Coach Crean Meets With The Media
May 14, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head men's basketball coach Tom Crean met with members of the media on Thursday to discuss a wide range of topics. Below is a transcript from today's press conference.
"It is really different not having the players here. It is an empty feeling in the sense that you don't see many guys buzzing around the gym or things of that nature. We see Jeremiah (Rivers) a bit, and Tijan Jobe, which is good. And it will be exciting when all those guys get back from this first break of the summer.
"But again, I thought it was very well deserved for them to get away, to get back home. What we want to focus on with them, and what we want them focusing on at home, is certainly building strength and athleticism. We can't get away from that. We had a very good off-season program and I give our coaches credit for that: Jeff Watkinson, Tim Garl. We have a very good off-season program and when you compare it to last off-season, you can't. It's not anything that can even be in the same stratosphere. What we did, I thought, was good and they got better and we want to build on that. Strength and athleticism, by far, is number one, but get in the gym and shoot the ball as much as they possibly they can. Shoot free throws, shoot pull ups, shoot three-pointers and just be active with it.
"And then I think the other thing that would be good right now is when they play to focus on their defense. We've got to have an even better defensive mindset because when they get back and they get into the fall, we're going to be doing so many things that build competition; so many things that put a guy or a couple of guys out on an island to see how they deal with it. And then it is going to be such an emphasis on the rebounding, on the individual defense, things of that nature. So everything they can pick up now in the sense of playing the game with a real purpose is so important. And that is hard to get but that is what we have challenged them to do when they go home. Hopefully that is going to happen for them.
"As far as for us, we spend a lot of time in recruiting, a lot of time on the phone and with the mail and the e-mails. A ton of recruiting film. Today was the first day we stepped into the off-season evaluation of opponents. And I'll try to break it up between a couple of Big Ten teams at a time with someone else that we'll play in the preseason. And we get a good mix there and we can really build our notes and go back and compare and contrast to what we've done in the past. We look at them against other opponents, try to spend time on film that is after we played them. When you look at Kentucky, it will be okay to look at film for personnel but it is going to be much more to our benefit to study what John did at Memphis with his offense. So that keeps us real busy this time of year. Our visibility has got to be strong. And at the same time we want to balance our responsibilities with what we want to do to build the program in house, and what I want to do as a parent and as husband, and it is the same thing for our coaches. I am looking forward to the tailgates. We had our first one the other night here in town and I am looking forward to the ones in June. I think that is great because our fans are such a huge part of what we are doing and what we are going to do. And for me that is the lifeline of what we are trying to do."
On who needs to step up as a leader on the team:
"I think that is going to play itself out. With new guys coming into the program, everyone is a leader from they day they walk in. It is how they carry themselves, and the attitude is such a part of leadership. Attitude controls everything and that builds your confidence. The wrong attitude can build arrogance, and we don't have anything to be arrogant about. We have a lot of things to build confidence for. And that is what we are looking for right now. "But I would say it has got to come from Jeremiah Rivers. It has got to come from Verdell (Jones III), from Tom (Pritchard), from Matt (Roth), guys that played considerable minutes. Devan Dumes and Tijan Jobe have got to carry their weight in that department and just continue to improve. And when the new guys come in, they have to be ready to go. We don't want anyone walking in and deferring to anyone. We want to build competition, and I am anxious to see how that turns out in the summer, even though we can't really watch it or see it. But we'll hear about it, and then when the fall comes it will really take shape." On the team's academic performance this spring:
"We've got some guys doing a really excellent job. We've got some guys continuing to build on what they did, and we've got some guys really picked themselves up academically. All the grades aren't in yet, completely, but they are close. And that is a good feeling, a really good feeling." On what he looks for in a recruit:
"What are they capable of? I mean, what can you look at and say 'okay, I see it now, what is it going to look like down the road'? What capabilities do you see? There has got to be a baseline of talent that you build from. But the athleticism, the length is a huge factor to us. Are they aware? Are the alert? Do they play with an intensity? Those are the kind of things I think build your upside. And the intelligence part has really got to be there. Because you can be extremely athletic, you can be extremely talented, but if you don't have a feel for the game and your basketball IQ is not coming forth, you are going to level off at some point. So those three things have really got to be there: the intelligence, the talent, the athleticism. "For us, we look at it with the point guard and the 3-4 spot, or the 4-3 spot. Those (spots) are extremely crucial to how we play. We are looking for footspeed, the quickness, all those different types of things that go into it, and we try to grade that. And then there are the basketball skills. The mentality is more important at our level of recruiting because we will help them get the skills, but do they have the mentality for it? When you find that combination of someone that will work on both ends of the court and they really have that IQ, well then you've got to do everything you can do to get them."
On looking at junior college players:
On the recent talk of the Big Ten possibly adding a 12th team:
"It's like the 18 league games during the season, I just saw that the ACC stayed at 16 league games. That is a benefit to them. I know there is a lot of talk, that if they only play 16 games then you can add two high-major games. That's not happening across the board. People are scheduling for wins. When you in an 18-game schedule like we are, you have to be very conscious of what you are doing with your non-conference schedule. And that can be misleading to fans who say "why aren't you playing this team or that team?" When we are fighting for bids as a league like we are with the ACC, and they have their choice on those to games, you have to make sure with them. We do a little studying to see how other teams are scheduling because that all comes down to it. For everybody outside of the conference tournament champion, that's what it comes down to, and you don't want to put yourself at a competitive disadvantage. Well, I think it would be the same thing if they ever added a 12th team."
On positives or strengths with the team adding seven new players next year:
"This is true on any team, but your best players have to make the most improvement. There are a lot of different ways to get to that point, and hopefully they have the upside to do it. But they also have to feel like for to take those steps, they have to get better all the time. There is not a better way to have that happen than to sit there and know that the person sitting next to you is pretty good as well. I think that will bring something to the table.
"The length, the athleticism, the size, those are all things that are measurable and will be there. There is not one guy that we have signed, and when you include Jeremiah, that we don't feel is going to come in and contribute with us. Where they stand, whether they start of finish, that remains to be seen. But coming in with an ability to help us, that is key and that will be the bottom line. And so much of that depends on how quickly they can understand that their mindset on the defensive end and with rebounding has to be stronger than anything else. If we can get through that, then we are going to have a chance to improve in a hurry.
"But it still takes a considerable amount of time for players to learn to play with one another. We are going to be turning right back around and having an extremely young basketball team that has not played together through battles. It will certainly help that some of them have, there's no doubt about that, and that's where the leadership will emerge. We are looking forward to that. But we are going to have so many guys playing quality minutes that have never done it before, that takes time and you cannot force-feed that."
On players and potential playing time and whether that worries him:
Check back soon