BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head Coach Tom Crean, along with Jordan Hulls and Christian Watford, met with members of the media on Friday to discuss Saturday's game against Michigan on ESPN at 9 p.m. Below is a brief transcript of what each had to say about the game.
"Well, first off, with the excitement of ESPN College Gameday being here, it has been a long, hard road to get to where we have the program that is worthy of it in the sense of having Gameday come in here like this, to have the national audience that it's going to be. But it's well-earned by a lot of people, by our players, by the athletic department, by the administration and without question by our fans. When I say fans, I mean our students and our general base.
"When you look at these situations, your team has to be good and your atmosphere has got to be good too. I think that's what has helped draw Gameday here and I think at the same time, that's why it's going to be such an exciting day and the world is going to get to see the Hoosier Nation at its finest. Hopefully tomorrow night inside of the game we do our part to make it a great game.
"They are an extremely diverse team in the way that they are excellent on both sides of the ball with the offense and the defense. When you start to dive into the offense, they do a great job of scoring in the lane, their 3s are something they are obviously well-known for but it's the penetration, it's the drive-and-kick, it's the ability to play at the rim and the second shot opportunities that they create are outstanding.
"Defensively, they've got so much length and athleticism and they can do so many different things, in the sense of playing man-to-man or playing zone and they are very good with it, not to mention extremely well coached. John (Beilein) is one of the best coaches in the country and has been for a long, long time. We've got to do a great job of being alert, aware and locked in. You've got to have great discipline inside of your instincts. It's not a game where you can gamble. You've got to really, really be strong in how you play offensively and defensively and the ball has just got to continue to move on the offensive end. And we've got to do a good job of making their possessions tough when we are on defense."
On the challenge of containing Trey Burke:
"His explosiveness and he's got great explosiveness. He keeps his dribble alive and he really just keeps going until he gets what he wants for himself or his teammates. He can play with either hand. He's tremendous in the pick-and-roll and he's tremendous in not only scoring the ball, but finding open people. He's got great anticipation skills. You've got to take care of the ball against him. I just think it's that burst and explosiveness that goes with his instincts and his talent."
On how Michigan's fast break compares to UNC's fast break:
"I think the Carolina break is tremendous, in the sense of how they run after made buckets and Michigan can do either. They can run after made buckets if they want or they can come down and get in their half-court offense but they are tremendous at running on misses and turnovers. We felt like this when Darius Morris was the point guard and he was pretty good, obviously he's in the NBA. I don't think there is any question that it's the same way with Trey Burke, even more so because the other guys are older. They have a Glenn Robinson in there. They have (Nik) Stauskas that can shoot the ball so well. They really, really run. They are not only one of, if not, the best running team in the Big Ten, they're certainly as good as anybody in the country because they do get out. They want the easy buckets and they are creating those buckets off defense."
On what he expects from the pace in this game:
"I think pace is a little bit like beauty is in the eye of the beholder on that because you've got to be at one that really fits your team and I think they've done a great job of knowing what fits them. They can score a lot of points, obviously. They are very good in the half-court. They are good in the full-court. I think it really becomes what your execution is like. Are you getting really good looks? Are you getting good shots? I don't think it's going to slow down but at the same time, it'll be a game of momentum changes potentially. How you gain momentum will have a lot to do with the pace of the game and reading it as it goes on.
"I think it's like defense. I think if you come and say we are going play defense this way on the ball or defense this way in the post, they are too good for that. They are way too good for that. You've got to have multiple things that you can do and you've got to have some things in your arsenal to be able to defend them. Against the best teams, it's always a game of adjustments but it's always a little more magnified against the best teams, potentially because you could have a great plan but part of your plan is having different things there and I think pace is like that in the game. There is not one way to define how it's going to be and I think it's just a matter of reading how the game is going."
On the importance of Cody Zeller's help defense:
"I think help defense is crucial but I think the guys that play like there is no help are the ones that are going to be really successful in this game. You can't rely on help against them because there are too many good players. So you have to do your work early. You've got to be very visible to the ball. You've got to be very vocal to your teammates and it can't be a game where you get caught in a lot of over-help situations.
"With Cody's abilities to be able to play different people so many different ways defensively he is a huge, huge X-factor in this game. What he does on offense and being just a really good player speaks for itself. But I think the thing he is doing is he can do so many different things defensively that he doesn't always get the attention for or the credit for, but we see it constantly and that continues to get better. Some of it is because of his athleticism but some of it is because of his intelligence and instincts. And the rest of it is because he's getting better and he continues to improve in those all those areas so he will be a big part as will Derek Elston and Hanner Mosquera-Perea and anybody that will have some situations where they have to man the lane."
On how big of a game this will be for Kevin "Yogi" Ferrell when he has to guard Trey Burke:
"Oh I think it's big for anybody, but you don't become a better defense if you don't have better one-on-one defense. We've got to make sure that our one-on-one defense is very good, because when we get in an over-help situation, we aren't as good and that's happened to us some. That happened in the second half against Minnesota big time and the Wisconsin game too much. You just can't over help. You want to be a help team, but you just want to be solid. It sounds boring but it's really the truth. The bottom line is this can't be a risky, risk-taking, let me go for a steal type of play. You've got to be very, very sound and firm in what you are trying to do and whoever is guarding Trey Burke is not guarding them by themselves. Obviously you are in the sense that you've got to stay in front of him but you've got to have the confidence. You get your confidence from your teammates being in early help situations and being really verbal."
On Tim Hardaway's progression:
"He's got an incredible first step. He can score off the dribble. He's shooting 3's. He was tremendous at Minnesota. He's got a great understanding of the league I would imagine. He can score in bunches. He's very good defensively. He's one of the better players in the country. With that being said, what makes him good and what makes Trey Burke good is the same thing that makes our better players good. Everybody on the court can play too. There is nowhere to look at it and say we can play half of a man here or we can back off here. We have to really look at their strengths, try to figure out how to take them away. But you can't start with `well we have to guard this guy or that guy.' I think because of that, guys like Tim Hardaway, Trey Burke, and our guys, they are so much better because they get a chances to exploit their skills that much more because you have to make some choices. Are we going to try and take this away? Are we going to take that away? You can't take it all away and that's when guys like that standout, guys like Tim Hardaway."
On what they've seen from Michigan on film:
"They do a lot of different things really well offensively like run in transition, hit open 3's, penetrate. Defensively, they get into the ball and try and take you out of some things, so we're just gong to have to do a good job of executing our plays and doing the things that we need to do."
On Trey Burke:
"He's really good. He can do a lot of different things. He can shoot. He can get to the rim and he can pass, so it makes it pretty difficult. We just have to execute our game plan that we have set up for that and go from there."
On how big of a job it will be for Kevin (Yogi) Ferrell to defend him:
"Whoever is going to guard him, I'm sure it'll be multiple guys or something like that, but you've got to go out there and play defense. It's a lot of team defense. That's our mindset. He's a good player so we are just going to have to do a good job on it."
On how crazy the build-up to this game has been:
"Since I'm in graduate school, I don't see people on campus too much, but when you do go out around campus you can feel the buzz going around. Our fans are always great, so we're going to need them in full-force tomorrow. You can definitely feel the buzz, so that's exciting."
On how this compares to other big games that they've played in:
"This is a bit different just because it's Gameday. In our four years, we've never had that experience, so that'll be fun but it's another game. It's a big game for us and it's the next one on our schedule, so that's how we are attacking that."
On if he ever watched Gameday growing up:
"Yeah, just watching any basketball game and seeing everybody getting pretty hyped up about it. And your school is on TV for the whole day, so that's pretty cool."
On what's different about Michigan from the previous times they've faced them:
"Everybody gets better as they years go on, as you get older and more mature. Both of our teams are playing at a high level and pretty efficient and like to run, so it will be a fun game to play in."
On what the expects the pace to be in this game:
"Run. We can run I guess. Obliviously we want to do what's best for the team and what's going on in the game. But like I said, both of our teams like to get out and run and score the ball."
On how big it is to have Gameday and this big of a game in his hometown:
"It's pretty cool for Bloomington. Being a townie myself it's pretty cool to see that experience. Growing up you always wanted to go to those kind of games and come to Assembly Hall and it gets pretty loud in here, so it will be fun."
On how important rebounding will be:
"It's a big key in the game. We know they are going to send some guys to the glass and we're going to have to keep bodies on them. Controlling the glass is going to get us out on the break and control our tempo."
On if he has allowed himself any enjoyment knowing how big of a game this is:
"We enjoy it as a team and we talk about it. We know how crazy it's going to be, but we know we've got a job at hand and we are going to go out and try and do that."
On Glenn Robinson III:
"Oh he's a great player. They do a great job of finding him. He makes open shots. He does a lot of things for that team. He gets to the glass. He gets out in transition. It's definitely going to be an up-tempo game. It's going to be a good game."
On if they play any different if it is Jordan Morgan or Jon Horford in the game:
"Not really. Both of those guys kind of do some of the same things. They get drop-offs. They hit the glass. Both of them are skilled big men so it's kind of the same."