Before the Hoosiers departed campus to head for the airport Tuesday afternoon, Indiana coach Tom Crean and a few of his players spoke to the media about IU's first trip away from the friendly confines of Assembly Hall.
IU's media relations department put up a quick story on their website that had a couple of things that Crean had to say to the media. This, however, is a complete transcript of his thoughts heading into the Washington game.
(What really stands out about watching Washington play?)
TOM CREAN: "Their speed, their transition game is the best we have watched on film. And I have a pretty strong impression that it's the best we will have seen at this point and maybe for a long time. They get the ball out of bounds really quick. They attack and do a great job of playing off of one pass, getting the ball ahead and attacking the rim. They want to play fast. They don't spend a lot of time being spent in the half court. The ball gets swung a couple times and they are going to the rim or shooting a three. Certainly (C.J.) Wilcox is playing at a high level. (Nigel) Williams-Goss is an excellent freshman guard. We saw him a lot. He was a national level recruit and we saw him a lot. Their big guys are good inside. Shawn Kemp Jr. is playing well. (Perris) Blackwell is playing well. They are scoring a lot of points. They have had some good games and some close games. They are an extremely fast team that is very aggressive in half court defense as well."
(On wanting to play a fast pace)
CREAN: "It's all about transition defense. It's going to be a tournament of depth because every team has numerous players, but the depth is only as good as the consistency. If it's not consistent all you have is players. You have to have guys that can come in and make an impact. Whenever you go in you have to understand that the number one premise is that we have to get back. We have to get good shots and get on the offensive glass. We have to improve our ability to take care of the basketball. There's no question about that. And that leads to great transition defense as well. If you're getting good shots and have rebounding balance, you have your guys getting back on the air time of the pass or the air time of the shot depending on where they're coming from, but its not a one or two man job. College basketball right now is so much about how well you attack in transition and how many two on ones you can create. And they're hard to deal with. They're hard to deal with when we get them and they're hard to deal with when you've only got one guy back because the benefit of the doubt most of the time is going to the offensive player. And with a two-on-one there's no primary defender. There's a secondary defender so you're not going to draw charges. You've got to be outside. You can't allow those advantage breaks with the opponent and you certainly have to try and get as many as you can on your side.''
(On wanting to play a fast pace)
CREAN: "I think they can all score. There's no question that they can score and they can score quick. Wilcox can score from so many different places. I don't know if I would pinpoint and say ‘They just do this or they just do that'. The ball gets moved. They can score. They've got great freedom. They're a very good off the dribble team. I guess the common denominator they have with all of their players is they're very good off the dribble. Maybe Goss has a runner and Wilcox has a good pull up, but they're very good at catching it and playing off the dribble.''
(What are your thoughts on Nigel's 4-to-1 assist to turnover ratio early in his career?)
CREAN: "I haven't really thought much about that. I think I'm more concerned about his runner in the lane and the fact that he can shoot. I know he's a big shot maker. Wilcox is averaging 24 points so I'm sure he's the beneficiary of a lot of that. But it's more about what they do with their own offense. You have to be really locked in to that. What you can't have though is a guy like Goss getting eight, nine, 10, 11 or 12 assists and 16 points. Those are bad numbers for the opposing team.''
(They get to the line a lot. Is that a product of being good off the dribble?)
CREAN: "They get to the line a lot off the break. They're very, very good in attacking off the break. Transition defense in that sense, again, this is where the new rules really play into it. We have to be able to really exploit the same things. We work hard at those things. There's no question that part of your fundamentals and part of your individual work is so much about right now trying to draw that contact, trying to play in a straight line and we've shown a lot of improvement in the last week in our straight line driving. I don't think there's any question about that. When you look at Evan Gordon he has 22 points in two games and so much of that is driving in that straight line. And again we didn't shoot the ball from the free throw line very well the other day. You've got to drive, you have to have an attack mentality but you've also got to be able to make the next pass and keep the game in rotation as much as possible and I think that's what Washington has done a really good job of to this point.''
(On how the team has practiced since Stony Brook on Sunday)
CREAN: "We didn't practice yesterday (Monday). We just really watched film and they lifted so this was their first day back from that. It was good. It was very energetic. We have to continue to understand that we have to take care of the ball. We were able to work on a lot of situational stuff today, which we will be able to view on film. We spent an enormous amount of time, like we usually do, working on fundamentals. If we're going to give up anything as far as the prep time it will be making sure the fundamentals are right. Anytime you have a team with as much upside as we do, and is this young to the game, we have to continue to work on the fundamentals of the game offensively and defensively. So we spent a lot of time on that."
(On his expectations playing outside of Assembly Hall for the first time this season)
CREAN: "This is a hard environment not to get distracted. The bottom line is, we want them to have fun and we want them to see New York. It's again why we stay where we stay. We stay right down by Times Square. I want them to experience that. They will see an NBA game tomorrow tonight. They'll see the Pacers and the Knicks. Like I said to them, when we sit down to watch film, you can't be 15 minutes in and now I'm locked in. When we get to practice, we can't be 20 minutes in and now I realize I'm in practice. That's the stuff you worry about with a young team. That is it with our leadership. If leadership is going to be a strength for us, it's like rebounding, it has to travel too. But again, we're going through that. We went through that a little bit the other day. It's easy to get distracted and to get quiet when things aren't going well for you. Develop over a period of time. And that doesn't come fast. It comes when they get it. It doesn't come as fast as we want, it comes when they can absorb it and I think the bottom line for all of us, and the bottom line for me as a coach is to keep pushing that thoroughly and as hard as we can. But also understand that it takes some time for them to get it themselves. We want to go in and get established that our identity has to travel and the bottom line is taking care of the basketball and getting back in transition. No question."