Tom Crean didn’t look like any of the other people in the Maui airport that day.
He had just coached his third, fourth, and fifth games in his first season at Indiana. He looked how you would expect a coach to look after losing games by 38 and 26 points, then managing to beat Division 2 Chaminade in the seventh-place game of the Maui Invitational by only 2 points. The Silverswords got off a possible game-winning 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
Others waiting for flights to the mainland on the day before Thanksgiving in 2008 were wearing leis and flowered shirts and were carefully carrying pineapples. Not Crean . He had a lot of things on his mind and looked like he was ready to blow the whistle and start practice.
‘‘This is going to take a while,’’ Crean said at the time. ‘‘We can do it. This place has so much in so many ways.’’
Not many people would have believed it then. They do now. Another step in the return of the fabled Hoosiers program came Friday as Crean is about to start his fifth season in Bloomington.
Indiana was ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press preseason Top 25, a first for the Hoosiers since 1979-80, when they were coached by Bob Knight.
The Hoosiers and their fans are quite familiar with the next two teams in the voting: Louisville and Kentucky.
The Hoosiers, who return all five starters including 7-foot sophomore Cody Zeller, received 43 first-place votes from the 65-member national media panel. Indiana is a preseason No. 1 for the third time.
Louisville, which reached the Final Four last season, and Kentucky, the reigning national champions who beat Indiana in the regional semifinals and Louisville in the national semifinals, received the rest of the first-place votes.
Ohio State and Michigan joined Indiana as Big Ten teams ranked in the top five.
North Carolina State, Kansas, Duke, Syracuse, and Florida round out the top 10.
Smith keeping job
Minnesota assistant Saul Smith will keep his job and return to the team next month after a drunken-driving arrest that put him on unpaid leave for the last five days. Smith returned to the payroll Friday, but the son of coach Tubby Smith will remain on administrative leave until Nov. 13. That means he will miss two regular season games . . . UCLA freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad is expected to be out 2-4 weeks with a right shoulder strain, putting him in jeopardy of missing the Bruins’ season opener against Indiana State Nov. 9 . . . Kevin Young, a senior forward for No. 7 Kansas, will be out for about two weeks after breaking a bone in his hand . . . Missouri guards Michael Dixon and Dominique Bull, a freshman from Worcester, have been suspended indefinitely for undisclosed violations of team rules.