Men's Basketball

    Coach Crean Talks About the Michigan State Game

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 15, 2010

    Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with members of the media on Monday to discuss tomorrow night's game against Michigan State in Assembly Hall.


    Below is a partial transcript of the press conference.

    Opening Statement
    "First I have some updates. With Matt Roth, I think it is very unlikely that he is going to be able to play. He is still recovering from the surgery, and we rehabbed him in a way that would give him a chance, if it healed totally, to come in and play. But I don't think he feels as comfortable with his foot right now, so you don't want to push that. Verdell Jones III had another good practice (after battling the flu over the weekend). He has lost a lot of weight, not that he can afford it, so hopefully we can get that back on him. I know he had not had solid food until last night, so that was good news. Devan Dumes was back practicing today, but only sparingly. I don't think he feels that good, so we are just going to have to wait to see how that goes.

    "Right now, we are just focused on getting the spirit and energy back, and really the believability that you can play and win. That's what I think we have lost in these games and it's a product of not having the leadership not anywhere near where it needs to be and guys that are truly confident that they can make a difference. That's where we have to continue to build, every day in practice. I don't want to say it has been back to the basics, but it has been back to those defensive drills that are really easy to lose sight of when you are preparing for game after game. If our preparation had to wait until last night and not at practice yesterday morning, that's one thing. But I think the preparation to understand what we are trying to do and getting the spirit back is more important than anything.



    "We have a lot of ebbs and flows with the youth of this team, and it's really not just the youth, but the team. We have to continue to grow through that. Like I told the team, there are things that have to be there in order for us to improve and move forward. Number one, there has to be energy on defense. Number two there has to be toughness in the rebounding game and number three there has to be unselfishness in the offense. That means some guys are going to score more than other guys and some guys are going to distribute more than other guys. It's not about playing a role, it's about understanding what it takes to win and that is what we are locked into.

    "I may get angry and irritated, but I am not going to get frustrated because I cannot allow frustration to creep into this team. That is what happens when immaturity rears its head. I just don't believe that you can get anywhere with frustration. If there is going to be negative energy, I want it to come from the coaching staff or me. But my focus every day has to be on `Let's just go get better.' "

    On getting through to the players after a couple tough losses:
    "I don't think a voice does it. I think experience does. There are a lot of moments that you have to make sure that they are grasping it. For over half of this team, this is the first time they are going through it, so you have to make sure you take advantage of those moments when you can help them learn something.

    "An example from the other day at Wisconsin. It became clear at the end of the game that we were not going to win the game. Christian Watford needed to learn one of two things: that he was really tired and playing to exhaustion and was going to come out of the game or he was in a lot better shape than he realizes and that is exactly what we learned. That's what I wanted to make sure he learned. I didn't leave him out there to make sure he got certain numbers, I left him out there to learn that lesson. We need him to play at a high level all of the time.

    "There is no question that it is hard (to get through to the players) at a time like this, but that is why you have to stay consistent, determined and focused. Having said that, if you look around the league almost every team has gone through their peaks and valley's this year. Purdue had their three consecutive losses and Ohio State had the losses with Evan Turner out. That stuff is real and it hits every team, but all those teams have people to turn to and there is not a huge drop off. We have not had that this year, and it is what it is. It is not anything other than that. At the same time, there cannot be a drop off in the energy and toughness that we have to have to move forward. I don't have a lot of options right now when things are not as smooth as they need to be, so you have to help them through that. Not at the risk of compromising your toughness, which I didn't like the other day.

    On getting the team to understand what it means to play hard
    "The teams that get through this are the ones that are the most mature, older or best players and they usually find a way to play for a national championship. You can look at the NBA too, but when you are not making shots, it is so hard to come down the court and play defense the way you need to. We have to outgrow that. We have to do a better job defensively so we can create more off our defense to get easier shots. We are giving up too many points off turnovers and we are not scoring enough off turnovers. You are never going to get guys over that completely, unless they are unbelievably tough-minded, and that is a very low percentage in college basketball. You have to keep coming when things don't go your way and get inspiration from your teammates. Every once in a while you have to be able to go to the bench and sit and think about it for a little bit. We have limitations in all of those areas and have to grow through that, which is the hard part."

    On how the players are interacting with each other:
    "We are practicing very hard. We have had two great practices, and we really haven't had any bad ones. It is like anything else, they want to do well and succeed. Their perception is their reality, and as a coach you have to fight that reality. As a coach, every day you have to come out and fight that. Now I can't come out and say `hey, we have lost six games in a row.' But you have to show them what they were doing when they were playing well and what they were doing when we were not playing so well. You have to give them real confidence.

    "I wouldn't want everybody to be happy right now, I think that would be bad. That would mean that they don't care about it. This team, of all the teams I have coached, this is not a team that absolutely gets into one another and talks trash and goes to combat against one another day in and day out. But when they lock in and compete, we are pretty good and you have seen that in games. I think it is hard to have an incredibly close team when you have not had a lot of success together. Do I think there will be a closeness developed over a period of time? Yes, that's the way it works. Adversity and success - they are the same type of thing. The emotion is different, but the result is the same. You can get away from what really matters when you are successful just like you can get away from it when you face adversity. You have to keep them on the path of what is real and that's what we continue to work towards.

    "I want some guys a little on edge right now. But I think we need to understand that the enemy is the opponent."


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