Dec. 18, 2011
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Quotes from Indiana head coach Tom Crean following the Hoosiers' win over Notre Dame at Conseco Fieldhouse:
"First and foremost I'm really proud of our players to go through the week that they had. It's certainly not been a normal week for a lot of different reasons. One was the win, but second was the exams. I know every team is coming off exams that's in this classic, but our guys had probably their busiest days on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, and yet their practices were fantastic...their effort throughout the week...their desire to improve...all really, really good. The thing I am most proud of in the game is that when you go through a season, if you're really trying to get better and you really understand that you've got to take what the game gives you, you're going to be in a lot of different type of games. This was a grinder, and we knew the potential for that was there with Notre Dame.
"We had great respect for Notre Dame, and it was certainly justified. Our guys figured out that their half-court defense and their ability to cover for one another, and then the ability to make the next pass and establish the post on offense, get to the offensive boards...those things work. The pace was not exactly where we would have liked it, but it was never at a point where we felt we had to do something to change it. We just knew we were going to have to be really, really good in the half-court. Again, we knew we were playing a very good team. A team full of very good basketball players that can drive, cut, slash...but most importantly shoot...especially the three. And for them to go 32 minutes without a three-point field goal says a lot about the way our defense rose to the challenge of guarding a team that shoots as well as they do.
"So I'm proud of our guys, and I could talk about individual efforts and accomplishments...one I'm really excited about is Will Sheehey, he had his career high in rebounds. I think it goes without saying that it was very important inside of this game to get Cody (Zeller) established from the beginning, and we did. I'm proud of the way that he played. He had two assists and I think he looked probably to have four or five or six more because he is such a good passer in traffic and such a good passer when he sees the double-team. A very, very good win for us...and again, one that we hadn't experienced...getting a win like this this season. And one, probably again, in the past that we may not have been able to get because it was a very, very physical game and our guys did a great job of responding to that."
On the team staying focused this week:
"From the very beginning of practice on Monday...now maybe if we had gone Sunday that might have been a challenge, but we gave them a day and Monday was excellent, as was Tuesday. And then Wednesday became a film day, and I think they got a real eye-opener when they looked at the film to see the numerous opportunities that we had in the game.
"Certainly we wanted to reflect and be proud and excited about the finish, but there were numerous opportunities inside of that game where we could have played better, especially in the second half. I think they understood that, and that's a sign of a team that's maturing, because an immature team wouldn't have wanted to hear that, but they did and they responded. I could see it again throughout the whole week in practice. We had a lot of different times in practice, and sometimes guys would have to leave early or come late because of tests.
"But again, the focus was excellent. And then we get in here last night in the film session and today's walk-thru...I wasn't worried about that at all. I knew we were going to play against a really good team, but I wasn't worried one bit...especially after Monday's practice...that we might come in and not be locked in.
On the defensive effort the final 14 minutes of the first half:
"Our guys never wavered when we got down because we made too many mistakes, and a lot of our mistakes early on in the game were communication mistakes. We were waiting for someone to help us out of a situation rather than being a participant in our own rescue in that situation. Our guys did a great job of picking that up. They gained confidence and a few baskets started to go in. They really did a great job...again, taking what the defense gave them...where maybe a play broke down and then it just became cutting and movement action and finding people on cuts and some back-cuts...and when the double-team comes somebody sliding behind...I thought those were really good.
"They're taking a lot of pride in their defense, and this will only help them and hopefully springboard them to more things because the number one key all week with Notre Dame was defending the three-point shooting, and knowing that Eric Atkins is not only their best three-point shooter percentage-wise but the guy that creates so many for other people. He is a hard match-up, and I thought our guys did an excellent job with him. And I thought when we had to do some switching late in the game they did an even better job."
On the advantage on the offensive glass:
"Well, it's huge for us. I think, again, they got confidence because of last week. We spend a lot of time on offensive and defensive rebounding whether it's a breakdown drill or whether it's a live 5-on-5 type of situation. I haven't looked at the numbers far enough to see if we got enough guard rebounds, but that's going to be huge for us. Victor (Oladipo) and Will (Sheehey)...it's a big challenge...Will had four and Victor had one...that's good...that's progress because those two have got to be very, very good on the offensive glass for us. And certainly Cody (Zeller), Christian (Watford), Derek (Elston), Tom (Pritchard)...but our wings have got to be active. That helps keep balls alive. That's an area we've known we needed to get better in...are getting better in it...especially over the last three weeks...but there is a ton of room for even more improvement with that, especially as we get ready to play in the Big Ten."
On Cody Zeller's play that led to Jack Cooley getting in foul trouble:
"I think that was big...I think that was big. And then we had to roll the dice a little bit so to speak with Cody. We had foul situations in the first half, and I was really proud of our bench. If there was one criticism I had of myself...and I had many...after last Saturday...I didn't go to the bench enough...especially early in the game to get some guys some confidence in the game so that we could have used them more in the second half to give some guys some rest. I wasn't going to let that happen again. And I thought Remy (Abell) did an excellent job. I thought Derek (Elston) played better, especially in the second half. Will (Sheehey) obviously did a really good job, and Will was...Will didn't even practice with us on Thursday because he was so sick, and yesterday he could only walk-thru. And today to come out with that energy was tremendous."