Oct. 8, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head coach Tom Crean and the Indiana men's basketball team held its annual media day in Assembly Hall on Wednesday. Crean opened the afternoon with a press conference, which was followed by the coaches and players being available for questions on Branch McCracken Court in Assembly Hall.
The players and coaches also went through a series of photograph stations before posing for a team photograph at center court.
Crean and the Hoosiers open the exhibition season on Nov. 7 against Anderson (Ind.) at 7:00pm at Assembly Hall. The game will be broadcast online via the Big Ten Network website.
Here is a transcript of coach Crean's press conference from media day...
Indiana University Head Basketball Coach Tom Crean
"I think like most every other program in the country we are excited to get started. Unlike most other programs in the country we have no idea what to expect. But that is kind the thrill of it as well. I think we are all getting excited as coaches and I would be shocked if you did not hear the same thing from the players.
"We are anxious to see where we are at and that on a daily basis we never get ahead of ourselves and can show and measure improvement, and that we can continue to put the building blocks in place that this program is going to need to be successful.
"We are excited for `Hoosier Hysteria' next week. A true `It's Indiana' moment for me was when ESPNU called and wanted to be here as part of their kick-off for Midnight Madness. I think there are only five or six programs they are using; I am sure we are the only ones picked to finish last in their league right now, but that is a great example of what Indiana is all about.
On having ever been part of a team that is starting from scratch:
"No, not at all. And every day is a different day. We have learned that you cannot get ahead of yourself in anything. You want to challenge them, you want to push them, you want to be demanding, but we are in a process right now of learning how to work. We have great attitudes on this team and that is not an issue, but they have to learn how to work. Before they can take steps as a player they have to learn that work ethic. It is like becoming a professional; you have to learn what it takes to be a college basketball player. You have to learn the ingredients that go into it and the capacity for work; the capacity for dealing with the fatigue and playing through that. We really have to get that understood before we can really start to take any strides in our individual or team improvement on the court."
On how his first practice here will be different from others in the past:
"It won't be completely different because you always want to establish the fundamental base in your first practices. The two hours a week since Sept. 15 that we have been able to work with the team, we haven't done much work as an entire team. We did it a little bit and we might try to do that more this week.
"We always start with some basic passing drills and things of that nature. I don't try to start practice the same way two days in a row. We are not a big `let's warm up and let's get into it for the next 30-40 minutes and then get it rolling' group. There is not enough time to do that. I do think we will try to get established a little bit of zone offense that day, and transition defense, special situations. We will try to give them a base over the first few days of what we want to get accomplished. Where it will be different is I don't think we are going to come out and demand that this team go 3, 3 ½ (hours) right away. We are going to be in a build-up process."
On whether there is one player that is grasping things quicker than the others:
"No, they are all working at it. I think Devan (Dumes) would be one because he's been through it being a little bit older. For Jeremiah (Rivers) it is a completely new type of system and there are new expectations on him as far as what he can do. There is not one day we walk in there not treating him like he is on this team; even though we know he is not going to play this year we treat him like he is. I think that was one of the big things we made a point to him and his family.
"As far as freshmen, I would say Nick (Williams) , Verdell (Jones), Tom (Pritchard), those guys are maybe showing a little more leadership from time to time because they are grasping things just a little bit quicker."
On having enough time to implement everything they want to between now and the first game:
"No, not like that. Our old playbook was (large). This won't quite be (this) small, but they won't need to hands to carry it like they did at Marquette. We are going to have to pull back. We've become more and more concept based the last couple of years, even at Marquette, in the preseason and I think now there is no way around that. It is not as much about the volumes of plays, as much as I would like it to be. That is how I am most comfortable as a coach, is putting a lot of things in and putting the bulk of it in at the beginning and then helping them get better at it throughout the season. I think we are going to have to change that.
"I was a whole, then teach the parts method before. Now it is going to be a lot more parts before we get to the whole. And I think that is the best way for us to do it."
On the team chemistry:
"The coaches are the leaders. Kyle Taber is injured, but he is out there everyday. We do not accept anything less than him being involved in that practice and making points. He doesn't get to stand on the side and on talk. And he is starting to absorb that; he is starting to embrace it, actually. Now we have to keep that going.
"You always have to be on stage when you are out there. Last night we had some walk-on tryouts and before we did anything else I asked some guys to pick five players and show me what there favorite play was. Well, no offense to those five guys, but they didn't' have any idea what I was talking about. I said the lesson to the story here, if you taking nothing else from the day, is you are always on stage. You have to be alert, you have to be ready for the unexpected. And that is kind of what our team is about right now. That is where the leadership has got to come. We can't expect one or two people to lead the way in scoring, to lead the way in stature, to lead the way in leadership. It has to be a universal approach, Now, will it be? I don't know. But you have to work towards that all the time.
"I have a great coaching staff. Bennie Seltzer and Roshown McLeod can be on the court with them every day, which is invaluable. When we got started at Marquette, we had Darrin Horn, who is now the head coach at South Carolina, and Dwitght Stevens, who is an assistant with Tom Izzo at Michigan State. They practiced every day. It was great for them because they were young coaches and they got the chance to really teach the game from a playing perspective on the court. I was with Dwayne Wade's high school coach at a high school clinic up in Illinois this past weekend and I told him and the group, for Dwayne Wade everyday to go against a kid named Brian Wardle was great. For him to practice against Darrin Horn everyday was even better. I think that's one reason why Darrin and Dwayne have such a great relationship to this day because of those kind of battles.
"So we have to find our leadership anywhere we can find it but never ever let someone blend off into the woodwork. That's one thing I can't stand because that's not me and that's not how I am. When you are between those 94-foot lines, it doesn't matter what your personality is, it has to be a certain way and we have to continue to try to teach them what that is all about. That is where the work comes in right now. That's where having them understand how hard they have to work, the capacity for work and that playing through fatigue is more important right now than the actual skill development. You hope you are getting both but they've got to learn how to work at a level right now."
On the attitude of the team:
"It's good. I think we've had enough things that we can make some examples. Some small discipline issues to show that there is a standard here that we are going to follow. If you don't make a line when we are running lines, the entire group runs including the head coach. The only guy that is saved is our trainer, Tim Garl, who has a bad back. I don't like running 22's; it just turns the anger and the edge up that much more and you get people's attention and that's what we need. We need them to coach themselves and each other a little bit and hold each other accountable; that's when you know you have a team. We are not close to that yet but we are working towards it."
On the chemistry of this team compared to other team's he has coached:
"Oh you can't compare. This is a great line from one of the past players that played at Indiana. He said `we were afraid of coach knight, but we weren't nearly as afraid of him as we were of the seniors and juniors.' Pat Graham told me that a couple weeks ago and that's unbelievable. Now, no offense to Kyle Taber, it's not close to that right now. For most of those nine years being with Tom Izzo or being with Ralph Willis, there was always some leadership in the program to show them the way, so to speak. Well, we don't have a lot of that plus Kyle Taber is learning.
"You don't have any returners other than Kyle. You have a brand new coach and a brand new coaching staff so it's a hard deal. So chemistry is ongoing. The most important thing with chemistry is developing an attitude every day that they are going to work. Chemistry will come when they don't accept lack of effort or lack of focus. When they don't accept that from each other and they are tired for being penalized as a group for something because so and so or this person isn't doing it, then that's when chemistry comes."
On what style you will play with this group of guys:
"I think so. And I think what's coming to light more and more, and this may change as we get into it because that's the beauty of this team because we can change this as we get into it. We have to give them every opportunity to be in every game but at the same time we don't want to get away from any of the ideals of how you build a program going forward. I think that's where defense is a great example. Moving forward in this program, we would love to have a great man-to-man mind set and trap the post at certain points in time and do all these different things that make us a solid team. But I'm not sure that gives us a real opportunity to compete this year. So we have to work in practice, because we are so young, to make sure we are getting those things engrained all the time. But you still have enough things inside the package and inside the scheme to give them a chance to be in the game.
"So I think, offensively, all those things are going to play into that. When I'm recruiting, there are three areas we really wanted to address in our 2009 recruiting class - size, speed and shooting. We can't talk about recruits individually, but I think we are on the road to really addressing those needs. The size is obviously first and foremost because we don't have a lot of it this year. But there is still a way, if Nick Williams and Malik Story have to play the 4-spot, it's going to be tough defensively but somebody still has to come and guard them on the other end. And that's the kind of mindset we want to develop. Get better in practice at the things we are going to need for the long haul but keep building the things that give us a chance to compete and play and get ready for each individual game. This is what every coach wants which is the hardest to get - how treat every game like it's the most important game they are playing in. Well I promise you that Bemidji State and Anderson are going to be important games to us. There is not one person in this program and that that we are going to mail it in and coast through it. We are going to have to be at a fever pitch and it's going to be fun to see if we can build it."
On practices possibly being more important than games this year:
"I would never say that. I think they are two separate entities. They can change the rule and give us 40 hours of practice time each week, I wish they would but I don't think they will. Like we always say, there is no team that wins big and only works 20 hours a week, they always come in and do more."
On how to approach non-conference games:
"We are going through that right now. I think a great example is Hoosier Hysteria. Television knows what Indiana is all about; a couple months are not going to change any of that. I think it's the same thing with our non-conference schedule. I think the biggest change in the power conferences in college basketball has been those that have gone up to 18 league games like we have. So we went through this in the BIG EAST, you have to be very careful with the non-league games you schedule so you don't schedule yourself out of opportunities to play in the poststeason. If you play too many `tough games' against other power conference teams and you eliminate the chances to have more home games, it's going to hurt you. This year's schedule, is it too tough? I don't know if there's anyone that would disagree with that, I would hope not. But you know what, we had to do those games. You have to be the first college basketball game in Lucas Oil Stadium if you are Indiana. The ACC/Big Ten Championship, that's a part of the league. The Maui Classic, I don't think I could look anybody in the eye and say we aren't going to Maui this year, you just have to do it. The Kentucky game, that is always going to be a constant in this program. That transcends players, coaches and everyone else. But moving forward, we want to put TV at the forefront of it and we want to put recruiting at the forefront of it when it comes to major games, the made-for-tv games. They have to have a recruiting element and it has to be something TV is excited about."
On players changing roles:
"I don't think there is any question. I think there are very few players that come into college and don't have to change their role and their mindset. Is more about a mindset change. It is more about seeing that you need your teammates more than you ever have in your life, and especially in the situation, it is. That is the biggest thing. It is about utilizing strengths. Eric Gordon did a lot of things in this program last year. Coming in to it, as a person that watched him play in high school, it is hard to find many people that were better in the open floor. After playing college basketball, it would be hard to look around and say there were many better players in the open floor than Eric Gordon. That is a role that helped Indiana win. It is a pretty strong role. What you do is you find as many areas where you can build on the strength, and keep giving them the confidence that they've got to have in that role to where they really are comfortable. Keep bringing them out of that comfort zone to get better, and more often than not it is defensively, when it comes to new players. The number one premise of what we are going to do on offense is going to be our shot selection because there is something that I smell that I do not want to have here. I don't smell it from any one individual. I smell it because it is a bunch of new guys. We have got to make the star of the team, the team. We have got to make `the shot,' our shot. It just has to be. If we get into a situation where we have different people thinking they have to manufacture shots and create all these different shots that aren't there, because were not as experienced, because we're not as talented as others, that is going to be a bad deal. We've got to make the next pass, we've got to create, and drive and kick. The drive and kick game, spacing the floor, those type of things should help that. That is going to be a different role for some people. Getting to the rim, I'm all for those. We've got to attack and lets get to it, but we're not going to take challenged three pointers. We're not going to take challenged 15-17 footers. Not without substitution. No matter what it is. That is kind of how we have to play."
On walk-ons getting playing time:
"We have five right now. We could have upwards of six or seven before we're done, and that is not including what I can coax out of Bill Lynch once January rolls around. They're going to have to play. We had some walk-on tryouts last night. I'm looking for people that, like I said, they know they are on a stage; they've got to be alert. We weren't real interested in how somebody played offensively last night. It was more could they pick up and pressure the ball full court, could they create some tempo with their defense, could they share the basketball. That is what you're looking for. That were the role is. We're trying to get that established right now. We don't need somebody coming in here that thinks they're going to create a lot of offense, when we've got Devan Dumes that can do this or Nick Williams that can do that or Verdell Jones that can do this or getting the ball inside to Tom Pritchard or getting Matt Roth lined up for a three. That is what we've got to have, people who can build along that way. What we have to do is hold accountable the guys who end up being our better players to make the right plays. The walk-ons are going to be a huge part, not only in practice, but I don't think there is any way around the fact that they are going to have to play, I don't know what the quantity of the minutes will be but I do know the quality has got to be high. And that is why they've got to understand their role and what is expected of them as quick as possible."
On being energized about the new season:
"I think it has gone in different stages. I think for so long it was hard to make the time to really get into the basketball part of it, to prepare of the season, to prepare for the practices. Then when the players got here and we started to get into the workouts, I think that is where the rejuvenation has come a little bit. `Okay, this is really unlike anything anyone has done.' So, we're not going to pull out our practice plan from a year ago. We're not going to be able to say, `We did it this way; we did it that way.' We've got to build a team out of the individuals that we have by looking at what they need on a daily basis, starting with that mental toughness part and the ability to play through things. Jeff Watkinson has done a great job for where they are right now in terms of building some physical strength and changing their bodies. A phenomenal job, and he is also doing a very good job in what he had in the sense of being a one man show, because he was the one guy that could work with them, with the mental part. Tim Garl has seen it all, so he has helped with that. Now we've got a group of people out there that can help bring that across. I've caught myself trying to go too fast. I've caught myself trying to move too fast, trying to jump ahead of things, and it gets you back to the point where you've got to take every step for what it is, the step you're on and then you go on to the next step. There will be absolutely no ability to skip steps, which sometimes you can do with a really experienced team, so in that sense the energy is high. But, I was going to be excited one way or another."
On getting help from former IU players:
"That started early, with reaching out and getting a chance to call and then having different times to have them here in the summer, or see them somewhere. One of the greatest things I've been a part of in my life is what happened in West Baden, when so many former players coaches and managers were there. There were 275 former coaches players and managers that were at the dinner on a Sunday night in West Baden, and then well over a hundred the next day for golf. When you get to talk to them and you get to pick their brains, you get some inspiration, but then you can ask a lot of questions. I've loved it. I've never read Bob Hammel's most recent book on Bob Knight all the way through. Now I'm trying to read it all the way through. I'm back to reading Knight, His Own Man. I love going back to read about what those players would go through. I think any time can get them here to talk to the team, that is a positive, but anytime we can gleam something from them that will help us, I think that is important. I was just talking to Chris Reynolds about that yesterday. Getting him down on the court with us as coaches and maybe looking at things because he comes to a lot of our workouts. I like having him around because he has a great perspective, and pick up things that way. It will be that way as other guys come in throughout the season."
On getting players to buy into a team-first philosophy:
"Share the ball. Team defense. Everybody is accountable. The biggest place is talk. The hardest thing to get a team to do is getting teams to talk, especially on the defensive end. That is all part of it. You asked about roles. Somebody's role might be to get 20 points a game for us. It might be. I don't know if it is, but it might be. That is part of it too, but they have to understand how to make everybody else better. That is the challenge, and that is kind of the thrill, and when you can hit it you know you've made some strides. That is one way that we've got to be able to measure improvement. You know as well as I do that we're going to get into some of these games and panic is going to set in, that is just the way it is. When you have not experienced a Rupp Arena, going to the Izzone, going to the Kohl Center, going to down to Mackey, it is really hard to prepare for that any way other than going through it. The more that you've got the teammate thing working and the more that you'll trust one another and the more that you'll screen for one another and share the ball with one another, the better chance you have of moving forward because that is how you win, and we've got to go through that for a while."
On what is different about the Indiana job than any other:
"Tradition. Daily attention. Passion. I think all those things. Marquette had phenomenal tradition, and we played it every chance we could, because I was proud of it. 1976 was the first time I really remember basketball. I remember that 1977 game really well too. I had a chance to coach at two places that formed my love for basketball, by me watching those games. The daily attention here is amazing, the way people feel about it. I think it is because we are the state school and there are so many alums in this state, but really where ever you go, you see it. If you are wearing something Indiana or somebody recognizes you, that is a pretty good feeling, with the way people feel about it. Those three things. As much as I had a great feeling for this school and the program, I don't think it did justice to what I've seen in the last six months for how people feel about it."
On being described as football coach disguised as a basketball coach:
"How to I feel about that? I love it. The rebounding drill we're doing right now is a direct reflection of how I saw John Teerlink and Howard Mudd run their one-on-one line drills in training camp. Different ball, they didn't use a ball either. They used a towel, we're using a towel. I love to study or learn from people that are successful and have done it a different way. Football coaches, I've always been a fan of it. The more I've had the chance to coach in college basketball and then certainly getting into the (Harbaugh) family with Joni, the greater it has been for me. I learned so much at Michigan State with Tom Izzo, and Nick Saban was the coach. You talk about a guy that runs his program, and I used to love watching him practice. I don't ever get tired of that, so I take that as a full compliment. We're finally at a school. We didn't have any shoulder pads and helmets at Marquette. So now, if we get into any issues any more, I don't think Bill (Lynch) would mind if we borrowed his at some point."
On the walk-on tryouts:
"We did it a little differently. We did the one yesterday for the people who had contacted us or signed up because there is a process you have to go through with filling out forms and getting a physical. So, we did that, but we're going to have another one. I would say last night we had just about 30. You can't just open up the door and say whoever wants to come in. It is so different now with legality and all of those different things. (The tryouts should be wrapped up) by the end of the month, I would think. At some point in time, in the first couple of weeks of practice. We have enough to practice with right now, plus the coaches are healthy. Now if one of those guys go down on me, we might be grabbing J.D. Campbell."
On the possibility of adding a walk-on from the football team:
"It is wishful thinking. I would love to down the road. I've brought it up, but we haven't had any serious discussions. I'm sure there are some guys over there that think they are pretty good basketball players, so we'll see. Bill knows I would have an interest in that down the road, but their season right now comes first, second and third. There is no looking at that. We'll look at that when the time comes and see if there is something that works out."
On how fans will embrace the team if it struggles:
"I think that remains to be seen, but I have a great feeling about it because of the passion that people have. I know it is this time of year. I know that how somebody is going to feel in January or February could be completely different, but it can't be if we are going to move forward. Not if we are going to build this back up and get it to where people want it. Believe me, I got enough letters when I first got here about the way it was in its present condition. Not that that had a lot to do with decision making. Our own eyes had a lot to do with decision making. We're trying to make it where people are excited about where it is going, and I'd be shocked, but more than that I'd be disappointed if people weren't. I don't look at Indiana as a place where there are fair-weather fans. I just don't. I think this is different. I think it is completely different. That is what I was brought up to believe. That is what I saw when I was coming up as a coach, and that is what I believe is going to happen here as the head coach. It can't be any different if we're going to make the strides. If we're out there selling this crowd, this atmosphere, this student body and this tradition every time we recruit, every time we speak. The recruits are paying attention to it. That is why Hoosier Hysteria is such a big deal. We're going to have a lot of recruits here. Some that are coming and some that we want to come down the road. When you are in a place like this and you are geographically in such a great spot, and you've got Saturday afternoon football, it is great to get people up here, but they're going to get to see a basketball event. Some other basketball things we're going to do are (October) 25th, after the Northwestern game, we're going to have a scrimmage. We'll have some more details coming out about that, and then the night of Halloween (October 31), we're going to have the Haunted Hall of Hoops. It'll be open to everybody. From our standpoint, we need the work. We need to be out in front of crowds. These guys need to play in an environment where we've got some mistakes that we can see to really hammer on the next day, and have them to get used to what it is like to play in front of a lot of people."
On using media predictions as motivation:
"I would hope that they would have that self-engrained. I said it this summer, when we first got them in here. There is a perception versus reality. The perception is you are going to be picked to finish last. USA Today College Basketball did not have us picked to finish last when I got it the other day. It had us picked to finish tenth. I don't know what Jerry Palm saw there, but he had us picked to finish tenth. The reality of it is you're going to max out on national television at Indiana. That doesn't count postseason, but the regular season. Now, where are we going to be at? There will be enough negative energy and enough demands put on them on the basketball court, I'm not going to coach them like they can't do things. I don't think you walk out and coach your team. In practice, when you're trying to get them to dive on loose balls and you're trying to get them to block out at a high level, you don't coach with a lot of predictions in your pocket. Somewhere along the line, the reason you go down and get that loose ball if it is not totally engrained, it is because people don't see you doing much. That is part of the improvement process we have to have here. There has got to be a real desire to do the hustle things. If there has ever been a time for us to learn that toughness is a talent, this will be that time. Not about how skinny we are, not about how inexperienced we are, not about how small we are, but we can get tougher. If we get tougher, lets see what happens."