Nov. 10, 2011
IU Head Coach Tom Crean: Opening Statement
"From the very beginning, I think with what we try to do in this program, it's about family and the staff is as big a part of it as anybody -- the coaching staff, the rest of our staff. So what you have successes like this in recruiting, it's so much more than any one, two, three, people - it's a group. This group has been a big part of that. There's many others: our players, like I mentioned, our staff, Marnie Mooney, Mattie White, those people are a huge part of this. When we recruit you, we recruit you. I don't think it's a situation here, and I think you hear it, when you hear the young men talk and their parents talk and I know I hear it and I'm proud to hear it when people look at it and they appreciate the staff. They see it when they come to practice, they see it when they meet with people here, they see it when they're interacting inside this environment. I think it just goes without saying, for us to continue to move forward, that's got to be one of the main, main areas because we have it. I think what kids see, it's not like that everywhere, there's a lot of great programs, but when you've got a staff of people like this that really understand how to develop young men and develop them on the court, develop them away from the court. Everybody up here is a parent. I think that's really, really important when we go through the recruiting.
The biggest thing, putting this in context, back in 2008, whether it be May, whether it be June, when we realized that we were in for the fight of our life in the sense of where we stood inside of the program with having to absolutely build a team that year, we knew this day was coming. Where this year was going to come and this was going to be imperative because the thing we kept talking about is we're going to have to start over again. Nobody wanted to do that. We knew at that point we were starting over at Indiana, and with all the young men that we signed in that class, we knew this day was going to come. One of the main reasons that we decided to recruit every class on it's own merit, at that point the rising seniors, the rising juniors, the rising sophomore, the rising freshman, was so that we wouldn't have to start over from square one and from scratch. Needless to say, to have a class like this at Indiana was way beyond our imagination and our dreams at that point in time. There's no way around it. We're very thankful that we were able to get in on so many players at a young age and get to know them and get to know their families and their coaches and their programs. Get them to start coming to Indiana, get them to start coming to a building like this, get them comfortable not only with the coaches and with the players, but like I mentioned, everybody else around. Get them around this Hoosier Nation, get them around this campus, get them around this atmosphere and that's what happened, that's what happened. It's happened that way over the last couple of years.
I look back, for what we might not have been able to recruit in Victor's and Will's class, I wouldn't trade those two for anybody in it because those two have come in and been fantastic. Obviously last year's class was paramount, with Cody and Austin and then Remy signing late, but this was the impact class because this one just brings; we knew it was going to have to be a big one. Early on we realized there were probably going to be some people out there that didn't want to be a part of a big class, but we had no way around it. I am so thankful for the people that joined this wanting to be a part of this because it's a dynamic group, it's an explosive group, it's an exciting group and we are absolutely excited and just blessed to be able to bring people like that into the program and get to work with them on a day to day basis. I think it will be a two way street, we'll be excited, they'll be excited, there will be many days where they'll be wondering 'what did I get myself into?' but when it's all said and done and they grow up to be the young men that their families want them to be, much like the other guys here, it'll all be worth it. We're very excited about it. Obviously Calbert can't have a lot to do with the recruiting, can't have anything to do with it off campus, but when they're on campus, Calbert's as good as it gets and that's really, really important too. When you can not only have somebody of his quality and character, but then they can look in the rafters and look in here and see what he's done in his career. I'm fortunate and blessed to be around a really great organization and staff, we all work really well together. I think the recruits see it and that's what's exciting about this."
"This is obviously a very rewarding time after what Coach had talked about when we first started out in 2008 and this was one that Coach always pointed to saying that we've got to be right with this class and this class is going to carry us forward. I think some of the redeeming qualities about this group are that they bring things that you can't necessarily teach. Whether it's size, length, explosiveness, athleticism, they all have that. So getting an opportunity to teach and enhance what they already have skill-wise will be a lot of fun here over the next few years."
"As Tim said, this is a very exciting bunch to watch. We get these guys together, there's no question they are going to continue to be an exciting bunch to watch. I think we got some of the best players around at each position. Again, the excitement about these young guys, we all have it here. Just ready to see these guys get on the floor after their high school season and we'll get these guys going."
"I think I had the fun part of kind of jumping in, but I can tell you this, from the time I got here the names that you read today are the names that that were immediately coming out of everyone's mouths in this organization. There was never any debate about these are the guys, Steve, these are the ones that are going to change it. When I finally got to go see them that summer, as Benny said, you went out and you went 'wow'. What do they all bring? I think the important thing is they all bring something different and yet they bring one thing; they're all part of winning. When you get guys that have been part of winning, they come in expecting to do that and to help other guys do that and I think that's the fun part. The one other thing I think I'd add to what Coach said on development is those guys have all come back and seen the progress that Victor, Will, the young guys in our program have made in just nine months. They know that's the development they're going to get as they come in and be a part of this program."
"I had the pleasure, and I was blessed to have been able to play here way back when and just the fact that Indiana basketball is what it is. These coaches have done a wonderful job since they have been here of transforming the program to where it needs to be and where it ought to be. You have to give them all the credit in the world. All the recruiting they've done to this point and the coaching, I truly believe this is the best group of coaches in the country and I'm just happy and blessed to be a part of it."
Crean: On if coaching staff stability has helped to bring in this class
"Well we will have turnover because it's head coaches and we make that real clear when players come in. I'm not interested in any of these guys being here for an extended period of time so that we can hold on to them or I can hold on to them or Indiana can hold on to them. They're here to help make us better and then go run their own programs. We want that. Some programs can talk about that until they're blue in the face, but they don't have guys going off to do that and some of these guys already have. I do think it's big in the sense of relationships. I think it's big in the sense of the core values in your program coming out. This is not a situation where I can say well Steve recruited so and so, Bennie recruited these two, and Tim got these two. That's different too, but we've never done it that way. I wasn't raised that way in coaching and in 13 seasons now starting as a head coach I've never recruited it that way. Everybody builds different relationships, everybody builds a different rapport. There are different responsibilities, but the program recruits the players and their families and there are a lot of things that make that up. The stability has definitely been a huge of that."
Crean: On Yogi Ferrell
"Yogi brings so many intangibles. What you are looking for in players is you're always looking for their tools. What kind of tools do they have and what kind of skills do they have inside of those tools? Where can you really build their skills up? The tools, that's what they have. When Yogi comes in, part of his tools are his charisma, his fearlessness, he's absolutely relentless when it comes to winning and he puts winning first. I've seen him go against kids three years younger and people three years older and it never made a difference. With every one of these young men, we started recruiting them at some point in time during their ninth grade year, whether it was at the beginning, the middle, or the end. So you get a chance to watch them over a long period of time. His change of speed, change of direction, his ability to shoot the three, his ability to play in transition, his ability to shoot the pull-up, now he's adding the ability to get that broad jump at the basket and go up and explode in and around people and he'll continue to get that. He's getting stronger. He's been somebody that's been on the scene for a long time, even longer than we've been here so it seems like he's actually older than he is and he plays older that he is. I think that's going to really fit in when he gets here, but you just put him right up at the top of the list when you talk about a guy that's been coached to win year round."
Crean: On the significance of this class
"Well we wanted it to work because there was risk involved. We literally recruited the ninth and tenth graders that year like they were seniors and that didn't even include the Verdell class that we had to get on the floor at that point to start the season. It goes back, I mean we had an outstanding class, just think about how good Maurice would be without the injuries and how highly ranked he was. So even to get that done was really strong. Where a lot of stuff was already tied up was in the class of the young men that are now sophomores and that's why getting Victor and Will was paramount to the rebuilding project. To get these guys to not only come, but to want to play together, I don't think you can ever underestimate the Cody situation with him coming in here and all this a year ago that really triggered and there were some that committed before him and there were definitely some that committed after him, but it was really this groundswell of people that really want to bring Indiana back and I think that's a huge, huge part of this which hasn't really gotten as much attention as of late because of the way they've committed but I think that will really pick up again when they get here. So to be able to get a class like this, again, it's far beyond anything we could have ever drawn up. We wouldn't have even of thought to have drawn a wish list like this when we first got here. First off, you don't know how good everybody is going to be, but we would have never, never thought or looked at it and said we're going to be able to pull this off and we did and it's over a period of time and it says a lot about them."
Crean: On how much of a help it is that the players recruited themselves
"It's huge, there's no question about it. Early on when we got here there was always a plan. I remember it was well documented, can they recruit Indiana, when are they going to get an Indiana guy, I get it. There was always a plan. There was always a plan for this. We've made a few mistakes and you guys know that and I know that. We've made a few mistakes down the road in the past in recruiting and we'll make them again. That's just the way that it is. We weren't going to make a mistake in the sense of let's go get who we really want, let's recruit a very narrow list, because that, as we got into this, it didn't get easier to recruit, it got harder because you couldn't look at it and say okay for us to get back at a level in this league and in the country where we want to be, we can go grab a couple of guys that maybe that have this and maybe they have that, but they're never going to have this or they're never going to have that. We had to go get some guys that had a chance to be complete. I think when it's all said and done, I would be surprised when this class comes through here if it's not a really, really complete class. On paper it is because of the positioning, but I'd be shocked, if they come in with the work ethic that they're going to have to have and continue to build on that. I like that we got guys that love to be in the gym, that love to be in it. That's why a place like Cook Hall, it's a selling point for a lot of reasons, but the fact that it's a 24/7 access. That registered loud and clear with a lot of people."
Crean: On the biggest benefit that Hanner Perea brings
"He's got an edge. We saw a game last year, he had already committed, against Rakeem Christmas and Illinois. Rakeem was ranked one or two in the country as a center. It was two grown men going at one another and it was not for the fainthearted. There was a lot of talent on the floor, but Hanner Perea has an edge about him. That's the grit, when you start to think about some of these guys and you talk about recruiting grit, Hanner Perea brings grit and he's got an explosiveness. He's one of the greater athletes in the entire class let alone our class. We're really excited about the upside of him. He's a hard worker, he's a willing worker, he's a great young man and really, really excited to be coming to Indiana. We feel really good with that. I think he's going to make the game easier for others in different ways. Some of it's going to be with his energy, his defense, his ability around the bucket, his ability to rebound the ball, but he's going to become a very capable scorer for us in the time that we have him. We see that potential coming, again, another guy that's really well-coached year round."
Crean: On Jeremy Hollowell's versatility
"Well with the exception of Peter, who has been backed up with the injuries which has been hard obviously so you don't get a chance to see just yet. Steve saw him recently and saw the improvement, but it's probably not shown nationally. Jeremy is one of the more improved from tenth grade on players that there is because he keeps adding things to his game. He has a quiet demeanor, he's quiet on the court. He's not a showy type of player, he's not a flashy type of player, but he's got the tools and the skills. When you talk about short space quickness, when you talk about explosiveness, feel for the game, just loves to be in the gym, those kinds of things help him a great deal. He keeps growing and his game keeps expanding. We start recruiting this young guy when he's about 6"5'-6"6', he's growing the way that he is right now, his game keeps expanding and he's not moving his game in, he's moving it out, but at the same time he can get to the rim. That's the versatility that really strikes me, when you start to think about that. It's going to take some time and I think he's committed to it this year and I know J.R. Shelter is committed to getting him to this point, but he's got to defend with the same exuberance that he can play offense with because that's what it's going to take for him to be successful here and when he becomes the two-way player that he's capable of being, I mean Katie bar the door, not to use an old corny statement, he's going to be really good, really good, but he's got to get all those things. Today is more about potential for performance than anything else, but the talent that's inside of these guys makes trying to bring that potential out a lot of fun."
Crean: On what the staff looks for in recruits
"I would add that we've talked from the very beginning and we brought it with us here, to recruit kids that win year round, that are year round winners. I don't have a doubt in my mind that that's what this class exemplifies as well. They've been coached extremely well. There are so many great coaches in their lives, there are really, really good people in their lives. They come from excellent families and when you recruit that's as much the family atmosphere as anything else. You're not only recruiting a young man into your program, you're recruiting his family as well. Not every family is the same and not every family is standard, but the bottom line is you're bringing them in and that's what we're excited about. I think it just goes to show, again, we've got to get our team, we want our teams to start winning here, but the program is in absolute great shape to be able to recruit this way and have these young men feel that way. It says so much not only about the program but about the University and the Hoosier Nation and the atmosphere that's here."
Crean: On not having to look very far because of the talent in Indiana for 2012 class
"It worked out really well. The state of Indiana has always been one that's deserved the respect and accolades that it gets, and this class -- you can put this, per capita, with anybody out there. We may not be as big as certain states, but when you go per capita and you look at square footage, whatever you want to look at, this state is unbelievable, and it's going to continue to be that way. That was the intention the whole time was to be able to recruit Indiana. I mean we go back to it in the sense of signing Jordan and Derek, but even Bobby was an Indiana Elite guy so we saw him that way. When we really started to learn the state, you could tell that it was going to continue to take off. There's other names which we can't talk about that we did recruit or didn't recruit and all along the way, you could tell it was going to be a special year in this state. We're just so glad that these guys really wanted to do it in their home state."
Crean: On whether it will be challenging to mix this class with the existing team
"Challenging was April 3, 2008 when you find out where you academics are and then a couple days later finding out where your social problems are in your program. Then having to find a team after you know you have all these APR hits coming and go through seven, eight, nine walk-ons the first year. Now that's a challenge, this will be exciting. Will it be easy? Absolutely not. You don't have depth unless you have consistency, you don't have deep unless you have talent. The teams that really win are either really, really, really good with a couple of guys that can just carry the load for them, or they've got a lot of really good players and there's not much of a drop from one through whatever. That's what we're really trying to build here. That's what we want here."
Crean: On whether there will be a sense of urgency with this group
There's a sense of urgency everyday in the program and I'm sure those players wouldn't be in the position that they're at without it. Those days are coming in this program, too, and we'll take them as we go. The biggest thing to me, always, in your recruiting with anybody that's going to have that kind of potential, it sounds kind of corny but it's the truth; they come in, they unload their bags, they go in and they move in and let's see what happens. I think when players run into problems is when they keep a bag in the car or two bags sitting over in the side and they didn't unpack them. That happens. We're not looking for that. We'll go over there and help them unpack the bags.
"The bottom line is that's got to be your mentality. Your mentality's got to be 'we're going to do everything it takes for Indiana to win.' What you preach is if you win, we all win. It's not like three, four, five people win. All you've got to do is look at Calbert and his class and look at those banners. We've got the greatest track record around outside of maybe North Carolina when it comes to what all of the people have done that have won here. Not just the two or three leading scorers. That's something that we want to get back to. You walk through our office and you see there's a picture from 1975 with eight guys sitting on a bench in '75 right outside our office and seven of those eight were drafted into the NBA inside of those two years. One is still coaching today in Jim Crews. I mean when you come in and you play at Indiana, you're a Hoosier for life. I think not every place can say that. That's what we want to get this back to."
Crean: On how college ready Patterson is as a defender right now
"Well I think college ready - it's so hard to determine that at this point. Again, it goes back to the athleticism, the explosiveness, the willingness. He's got a motor that's really second to none. His hustle, his energy, especially on the defensive end, his desire to get to the basket. He knows what his improvement measurements have to be, we knows what they have to be, he needs to continue to do that this year for his team to win and he'll get better along the way. When all their seasons are over, then we'll really dive in to what they need to have here. He's got a motor that's as ready as it gets. Now getting the skills and the fundamentals and all those things inside that motor, decision making, those are the things that he's got to continue to really work hard on. But, again, there's a young man that continues to get better and better. You can't really put into context a young man that has a plus-12 wingspan. I've never coached one, recruited one, let alone met one other than him. Maybe there is one, but I've never met one. When he stretches out and plays with that length, it's a sight to behold."
Crean: On what Peter Jurkin brings to the table
"I think the upside of Peter is as high as anyone because he's, again and you could see it at a young age, great timing, a presence in the court, outstanding athlete, there's been a couple of growth spurts for him not only in height but in his weight and his body's continued to change. There's no question that last year set him back with the injury and then it came back but I think there's a guy that will have an impact this year nationally because he's playing with another great player on his team. I think they'll get a lot of attention. I think people will see, if he can stay injury-free, that this guy really has a chance. He's developing a perimeter jump shot to a degree, he's probably not comfortable taking it yet, but he runs the floor. The thing that Peter and Hanner do on the front line is they change the game for us unlike anybody we've had to this point. Not unlike anybody other people have had, but what we've had in our time at Indiana. You can work on a lot of things, but you can't work on height, length, energy and edge. Everything else you can get, those guys bring that."