Four years ago, a suggestion that the Indiana University basketball team would soon be talked about as an elite team in college basketball would have drawn scoffs from most basketball fans - including some IU faithful.

That was before Tom Crean took over the reigns of the reeling Hoosiers.

Big Ten coaches have picked IU as the top team in the conference this year and Cody Zeller as the preseason player of the year.

The Hoosiers have come a long way since Crean took over for Kelvin Sampson in the wake of a recruiting scandal that gutted the program and disgraced the school.

The Hoosiers won just 10 games in Crean's second season and 12 in his third, before turning it around a year ago.

Crean talked about the uphill climb at Thursday's Big Ten media day.

"We had hit rock bottom," he said. "We had all kinds of issues that were inside the program. You don't take the job at Indiana thinking you're going to deal with what we were dealing with, but we did. And we weren't going to leave. That wasn't an option."

Crean has done much more than turn around a losing record. He's brought respect and dignity back to a program that has been among the elite in college basketball. And, he's done it without a lot of bravado.

It's good to again see IU as the team everyone else is chasing.

It's said that losing helps build character. That may be true, but Crean was strong in character building before he walked into Assembly Hall for the first time as IU coach.

We look forward to IU's return to the top, but we're most proud that Crean has put the school in a position to again be looked up to by other schools as a model of how to win ... the right way.