Dec. 18, 2008
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana men's basketball head coach Tom Crean sat down with members of the media on Thursday to discuss his team's upcoming contest against Northeastern on Monday night. Click here to listen to press conference audio.
Indiana will take on Northeastern in its first game during the holiday break. The Hoosiers will bring a 4-0 home record into the contest, with Indiana last winning at Assembly Hall on December 10, 66-56 over TCU. Indiana is 193-18 all-time against non-conference foes in Assembly Hall. The Huskies boast a two-game winning streak on the road having defeated Harvard, 76-71, in overtime on December 10 and James Madison, 60-55, on December 6.
This will be the third meeting between the two teams. IU defeated the Huskies, 100-78 in Maui in 1990 and 103-65 in Indianapolis in December, 2001. The Hoosiers are 10-0 against schools from the Colonial Athletic Association. Last year, Indiana defeated UNC-Wilmington, 95-71, in the preliminary round of the Chicago Invitational Challenge.
Head Coach Tom Crean
On the team's practices during finals week:
"We have a full week of finals with more to go tomorrow, and in basketball we are really trying to keep everyone focused on improvement. Obviously they have a lot to do academically and it would be easy to shortcut the fatigue process in practice. But we can't do that. We've got to continue to get better and strive to improve.
"We are coming off a very good practice today with a couple of days now to prepare for Northeastern. We have been trying to address all the different things we need to improve upon and really make it a strong fundamental week. We continue to see it is a day-by-day process with a very young and inexperienced team. This is a good week for us to work on bridging that gap. "
We will practice more this weekend and prepare for a late game on Monday night against Northeastern, a team that has had some very solid wins and a couple of tough losses. They are impressive on film with their athleticism and their ability to play inside-outside. They are well-schooled and well-traveled in that they played a lot of different types of basketball teams this year.
"They have beaten a Big East team in Providence, and it will be a very good test. I think Bill Coen is a very good coach. He had a lot to do with how Boston College has become such an outstanding program. He is doing the same thing at Northeastern. They are a very impressive team."
On what to expect to see from the Huskies:
"They run the flex offense very well. They have different ways to get into it. They have good size inside and they know how to utilize it. They are a pretty athletic team. We watched some of the games from early in the season and you see that. Because they beat Providence and because they've played these competitive games, there is no question they are going to come in here with the mindset to win.
"It is a matter of continuing to refine our execution, continue to give our guys a game plan like we try to do on every individual game. We have our base defenses and our base way to do things, and then maybe make some additions for that individual game. We've been getting better at that over the last couple of weeks we have played."
On the academic standing of the team at the end of the semester:
"We are striving for high standards. Everyone is different. We have a couple of non-negotiables: class attendance, participation, study hall, tutoring, doing the best you can do. There is no question about that. This is a unique time too because (with a large group of newcomers) this is their first time through something as grueling a process as being in a college basketball season and being at a world-class University. They will be better for it, just like in everything else, after going through it. But they are working very hard and there are no concerns there. It is not like we just look at it at the end of the semester. We get daily detailed reports as to where guys are at (academically). I look at that closer than I look at anything else. We have an outstanding academic support unit and we just keep trying to work the best that we can."
On the status of Verdell Jones:
"It has been a full week for him. I was pleasantly surprised with his conditioning, playing 19 minutes after being out for two weeks and just having a couple days of practice. We don't treat him any differently right now. It is just a matter of getting the repetitions, building the confidence back up of playing, and being able to play a little faster. There is no question when you miss two weeks, no matter how old you are, you are going to lose some value. When a young player misses a day or two, it is like losing two or three weeks. For him to come back and do some really solid things on Saturday (vs. Kentucky), it was strong. His best days are certainly ahead of him as he continues to get stronger."
On whether the team is where he thought they would be at this point in the season:
"I have never been good at measuring a team that way. I think when you are in the middle of it, you have to trust what you see on film and what your coaches see. You have to really look at what is needed that day and stay with your core of fundamentals. You have to stay with your base offensively and defensively, but you've got to continue to build on what you see. One of the things I have done this week is really examine the numbers; where they are at when we win or lose. We've looked at different segments of films; we have a film with all of our turnovers from the Notre Dame game on and it has been very educational for us as coaches. You do have to be able to measure your improvement. You have to be able to measure it as a coach and then you have to be able to measure where it is not there and then keep addressing that."