Coach Crean Talks to the Media about the Big Ten Tournament
March 10, 2009
"We took yesterday off as a team. They have come back today as excited as they ever were. And I love that about them. This time of year, for them to be as excited as they are and continue to improve the way they have is kind of a microcosm of the whole season. We've had our ups and downs, and obviously we've had our poor results, but this team has continued to respond day in and day out. And every time we have gotten down they have come back and been better. Every time we've been worried that they may not capture that enthusiasm again here they come back and they are full of life and energy. And that says a lot about them. It says an awful lot about the staff of coaches that are with them in there, and our support staff too.
"The energy level has not dropped, and they have been a joy to coach. They really have. I'll put it into perspective sometime down the road when it is all said and done. It hits me at different times, and today is another one of those days. They just continue to respond; they continue to want to improve. If more young people took the attitude that they have of really coming in here with questions and having the desire to learn day in a day out, they'd be a lot better off.
"Being in here and watching them grow, respond and continue to learn and accept new things...and they continue to be excited about that. I am sure it gets tedious to them, but we come in and they know we are giving them every opportunity to win. And I know they are giving every bit of effort and energy they have to be successful. I think that has as much to do with the foundation being laid the right way as anything else."
On the status of Devan Dumes:
"He is still being evaluated and treated by our doctors. And certainly Tim (Garl) continues to rehabilitate him. I am not overly hopeful, but at the same time we are not ruling him out and we just have to continue to see how he heals up over the next few days and see what happens. But I don't want to give you any misleading hopes that it is a given that he will play. But I also don't want to rule him out in case something changes. That is where we are at with him."
On Penn State:
"They are certainly dangerous. I know they are going to be playing for a lot. But at the same time we are going in there with our mindset as well. We know what we have to do, and that is to not get ahead of ourselves and do everything we can do to get ready to play Penn State. "(Jamelle) Cornley has been a real struggle for us. We have not had a great match up for him in either game. Talor Battle..he is their leading rebounder over the last five games, leading free throw attempts and is obviously their leading scorer throughout the year. Stanley Pringle has played well against us . And (Andrew)Jones has really taken off, and we said that before we played them a week and a half ago. They've got a team that is deserving of their consideration, but we are going to do everything we can do to put ourselves into Friday night's game."
On Verdell Jones' and the team's improvement over the last month:
"I think he has improved a great deal. He is a great example of what we want the program to be about. And again, it is a two-way street. Back when he was struggling from the three-point line and his percentage was in the low teens, same with Nick Williams, it was never 'stop shooting the ball.' That is the way I have always tried to coach. It is shot selection, more than it is anything else. But you don't want to take guys' initiative away to get better. It was the same way a lot of times, when those guys were younger, with the seniors at Marquette. We had some of the same low percentages.
"But you just want to continue to help them get better. And at the end of the day those guys are sitting on 92 wins right now. Well, I feel that way about these guys. They are a huge part of what we are going to do down the road, so you want them to continue to build that confidence. And Verdell, Nick, those guys continue to improve on the perimeter, there is no doubt about that. Tom Pritchard...maybe his statistics don't bear it out but we are a heck of a lot better team when he is on the court and not in foul trouble. I think that is a great attribute for someone to know how valuable they are to their team.
"Matt Roth, I think he has the most threes made in a game this year. So everybody at some point and time has stepped up. Verdell's numbers across the board are so much better. Brett Finkelmeier has played 42 minutes in the last two games, and earned every one of them. The improvement here... I have said it all year long; I wish we had it to show in our record. But there is no doubt these guys have continued to get better. And I think that is a huge selling point for us with them, but I also think it is a huge selling point for us with our future. Now we can show the numbers where guys, if you believe in them and stick with them, things get done. And hopefully we will continue to do that."
On changing the team's mentality for the postseason:
"They aren't playing like they have struggles. They aren't practicing like that. They get tired, and certainly we were undermanned the other day without Devan, and Malik (Story) was sick and couldn't really do a lot of things in that game. That wears on them. But they are practicing at a very high level. And again, you want to be having your best practices, you want to be playing your best basketball, at the end of the year. And every day you want that to be your best practice, only to be topped by the next day's practice. And they are working that way. They are starting to understand and buy into it when it's not that way. Before, when they couldn't correct it, well now they can correct it better. And I think that is important."
On what part of the game will be affected most on Thursday if Devan Dumes does not play:
"I think both sides of the ball. No question about it. The range on the shot, the ability to break down people. And certainly he is a guy that can guard people, and when he is really locked-in defensively he doesn't need a lot of help. His presence, if you are going to ask me for one thing. I don't think I can define it in an area of the game. It is his presence. When he's been good, he's been very good. And he was just starting to get back that rhythm he needed from missing the games with the suspension. I thought he was going to have a great game against Michigan State. And it just ended too fast. But he played very well against Penn State and that is certainly something we have to look back on when we look at the film. But again, just like all year long there has been no excuses made with these guys."
On whether there is an advantage for Indiana by having the Big Ten Tournament in Indianapolis:
"I don't know. I think it is great that we are going to get on a bus and go to a great venue. I had never seen a college basketball game in there until I saw the (IU) ladies play Michigan in there the other day. I think it will be good for us. It will be great. It will be great for our fans and hopefully over a period of time it will be something that is really good. I am excited about it."
On the difficulty of guarding Penn State's Talor Battle:
"I think we have to be creative. I think we have to continue to move people around. He is a very hard match up. He is a very hard match up for anybody. He is very strong. And the one thing about him is he plays so low to the ground. He pounds the dribble. You don't force him one way or the other. He just knows how to get to the basket. We can't give him a steady diet of anything. Just like we can't give Pringle or Cornley that.
"The Cornley match up is a scary one as well. He is so powerful, and he is shooting a lot of jump shots right now. He can really take you away from the rim; he can drive it. (Penn State) is really good. They really are."
On the Big Ten and the NCAA Tournament:
"I don't think we should have that many teams on the (NCAA Tournament) bubble. I think we should have more locks. I think with what Michigan State has done they should be a number one seed. I don't think it should matter what they do in the tournament. When you have Northwestern and Minnesota in an 8/9 game, and those two teams have had the years they've had and received the accolades they've received, and have the big-game wins that they've had...I don't know how you keep them out of the Tournament. I know we played a tournament team the other night in Wisconsin.
"People have wanted to respect (the Big Ten) all year, I think, and then the league has gone out and proved they deserve it. Certainly there's been, the last couple of year being in a league like the Big East, you are biased that it is the best league, and it is a great league. But the Big Ten this year, really doesn't have to take a back seat to anybody when you look at the 11 teams. Nine of the 11 teams are under strong consideration to be in the NCAA Tournament. I think that says a lot."
On helping the team learn how to finish games:
"I think it is a fine line. You've got to be able to make plays, and I think that is one of our problems. A lot of times, at the end of the game, it is not making 'the' play, it is 'a' play. It is not the position, it is the player. And we have to continue to grow through that. Every experience that we have right now has to be a feel for the future, so to speak. We try to learn off film. We try to put them in situations in practice. You have to make those plays. It comes down to can you make a play against a great defense. Those are the kind of things, there is no rhyme or reason for why it doesn't happen. I think you have to chalk that up to the youth of it, the heat of the game, the pressure of the game. There are a lot of things that go on and the more experienced you are, the more aware you are of your surroundings. I think that is the only way to look at it."
Indiana freshman forward Tom Pritchard
On playing Penn State at the Big Ten Tournament:
On the keys to beating Penn State after a close game the last time:
On maintaining the enthusiasm at the end of the season and whether you approach the tournament differently than the regular season:
On being excited to play in a postseason again after doing so in high school:
On defending Cornley:
Indiana freshman guard Verdell Jones III
On everybody having an even record going into the tournament:
On playing so close to home in Indianapolis:
On the improvement of his perimeter shooting as the season has progressed:
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