Photo by Dean Legge / Dawg Post
Georgia Basketball

Crean's Vision Doesn't Hinge on the Players, It Depends on the Fans

October 5, 2018
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ATHENS - Sure, it’s just a scrimmage. But Stegmania’s purpose goes way beyond that. Tom Crean is trying to breathe life back into a program that has for years been losing excitement and support, and this G-Day-like event was his first big step in doing so.

 

It’s not because it’s getting the players more energized. In fact, Crean had very little to say about the players. His biggest focus since the day he stepped foot in Athens was to make people care about a program that once had big names like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Dominique Wilkins.

 

Through his social media videos with random University of Georgia staffers, to the hosting of Barstool’s popular podcast “Pardon My Take” at UGA, to even handing out free Chickfila sandwiches to students, Crean is just trying to make this program relevant. Did this event make them that? No, probably not. But the student line outside Stegman Collesium snaked around several times. For the first time in my career as a student here, I had friends asking me if I wanted to go to the game with them. The past few years the Bulldogs have struggled to get students in here for games, even against teams like Kentucky and Florida.

 

That tide is now shifting. Students are interested again in something other than football (even if they were here for the free t-shirt and Bojangles). And other fans will begin to follow in line, even if it does take awhile.

 

“We’re going to build this,” Crean said. “We’re not going to take a back seat… I know we’re going to be a work in progress… But the vision of where we’re going to take it is strong.”

 

Not just the team is a work in progress, Crean’s name brand is too. In the college basketball world, Crean holds quite a bit of respect. In a football dominated town like Athens though, he still needs to show people who he is, literally.

 

“I’m meeting people they have no idea who I am,” Crean said. “They don’t. They will, but they don’t.”

 

And as that grows, so will the fan support - the true building block of Crean’s vision. With fans support, you make Stegman a tougher place to play. For recruits, you make it a more fun place to play. You can coach the team to the best of your ability, but if Athens isn’t a fun place to play, then top-level athletes won’t want to play here. So when Crean says that, “Every one of [the fans] matters,” he isn’t kidding.

 

The vision of his program depends on it.

 
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