Men's Basketball

    Coach Crean Discusses Saturday's Game Against Kentucky

    Go Hoosiers!
    Go Hoosiers!

    Go Hoosiers!

    Dec. 11, 2009

    Indiana head coach Tom Crean met with the media on Friday to talk about the Hoosiers' game on Saturday against No. 4 Kentucky.

    Head Coach Tom Crean

    Opening Statement
    "First thing I'm going to say is that this is a classic rivalry, one of the great ones throughout college sports and where we stand right now is we're just trying to continue to make sure that we can build and stack successes. Sometimes success for us, like the other night, can come in the form of a win by doing things the right way and sometimes it comes as a measure of improvement.

    "And that's what we have to continue to do, we have to continue to improve as we go on and continue to learn all the facets of winning. And again, when you're trying to learn the facets of winning, you have to learn what causes you to lose. So obviously, the other night it was great to get a win like that inside of that great arena and against an excellent basketball team, excellent program and we want to continue to build on that.

    "And playing Kentucky, not only is it a rivalry game, not only is it an excellent basketball program, but they do a lot of things very, very well. Our margin for error is very small tomorrow, and we have to continue to understand that. Our improvement is part of understanding that right now. You're never going to play a perfect game, you're never going to play mistake free, that's obvious, but you've got to cut down on the unforced errors, you've got to cut down on the mistakes that you make, you've got to continue to understand game plans, continue to understand the strengths of that team, and their strengths are plenty.

    "So we've got to do an excellent job of locking in to their team, especially when it comes to transition defense. They have an outside-inside game, they obviously have a guy in John Wall that can dominate a game from both ends of the floor with his quickness and ability to make decisions and get in the lane and make shots.



    "They do a lot of good things, John [Calipari]'s team last year at Memphis was the number one field goal percentage defense team in the country, and they are well on their way to becoming that way at Kentucky. We've just got to do an excellent job of understanding what we're trying to do, and at the end of the day play really hard with a lot of passion and a lot of energy."

    On how to combat Kentucky's offense:
    "Schemes are important, but players are more important. He's got excellent players. As he's had the dribble-drive offense, he's had outstanding guards, he's had big men that could play, athletic wings, shooters, and he's got the same thing now. The offense you prepare for, but you have to know the personnel as well as anything else."

    On how the Pitt win has changed practice:
    "It didn't really change it much. Here, our measure of improvement is daily and that's what we continue to try to do all the time. Obviously, they feel better about it and then we turn right back around and get ready for another game with Kentucky."

    On how the players have handled the success:
    "They're like anybody else, when you haven't had success and you get it you want to hold on to it for a long time. The most important thing is to learn how to duplicate it. That's a hard thing. We hold our team accountable every day for improvement and for what they've got to get better at. The games are the tests.

    "We just so happen to be playing against one of the best teams in the country. There's not a lot of time to focus on individual aspects of our team right now, it's more how do we get ready for this game. Tomorrow's game is not the measuring stick of our season, it's the next step of the season. The season has got so much that goes into it.

    "But I'm anxious to see how we respond and how we play in front of this crowd, it will be a big deal for us too. It's not just their first road game, but these kids' first CBS game like this and it'll be a great environment on a Saturday afternoon, it's a big rivalry game. But we're far more focused on what their strengths are and what we want to try to do to negate some of those."

    On how hard it is to get a young team to ignore the hype of Kentucky:
    "I don't think you can do that. I think you're with them a few hours a day. So what you can do is continue to give them the message and the mantra that they have to have to move forward and hope that they respond.

    "I want them to be confident, but if we're not prepared mentally and physically, we could get embarrassed in a hurry. They're really, really good, really talented. And we have to understand that. We have to be really solid. We have to learn over a period of time - it started with Maryland - when you're playing against really good players that have a lot of things that they do, they have to understand we're not just here to take away one or two or three things. If we're going to be good, we're going to grow the foundation of the program, we've got to really understand it. So when you're young, we throw a lot of things at them, but that's the way that it is."

    On what makes John Wall special:
    "Speed, quickness, his decision making, he can shoot the ball, he's fearless. I know John feels he's one of the most diligent workers that he's had in coaching, so that speaks volumes. He looks very driven to me. He looks like a kid with a plan and he does a great job of making his teammates better."

    On keeping the IU-Kentucky games at campus sites instead of neutral sites:
    "We plan to play it in Assembly Hall, so I know that going forward."

    On how to handle Patrick Patterson:
    "He's just a really good player, so we're going to have to do our best to try to limit his scoring and limit his rebounding opportunities the best that we can."

    On whether the players who played UK last year have talked to the freshmen about this year's game:
    "We're a different team, they're a different team. It was a tough road environment. They've certainly improved, particularly Patrick Patterson and the way he can shoot the basketball. Our time right now is spent on how do we come out and guard a very good basketball team. There's not a lot of time for rivalry talk. I want them to understand that it's a big game, I want them to feel that. But you've got to stay absolutely locked in on what it takes to get better in the game, and that's what we've done."

    On his friendship with Coach Calipari:
    "We've known each other a long time. He always gave me respect when I was a young coach and he was further along in the game. I learned a lot from him back then and I still learn a lot from him. I really value our friendship. I learn a ton from him, I think he's one of the most cerebral, gifted leaders I've been around. His basketball coaching is outstanding, and the things that he does are cutting edge.

    "I learned a lot especially when we competed against him early on in Conference USA. But he's never gotten the credit he deserves for how great a coach he is. Say what you want, but the man can absolutely coach basketball and make players better. He's got great charisma. I met him maybe when I was at Western Kentucky or Michigan State.

    "I always respected how hard his teams played at UMass. John's one of those guys who is always good to young coaches because he was one once. I don't want it to sound like he's ancient and I'm a kid. But he was really, really good. I've helped him get to know certain people in other sports, and he's helped me get to know guys like Larry Brown and Mike Woodson and Isiah [Thomas] even before I was the coach here. John really helps coaches and our friendship is one that I really value. But even if we didn't have it, there's a lot to learn from him."

    On whether the player-led aspect of the team has carried over from Tuesday:
    "Well, I don't know, we haven't played yet. We'll have to see tomorrow. It's such a process, it really is, trying to get ready for this. We're not a team that can just walk out there tomorrow with minimal preparation, minimal game plan and say, `Let's just go play.' We're not. Even when we really get this to the point where I think we'll have it, I don't think we'll be like that.

    "This program was built on preparation. When you start thinking about basketball preparation, you're probably going to put Bob Knight at the head of it, not to take anything away from anybody else. That's part of the staple of this program.

    "We're trying to do the same thing. They have a lot to learn. We're throwing a lot at them. Anybody thinks that we can have a couple things we do on offense and one we do on defense, we can't do that. We're not built like that, we're too young, we're not good enough to do that. We've just got to continue to learn what it takes."

    Verdell Jones III

    On the challenges that John Wall presents for a defense:
    "He's a fantastic player. His athletic ability is out of this world. But we have to go in and not be afraid of him and I don't think any of our guards are afraid of him at all."

    On whether he is hoping for an "assist" from the crowd:
    "I don't think we have to hope, we will get it. Even last year with the struggles we had during the year, our fans always came through in big games."

    On the win against Pitt on Tuesday:
    "It has helped our confidence a lot. It has helped us see that if we keep working hard and listening to what Coach Crean is saying we will get "W's". And I think it is going to really help us, confidence-wise, going into this game against Kentucky."

    On talking to the guys about last year's game in Lexington
    "We have preached that to them already, and even more so this year since they have been such a good team in the first five minutes of games. We have to withstand that first punch and then punch and fight back."

    Christian Watford

    On practice this week after the win on Tuesday:
    "The atmosphere was great. We enjoyed the win.

    "Coach brought us back down to earth pretty quick after the win. He came in the next day and it's almost like we haven't done anything. We got after it hard again."

    On that win giving the team a new sense of confidence:
    "Especially going into this game (against Kentucky), that game gave us a lot of confidence."

    On playing against Eric Bledsoe and Demarcus Cousins prior to college:
    "I played against Demarcus and Eric a lot. We are basically from the same place so we played against each other a lot so I'm very familiar with their game."

    On Kentucky as a team:
    "They are a solid team. The way they get out in transition is crazy, they are a fast team. So you have to take that away from them if you want to have any chance of beating them."


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