weak spots in execution.
- This is a Plug and Play type of hire as there is no need for Crean and McClain to build a chemistry or a dynamic working together, as it is already there.