Jan. 26, 2011
Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with the media on Wednesday to talk about Thursday's home game against No. 20/21 Illinois. Below is a partial transcript of what Coach Crean had to say. Audio and video are also both available by clicking the links below:
Video: Coach Crean | Tom Crean Podcast
On Verdell Jones III:
"He's making progress. He works every day with our doctors and trainer, Tim Garl, to get better and that's the extent of the update."
On the team:
"We've had a couple of good days to be able to get our legs back underneath us and have some standard setting kind of practices that we needed to have again. It wasn't like we were having bad practices at all, but I think it's always important when you come off a situation where you didn't play nearly as good as you could've that it's not coach-driven, that it's player-driven. We're starting to grow into that. We're excited to play and it's been awhile it seems like since we've been home, even though I know it hasn't been that long, but we're excited for the fans, we're excited for a great crowd, we're excited for all the red in the building and everybody wearing their red. We've had a couple of good days of work and preparation."
On worrying about what team will show up:
"I don't worry in the sense that when we bring our practice game to the court, we have a chance against everybody and we're going to play pretty well in the way that they're competing. We just have to learn to be consistent, but a lot of things have to go right for us right now with that being said. When you take people out of the lineup like we had the other day, you've got to make your open shots, you've got to be able to get to the foul line. Our transition defense and our one-on-one defense especially straight-line drives were very poor the other day and that's something that we've gotten a lot better at so we regressed in that area and we've certainly tried to focus on that the last few days.
"Again, it's not like we make a lot of changes to it. It's just really a matter of consistency. I mean you saw it in the Michigan game with Verdell, Christian (Watford), and Jordan (Hulls), those three played really, really well. Maurice (Creek) did some good things inside of that game and then obviously got hurt at the end. Jeremiah Rivers
guarded really well. We don't have the luxury of having a couple of guys not have good games. We just don't have that yet. We're not there and I think you guys know it as well as I do. We don't have to be clicking on all cylinders, but we've got to be clicking on a lot of cylinders. When we don't do that, it's a struggle. We don't have the margin for error that some of the better teams in this league have right now and then when you miss somebody like we did the other day, everybody's got to turn it up that much more and we didn't do that."
On the challenges that Illinois' length presents:
"When you start to look at depth, they truly have the next man up theory working for them because Jeremy Richmond is play well right now, Brandon Paul is playing very consistent, certainly they're experienced guys. You've got four seniors playing the quality of minutes that they have and they're high-quality players. They're a great team because they pass the ball so well, they make their shots, especially their open shots and they really cover for one another defensively and I think that's where the length really comes in. When you've got a 6'9 three-man like you have with Bill Cole, when you have the activity of their guards and the pressure that they can cause...Meyers Leonard is going to be excellent because he's got the length and he's got the ability to block shots. Richmond, like I said, he's got the force and the will with his body so they've got all the parts. There's no doubt about that."
On (Illinois senior guard) Demetri McCamey
"He won't be denied. I think that's probably the best thing. He plays the game a lot of different ways. It certainly looks to me that he's as excited by the pass as he is the shot, but when he gets in a mode that he's not going to be denied, whether it's running the offense, getting to the basket in ball-screens, getting to the basket in a one-four low, those type of things, he is extremely hard to guard. I think the thing that they're doing so much more now that's different even from last year is they've got three guys in transition that are constantly baseline screening. They're running a double screen basically on the baseline so he can get into that high pick and roll and create a lot of havoc with that. They're trying to eliminate that early help that you would give because of Bill Cole and D.J. Richardson on the baseline and you've got to be really cognizant."
On becomes more important offensively without Verdell Jones III:
"I would say ball-screening. I don't know if there are a lot of guys better in the league using the ball-screen than Verdell. There are other really good ball-screen guards and that's one of the reasons it's a great league. When you take a leader like that out, what really affected us was the decision making and I thought we were really affected defensively. That's where the improvement in Verdell is, is that we really missed him defensively. We missed him in transition defense because he's really gotten better there. When he's locked into an improvement area, he's like Christian Watford, he really gets better in a hurry at those things. We've got to continue to have movement.
"Our issues the other day on offense were far and away missed open shots. It would blow you away how many we missed after I charted it, so nothing's going to look good in that sense. The good news is we got a lot of really good shots. We're in the top-20 in field goal percentage offense in the country so I have to believe that was somewhat of an anomaly. We don't want that to turn into a pattern. We did not screen very well the other day and I think there's got to be even more movement all the time for us because when the ball gets reversed it allows us to have things happen."