Jon Teitel's "Forgotten Legends": FAU's Earnest Crumbley

    
June 30th, 2012
In the most recent installment in his "Forgotten Legends" interview series, CHN writer Jon Teitel caught up with Florida Atlantic great Earnest Crumbley. Crumbley, who helped lead the Owls to their first-ever NCAA appearance in 2002, is still the school's all-time leader in points, assists, steals and made three-pointers.

Jon Teitel: Your coach at Florida Atlantic was Sidney Green, who was an All-American at UNLV before becoming a 10-year NBA veteran. What made him such a great coach, and what was the most important lesson you learned from him? 

Earnest Crumbley: I liked his basketball background so I figured that I could learn a lot from him. 

JT: During your sophomore season you went 14 straight games without missing a free throw. Did it reach a point where you expected to make every single free throw, and what is your secret for foul shooting? 

EC: I just practiced a lot. I was always a gym rat.  Repetition makes you feel comfortable and confidence is also important. 

JT: What are your memories of the 2002 Atlantic Sun tournament title game (Robert Williams made a free throw with six seconds left to clinch a one-point win over Georgia State and the first conference title in school history)? 

EC: It was one of the best times of my life, as we accomplished our goal of putting the school on the map by getting to the tourney. 

JT: What are your memories of the 2002 NCAA tournament, the first in school history (Crumbley had 18 points and nine assists in an eight-point loss to 2-seed Alabama, who was led by Mo Williams' career-high 33 points)? 

EC: The atmosphere was amazing.  We did not play in a lot of packed houses coming from a small school, and most of the crowd was cheering for us as the underdog.  We showed that we could compete with teams at the high-major level. 

JT: In 2004 you scored a school-record 39 points against Campbell while making a school-record 11 three-pointers. Was it just one of those scenarios where every shot you put up seemed to go in because you were "in the zone"? 

EC: Once I started making a couple of shots and my teammates started to look for me, I just tried to keep being aggressive and get our team a win so we could get a conference tourney berth. 

JT: You also hold the school record for career steals. How were you able to balance your offense and your defense? 

EC: I was taught that defense always came first so you would not get in the game unless you played both ends of the court. 

JT: You are still the leading scorer in school history. Did you realize at the time how prolific a player you were? 

EC: I was never big on statistics. I just wanted to win games, play hard, and be respected as a player and student.  I wish everyone chasing my records the best of luck.

JT: After graduating you played professionally in Mexico. What did you learn from the experience, and how did it compare to college basketball? 

EC: Once you get out of college it is a different world, and playing in Mexico was a great experience.  However college was one of the best times of my life, so being a pro cannot compare. 

JT: Your dad Earnest Sr. is the coach at St. Petersburg College, and your brother Kory played at Bethune-Cookman and St. Petersburg. How big of an influence was your dad on your decision to play basketball, and who is the best player in the family? 

EC: My dad always pushed us to do whatever we wanted to do but I gravitated to basketball because I was always in the gym with him.  I consider myself the best player in the family but my dad was the best athlete because he played several different sports. 

JT: You are currently an assistant coach at Redlands CC. How do you like the job, and what do you hope to do in the future? 

EC: So far Redlands has been a blessing to me.  We have been able to influence the lives of our players and I have been able to make contacts in a different area (as I am from FL).  We have a lot of second-chance kids who we help to turn around in a positive direction. We even sent one of our guards to St. John's.  I eventually hope to be a head coach at the Division I level.
 
Crumbley is also on Jon's list of best fantasy players in Sun Belt history.

Arkansas State: John Dickson (1967) 1891 PTS (#2), 1139 REB (#2), 62.5 FG% (#2), 2-time All-American, conference POY
AR Little Rock: Derek Fisher (1996) 1393 PTS (#3), 472 AST (#2), 184 STL (#2), All-American, conference POY
Denver: Harry Hollines (1968) 1879 PTS (#1), 2-time All-American
Florida Atlantic: Earnest Crumbley (2004) 1559 PTS (#1), 505 AST (#1), 181 STL (#1), 286 3PM (#1), 79.2 FT% (#3)
FIU: Dwight Stewart (1993) 2101 PTS (#1), 806 REB (#2), 264 AST (#2), 128 BLK (#1), 172 STL (#3)
Lafayette: Dwight "Bo" Lamar (1973) 3493 PTS (#1), 520 AST (#4), 3-time All-American, conference POY
UL Monroe: Calvin Natt (1979) 2581 PTS (#1), 1285 REB (#1), 57.4 FG% (#4), 3-time All-American, conference POY
Middle Tennessee State: Kerry Hammonds (1989) 1616 PTS (#3), 955 REB (#2)
North Texas: Kenneth Lyons (1983) 2291 PTS (#1), 1095 REB (#1), 2-time All-American
South Alabama: Jeff Hodge (1989) 2221 PTS (#1), 461 AST (#2), 223 STL (#2), All-American, conference POY
Troy: Anthony Reed (1990) 1875 PTS (#1), 913 REB (#3), 149 STL (#5), 57.9 FG% (#2), All-American
Western Kentucky: Jim McDaniels (1971) 2238 PTS (#1), 1118 REB (#4), 3-time All-American, 2-time conference POY