Coach Crean Meets With The Media To Discuss North Carolina Central
Dec. 18, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana men's basketball coach Tom Crean met with members of the media on Friday to discuss Saturday's game against North Carolina Central.
Here's a full transcript:
"[Saturday night] the hardest thing with a game coming out of exam week is that concentration and focus that you really want. So we are going to be watching for that and challenging them to extend their focus throughout the game. We have had very good practices, so it hasn't been an issue there.
"We need to continue to cut down on mistakes and errors on both sides of the ball and we need to build our communication on both ends of the court and get ready for a game.
"This is going to be a game against a team that will run a very disciplined flex offense and a team that takes very disciplined shots. [North Carolina Central] is defending the three-point shot very well and they get to free-throw line and cause turnovers. They have athleticism and can score on the inside or the outside. They are an inside-outside kind of team and the flex offense is something that we have to continue to learn how to guard because we are going to see a lot of that offense on Tuesday night against Loyola.
"This is a very good opportunity for us to play in front of the home crowd and to find that concentration, to work to get better and to get better at some things that we have struggled with so far this year."
On whether exam week gives the team a break from basketball to an extent:
"For example, we practiced Sunday and it was pretty tough. We practiced Monday and it was pretty tough. Tuesday we were here but it was very cerebral. There was a conditioning element to it but there wasn't a hitting element. Wednesday we were off and then yesterday we came back and it was a tough deal because we are trying to build a mindset. It was tough because we are trying to build them in so many different areas - like focus and being able to play through fatigue, and at the same time make good decisions under fatigue. Decision making under fatigue is so hard, but at the same time we need to make sure that our conditioning doesn't wane when we have had a week when we haven't played. It does seem like it has been a long time since we played Kentucky, probably because we had those two games (Pitt and Kentucky) inside of a week that were such high-profile games.
"Coaches never look at the burnout factor, I may cut it shorter, but it's not like we do say `hey, let's take two or three days off here or there.' We just are not in the position to do that."
On whether the exams took players away from practice:
"We've had some times where guys had to leave early, or where guys have come in late. But for the most part, we finish or begin 90 percent in tact."
On getting the players motivated for the lesser-known opponents:
On using the team's struggles last year against some lesser-known opponents this year:
"Sometimes you have some older teams that will have a week like that and rehab starts at 6:30 a.m. We made that clear right from the start, that the training room is not open all day long for an injury at the end of practice. That gets guys to play through some things. But you are also going to have some things that are real and we will continue to deal with those. Anytime you have a group of young men, all of them are never going to feel 100 percent at one time so you have to work through that. And we have had some sicknesses and things like that.
"But we have had some really good practices. We haven't had `OK, we haven't played a game in a week so let's back off for a couple of days' kind of mentalities. We haven't had that."
On using the string of home games to watch the team improve on a daily basis:
"But to answer your question, to have that time really continues to allow us to dive into different things and to dive into their individual games. They continue to get rest. But we have been doing individual instruction during the week, anywhere from two to three times per week during the season. Last year we backed off of that a little bit because of the youth, but this year we are not backing off on that one bit."
On the importance of communication:
"We talk a lot about echo. We do a lot of things inside of our practices, basic things and complex things. We talk about echoing, where it's not just a coach telling you, it's you echoing it back and forth. There's a responsibility for everybody. I hear our bench locked in more to what the play call is for the other team.
"We're still very young, and not to the maturity level of what real communication has got to be on the court. Some of that is a lack of totally understanding what that individual needs to do. That's part of youth and working so hard to get your job covered that you don't always understand, remember or see the value of how important it is to help everybody else do their job. That comes with time and that's what we continue to push towards."
On the emphasis over the past week in practice:
"This time of year, especially with a team this young, the number one thing you're trying to reach is any level of consistency that you can hang your hat on from a day-to-day basis. Right now for us, it's that we play very hard and we work very hard. We don't have a lot of weak links in practice. We don't have a lot of guys that are very inconsistent in their approach to practice and in their work ethic. Eventually that's going to carry over into games."
On the progress of the practice facility:
On how far along the offense is coming along:
"We're spending a lot of time right now on building our pick and roll game, building our pin-down game, getting it inside, and how we play off of the post. We certainly want to get more inside-out baskets. We certainly want to get more basic exchanges and movements when we get the ball up. We've got to get back to our emphasis after a made basket that we throw it ahead and after a missed basket or a turnover we make the best play. Those are the things that I'm more concerned about than any one or two individual plays a day.
"At the same time, we are putting those things in and looking for the options out of them and being more specific about what we're looking for. One thing we saw in the game from Saturday, even with us not scoring points during that 18-0 run, we were in the lane every time. If we didn't turn the ball over in a ridiculous way, which we didn't have many of those obviously, we were in the lane every time. We just didn't make great decisions and we didn't finish shots. There are not a lot of things I would change about what we did. We just didn't come out of there with something. When you go into the lane, by pass or by drive, you've got to come out of there with something, either the basket, a foul, an and one, an inside out three. You've got to come out of there with something good. That's what we're continuing to work on."
On the approach to the upcoming games with Big Ten play coming up:
"You're constantly building your concepts and building your base on things that you're going to need in those games as well. So every time that we're working zone offense, every time that we're defending threes, and every time that we're getting back in transition, that's just another step closer to being able to play a team like Michigan. Every time we're defending Christian Watford or chasing Jordan Hulls or Maurice Creek off a screen, that's just another step closer to getting ready to play Ohio State. You don't focus on those teams as much as you're focusing on all the aspects of basketball.
"I think you can make a big mistake if you just get locked into the opponent and you spend an inordinate amount of time on that when you could be spending a lot of time on your team. At the same time, we put North Carolina Central's offense in on Tuesday. So we're never getting away from the prep, but you've got to make sure that your team is getting better. This month will really help provide that, really diving into their skills."
Thoughts on North Carolina Central:
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