Notebook: Samford not "just another game"

Tom Crean said Friday night's game vs. Samford was not "just another game" because he's coaching against his former assistant, Bennie Seltzer.

As his boss for six years, Tom Crean wants to see Bennie Seltzer succeed.

Just not tomorrow night.

Now in his second year as Samford's head coach, Seltzer will showcase his own rebuilding project at the school he played an instrumental role in turning around. He will celebrate his homecoming to Indiana from the other side of the scorer's table Friday night when the Bulldogs visit Assembly Hall for a 7 p.m. tip.

"Rarely have I ever been in a situation or played many guys that we worked with, and I get it," Indiana head coach Tom Crean said. "I get why we don't. It's a preparation, and it just feels different because you don't — you want somebody that you're with like that to be extremely successful, you just don't want them to be successful tomorrow night."

Crean's relationship with Seltzer dates back to their time together at Marquette. Seltzer was one of Crean's assistant in his final two years at Marquette before following him to Indiana in 2008. Seltzer experienced all of the low moments of the post-Kelvin Sampson fallout along side Crean.

Seltzer had a direct hand in recruiting, and was the point man on recruiting players that helped return Indiana basketball to relevance, including Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo, Will Sheehey and to a lesser extent, Maurice Creek. He laid the groundwork for the 2013 class.

"When we're dealing with someone like Bennie who has had such a hand in the development and the re-establishing of this program over the past few years, Bennie was here through every tough period, through every tough moment, through all those tough years, and was just an absolute study in perseverance, in the sense of how he continued to have incredible energy every day, how he continued to make the players better," Crean said. "His recruiting was phenomenal."

Crean said he always knew Setlzer would make a good head coach, and admires the job he's doing at Samford. The two met in Indianapolis to watch Victor Oladipo's NBA debut when the Pacers played the Magic Oct. 29.

The meetings seemed to be more between two friends than two coaches. Crean said he's supports Seltzer anyway he can, but is careful not to get in the way of his former assistant.

"You go through your periods where you've been through so many things together, the highs and lows, and you're so excited to see them get their opportunity and you don't want to do anything to get in the way of it," Crean said. "But for a couple hours tomorrow night, that's what it is, and I'm sure that Bennie and his group will feel the same way."


Crean devotes more time to offensive spacing

Going into the LIU Brooklyn game, Tom Crean couldn't stop raving about how good the Blackbirds' spacing was. That was not the case for his own team following the loss.

Crean said Indiana spent 60-70 minutes of Sunday's practice on offensive spacing alone. It's something that will take time to develop with such an inexperienced group unaccustomed to playing with each other.

"We're behind in certain areas, and I get that, and it'll get better. But we've got to keep imploring guys to understand this is what the game is giving you and it starts with reversals, it starts with getting the ball inside out, it starts with penetrations in the lane, it starts with making the next pass, and then everything plays off of that, everything.


From the assistants

"They know how to play. And it's even neat to watch them miss shots because those shots are so nice and soft and they put it up there on the rim and every time both of them shoot it you think it's going to go in, but they also do a great job of getting other people shots.

"We felt they were really good basketball players to fit in what we already have, and not only will they do well here but they'll also accentuate what the other guys do here."
— Tim Buckley on Robert Johnson and James Blackmon Jr.

"Honestly I think it's the people that we're bringing in. You're bringing in individuals who are coming to play for the University. They believe in what the program stands for and they're coming to add to that, first and foremost. You talk to those guys, the first thing they talk about is winning a championship."
Kenny Johnson on what he likes most about the 2014 recruiting class

"I know that's one thing that these young guys looked at when they were looking at ‘Is Indiana the best for us?' There's no question the development of those guys has played a big role in this."

Steve McClain on how Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo being drafted to the NBA has helped recruiting.


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