Following Tuesday night’s 96-69 Indiana win over McGill, Tom Crean met the media and gave his thoughts.
Special thanks to George Montgomery for feeding AllHoosiers.com the Crean audio after every game in Canada.
Crean said one of the things he had hoped to get out the Canada trip was simply the recognition by his players of how hard they needed to play to be successful.
“The biggest thing we wanted to get going into the trip was what was our energy level, our intensity level, our enthusiasm level, and our competitive level compared to last season?’’ Crean said. “And I thought tonight they really did a good job of that. Because when it comes right down to is do you like the way you feel when you’re playing that hard and playing that aggressive? Do you want to do it again and again? And you never pick up from where you left off, it’s always new and it always has to be better.
“I thought the intent was really good. (McGill) came out with a really physical mindset from the first play of the game. They were very aggressive from the first cut and I thought we responded pretty well to that. And that team moved the ball at an incredible pace.’’
Crean said that ball movement and the pace of the game are two things that really catch your eye in Canada.
“The one thing we’re taking from up here is not just the 24-second clock but when that shot goes up it feels like it’s an Indy 500 race,’’ Crean said. “It feels like a sprint car race, a 40 yard sprint, whatever you think of as an absolute take off. And that’s what it’s like. We can get better from that. Tonight was also about putting people in different positions, putting people in different responsibilities inside of the game, changing defenses from time to time, looking where the communication was in real time and where our efforts were. There will be some learning experiences from that. Some of it was good and some of it was not as good.
“From the second quarter on we were doing more of playing scientist with experiments. But at the same time we did some good things. And I think it comes back to the basics of the game when you’re moving the ball, when you’re making the next pass, when you’re playing inside out, when it’s going from side to side, when you’re ready to shoot, when you’re looking for your teammates, it’s really impressive.’’
“Troy Williams was a facilitator from the start, he led us in deflections and was one of our leading scorers,’’ Crean said. “The more that they can learn that those things really do matter and they really do carry over, it doesn’t matter when you’re playing, where you’re playing, what you’re playing. It just matters that you do those things. Those are the things that we’re hoping to get accomplished that will help those guys over a long period of time.’’
Another thing Crean has liked is the way his team has handled ball movement on this trip. He said that doesn’t mean it has always worked the way he has wanted but he believes his team has had good recognition when it has struggled.
“I’m pleased with the fact that when it doesn’t (move) we recognize that it doesn’t,’’ Crean said. “And then it moves again. It’s so much more than one player’s responsibility. It’s so much more than saying it’s got to start with Yogi moving the ball. Well, it has to start with everybody. It really does. We have numerous guys that can make plays. We have numerous guys that can make shots. We don’t have numerous guys that we stop and play out of the low post and all of our action comes from them. We’re not as good at the elbows yet.
“The games are moving so fast that you have to literally get them to slow down and call offense. You still want them to play and make real time decisions and make conceptual decisions, but you also want to get some offensive work into it. But I wouldn’t trade the 24-second clock for the knowledge we’re getting. The more that they continue to move the ball at a simple rate, this team, with the simpler they are with making the next pass, the better. You’ve still got to guard us in the corner and we’re still not understanding just how important that corner is.’’
Once again a challenge will be moving the ball quickly, playing up tempo and not having a great number of turnovers. Despite winning easily Tuesday night, IU had 23 turnovers.
“We’re not going to have a 24-second clock when we go home,’’ Crean said. “I’ll watch the film. The one thing the teams really do here is that they’re attacking the ball. They’re attacking the rebounds and they really run up and try to take the ball from you. That’s something we need to learn. We need to be more aggressive with the ball, we need to get our head up on the dribble. Too many of those turnovers tonight were unforced. Last night we didn’t have that many. That’s all part of it. We’ll understand how to play simple basketball.’’
In that same vein though, Crean said he likes the decisions this team is making within the game.
“I think we have some very good basketball sense,’’ Crean said. “We have guys that are not trying to do things that aren’t there. Last year we tried to make plays too much that were not there. Bottom line is that right now is our two freshman guards really need to continue to understand that basic basketball, simple basketball is the best basketball they can play.
“It’s really the more that your skill level goes up the simpler you should make the game. It’s not the other way around. It’s not the more skill that the more difficult it makes. When the skill level is up you can do the simple things well: pass, catch, move, cut, shoot, inside out, all those types of things. And we’ll get to that. There’s a lot of room for improvement there. We’re ahead of schedule and at the same time we’re behind on a lot of things because we did spent some time on our spacing. And you have to have the spacing understood before you can have the next pass understood. If you play tight, it doesn’t matter how well you pass because good defenses are always trying to get one to guard two. You’re always trying to get two on one on offense and you can do that with good spacing.’’
Crean was asked about the play of Devin Davis of late. He said he is making progress but still has plenty of room for improvement.
“He has worked hard at it but there’s a lot of room for him to work even harder and to develop,’’ Crean said. “I thought tonight was his best offensively, though last night was his best game effort wise. What he wants to erase is having 16 rebounds in 19 minutes the first night to have three rebounds in 22 minutes the next night. That’s the inconsistency that he wants to erase. He opened the game up last night with a pass to James. He’s was a big, big part of our opening last night, the things that we did there.
“He got to the other side of the rim tonight, he scored in the low post and took his time and he’s rebounding the ball better. We’re putting him in pick and rolls. That’s the stuff that he should be able to do for us. The versatility (on this team) is not just going to be in the back court. The versatility will be guys that can play on the front court as well and he’s a big part of that.’’
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