Jan. 17, 2010
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Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean
"Needless to say, I'm very proud of our effort. There were so many times in this game we could have folded up the tent and we didn't. Our energy was very good. It was good throughout the game, and the fans energy had a lot to do with that. The two greatest cheers I can remember in my life are the cheers Damon Bailey got when he was introduced before the game and Verdell's and-one in overtime. Those are things you will remember for a long, long time.
"We followed our game plan to the point that we had a lot of success with it, and then when we got away from our game plan, we allowed them back in. We knew we were going to have to do different things defensively, because they have so many players that can make plays. Their guards, the three starting guards were averaging 32 points as a threesome, and to hold them to 17, I think it a big story in the game. Certainly they took advantage of our rust at times, that's why we wanted to switch defenses, to keep them off base a little bit. They are so fast and athletic, and we make a basket, and I wanted to blame our guys for celebrating, but they really weren't, they were getting down the court so fast and made plays.
"It was one of those games that I think both teams left everything out there. I know that's an old cliché, but I don't think there is any doubt about that. The number one key for us today was the rebounding. That became a bigger battle cry, especially after Northwestern out-rebounded Purdue the way they did yesterday. That's the kind of mentality we have to have. That's where learning from the other teams in the league really takes shape for us, and we have to develop that mentality. Our belief was that if Northwestern could outrebound a great team like that, a great rebounding team, then we better figure out how to do the same thing against a team like Minnesota. Our guys responded to the challenge. You never know if that's going to happen, but they did. We would have never won the game without the rebounding and it's fitting that it came down to a big defensive board."
"Things worked out. It's a great win against an excellent basketball team. Perseverance and scrappiness are the key words for us there. Like I said, at the beginning, very proud of their effort, and so incredibly thankful that we have fans that we have. The way that they stick with us is amazing. When it got to 76-71, they could have headed for the exits too, but nobody did, and that means a lot."
On limiting turnovers in the game:
"That was key, because of the turnover margin. There was so many statistics that were very similar for us and Minnesota in Big Ten play. Offensive rebounds, they are excellent at that, they lead the league in steals, and turnover margin. We are minus-three, they are plus-four. We had to figure out a way, part of the game plan, those are the games within the game that we probably don't win the game with a couple more turnovers. Our guys are starting to understand that being strong with the ball, making the simple play, like I said when we were in gameplan mode and creativity coming out of that, we were fine. When we started to take jump shots that weren't there, getting away from getting to the basket, then we struggled. The turnover part and the rebounding part, those are by far the most important things."
On reason for better performance in rebounding:
"I just think effort. I think effort. There were a couple defensive things that kept certain people closer to home. I think we were very conscious. We are starting to understand that, they responded to the physicality of it more than anything else. They respected Minnesota, and I think anytime you have an overwhelming respect for a part of the game, and we practiced against their press, five versus eight, five versus seven, all the way down the line yesterday. When you have tremendous respect for a certain part of the game and you have high-character kids, eventually they are going to figure out that it really means something, and I think our guys did that. I don't know what our rebounding grades are going to be like, but they had a battle-mentality and that's the key thing."
On play of Verdell Jones down the stretch and especially in overtime:
"He stayed fearless. I don't know if I would have taken him out in that situation, but he stayed fearless and that's exactly what you have to be when you're making that transition to being a very good player, which he is doing. He was really down about the free throws; he was down at the end of regulation. We had a serious deer-in-the-headlight look at the end of regulation and really the first two possessions of overtime, especially on the defensive end, I think that's why they got the shots. Those plays, staying fearless, like that were really, really important. I thought he did that in the context of what needed to happen. It was a great lesson for us to learn, that there is a lot of time in a five-minute game. We didn't have to come down and shoot a quick three, we didn't have to come down and force a play, we had to play, and he was a great example of that. Every time he made a mistake, he rebounded with something that helped us win the game. That's a big part of the transition as you take those steps to becoming a better player."
Minnesota Head Coach Tubby Smith
"I thought Indiana did a great job of working hard and getting on the boards. They really did a great job of attacking the glass. Verdell Jones III forced us to foul him quite a bit. I don't know if we were fouling him, but they were being called. We had some poor execution there, but then we got ourselves back in the game. It's just very disappointing. I've got to compliment Indiana. Tom Crean had his team ready to play. They played with a lot of energy. It took a lot out of us to come back and get in the game. Then we took the lead in the overtime and I thought we did some good things."
On the play of Devoe Joseph late in the game:
"We were running a play because we saw that he was getting his shot and we felt like he could make it. You have to try to go to the guy who's playing well at the time. It's good to see him playing better."
On the Indiana rebounding edge:
"It was just a matter of trying to get on the boards. We're just not getting a real consistent defensive effort and I thought that's when we had some real breakdowns from the defensive standpoint. When you give up 20 offensive rebounds you're not doing it. That's very poor rebounding."
On Indiana putting Jeremiah Rivers on Devoe Joseph in the overtime period:
"He probably changed his shot some. I thought he went to the basket there and got fouled, no call. I thought he did some good things. We probably should have made a switch there on Verdell too and we didn't. I thought Verdell was outstanding in that regard. He was shooting over the top of Devoe and getting to the free throw line."
On coming back after trailing by 15 points in the second half:
"We were desperate so we had to try whatever we could. You always believe you can come back. We came back and if we make that steal there at the end. Al (Nolen) makes a great play there and his foot steps out of bounds. They proved today that they have matured. They've obviously learned their lesson and they responded very well. They made the plays they had to make at the end."
On the play of Verdell Jones III:
"He's talented, he's very talented. He's long and athletic. He's a very heady player, a very smart player. He knows how to draw the foul. You hedge on the pick and roll and he knows how to use his body and force you to foul him."
On what Indiana has improved on since last season:
"They've always played hard. They've got some good ball handling. Their ball handling has improved since the last time. We were only able to force 14 turnovers, so I think that's probably an improvement. They've improved on their outside shooting. Their big guys really did a great job of really attacking the basket and getting second and third shots. They've just gotten tougher and stronger."