BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Head Coach Tom Crean was joined by Cody Zeller and Remy Abell to talk about Tuesday's game against North Carolina as part of the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. Here is the full transcript of what they each had to say:
"This is a very short turnaround for us (after a game on Sunday), but we need to get used to things like this. Playing against a team like (North Carolina) is going to be a tremendous challenge in a lot of ways. They bring in some things that, not only have we not seen this year, but I'm not sure we have seen it at any point in time. I'm not sure we have seen a fast break come into Assembly Hall like we are going to see tomorrow night in our time here. Their transition is literally second to none, it always is with Roy Williams teams. We saw it first-hand when we were at Marquette and he was at Kansas and we played in the Final Four. As hard as we prepared for it, it was unlike anything we had seen. I think that is the way they are right now.
"And the other thing they bring, outside of tremendous talent, is that James Michael McAdoo is a good of a rebounder, especially on the offensive end that these young men will have seen this year or any other year in my estimation. They are at a high level. They are deep. They shoot the ball (well). They have a couple guys in Hairston and Bullock that can shoot with anybody in the country. They have two point guards that can push the ball, that can get into the lane, that can shoot the ball. They have a good mix of older and younger. And then obviously they are coached by a hall of famer, and we don't take any of that lightly.
"It is a tremendous challenge. I know we are probably a little tired after playing last night, but at the same time, there is going to be tremendous energy and excitement in here tomorrow night. Our guys are locked in and that is what is most important. It wouldn't matter if you are getting ready in two days or in a week, when you see North Carolina on the floor, it is a whole different level the way they get up and down the court. We have to be really, really good tomorrow night in a lot of facets of the game, but this thing will begin and end with our ability to get back on defense and our ability to rebound."
On what the team took from last night's game that will help them:
"You would have to ask the players. I think everybody is just getting better. We go from the films that we have. I would think that our guys are in a situation where they are winning games different ways. Our defense has been pretty consistent. Our defense was really consistent last night. Our deflections were high and our three stops in a row were high. Our field goal and 3-point percentages were phenomenal. Our guys played with a lot of relentless pressure last night. It was a great win because everybody contributed and they were really committed to playing a great game and they did."
On what makes North Carolina such a challenge:
"I think the way they push the ball is really important, and the fact that they can run two high-level shooters to the corners. A lot of people you have to prepare for will run for layups and dunks, and you have to do that with North Carolina. Teams that are not committed to running - and we get like this once in a while and it's something we are trying to break - run to the wings. North Carolina runs to the corners and you have to guard them in the corners. It's not like you can just go back and get in your normal help defensive routine and roll. You have to go get to the corners. Everybody on their break is a legitimate threat to score. They do a great job of getting underneath the basket if the first post doesn't get it in the post.
"And then McAdoo is unlike anything we have seen with his ability to rebound out of the break. They are a phenomenal - not only transition team - but transition rebounding team, and McAdoo leads the way with that. It is never over with their break. If they don't score quick, if they don't get a layup or an open 3-pointer, you have to really be able to guard against the second shot because McAdoo is the trailer with a full head of steam."
On the challenges to not play too fast:
"Absolutely, but it is going to be a fast-paced game. But we have a lot of different guys that can score. They have a lot of different guys that can score. Our defense is going to be challenged, there is no doubt about it. But it has been. It has been challenged by a lot of different people already this year. Our guys are getting better. They are getting better all the time and that is the most important thing. We will not have been challenged in transition like we are going to be tomorrow. I can't imagine any time since we have been here that it has been like that for us, at home or on the road.
"I mean we have gone against some great break teams - Michigan State, Michigan - those teams run really well. Kentucky ran really well last year. But this Carolina team is at another level."
On the keys to limiting North Carolina's offensive rebounds, especially McAdoo:
"We have to have a body on him. You have to have great awareness of where he is at and you have to have a body on him. He just can't fly around untouched, because he can score from the perimeter. Obviously he can score on the block, he can drive the ball. He is a high, high-level player. I don't know him, but it looks like he has a great motor and he revs it up. We have to make sure we are always aware of where he is at."
On what he took out of the Butler win last week against North Carolina:
"Butler got off to a great start. They were very physical with them, they made shots and they did a really good job in transition.
"The other thing that Carolina is, and I think Coach Williams has always been this way, it truly is never over until it's over. They are one of the great teams at coming back. Their pressure is phenomenal. I thought their full-court pressure really bothered Butler in the second half. Hopefully we can learn from that. I have only watched segments of it, I have not watched it from start to end. But they made shots and they reversed the ball and they played well. North Carolina never game up, they just kept coming."
On North Carolina's fast break offense:
"They want to get out and push the ball up the court, whether it's a miss or a make. Off turnovers they score and score quickly. It's going to be a big part of our game, and we're going to have to get back on defense, and we can't turn it over. We know they like to run so that's definitely something we're going to have to pay attention to. We have to slow them down a little bit."
On what it's like playing against his brother's alma mater and a school that recruited him so hard:
"A lot of things have changed since even the last time I was down there with Tyler, but I know them all really well. Obviously the coaching staff I have a lot of respect for, they've always treated Tyler and I very well. I know the coaching staff and most of the players really well, but at the end of the day it's just who can score the most points, and that's all we're worried about."
On how to slow North Carolina down:
"We just have to slow down their offense and then once we get the ball we want to push it up. I think it will be a fast-paced game but we can't let them score as quickly as they want to on offense."
On how the team has handled the number one ranking:
"I think Coach Crean does a pretty nice job of keeping us all level headed. We know that we have a lot to improve on. Playing those two games is New York City kind of brought out some things that we really need to improve on, so we just have to keep getting better. We aren't too worried about being number one right now, and are just trying to keep on improving throughout the year."
On what's different about the way North Carolina runs compared to other teams they've seen:
"All five guys are going to run the court as hard as they can every possession so we can't take one possession off. We can't celebrate a nice play because they'll be scoring in two seconds down on the other end. That's what they've always done, and that's what they do this year. We definitely have to get back."
On how much fun it is to play at that pace:
"It's always fun to get up and down and score a lot of points, but we can't be giving up that many points so we have to find a happy medium."
On the similarities between this game and the Kentucky game last year:
"Obviously the expectations were a lot different. I think the fans and the students are all excited about this game kind of like they were for the Kentucky game. Everyone has had this game circled on their calendar, but for us it's just another game. It's another game to improve. It's a long season, this will be the seventh game for us, so we have a lot to improve on, but it should be a fun one for us tomorrow night."
On being the hunted rather than the hunted:
"Somewhat, but even though we weren't favored against Kentucky I think all of us expected to win. We go into every game planning on winning, so for us our mentality isn't going to be a whole lot different."
On what he saw in Indiana when he signed his letter of intent:
"I had confidence in what Coach Crean was doing with the guys who were already here when Remy and Austin and I were coming in. I knew that everyone was working hard and everyone was improving constantly, it just hadn't quite started rolling yet. I had confidence in it and thought it was the best place for me, and I'm definitely enjoying it."
On playing a highly ranked team on a quick turnaround:
"We attack every game the same; we game plan the same; we do the scouting reports the same every game. We will come out the same way whether we are playing Ball State or North Carolina. Our coaching staff does a really nice job of preparing us the same way no matter who we are playing."
On the late tip-offs:
"We are college kids so we are up that late anyways. I don't think it will affect us too much."
On the players he is the most familiar with on North Carolina's team:
"Some of the guys that I knew the best have already left. When I went, Kendall Marshall was my host, and obviously Tyler and some of those guys I knew just because they were roommate with Tyler and stuff like that. I've played with them off and on; I've played with McAdoo quite a bit, and I know a little bit from each one."
On how close his decision was between Indiana and North Carolina:
"Obviously it was close; they were in my top three. I have a lot of respect for everything they do and their coaching staff was great. Tyler enjoyed his time there, but at the end of the day I just thought that IU was the best place for me and I have no regrets. I am definitely enjoying it here."
On how good McAdoo is:
"He is definitely very good. I've only played with him off and on a few times from AAU. He was with a Nike team so I didn't see him a whole lot, but obviously the McDonald's All-American Game he was the MVP. He's definitely very talented. I don't think you are going to stop him, I think it's just whether you are going to slow him down or not."
On the challenges he feels he must take on for this game:
"Just getting everybody in the right spot, playing the point guard role and being a leader out there on the court. Pushing the ball, because we like to run too. Getting the ball back and getting some easy buckets. Just being a leader."
On the size disadvantage against North Carolina:
"It's a little different playing against length than players your own size, but you have to just play your game and play smart. Using great intelligence and knowing when to pass it and when to drive is important. Just playing with instincts and everything else will take care of itself."
On what to tell the freshmen who are going into their first big game:
"Playing in the NCAA tournament definitely prepares you. Playing against Kentucky last year helps prepare you for another big game that's going to be coming tomorrow. But for the freshmen, I'm just going to tell them to go out there and have fun, play hard, and keep your composure. It's going to be an intense game and there's going to be a lot of emotions, but you just have to trust in your teammates and play your game. I think everybody will be fine."