Feb. 3, 2010
Indiana head coach Tom Cream met with members of the media on Wednesday to talk about tomorrow's game against in-state rival Purdue at 7:00 p.m. on ESPN.
Below is a full transcript of Thursday's press conference:
"I think our players are really excited to be playing their first Indiana-Purdue game here inside of Assembly Hall. We've had a very good week of practice. We've bounced back from a very tough loss, in the sense of having great spirit, energy and enthusiasm. Certainly, you have to have that plus everything else, because this is going to be a very difficult game not only because it's a big rivalry game, but more importantly because of how good Purdue is. There are so many things that they do well on both sides of the ball. They're playing very good basketball right now, there's no doubt about that. It's very hard to find weaknesses.
"The preparation time has been good for us and I know they're excited to play. We're going to have to really, really play well. We're going to have to play well with taking care of the basketball. We're going to have to play well in the sense of rebounding the ball on both ends. I think they're excellent in transition and we're going to have to be very good there because this is getting more and more like playing against Michigan State with the way they run their break. So we're going to have to be really, really good at getting back, matching up, and getting the ball stopped.
"I think we're going against the fastest guy in the league from end-to-end, as far as big players, in JuJuan Johnson, and that poses another challenge. Jeremiah (Rivers) probably isn't going to be blocking his shot too many times at the end of the break. So we've got to get back and really defend. The most important thing is going to be to play with that energy and play with the confidence and we've had that this week, so we're looking forward to it."
On the matchups with Purdue:
"We've watched a lot of film to see what's given them problems, to see what has worked out in their favor. Robbie Hummel is exactly what you want to have, in the sense of having that swing forward. He can bring the ball up the court, in fact at the end of games the ball is usually in his hands. He's a matchup nightmare because he can score inside, he can score at midrange, he can score from three, he can facilitate the offense and he makes 90 percent of his free throws.
"I think we have to have great team defense. That's what they have. Their help defense is outstanding. Their ability to pressure the ball is outstanding. We've got to be able to return that favor on the other end. I don't know if we have a situation where it's going to come down to one individual matchup. I think they have too many good players to say we're going to really focus on these two or three guys. So we have to have great team defense more than anything else."
On if the team is dealing with losses differently at this point in the season:
"I think they're maturing. I don't think there's any doubt about that. I think they're gaining confidence. Our coaches are inside of practice so much inside of playing against them and working with them. I always base it on how they feel about the resistance they're seeing in the drills and scrimmage situations. Certainly we can see that when they're going against one another. I don't think there's any question that they're maturing. I think their believability is going up all the time. They really do believe that they're going to get to a point here where they can earn victories. We know the schedule's hard. We know all of that, but again, if we have energy, if we have a little bit of an edge. We had that going into Saturday's game against Illinois, even though we didn't get the win, that's what we have to have. If we weren't responding well, we wouldn't have that."
On the in-state players helping the rivalry:
"I'm sure that that's a huge part of it. In my recollection, certainly being at Michigan State when we had that with Michigan or even at Marquette when we had that with Wisconsin. The more kids that you have from the area, the more they understand it. I've been really impressed with how excited our guys are to play this game, even the guys that aren't from the state. They know we're playing against a really good team. They know we're playing against a team that's not only a household name in Indiana, but throughout the country and they know that. These guys are astute basketball fans, as well as players, and I think they understand that this team is really good and they feel very competitive in the sense of lets go play it."
On the bigger lineup used against Illinois:
"I think it did a nice job except we just got in some foul trouble and then we wanted to get some backcourt work a little bit. I think tomorrow we need to rebound the ball, so that's big, but at the same time you've got to have people that can handle pressure. So I'm not exactly sure how we're going to go with it yet. It's not as much the starting lineup as it is what the rotation looks like now inside of it. We've got to really, really handle pressure tomorrow. They get up and get on you for 94 feet and we've got to do a great job with that."
On Christian Watford's shooting of late:
"He's worked very hard this week, a lot of individual work with him. He's played well in practice. I think it's just a matter of being more assertive in a lot of areas, not just shooting the ball. He also hasn't been to the foul line very much. He's been to the foul line six times in the last three games. That's not enough. We need him to be more aggressive, more assertive on the backboards. There are some things that we've really pinpointed with him that we're really trying to work with him on, helping build his balance, helping build his ability to play through contact. He's getting hit a lot right now and he's got to continue to learn how to play through that and not get knocked off-balance. It's strength to a large degree, not having the strength of some of the people they're going against, but we can always work to try to refine that balance, the stance, and those types of things. There's no question we need him to continue to do more and feel that confidence because we certainly have the confidence in him to do it. I know I do."
On Purdue guard returning from injury Lewis Jackson:
"I think it increases their speed, especially when you look at the tapes from a year ago. He really, really can push the ball. They do an excellent job of throwing the ball ahead. I think now with him, and maybe they threw the ball ahead so well because he wasn't in there. He can get from point A to point B as fast with the dribble as he can with the pass. I think it changes things. I think it changes things with the shot clock. I think they're even more aggressive if they're in the shot clock with him at the top getting into pick and rolls. So I don't think there's any question that it has the potential to speed them up."
On Jeremiah Rivers stepping up at the free throw line against Illinois:
"I think 90 percent of guys, if you look around college, have trouble at some point in time at the foul line. Robbie Hummel doesn't seem to have too much trouble at the foul line. Everybody goes through it. He works very hard at his free throw shooting, as they all do.
"We ended practice today and it's another 30 to 35 minutes of situational free throws, swish games and things like that. They worked very hard. On Monday, I was leaving here after the TV show to go to the radio show and we had practiced that afternoon. We had stayed and shot extra. I'm walking out and he's walking back in to shoot. He works very, very hard on his game. I have great confidence in him and I think tomorrow he's going to have to be a guy that's really, really on the attack for us. We're confident with him going to the foul line."
On the importance of Verdell Jones III:
"He's important for every game and that goes without saying. He's becoming a guy that's got great confidence and he's getting better in a lot of areas. We really need him to rebound tomorrow and the rest of the season. We need that to become more of what he's about as a player, because when you have the talent that he has, you want to become complete. That's our job to help make him be that way. Rebounding the ball from his position is really important in that stretch. There's no question he's a big part of everything that we're doing on both sides of the ball."