Jan. 3, 2011
Complete Coach Crean Audio | Watch Press Conference Video
Indiana men's basketball head coach Tom Crean met with members of the media on Monday to discuss the Hoosiers' game at Minnesota on Tuesday. Here's a portion of what he had to say. For complete audio and video, click on the links above.
On the challenges that the size of Minnesota's frontcourt presents:
"There is no question about that. Last year, their size took advantage of us in the sense that we didn't play as smart early on in that game, especially defensively on the pick-and-roll side of things. The first play of the game was a hi-lo so there is no question that we are going to see that size and that experience and that explosiveness. And then you add Trevor Mbakwe to the situation and it makes it that much more of a formidable challenge up front.
"But one of the reasons they are good is because they have such a good inside-outside presence. They have the 3-point shooting and they have the speed. Now that they have Al Nolen back, he is one of the premier defensive guards not only in the Big Ten but in the country. When you play against Blake Hoffarber and Jon Diebler in back-to-back games, you are pretty much an expert on who two of the best shooters in the country are. They bring a lot to the table and they will be hungry because they are at home and we have to match that hunger."
On the IU post players avoiding foul trouble:
"I think there is any question. Minnesota brings three very experience frontline guys to the table that really work the lanes well. They create angles or you can lob it up to them and they get down and they seal you (in the post). They are very explosive on the offensive glass. There is no question that is a big part of it.
"But it is like anything else, it's team on team. We have to have great team defense. We have to have great ball pressure. We have to give great help. We have to have excellent weakside defense. And we can't ever let them just get a solid post-up inside without pressure coming from some other area or without them catching it our further than where they want to catch it. That was so much of the problem the other night (against Ohio State). We did not work hard enough to not let that ball go inside and we got caught getting some fouls because of it."
On how much Mbakwe helps the team
"I love Trevor Mbakwe. I offered him a scholarship two games into his sophomore year (of high school). We have been through a lot together, on the court and off the court when we coached him (at Marquette). That has never left me, even though he is gone and we are gone, he is someone I have strong feelings for. I am proud of what he has done. I was always disappointed that he wasn't as comfortable staying at Marquette after we left. But he is back home and back with his family there now and he is playing like the guy we thought he would be. He continues to get better. He is explosive and he has incredible length. He has a very strong lower body so when you but those two things together, you see a guy that can make things happen at the basket. He is making more foul shots, even though it's not a great percentage, he is making more. He can shoot the ball from 13-to-15 feet or so. But when that shot goes up, he is a wrecking crew. He is one of the best rebounders in the nation, statistically, and he is certainly one of the more relentless rebounders in the nation because of it and you can see it in him. It makes him that much better because he is so aggressive."
On the defense improving through technique or attitude:
"I think it's both. I don't think our attitude is bad. I think our technique - footwork, help-side - the little things. Having our hands up and our deflections are down. Driving the arm across the chest of a defender as you are rotating down or when you "V over" or "V back" or when you are diving to play that weak side help to get to the line of the ball and getting that hand out to maybe get that deflection or steal and maybe letting that ball get skipped to the drift pass. Those are the kinds of things that are technique and effort. I think our attitude to defend is very good, but our effort has to continue to pick up. Our intelligence is what is hurting us a bit.
"And then what happened the other day (against Ohio State) is that we didn't move on the pass well enough. When you are playing against a team like Ohio State that can break you down because they have the speed and athleticism. But more importantly, they pass the ball so well and you have to be that much more alert. Your hands have to be right. Your feet have to be right. You have to be on the balls of your feet constantly and you cannot move on the catch when you are playing a team like Ohio State. So those are the things that we continue to drill. No matter how we are defending scheme-wise, it always comes back to the fundamentals - the effort, the footwork and the team concept of how we are moving."
On what Will Sheehey can give to the team:
"Energy, length, deflections and offensive rebounding. A couple of the things that really stood out with him when we were recruiting him were his mid-range game and his relentlessness on the backboards - he was a very, very, very good offensive rebounder. Look how skinny he is now and take 25 pounds off of him but he was still there on the glass every time. And just to be a guy that moves the ball - he is an outstanding passer. He just needs some rhythm and some time. He is a very willing participant and the biggest thing for him is preparation. Especially at this level, you have to be so good with your preparation defensively because the players are so good. So you have to know what you are trying to take away. You are not only preparing for your own scheme's but you are preparing through the eyes of the opponent and understanding what they do. You can't just play. You have to be able to play with a real purpose. That's what we are trying to get him to do and he is making a lot of ground up there."