No. 1 Seed Indiana Talks About Friday's Matchup With No. 16 Seed James Madison
March 21, 2013
DAYTON, Ohio - Head Coach Tom Crean along with Cody Zeller, Victor Oladipo, Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls met with the media on Thursday in Dayton to talk about Friday's game against James Madison in the Second Round of the NCAA Tournament.
The complete transcript of what each had to say is below.
Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean
COACH CREAN: First and foremost, we want to thank everybody here in Dayton. We've just only been in UD Arena for a short period of time, but being in Dayton, being at the hotel, the reception, the way everybody's treating us in a short period of time has been fantastic.
It's very easy to understand why there's been more NCAA Tournament games in this city than any other place. I believe that's true, right? I think that's tremendous.
As far as us, I believe the thing we think about the most as coaches and as a staff, that the Big Ten prepares you for anything and everything, and the one thing it totally prepares you for is to never take anything lightly, to have your preparation be as good for one game as it is for the other, to build a consistency in your team that comes from that consistency of work and preparation, and that's exactly how we feel about this tournament.
It's totally been about getting ready for one game. Obviously, we didn't know who it was going to be until last night, but we spent ample time all week long getting ready for James Madison and Long Island, and from last night when that game ended, we were completely centered on what we had to do to play and beat James Madison.
We have great respect for them. They're a conference champion. Matt Brady is an excellent coach, and he's got Mike Deane on his staff, who's one of the best coaches in this game. There's no question about it. I followed him at Marquette. I know what kind of character he has, and I know what kind of players and people he recruited and how he coached them because I got to inherit those guys.
I had some very fun years early on at Marquette with the young people that we had there.
As a team, they're athletic, they're skilled, they're certainly experienced when you look at all the fifth year guys that they have. They play very well together. They do a great job of blending their experience with their young freshmen, and it's been really interesting to watch the cohesiveness develop in that team as we've watched the films over the last three days or so, four days, and watched them develop their team this year.
So we have great respect for James Madison.
Coach, I know it doesn't guarantee anything. You're not going to look too far ahead, but what kind of honor is it for you guys in this program to see the President of the United States picture you guys going all the way?
But I'm also concerned that someone said that he was 1 3 in his picks before. So you're always going to be you hope he's right on this one.
But we're not going to look too far ahead. I think the most important thing is our guys have been really good about taking what's been said and not letting it affect them either way, and it's not any different right now.
Matt Brady said he met you maybe a couple of years ago at an AAU Tournament and he was almost flattered that you knew who he was. Can you just talk about what you see from him as a coach and what you know about him.
And what he did at Marist, fantastic. You can tell he really develops his players, and I think that's a great trait for any leader, but you can just see like when you watch them play against UCLA and a couple of their games at the very beginning of the year to where they are now, it's like two different teams. It truly is.
And I think that's a great sign of a coach and a coaching staff and the way that they develop their team. They're very skilled. They play very well together. They play both ends of the court extremely hard and diligent. That doesn't happen if you don't have outstanding coaching.
Spending the year so highly ranked and the preseason ranking and everything like that, how did that prepare this group to go into this as a No. 1 seed?
But in one of those games, or in the ones that we won, did we not show up to play. I think that's a great sign of maturity. That's not taking an opponent lightly. That's knowing that you have things to correct and get better at.
But it's never coming in feeling like you're entitled or enabled and you just get to show up and play.
When I look around the country and see that our team did that, I think it speaks volumes about their maturity and how they've handled all of this because, remember, a year ago they went from the guys that were veterans in this program, went from losing 20 plus games and being four wins short of even qualifying for an NIT appearance, to having the highest winning percentage in the league the last two years.
So they've done a great job of continuing to stay focused on getting better day after day. I don't think it happens without that.
I know you want to win them all, but can there be a benefit to maybe a couple of stumbles down the stretch like you guys had?
I don't think, if you're learning, there's no way you go to Michigan and win a game with everything that was on the line that day and with the just the tension and the intensity of the entire place. You don't win if you're not getting better.
So the best thing about this team is do they learn from their mistakes, do they build on their strengths, and do they know the difference. That's the you can't take a weakness into a game and say, well, I'll just work on it in the game. You've got to take the weakness to practice, in the film room, and get it fixed and see if it can become a strength in the game. If not, you've got to stay away from it until you get it there.
Now that you guys are actually here, do you see a difference in the way the players are approaching this day as opposed to last year when they were making their first jump?
Certainly, we're well aware of James Madison's strengths and we knew Long Island's. But James Madison, with their ability to score inside, with the experience that they have, we were very tuned in to what they were about and trying to put some of those things into practice.
But then last night, it just turned it right over. And they were sharp in our walk throughs. There's no question that we're probably going to have to replace the carpet in the ballroom at the hotel by the way they were sliding and moving their feet. They're just into it.
I think that there's I want them to have fun, and I want them to enjoy it, but at the same time, I think they have a very strong business approach to this. Not where it's drudgery, but where there's a great focus.
Coach, does the history of a 16 1 matchup add any pressure going into this game for you all?
I don't think it's about the seed. I think it's about how good James Madison is. I don't know what coach I read said it, seeds don't matter. They matter very little right now. And he's probably right because there's so much parity in the game.
When you're looking at James Madison, you're looking at a battle tested team. You're looking at a team that can score inside and outside, certainly a great experience, and freshmen that are getting better inside of their group. They know how they want to play. They know how to win.
So you're focusing on the team and focusing on their strengths, and you're trying to find some things that you can get after more than you're focusing on the fact that they're a 16 seed and you're a 1 seed. That's not really anything we spend any time talking about.
Izzo said that he would rather face the Lakers once he got through that Big Ten meat grinder. Did you kind of feel the same way once you were gone?
In seriousness, this was an incredibly challenging year, and last year was, but this year was because we were in the race. We had a chance to win it the entire way, and then we ended up winning it. So when you do that, there's no question that takes a lot out of you.
But what's happened is it's just built the confidence for these guys, and we've spent time this week making sure that we're getting our energy back because it does take a lot. Then you turn right around and go into a conference tournament.
So to me, when you're in it's this mental and physical warfare for 18 to 22 year olds playing sports. I don't use "warfare" loosely with what goes on in this world. I don't mean it like that at all. But when you're out there like that and you've got to bring your best, and it's moment by moment, not just possession by possession, when it's pass by pass, okay, not just segments of the game, that takes a lot out of you.
Really, the epitome of it was for us the day we won the championship at Michigan, it coming down to we needed we got 53 rebounds in the game, and we needed all 53 to win the game. If we get 52 and they get one tip, goes back in, we lose the game.
So what you learn is that everything matters. That's hard to get to when we're dealing with young men like this, but they just keep bouncing back and moving forward, and I love it.
Indiana Player Quotes
Jordan, could you talk a little bit about what the job Yogi has done as a point guard and just as a freshman coming in, his maturity and leading a veteran group.
He's far and away one of the best players I've ever been around, especially at his age. He doesn't play like a freshman. We look for him to do a lot of different things, and he creates a lot of opportunities for us.
Victor, what do you see out of James Madison? Do they compare to any other team that you've played this year?
The thing about the Big Ten, it prepares you for anything. It prepares you not to take anyone lightly.
So we're looking forward to the game tomorrow, and we're looking forward to getting it started.
Victor, how much do you know about Andre Nation on JMU with his defensive skills?
He does a lot of things well, whether it be on ball defending or blocking shots or things like that. So we're going to have to match his intensity.
Do you think he'd be able to slow you down if he matched up with you?
To the guys up there not named Victor, he's obviously got a big personality. What's your best Victor story?
Cody, how has the start of this tournament experience compared to last year? Obviously, you coming in as a freshman last year, didn't have any experience, no one else on the team did as well. How has this lead up to the tournament been compared to last year?
It's something you look forward to your whole life growing up, watching the NCAA Tournament growing up, and it's definitely one of an experience we'll remember for the rest of our lives.
So it's easy to play hard. It's easy to put everything you got out there and try to make a memory out of it.
Cody, you know going into this that there's a huge size difference. How do you as a power forward center go into this trying to exploit the undersize of JMU?
Then also rebounding is a big part of it. Really the same stuff we've been doing all year, but it really gets us going, I guess.
Victor, a 16 has never beat a 1. Does that put any kind of extra pressure on you guys tomorrow?
Like I said before, we're looking forward to playing, and I know these guys are excited. I know I'm excited too. We just can't wait to get started.
Jordan and Christian, you're here both as a No. 1 seed now, but looking back at where you started, do you still feel a lack of respect, even though you guys do have that No. 1 seed? Has it really sunk in that you guys are more respected now than you used to be?
To be a No. 1 seed is a great honor, and we're just going to cherish the moment, enjoy it, and go out there and have fun and play hard.
Jordan, how has this group handled the higher expectations that have come this year, now that Indiana's back where Indiana has been in the past?
That's going to help us in the tournament, especially for tomorrow. We've just got to get our minds wrapped around that and just try to play one game at a time and really focus on what's most important.
Cody, if I could follow up, how has that Big Ten kind of meat grinder kind of prepared you guys for this tournament?
I think we've really seen every style we might see in the tournament, and it's prepared us well just because every team in the Big Ten is so good and so competitive that I think we'll be ready for anything.
Cody, just want to get your thoughts on Yogi. You've known him for a while. What are two or three things that he maybe does a lot better now, now that he's most of the way through the freshman year, that he couldn't quite do before he came in playing college ball?
He just does so many different things better now. He runs our team. The biggest thing is just throughout the season he's continued to improve. It's tough to kind of avoid hitting the freshman wall there that people talk about.
Halfway through the Big Ten season or so, it's tough to stay motivated, stay on the right path, and keep on improving. I think he's done a really nice job of that. It's a big reason why we're here.
Victor, would anything short of a Final Four appearance be a disappointment for you guys?
For Christian and Jordan, looking back, it's a foregone conclusion to be a No. 1 seed this season. Do you reflect back on any moments as the program has come back that stand out? I mean, Christian, your shot. Like things over the years, do you ever step back and think, wow, this had to go right, we had to do this, this, and this, and then kind of the whole overall picture?
These guys have done a great job of improving over the years as well as the whole team. It definitely took a team mindset to get here, and we embrace this point.
Jordan Hulls: I'd say just the work ethic that the older guys are able to instill in the younger guys. It's going to continue to go on and on. I think that's what really got us to where we are.
We've come a long way, the guys that have been here for a while, from having losing seasons to having winning seasons. I would just say all the hard work that we put in and the coaches having faith in us.
As painful as it might have been, were those losses down the stretch kind of a reminder how quickly this could all come to an end?
We were able to learn from our mistakes and why we lost those games. So it was good for us from that standpoint. You just got to you can't take any games for granted, which is going to be huge for us.
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