Bloomington – Tom Crean and Christian Watford seem to think alike.
Just minutes after Watford posted 17 points and 10 rebounds in IU's 69-61 win over USC-Upstate Monday night, Crean was asked for his thoughts about Watford's second straight double-double to open his collegiate career.
"He's not even scratching the surface," Crean said without hesitation.
Minutes later, Watford was asked to reflect on his performance and his quick start that now has him averaging 15.5 points and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 62.5 percent from the floor and 81.8 percent from the free-throw line.
"It's good, but, I don't know," Watford said, seemingly conflicted over whether or not his start has been as good as it appears on paper. "I feel like I can do so much better. I don't even feel like I'm scratching the surface yet. I don't think Coach Crean does, either."
Watford might only be two games into his IU career, but he obviously already knows his coach well. It's not as if Crean is unsatisfied with what he's gotten out of Watford – after all, his 27.5 minutes/game ranks second on the team to Jeremiah Rivers' 28.5 – it's just that he knows there's so much more than Watford has to offer.
Watford clearly has a combination of skills that are rare among 6'9" big men. He's already displayed a deft touch from behind the 3-point arc, making two of his first three attempts. He's also able to attack opposing big men off the dribble, he can bring the ball up the floor in a pinch, and he's shown an ability and willingness to battle on the glass on both ends of the floor.
Crean has seen those abilities first hand not only in games, but on the practice floor for the last month. He first witnessed it shortly after he took over the Indiana program, and it was why Watford was such a critical recruit for him when putting together his 2009 class.
Now that's showing off those skills in an IU uniform, Crean wants Watford to work toward playing at that high level on a consistent basis. To do that, he'll need to become better able play through fatigue, something that nearly all young players struggle with early on.
"He has another gear inside that motor that he can get to," Crean said.
Crean is pushing him to do just that, and Watford is willing to put in the work. Watford doesn't shy away from the expectations that his coach has placed on him, nor take offense at not being greeted with a heavy dose of praise for his promising start.
"I have a lot of work to do and I plan on doing it," Watford said. "It's about hard work, dedication, putting in work every day, listening to Coach Crean and applying what he tells me to do in my game."
Crean plans to continuing to do that as he looks to push him to develop into an elite player on a national level.
"I'm not here to pat him on the back," Crean said. "We're here to drive him because that's a special young man. He can get really, really good."
Fast Start Just The Beginning for Watford
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