Tom Crean Transcript: Hillsdale

Here is the transcript of Tom Crean's press conference following Monday's 79-39 victory over Hillsdale College at Assembly Hall.

Here is the transcript from Tom Crean's Press Conference Monday night following Indiana's 79-39 exhibition victory over Hillsdale College at Assembly Hall. AllHoosiers.com staff writer Joe Popely was responsible for transcribing this tape for AllHoosiers.com.

Opening Statement

"Our whole focus was to start to form an identity, and we didn't form it all the way. We're still turning the ball over and that's going to take a while because we're still making too many unforced errors with our footwork and our driving and things like that.

"But we're going to play fast so we're going to work through that, but I thought the identity was formed where these guys learned early on inside of the game — almost couldn't have worked out any better. You don't want to be down 13-2 and have your rim look like it's got a bubble on it, but this team has got to learn, like any great team, if they're going to be great they've got to understand that it happens with defense and rebounding, and it happens with multiple stops. That's what has to happen for us.

"The fact that we held them to 20 percent shooting in the last 33 minutes of the game I thought was really, really impressive. We started out, we had five deflections down 13-2, we ended up with 69 in the game. We got so very good contributions from different people. One of these games like this, I want to play a lot of guys but I don't go in with a set rotation, never have, we probably never will. But you want to look at a lot of different combinations and the way it works out inside of the game and I thought that those combinations were good. I thought that we really didn't have to sub because a guy stuck out the wrong way. We had to sub for fouls a little bit and we subbed for fatigue, but we didn't have to sub because somebody stuck out because they couldn't keep up with the level couldn't keep up with the pace, and I think that's really important moving forward.

"Any time you can overcome a deficit, any time you can continue to get better throughout the game, anytime that they can start to learn what really matters — which is defense, rebounding, the multiple stops, creating points off turnovers — I think is really good. There's a lot of room for improvement in taking care of the ball, we're going to become a much better shooting team. We spend a lot of time on it. We don't have just the absolute knock down guys that you and the fans have become accustomed to over the last couple years but they weren't always that way either.

"Christian Watford started out at 32 percent as a sophomore and ended up in the high 40s. Victor Oladipo obviously started out at 24 and 21 percent in first two years, got to 44 percent. So what we'll do is keep sticking with the same thing we've been doing, which is spend a lot of time on it, spend a lot of time making sure that we're reversing the ball and getting the ball inside out. We were phenomenal tonight when the ball hit the paint, whether on the post up or whether on the drive, and I thought that had a lot to do with our identity starting to come alive after being down because early on it wasn't getting in the paint and then we were 14 of 19 when the ball touched the pain t at halftime. So that's key.

"Our guys continued to play like there was a lot of game left. I like that because this team (Hillsdale) had everybody's attention. They had it after Valparaiso. They certainly had it after the film yesterday. I mean there's a few seconds left in overtime and they're at the free throw line with a chance to go up two and they miss both of them to stay up one. And then Toledo makes a shot at the buzzer to beat them in overtime and Toledo's picked to win their division in the MAC.

"We knew we were playing against a team that was battle tested. I think John Tharp is an excellent coach; it's one of the reasons we scheduled them and I think he's got a good team. I'm glad that we got to play two teams that are from as good of conferences as they are in southern Indiana and Hillsdale, and now we continue to try to work and improve as we get ready for Chicago State.''

(Talk about the mentality of attacking the basket tonight)

"And I think we're going to have to get better. There's two things that are up for grabs when the season starts right now, there's usually one. One is that everybody's zero-zero. So everybody's got the same level of energy and everybody can do things. Well now the game is up for grabs because the game is being called so differently. And who makes the adjustments, who understands it best, who can apply it and then retain it as they go through it, those are the teams that are going to be successful. There's going to be some wild, wild games the first month of the season, and we want to do everything we can do to be creative, be innovative, be fast, but be disciplined. That's where your hands have got to be free, you've got to move your feet, you've got to create angles defensively, you can't reach, you can't put that hand in the back. I'm glad it was called the way it was tonight because we can't play frustrated.

"Yesterday in practice we were too frustrated. We can't bring any body language like that because it just knocks you off your game. They learned that the last two days of practice can have a mirror effect too, with the turnovers and the fouls that come because of it. That to me is a big part of it. We've got to drive the ball. We're not great at playing downhill right now with the exception of Yogi and Stan, but we'll get a lot better with playing downhill because that's were so many fouls are going to be created and we'll get the ball in the post.''

(On Sheehey's status)

"No, he's sore but I think we're just trying to figure out exactly what happened there. And I think he kind of just got bumped by Evan (Gordon) on that side out-of-bounds play. He's sore but he'll go through the process of the doctors being with him, but I don't anticipate — I'm hopeful that there wouldn't be anything dramatic there."

(Response to 13-2 deficit: what does it say about this team that it didn't come all at once for them?)

"That's the beauty of an early-season young team because they wanted it to come together in a few minutes. But we were determined. We got quiet but we were determined. Sometimes you can get quiet and get sad, and that didn't happen. We were determined. And probably in that time frame we only took one shot where I would say, ‘We need that back, we're trying to shoot to quick.' You're not going to get it back all in one shot or one stop. It's always about the possessions. Are they plus four, are they minus four? Every time you get a stop and you go down and get a bucket, that's a plus four possessions. Every time you have an empty possession and they get two points, that's a minus four. Sometimes they're plus six, minus six, and that's just what the game continues to be.

"And what they learned inside of that is it wasn't that they needed to turn it up defensively. They need to communicate and be more active defensively. So they were in the right spots. We knew what we wanted to do; we had a game plan but we just weren't as active as we need to be. So the mind was right but the activity wasn't great, and I think they figured that out and we got rolling."

(Through 2 exhibition games, how have the freshmen grown?)

"I think in Stan and Devin's case it's their first one, so that was good. You'd certainly love to have two. I thought Luke was much better. I think you can see when Luke gets healthy — which, he's not all the way back from that yet, I mean we're not pushing him very hard in practice to be the physical presence that he's going to be. He's just not there yet, but he can really pass. He's going to be a guy that can score.

"What I like is that these guys adjusted. They adjusted out of time outs, we scored out of time outs on new things, we put a couple things in today in the walkthrough. We totally made it a daily, ‘This is how you get ready to play a game.' There was a game plan for it that, ‘We're going to take this away, we're going to take that away and we're going to add things because that's what it takes to play the game,' and they did a good job with that. We probably scored 14 points on things we put in today and probably another six on stuff that we just drew up in the timeout. So those kinds of things are really positive for freshmen to have to go through that. Right now they're all getting stretched out of their comfort zone with the way they have to get out on the perimeter and guard and the way they have to guard in the post if they are a guard. And I think you can see it — we started the second half switching everything and even two years ago we wouldn't have done that.

"And Cody grew into that, but that's all part of the process right now. We've got to push these guys mentally and physically to be able to do things that maybe they're not ready for because we're going to need to be ready for them quicker. We don't have guys that are just going to bail us out and look at it and say, ‘Well this guy's going to get four threes tonight, and this guy's going to get us three threes tonight.' It's just not like that, so we've got to have that defensive element.''

(On the play of Troy Williams)

"I mean he's like a shot out of a cannon every time he runs up and down the court. Today was good. He didn't have a great weekend practice-wise. I think again, he's still trying to come back into this. I like that he knocked down the one three off reversals. Didn't like that he took one real quick off the break. Eventually he'll knock that shot down. Eventually that'll be a big part of our offense. Right now he's kind of got to grow into that. He's got to be able to play with fouls. He got his fourth foul by being really, really aggressive. Well that's great if you don't have three fouls but in that case you can't do that.

"You're going to watch the upside of him continue to expand and explode. I have no doubt about that. So these kind of games are great for him. There are going to be some nights he's phenomenal; there are going to be some nights he's a freshman. But all along the way if we can keep him on a consistency of understanding of how to use his athleticism, how to read the game even better, he'll be really good. He's got to rebound better. He's got to rebound in the sense of he wants the offensive rebound to be an ESPN SportsCenter tip-dunk, which he's fully capable of. But he's got to go get the tough rebounds now. He's got to go in there and grind it out, and that's an area that I know we've got a lot of upside because we're doing that at practice and we'll get better with that in games.''

(Is Jeremy Hollowell's play better when he gets more touches and is forced to be on the ball a little bit?)

"Well he's got to be able to do both. He has to play in the backcourt for us this year. And is that natural for him? Probably not. But that's what we have to do. We don't have a lot of what you would characterize as guards. That's why recruiting is so important, that's why it's been such a huge focus us because we don't have that.

"He's got to be able to swing from one position to the other. He's got to go from being a guy that takes the ball out of bound to maybe when he comes back in the game he's the guy getting the inbound pass. But at the same time he's got to have great movement, great energy and be a catalyst for us defensively. So there's no question he wants to be a great player. He's working very hard and we've just got to continue to push him at a very high level to keep that energy going. And I thought tonight there were really some times where he played through the fatigue and then we read it when he needed to come out, and hopefully we can have a team like that with all of them. But he's going to have a big role for us."

(Six turnovers in the first 7 minutes, 10 over the next 33. What changed after the under-8 timeout?)

"We got easier baskets because we scored off our defense. I'm not as sharp on what happened in the beginning with the turnovers. I know we missed some shots we would take. We didn't go up to the glass as strong. We had two offensive rebounds early and they were the only two guys both possessions that were offensive rebounding, so again, we weren't going at the glass early the way that we needed to be.

"But I think what happened is we got a lot more one-and-done kind of actions. We created points off the deflections and turnovers. I know we got a 35-second call somewhere in there. IT's just everybody really learning and figuring that a 40-minute game — like I said today: ‘There is no such thing as garbage time at Indiana basketball.' I don't coach it, they're not here for it, and the fans don't pay to see it. So everything we do we're going to carry it through, and we've got to learn a lot about that."

(Small lineups- why?)

"I don't think we really have what you call a center. And Cody was never a center. Who guards the five spot I guess would be a little bit more (of a description). But when you're playing that way — when we were big and we were in our smaller lineups we were still switching everything. I think to us it's more of the versatility of the lineups and we want to have great versatility.

"Noah can play multiple positions. When Noah figures out how fast he is, how long he is, how skilled he is and how strong he is, look out. But he hasn't figured that out yet. I mean he's 18 and two months. We've got a ways to go on that but at the same time, we're trying to put him in a lot of situations that really stretch him and tonight we were able to do that some."


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