Springbrook hires Crowell
Apr. 27, 2005
Joshua Cooley
Staff Writer

File photo

Longtime Montgomery County coach Tom Crowell, a veteran on the football and basketball sidelines, is Springbrook's newest boys basketball coach. Crowell has spent the last four years at the helm of Sherwood, where he went 45-45.

Tom Crowell is going home.

Crowell, a longtime Montgomery County Public School coach in football and basketball, was named as Springbrook High's new boys basketball coach, school athletics director Ron Lane announced Friday. For Crowell, who leaves the same post at Sherwood after four years, the decision wasn't too hard.

"No job other than Springbrook would've even interested me," he said.

Crowell, 57, started his basketball coaching career at Springbrook in 1978 under the school's legendary former coach, John Barrett. He also assisted former Springbrook football coach Bob Milloy for many years during the program's heyday during the 1980s and returned as an assistant basketball coach in the 1990s.

"I'm looking forward to this," Crowell said. "I can't believe it even happened, if you want to know the truth. ... I've got a lot of friends from there. I've worked for the principal [Mike Durso] there. I've worked for the A.D. there. It's like going home. Actually, it's not like going home, it is going home."

Crowell's appointment to one of the most prestigious basketball coaching positions in the county comes less than three weeks after a surprising decision by Durso to release three-year coach Keith Adams, who led the Blue Devils to a 54-22 record during his tenure, including a trip to the Class 4A West Region final in 2003 and to the 4A state final in 2004.

Crowell inherits a team that has great potential but is coming off an unexpectedly dismal 2004-05 season. The Blue Devils started the season 8-2 but lost 10 of their last 14 games to finish 12-12, ending with a 20-point loss to Watkins Mill in the 4A West regional quarterfinals. But Springbrook boasts two of the county's top rising seniors, a pair of big forwards in David Brewster and Sheridan Price. Brewster, with an average of 19.6 points per game, was named to the All-Gazette first team last season, while Price, at 13 points per game, was honorable mention. Crowell was expected to meet with his new players on Monday or Tuesday.

"We think he'll be an excellent addition on our staff," Lane said. "We think he's got the experience. We asked all our applicants, 'What are your goals?' Tom said his goal is to win a state championship. That's what we wanted to hear. We asked the players what they wanted in a coach, and they said, 'Somebody to take us to states.' We think Tom is going to do that."

The appointment of Crowell to a prominent program that fired its former coach after a 12-12 season -- although only one year removed from a state final berth -- begs the question: Will Crowell have to win to keep his job? According to Lane, not necessarily.

But the question was certainly on the minds of the applicants. According to Lane, all six finalists that met with a four-person hiring committee (Durso, Lane and two vice principals) had a similar question in mind.

"Every one of them asked that: 'What are your expectations?'" Lane said. "Records are not our first criteria. That was Mr. Durso's answer. The [coach's] job is to get kids ready for college, military, whatever. ... Wins and losses have to be looked at. We're expected to be competitive here. I'm not worried about Tom. He's going to get his wins."

In his four years with Sherwood basketball, Crowell amassed a 45-45 record. The Warriors, with some promising but young talent last season, went 10-13. One of the most difficult parts of Crowell's transition from Sherwood to Springbrook, he said, was saying goodbye to his underclassmen, like super sophomore Deontay Twyman, who was named All-Gazette second team after averaging 18.5 points per game.

"It was very hard," Crowell said. "I talked to all the players [Thursday] night. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be. ... The program's going to be better. Our first two years were good, but the last two, we were playing with a lot of young kids. They've got a good class coming in. I feel good about that. They're not left with nothing there. The JV only lost two or three games last year."

Crowell started his basketball coaching career at Springbrook as Barrett's varsity assistant in 1978. After another year as Springbrook's JV coach, he took the head varsity job at Wheaton in 1980, where he stayed for nine years. In 1982, he led the Knights to a 20-0 record before they fell to Rockville on a buzzer beater in the regional championship.

Crowell returned to Springbrook in the early 1990s to assist then-varsity coach Bob Cilento (now the Sherwood A.D.) for a handful of years. In 1998, he started the varsity program at Northwest, where the Jaguars went 17-47 in his three seasons.

Crowell's football experience is just as lengthy. The bulk of his experience was as Milloy's assistant at Springbrook and Sherwood from 1983 through 2000. Before that, he was an assistant coach at St. John's College High School (Washington, D.C.) and Wheaton, in addition to his first head-coaching experience, a one-year stint at Blair in 1982.

In 2001, Crowell took over as head coach of Sherwood football when Milloy moved to Good Counsel. In three years, Crowell led the Warriors to a 21-10 record, including an appearance in the 4A state final in 2002.

Crowell is no longer a teacher in the school system but runs a painting company, T&C Painting, out of his Olney home. He said he plans to stay at Springbrook "for a minimum of five years. That'd make me 62. No big deal. My health is good. I've still got energy."

As for Sherwood, Cilento said Monday the hiring process to replace Crowell is "just getting started" and hopefully will be finalized "before Memorial Day."

Notes: According to Lane, the girls basketball head coach vacancy, which opened up after three-year coach Tonya Banks resigned on April 13, hasn't had any activity.

"Not one person has called me," Lane said Monday.