Dec. 30, 2009
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Junior guard Jeremiah Rivers talks about Thursday's Big Ten opener at home against Michigan. Head Coach Tom Crean also talked with the media about the game against the Wolverines.
Below is a full transcript from Wednesday's media availability.
Junior Guard Jeremiah Rivers
On starting the process of adjusting to playing without Maurice Creek:
"It's just more playing as a team more than anything. We are going to miss Maurice, but that's why players are going to have the opportunity to step up and really contribute to this team. We are going to have a few good days of practice and be ready to go. I don't think it's a situation where we have to change everything, everybody is just going to have to trust each other and we will be fine."
On some minor changes in some players roles with the loss of Maurice Creek:
"I don't think so, I really don't. I think we will be fine. Honestly, I don't think anyone really came into the season and expected Maurice to be such a great scoring threat. I feel like everyone has the capability in them to really be aggressive and score and I think we have a lot of really good talent on this team. I just think people just need to fall into their rolls tomorrow. Everyone was kind of falling into what we have to do and we aren't too worried about it.
"We are worried for Maurice and we wish him the best and a speedy recovery. But it is a team game and that's how we have always played so we are just going to have to find a way. I don't think we are worried about it at all."
On being able to compare playing in the BIG EAST to the Big Ten:
"I had not really thought about it like that. It will be interesting to see the differences in the team and how the game is played. The BIG EAST is really fast paced and I think Big Ten has a lot of different things to offer."
On using his experience watching from the bench this year in conference play:
"I was able to take away from it last year that it is a really physical game (in conference). I saw a few other things while I watched from the bench that I think would help not only me but the team as well. All in all, I will just try to let things fall into place and not really try to force anything and neither is anyone else. We are not going to go out and rust to see if someone can score 24 or 30 points, we are just going to go out and play and get a win."
On what Michigan does well after watching them on film:
"They have great shooters. DeShawn Sims does a really good job of controlling things down in the paint. He is really the only big-man presence that I have been able to see on tape that is really good outside and inside. Manny Harris is really talented and a good scorer as well. They really spread teams out and we have our work cut out for us.
"And like I said, they have that 1-3-1 zone that we are going to have to attack and not let that take away from what we do. When we are on defense, we are going to try to get them to play into our hands."
On the similarity to John Beilein's teams at West Virginia compared to what he has seen on film of this Michigan team:
"They are very similar. I played against them my freshman year (at Georgetown) and it was similar game so I kind of know the backdoor plays and things like that. It's not the exact same thing from when I was at Georgetown, but the principles are the same. They have smart players and obviously a smart coaching staff so they know what they are doing out there."
On the difference in preparing for Michigan's style of play compared to some other teams:
"There is a little difference. I don't think we have had to prepare for a team that is as big of a scoring threat from the outside like they are. It is more of a focus and Coach Crean harping on not letting them be comfortable out there and having your hands up and other fundamental things."
On playing more with Jordan Hulls:
"I think Jordan and I have always played well together. I think we enjoy playing together and we complement each other well. I'm able to push the ball real well and he's able to get out on the break and be able to set up on the outside and shoot it. Even when I'm on the wing, I think I'll be able to slash inside and get some pull-up shots. I think it's going to be great and Jordan is going to be able to step in and help us a lot."
On the possibility of using a three guard lineup with Verdell Jones III, Jordan Hulls and himself:
"I think it makes us really tough to guard. We all have different games, so for the defenses it is going to be tough to get adjusted to me, Verdell and Jordan. It is fun and makes us agile, quick and fast-paced and fun to watch."
Indiana Head Coach Tom Crean
On Maurice Creek:
"Maurice, as I said last night, had a very successful surgery. Our plan right now is to follow the lead of Dr. Ahlfeld (team orthopedic surgeon), Dr. Rink (team physician), and Tim Garl (team athletic trainer). We have a rehabilitation plan that they have in place. When he's ready to attack that like he's done everything else here, we'll do it. Until that point, he just needs to be able to recover and we don't plan to have him at the game tomorrow. He'll just be returning back sometime tomorrow after they finish everything up.
"When I was with him he really wasn't that coherent. I think when Coach Seltzer saw him later in the night he was a little more coherent. Good spirits all the way around, in the sense of knowing that it was successful. I know his family, as tough as it is for them to go through something like this, I know that there's a strong relief there that they know that it was a successful surgery. We look forward to getting him back to this team, getting him around his teammates, and helping him through this entire process."
"There is no question that they are capable of doing so many things. They are capable of winning this conference. I don't think there is any doubt about that. They've got star power. They've got numerous people that can make shots. As I said to our team, they don't put a player on the floor that can't make a three and can't pass the basketball. They do some things extremely well offensively and defensively.
"There's no doubt that we're going to have to play not only a tough, physical game, but we're also going to have to play a very smart game. We cannot allow them to live on our mistakes. Unforced errors, unforced turnovers, and errant shots, things of that nature, are things that we really have to do our best to stay away from. We'd love for it to just be a game where it's our five guys against their five. It's not any one individual battle and it's not about stopping any one person. They're too good to just try to stop one or two people. We've got to be great about defending and with our rebounding. We've got to have tremendous energy and feed off the energy from this crowd, and hopefully in turn give them some back."
On adversity last year helping this year's team:
"I think it's hard to tell. I think every case is new, just like every year is new. You never pick up from where you left off. You start again, even with the fact that we have players that are back from last year's team. I think it's all in how we approach it. There's no getting around the fact that he's a very valuable member of this team, who's contributions have been well documented and we came to rely on, but they're not there. I'm anxious to watch them be the teammates that they're going to be to him when he comes back. Right now, where we stand, they've got to continue to build on being really good with each other and having a great togetherness when we play."
On the team's practices since the Bryant game:
"I think they've been very good. Good energy, good focus and again, now we've got to go play a game. I don't think that you realize that you're playing without somebody until he's not there. It's a little different in practice than in games, but they've done a very good job in responding. They know we've got a very tough game tomorrow."
On what the team has to do differently without Creek:
"The whole team just has to get better. I think if we look at it like we have to replace one guy, there's not one guy that's going to make up 18 points. There's just not. There's not one guy that's just going to make up for that athleticism and that ability to create havoc especially when his instincts take over defensively. It's got to be a team-wide, everybody get better not because they need to, but everybody bring a few different things because they have to. That's what our focus is. Our focus is not going out to practice and Maurice did these things, now you've got to do that or you have to do this."
On any particular player needing to change their approach:
"I think everybody just has to continue to stay on the improvement side of it. I think those things will work themselves out as the games go on. I certainly have not walked out there and said you have to take six more shots a game. I think that would be the wrong message. Plus that would be an insult to our guys that I didn't say that to. I'm more concerned about shot selection, more concerned about ball reversal, more concerned about better screening. Trying to climb up that 20 assists mark as much as possible every night. Those are the things that we've got to try to do. That's where the focus is more than anything else."
On the importance of leadership from players that have been through a Big Ten season:
"I'm hopeful that will help. It will probably be the stuff that we don't see. It will probably be more talking about players and environments. I think as we get into it, that will be a question that would be a lot easier to answer a couple weeks down the road after they've been through it. I'm very anxious and curious for that. We know we had to field a team last year and they went through 19 Big Ten games. So how do we respond with that this year to the environment? I think that's going to very important.
"We don't have the hand-me-down effect in here, where the people are handing down leadership year after year. We don't have that, but we can't do anything about that. All we can do is build on the little bit of experience that we have of going through some of those things, but again, not doing a lot of dwelling on past games.
"We're going to talk about every game, and I'll watch the film from those games. If we think there's a clip or a segment of a game that is appropriate for them to see then that's fine. Last year, we quit attacking this team. We missed some wide open threes, but we probably took too many threes. We did not guard them with the same fervor that we had in the first half. That's really what did it to us more than anything else, and then we made some poor decisions at the end of the game."
On the defensive approach against Michigan:
"We just challenge shots. Their numbers are misleading. Their percentages are misleading. They can get hot at any point in time. John (Beilein) had a team at West Virginia, our first year in the Big East, we went to West Virginia. It was the year he went the Elite Eight. They made 20 threes on us. If John Beilein is coaching a team, his team can make threes at any given time. We're not putting any stock whatsoever into what they did against this team or that team. It's all about us making sure that we're making catches hard, that we're making entries difficult, that we're pressuring and challenging shots, and then making sure that we've got five guys blocking out. If we don't do those things we're not going to win the game. He does not put a player on the floor that can't make shots, and he doesn't put a player on the floor that can't make a pass, whether it's backdoor or a simple pass or feed the post. They're very skilled."
On how Michigan compares with Beilein's West Virginia teams:
"They're different, but they're very similar offensively and defensively as far as what their schemes are. I would probably say that (DeShawn) Sims is getting closer to a (Kevin) Pittsnogle, in the way that he can shoot it. Kevin Pittsnogle could never drive it like DeShawn Sims. He did not have a Manny Harris type, a blow-by guy, at West Virginia. He may not have a Mike Gansey. But Zach Novak would probably be the closest to that. I've really loved his teams. I've always loved how they play and all those types of things.
"We've had some times where we weren't successful and we've had some times where we were very successful. You have to have an attack mentality on both ends of the floor, and if you allow them to swing the ball around the perimeter they will beat you. We saw that at Marquette and we saw that in here last year. If you do pressure them and you stick to your gameplan and you make catches hard and shots challenged, then you can beat them."
On Michigan using the 1-3-1 zone:
"They mix it up. You will see the some different types of zones and you will see some man-to-man. Their pressure is very good initially and they can really put some heat on you at the top of the zone. We have a plan for how we are going to attack the different things. The one thing that is obvious to me is that we cannot overcomplicate this thing. There are going to be a lot of different emotions going through these kids with it being the Big Ten opener. They are going to realize that they are missing a teammate, not that he is a veteran teammate but he was a great teammate. This is a hard preparation because they do so many things well, but we cannot overcomplicate this. We tried to give this gameplan in a lot of "chunks" so we don't inundate them. This is where you realize that you don't have a veteran team so you can't throw it all at them at once. By taking it in chunks, they will learn how to take it in bigger stretches down the road. But right now we are not trying to overwhelm them with everything that we possibly know about this team because I would have them thinking too much."