Men's Basketball

    Coach Crean Talk About Thursday's Game At Michigan

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    Jan. 13, 2010

    Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with members of the media today to talk about tomorrow's game at Michigan.

    Video - Part 1 I Video - Part 2

    Below is a full transcript:

    Opening Statement:
    "This is the third of the four games we've played in the Big Ten where we really see a four guard lineup. The difference with Michigan is it's basically four guards and a guy that is really a small forward at the next level, in DeShawn Sims. So they pose a ton of problems. I want to be able to have us get bigger and what that means is that our guys have to be able to guard the dribble. That's the one thing that we're very concerned about going into this game. They run better at home than they probably do on the road, as do a lot of teams.

    "We've worked very hard. We took yesterday off, but we worked very hard on Sunday and Monday to not only game plan, but to continue to improve at all the aspects that we need, which is competition, which is people fighting for quality time. Really the biggest things for us, going on the road, with shooting you never know where that's going to be. You never know where foul trouble is going to be. You never know if you're going to make shots, if you're going to make threes, but you have to be able to go and make decisions. You have to defend, you have to put forth great effort in the rebounding area, you have to be able to get back on defense, and you have to be able to make decisions. We've got to get better at that area.

    "There's no question, as a coach, I sense a lack of depth in the backcourt, certainly when you take Maurice (Creek) and Matt (Roth) out with what they bring. At the same time, our ability to make decisions and have decision-makers come off the bench, we can't have a problem there. There's not a guy on our team that doesn't need to get better making decisions with the basketball, whether it's a better angle on a pass, whether it's a stronger pass, whether it's the simple pass. It's a big part of our process on how we want to improve. Those are certainly the things that we've worked on.

     

     

    "It's not our spacing, it's our recognition of spacing. It's our vision. There's a certain amount of `okay what are we going to do to get fouled,' because as we saw the other night that you can put your head down and just drive it and go hard to the rim and you're going to put a lot of pressure on the referees. We've still got to be able to make the next pass. We don't always have that quality of strength that you have to have to command that whistle.

    "There's a lot of different dynamics that we're continuing to try to build and you go on the road, we have got to be able to make decisions. Our turnovers, especially at Ohio State, led to baskets. It's not just the points off turnovers, it's how they get them. It's the ability that you don't have to get back and make a stop because it was a turnover that nobody saw coming, an errant pass and they just picked it off and went to the other end. It's a game of easy baskets. The teams that get the most are the teams that win. The teams that give up the fewest are the teams that win on the other end. You get enough of them and you take them away from the other team, you've got a winning team no matter where you play. That's what we've got to keep getting across to these guys too, but again, that's where decisions come in."

    On playing a road game against a team that they have previously defeated:
    "It's hard to tell. None of them have been to Michigan before. Brett (Finkelmeier), I would imagine has been there, because I think Indiana played there the year before. I haven't been back to Crisler Arena in a long time, since I left the Big Ten. It's not anything you can put a lot of stock in. Again, it's just the decision making. What killed us at Ohio State were the decisions where we're turning it over and we're losing our confidence. As coaches, we look at it and say well you know what, if you're not making shots, you've still got to be able to do this, that, and the other thing. They're looking at it as hey we're not making shots. That's the mindset and that's kind of universal.

    "I was thinking of this the other night watching Villanova and Louisville, and we're going to show some clips of this game. It was a tremendous comeback by Villanova. Two years ago, in the Big East, that was us at Marquette going to Villanova and getting that win. We went into a sold out atmosphere, a Big Monday atmosphere, and we won the game because we made the right decisions. We played hard, we created easy baskets, we got turnovers, we got a lot of scoring from different people, but our confidence was so high because our defense was so high. We didn't always have that. We had to grow into that. Now I look at Villanova, Scottie Reynolds is a senior, Corey Fisher and Corey Stokes are juniors. Now the freshmen that come in, they don't have to rely on them to make the big plays. They can add to the equation and that's what we've got to grow through. Those are the kind of perspective things. I'm sitting there telling my wife that I cannot wait until we're like that again. We're not like that yet. We've got to have something go right. Taking care of the basketball, getting back on defense, making sure that we understand what they want to do screening-wise, those are the things that we have to focus on more than how are we going to play on the road."

    On playing Michigan twice before playing seven other Big Ten teams:
    "I haven't thought about it. It's irrelevant to what we're doing. It doesn't make a difference. In the NBA they do that all the time. It's just part of it. Coach Izzo was telling me yesterday that they've got three games in a row coming up at home. Now that's not supposed to happen and I don't even think he's happy about it because then I think they've got a span of six out of eight that are on the road. Fortunately, I don't have any real complaints on our schedule because we have a real balance with home and away. I think that's better, so I haven't put a lot of thought into playing somebody that quick."

    On the advantages of playing a team twice in a short period of time:
    "I think for both teams there's a real familiarity. We just played and the thing that we've got make sure we understand is that we executed in that game. It wasn't some emotional upheaval because we had lost Maurice. We had a great crowd, but we executed. We earned the victory. There are so many different dynamics that go into this league. Just when you think you've got it figured out, just when you think you've got that win at home, somebody sneaks in and grabs it from you or the other way around. You just have to be ready for so many things.

    "The number one quality of any team, when it's all said and done, is could they execute under pressure and that's what we have to grow into. We have to learn how to do that. We've got to have more of a self-discipline on some of these decisions that we're making with the basketball. I know we're playing different lineups together and moving around different guys. I told Bawa (Muniru) this morning that I want him to be able to play in these games, but we're going against a four guard lineup. That makes it hard. I want to get Derek Elston more minutes, but again, you have to be able to guard on the other end and guard the matchups that you have. It's not as much what you do on the offensive end, it's who you're able to guard the other way. Zoning Michigan is a scary deal because of how well they shoot the ball."

    On Derek Elston fitting into the rotation:
    "I think it's just very matchup oriented. Three of our first four are four guard teams and that's how they play. This team is four guard and then a small forward. That's really all that is. He's rebounding the ball in the minutes that he's playing. We're going to have to get bigger in certain games because the three guard lineup is good, but that was also created with having two other guards that aren't out there right now in mind because of the way that they shoot the basketball and because of the things that Maurice does. So I'm a fan of three guards, but there's got to be rebounding. When you play against Michigan and your guards are so good on the backboards, that's a good way to do it.

    "There's a series of checkmarks that go into every player, into every game and it's not just one or two things. Matt Roth, last year, was a tremendous shooter for us, but he got better at different things throughout the season. So he had more checkmarks as you would go along. I coached Steve Novak at Marquette. He could shoot the ball. That was a pretty important checkmark, but by the end of the year, he could space, he could get some people open. There's a lot of different things you have to be able to do and that's where your depth comes from, it's consistency. We're not getting that as much in certain areas so we have to continue to find those. We could be playing totally different lineups against Minnesota and Penn State. It's just the way that it is.

    "I think he's not real comfortable guarding the small, quicker small forward guys yet. Again, I say all this and I say it knowing that we look down the road in a year we won't be having this conversation because his body will be so much different, his speed and quickness will be high-level collegiate. He's a high-level athlete, but being a high-level collegiate defender, they all go through that. Christian (Watford) is getting better in that area. Maurice was leading us in deflections, but Maurice was just finally starting to figure out some of the angles that guys try to create and cutting those angles off and things of that nature. When you're going against four guards, at some point in time, you're going to be in a big switch game, especially with a team that spaces the floor like Michigan does. That's not his strong suit yet. Our zone has got to get better because we move on the catch too much and not on the pass enough. When the ball moves we don't move fast enough sometimes, but he rebounds the ball, he can score. I love having him on the court. He brings an energy, so there's going to be some points in time where we just have to let the game sort itself out."

    "I'm not down on him at all. He's going to be an excellent player here. Really, going back to the Michigan game, it's just the matchups more than anything else. There's going to be a night where you're going to see three big kids out there, somebody at the small forward, but again, your matchups are not what you do on offense. Maybe 20 percent of the game, ok we're going to put a guy in for this reason, but it better be a real special situation. That's what Roth brought to the table, but 80 percent of the time it's about the defense. Who are they going to guard, what kind of schemes and rotations are you in, what is it going to do to the rest of our defense. We work hard at it every day and there's no question that he is."

    On who has stepped up in practice of late:
    "I think Bobby Capobianco had started to really define his form of toughness in those practices leading up to Illinois, and I've seen nothing to change my mind since on that. I can measure improvement every week on this team pretty easily, some guys more so than others and then we address it, but we are getting better. They're practicing well. It's just a matter of going through this and gaining real confidence and being able to finish things off. They shot an excellent percentage in the second half on Saturday night. Our pick and roll defense was atrocious, but still at the end of the game we've got a chance to win. We make a couple of shots. We make the foul shots. We had a great foul shooter at the line and he misses the front end of the on-and-one. Those are the things that hurt your confidence, but there's nothing you can do about it. You just have to turn right back around and go do it again."

    On the guards filling the void for Maurice Creek and Matt Roth:
    "I don't know if you can do that. I think those guys shoot the ball at such a high rate and Maurice shooting it from so many different places and ways. There's no question that you're going to miss that. If we make the simple pass, I feel very good about guys knocking down shots. You look at the Michigan game, when we reverse the ball and make the simple pass. We're not even trying to hit home runs as much. We're trying to hit doubles and triples, just hit the single. We don't need to stretch the single into a double. It doesn't work that way right now. Just make the simple play. That's the hardest thing for young players to understand and for players that have not been demanded that that is what has to happen. So that's what we're going through. I've seen tremendous improvement. There were times earlier in the year where we would show edits where we're dribbling it 15 times here. You dribble a lot of times when you're not sure what you can do. It's not being sure of what the offense is, not being sure what you can do. Well eliminate what you can do, just make the pass and it comes back to you. I think Verdell (Jones III) is learning this. The more the ball moves, the more open shots he gets. That's what we need. I don't look at it in terms of filling a void. We've got to be better all the way across the board and make better decisions."

    On when freshmen are no longer considered freshmen on the basketball court:
    "The thing that is great about here, and I was very fortunate at Marquette, but our guys really continue to get better athletically during the year. (Strength Coach) Jeff Watkinson does a phenomenal job. He and (athletic trainer) Tim Garl have really done an excellent job of really being together in what we need, conditioning wise. And I really listen to those guys, and I think that is really good because they get a different view of it. Sometimes it's a feel and sometimes it's a scientific view and that's good. We are gaining strength, but it's not noticeable because there is no one outside of Tijan Jobe and Bawa Muniru that really look all that different. But eventually you will see that. When we will really be able to see it is when we have some older guys in here and we have the younger guys come in. We have these skinny little guys come in and then all of a sudden here are these big men. We just don't look that way yet.

    "I always worry about the wall, there are always a couple walls that guys go through. We are fighting that now. You don't address it with them, you just try to recognize it and help them through it and don't make a big deal about it."

    On Tom Pritchard in the post and his activity compared to last year:
    "(His decrease in activity) Is certainly not by design. We watched the video coming home from Ohio State. There is ample opportunity for him to drive his man out of the post-up area to the basket and create. He has to trust his hands and his decision-making - I do but it's not me with the ball in my hands. That's the hurdle we need him to get over because we need him to be more active and aggressive in all areas right now. When he is, we play better and that hasn't been as consistent and we need it to be and as he would like to be. But there is no `hey, let's not play through him,' because we want to play through him. But when you play through someone, they have to make plays. It doesn't have to be their play. I would love for him to make some plays and get to the rim and get to the foul line. I don't care, let's go to the foul line and get in the bonus. I'm focused on who is coming in every day and who is showing that improvement and who is winning the battles so we can go play the game."

    On how Pritchard is responding to competition in the post in practice from Bobby Capobianco:
    "We will see. It is real and Bobby is really improving. Sometimes Bawa will be in practice and he won't want to have the reps that everyone else has because he is so unsure of himself and what he should be doing. And that's part of this deal too, that you have to be able to go from point A to point B with a purpose. First of all, you have to be able to get to point A. We can push them as fast as we want on that, but it is what they are willing to allow them to do. The more guys we can get playing better on the front line, the better we are going to be. It is not any competition that I am creating, it is real."

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