Men's Basketball

    Talking About Minnesota

    Go Hoosiers! Tom Crean
    Go Hoosiers!
    Tom Crean
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 7, 2014

    BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with members of the media on Friday to preview Saturday's game at Minnesota. Below is a complete transcript of what he had to say.

    Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean

    On the differences for Minnesota with Andre Hollins and without him in the lineup:
    "First off, it makes them that much more explosive and they are already one of the more experienced teams in the league, when you count the guys that are back and the fact they have a guy like Malik Smith, who has been at this for a long time.

    "But Andre gives them a bon-a-fide lead-guard and one of the better ones in the country because he can score, he can shoot with range, he can get people shots, he can defend; he is very crafty and very cerebral. There are so many different things that he brings to the table.

    "I'm sure after one game under his belt (after the injury) and getting that much more healthy, he is going to be the tough matchup that he always is.

    "They have outstanding guard play and excellent team toughness, there is no question about that. They have a front line that is experience and been down the line and done so many different things. This just adds to them being that much more of a tough opponent because they put someone in there that absolutely knows how to get it done."

    On the differences and similarities between styles of play for Richard Pitino (Minnesota) and his dad, Rick Pitino (Louisville):
    "I think the biggest thing with Richard is that he has taken advantage of the vast experiences that he has and applied them to an already pretty experienced team. I think that's the sign of an excellent coach. He has taken what he wants to do and what he has done and applied it to the talent that he has. There are certainly similarities to what his father has done, but at the same time I don't think there is any question that Richard is his own man in the way that he coaches.



    "That's what makes this league so good - there is a vast number of different ways to do it and you have to prepare for so many different things. I think the one thing that has always stood out about Rick's teams is how hard of a preparation they were because of how many different things you had to get ready for. And Richard is the same way, there's no question."

    On defense:
    "I think we are improving, there's no question about that. Where the limits are on it, I have no idea but I think they are really grasping things really well. When we stay disciplined to what needs to happen and where our coverages are - where the 3-point shooters are - and I've said this before because it is so hard for the players to grasp, every team has a way that they want to win and want to play. And we try to take that away and make them think that it's not there.

    "For example, if a team wants to play through the middle to create 3-point shots, well you can't get sucked into the middle and allow those 3-point shots. If you can't get beat off the dribble because they can make the drive-and-kick pass for an open 3-point shot, then you can't over-help on the dribble. Those are the discipline things that it has taken us time to learn. We have been consistent at times and at other times we haven't been as consistent.

    "We spend an awful lot of time on it and I think the guys are getting more and more well-versed in what those things are. But in this league, every night is a different night and every team has a different way of playing and winning. The better you are at the details and the fundamentals and the closeouts and the shot challenges and the communication -whether you are staying with something or switching something, whether you are in man or in zone - whatever those things are, you have to stay consistent. And that's what we have to continue to build."

    On what makes Williams Arena a tough place for opponents:
    "First, I think every body has a tough home court in this league that makes it unique because of the fan support and the teams. And I think the bottom line is that Minnesota is no different. As far back as I can remember, they have always had very good teams.

    "The first thing that comes to mind is the raised floor. There is no question that takes a little bit of getting used to for a player, especially when you are bringing a new team in. Their fans are fantastic and very loud. It's just a great building, not only in this league, but in the country for college basketball. I think that's the biggest thing.

    "But the team on the floor has a lot to do with it. If I had to pick only one thing, though, it would be getting used to the raised floor."

    On Will Sheehey becoming the so-called "captain" of the defense:
    "Will is so multi-dimensional, one of the most multi-dimensional and versatile players that I've ever had the privilege of coaching, as a head coach or assistant coach. He can do so many things. First, he has great intent. He has tremendous intelligence and smarts. He has a great `quick twitch' and he plays with an excellent pace. He can sniff things out and is great at knowing what the other team wants. And I think he is one of the best defenders in the country.

    "(In the Michigan game last week), the way we were defending and having a defensive `captain' more or less, was very important. It was his role and then one we felt that Jeff Howard could handle, which is why we put him in when we did for Will.

    "But Will can guard numerous people. He can guard, literally, any position. There are very few players in the country that you can say can guard any position, but he can. Some can do it more than others, but not much. There are very few things, situationaly, that we would be hesitant to put him in defensively.

    "So is he our defensive captain? More often than not, absolutely. I think he can still be more demanding of himself when it comes to communication, as well as his teammates. But you are always searching for improvements and I don't think we will ever get away from that. Will is in the top group in the country when it comes to versatile, all-around players. Especially when you look at the willingness to do what it takes to win the game."

    On whether the `bye week' came at a good time after the Michigan win:
    "I don't ever try to think like that anymore. I did when I was younger. There is nothing that you can do about it. Especially with the way the practice rules have been, you always have to gauge things differently with your team. To me, we just try to make the best of every situation that we have. We don't get too far behind where we were and we don't get very far in front of where we need to go. We try to stay really with what is important that day. What did we learn yesterday, how are we going to apply it today and how are we going to be better tomorrow. As corny as it sounds, if you stay in that mainstream, you really have a chance to get better.

    "And felt like we have gotten better this week. I feel like we have gotten rest where we needed it. We competed at a very physical and high level where we needed it. And where we needed to tweak, add or put on the back burner with a couple things and then work on our skills and fundamentals to go with our cohesiveness on the floor. At the same time, we had enough time to scrimmage and go live to play through fatigue. That's the one thing - you don't want to fall out of a rhythm and the schedule is always going to force you to make adjustments to that rhythm. But the most important thing is that there is a pace to it and you are working hard to stay where you need to be that day and that week and then just go from there."

    On the team's health:
    "Collin Hartman has been out with a virus so that's been tough for him. So we haven't seen him but the doctors and (athletic trainer) Tim Garl have been helping him the last couple days. His status for the game on Saturday is unknown, as we get ready to leave later today. We don't want to do the wrong thing for him and we have to keep an eye on that.

    "It's like anything else, once the players learn that they are never going to feel great every day like maybe they did in prep school or high school, and that it is very important to what you are doing to keep you body sharp - what your nutrition is like and what your hydration is like and what your rest is like. Once they develop a sense of what they need to do, I think that helps.

    "That is something that you have to guard against constantly. This is a young group. We are reminding them to not just wear their sweatsuit when we travel; they need to bring their heavy coat and gloves. Sometimes you have to do that - that's the parental part of it. It's the same thing with how they go to class. We have had guys walk in here in the middle of winter and just have a sweatshirt on. That's not good. But my own son does the same thing and he 14 years old. So we have to keep reminding them how important their health is and what they can do to take care of that and help nurture that. But at the same time, people do get sick and you have to deal with it."

    On the relationship with Richard Pitino prior to him joining the conference:
    "I haven't seen him in a long time, probably since media day (in October) and then also going back to the summer. I have always had great respect for his dad. The person that has been as big of a coaching mentor to me - and there have been others - Ralph Willard is probably as close of a friend as Rick Pitino has. You want to help someone that is going into situations - I always appreciated when people did that for me. At the end of the day, Richard has tremendous abilities. He has a great mind for the game. He has a great background from the game. But he has adaptability and flexibility - and I think you see the same thing in (Northwestern head coach) Chris Collins. When those guys have that, no matter what their background is or how they have been raised, they still have the ability to do what they need to do to put their team in the best possible light that day.

    "I don't think Richard needs a lot of advice on that, he is doing a fantastic job. I have a lot of respect for him and have always followed what he has done and, being in the same league for so many years with his father and what they are capable of. Bottom line is Richard has a great career in front of him."

    On when Will Sheehy became the high-level defender he is now:
    "I think we started to see it some his freshman year, but much more during his sophomore year and then without question last year. He was good enough to start last year, we all know that, but when he went into a game last year knowing he could play so many different positions. We don't have that as much right now when we go to the bench, that's why it's such a tremendous advantage when you have somebody like Will.

    "Will has a tremendous attitude, and edge and grit to him. He has an ever-improving skill set. And his work ethic has been well documented since he got here. What I hope we never take for granted is that he has been such a big part of laying the culture down here, from the player point of view.

    "It's one thing for the coaches to want the players to work and demand accountability and responsibility and all those things. But that only goes as far as the players' willingness and ability to do that on their own when the coaches are not around. Will has done that since he got here and he continues to do that. It has been a big part of what our culture is like. There are off days here and you have very little worry, as a coach, what you are going to come out like the next day because so many - not all - are spending that extra time on the court, doing the things they have to do. Will is that way.

    "Defensively, offensively and work ethic-wise, all of those things are fantastic. Those are the reasons that he is going to have a very long career at this if he wants to because there is always a place for somebody that has that kind of versatility and multi-dimensional skill set along with the willingness and desire to win.

    On the biggest adjustment to the raised floor at Williams Arena:
    "It's just so different, it is what it is. You don't really play on anything like it. It would be like going to Vanderbilt in the SEC. It is just different. The bottom line is you don't overdo it and you don't talk about it too much. You just try to get them on the court. Hopefully the travel schedule goes well and we will be able to get on the court tonight and shoot. Then we will have our walk-through tomorrow. I just think it is them getting used to it. I think they get in there and it is a lot of fun to play in there because it is hot, congested and there are a ton of people there. It is a tremendous atmosphere. Once you start playing, you forget about it. It's like anything else, when you walk in for the first time and go up a couple steps to get onto the court, that's different and once you settle in and play, everything is fine."


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