Brian Wardle and Tom Crean reunited in Peoria

PEORIA — Brian Wardle studied under Tom Crean as a player and assistant years ago at Marquette.

But the student and teacher teamed up on Saturday to give a masterclass in coaching at the Renaissance Coliseum on the Bradley campus.

Peoria-area high school and college coaches lined the field in chairs, took notes, shot video and watched Illinois Central College players drill as the head coach of the Men’s team Bradley Wardle, BU women’s team head coach Kate Popovec-Goss and Crean each gave hour-long presentations at a coaching clinic.

“Work ethic, thinking outside the box, how to motivate others,” Wardle said. “Those are things I learned from Tom. He was a big part of who I am as a coach today.”

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Crean, 56, was the head coach of Marquette from 1999 to 2008, then Indiana (2008-2017) and Georgia (2018-22). Wardle played for him at Marquette and joined his coaching staff as an assistant from 2003 to 2005.

Crean and his wife, Joani — sister to NFL coaching clan Harbaugh — live outside of Sarasota, Florida. Their son, Riley, joined the Dallas Mavericks staff as a video/player development coach. As for Crean, he says he’s looking to get into TV commentary for his next basketball adventure.

The Marquette years

So what do two longtime coaches do when they get together for a meeting the night before giving a clinic together?

“We watched a movie at my house,” Wardle said. “I got my love of watching movies from Tom and the importance of preparation. My biggest fear when coaching a match is that the other guy will prepare more. I just can’t let that happen. produce, the idea of ​​someone surpassing me. Tom challenged me as a coach.”

Wardle was a senior when he recognized a moment that was pivotal to his basketball career, Crean’s career and the Marquette program.

“We swept Cincinnati,” Wardle said. “It was a big moment for me and for him. And huge for Marquette. It was a moment I will never forget.”

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Wardle shot clocks and scoreboard

Crean was asked for his best Brian Wardle story, and it was the one he told the kids of Bradley’s coach when he visited Peoria.

“We were down 39-19 to DePaul,” Crean said. “Brian scored our 19 points. Nobody else did anything. I said to his kids, ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before and I never wanted to see it again.’ “

Crean recalled a Marquette game against South Florida in which his team trailed 16 points with 15 minutes remaining. They came back to win it. “No deficit is insurmountable,” Crean said.

It was a theme, along with the time attack, that he preached in his presentation at Saturday’s clinic.

“It was an honor”

Marquette coach Tom Crean waves both nets at the Metrodome after his team beat Kentucky to earn a trip to the Final Four in 2003.

Crean and Wardle watched the film together at Wardle’s house, then Crean sat in BU practice, watching Wardle put his team through their paces.

“It was an honor, a joy to watch,” Crean said. “First time seeing Brian in training. He had a commanding presence. He made an impact.

“It’s funny, looking back on it, I didn’t necessarily see coaching in his future when he was a player. I thought he would go into business, honestly. But he joined our coaching staff and you have could see right away what future he had .

“He has an unparalleled passion for the game. It will lead you to great success.”

Dave Eminian is the Journal Star’s sports columnist and covers men’s basketball for Bradley, the Rivermen and the Chiefs. He writes the sports column Cleve In The Eve for He can be reached at 686-3206 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @icetimecleve.

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