BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Tom Crean, along with seniors Verdell Jones III and Matt Roth talk about the Hoosiers' Big Ten home-opener against No. 2/2 Ohio State in Assembly Hall on Saturday, Dec. 31.
"We feel like we have had a productive couple of days with practice and film. We really came back and dove into the peaks and valleys from the game on Wednesday night (at Michigan State). There are peaks and valleys in a season, we know that, but there were some inside the game and we tried to look at what we could have done to make it better, especially at the start of the game. We looked at what we did well and how active we were when we had a great run. And then we walked out of there realizing that not being as free-flowing and not getting into our offense as quick, not getting the ball reversed forced us into taking some shots that maybe we wouldn't want to take at that time in the shot clock. But most importantly, there was no defense for the turnovers. At the end of the game during their run, we were 4-of-16 with six turnovers that turned into 12 points. We got beat on the backboards and we were not as active defensively and we gave (Keith Appling) too many points. So everything that could have gone wrong at the end did. Just like when it was really going well for us, it did. There are a lot of things to learn from that. We came home and worked on it and worked to make corrections, not only on the film, but on the court. And at the same time, make sure that we are completely locked in to playing, what I think the only team we can compare them to is Kentucky, but the only difference is Ohio State has more experience. Those two teams are very similar. They are two teams that high-level on the perimeter and high-level inside and create a lot of points off their defense. They have the inside-outside attack and they know how to use it simultaneous inside of the same possession. They compete relentlessly and we know that we are going to have a major task but we are looking forward to it.
"We are also looking forward to have a great crowd. When Coach Izzo said the other night that his crowd was responsible for quite a few baskets in that game, I certainly hope that we are saying the same thing tomorrow night. We need a Kentucky-like atmosphere in here. The Butler atmosphere was tremendous, all of our games have been, but the Kentucky one was at another level. The seats are sold so we just need the energy level in here to match that because I think our guys are going to be really excited to play. But they know the challenge and I think that is what has their attention as much as anything. They know this is a great challenge and a great opportunity."
On defending Jared Sullinger:
"His game is built on getting two feet in the paint. He can step out and shoot 3's, he made one again the other night. He is getting better on the perimeter and you can see that. But his game is truly built on having two feet in the paint. We cannot allow him to have the positioning and the setup space that he wants and needs. That's what it is more than anything else. The pressure on the ball has as much to do with that as the post defense that you put on him.
"So it is all going to start with our transition which will lead right into the ball pressure. You can't allow the paint to be owned by that team. That's what makes them as good as they are, I think. They have numerous first round talents on that team, there is no doubt about that when the time comes for that. At the end of the day, you cannot allow them to have the paint."
On the team's attitude following Wednesday's loss:
"They are edgy and that's what you want them to be. They are highly competitive. There is nothing carefree about them. They are confident in the sense of how they have come back. They watched that film with a very hardcore eye, they really did. I don't think there was a whole of rationalization going on. I think they looked in there and saw where they could be better and they wanted to learn. It started that night as far as the way we talked about it in the locker room after the game. They have been very on edge and anxious to play."
On what Cody Zeller can take away from the Michigan State game:
"There are a lot of things, but number one is that this is a very physical league. What he has to understand and will understand as much as anything else because he hasn't gone against that combination of size and strength, is that the game is about leverage. It's not necessarily about strength but leverage. He needs to continue to play with his lower even more. We want Cody to be very confident and attack even more. It's not like anything has to be reinvented, it's just a matter of him going through the leverage points in the game and a couple different things he can do to get open. And just be aggressive and have an attack mindset."
Senior Verdell Jones III
On the lessons learned from the Michigan State game:
"The biggest one is that every possession counts and we can't get into slow starts. This is the Big Ten. It's a very physical conference. Especially on the road, once you get behind, it's very hard to get back. We can't think that we can come back like we did the other day every game."
On the key to do well against Ohio State:
"Limit our turnovers, limit their runs and just really get out in transition. That's one of our biggest strengths as a team because we can run one through five. Watching film, Ohio State can slow the ball down a little bit, they are still very good in transition, but they like to slow it down a little bit more and I think for us is just getting out and running."
On the advantage of already beating a top-five team:
"I think it's the confidence knowing that we can play with anybody. Especially with them coming into our place, having the fan support that we have is going to be huge for us tomorrow. Having that Kentucky-like atmosphere again tomorrow - it's hard for opponents to come in here and play well with that kind of craziness and I think that's going to be a huge key for us."
On the team being anxious to get back on the court:
"It was a rude awakening for us at Michigan State and I think we've definitely gotten our edge back and we're hungry more than ever. We want to prove to people that we're for real and that the non-conference wasn't just a fluke. We really want to get back after it. We really got after each other these past two days in the film room and on the court with the mistakes that we made and the defensive errors that we had - we really got after it, so we're feeling really good about tomorrow."
Senior Matt Roth
On being a senior and coming back for Saturday's game:
"It's gives us the opportunity to come back and study film, learn from it and realize the things that we have to change and the things that we have to better within the course of the game. I think we were able to take what we needed to from the film and translate it into the past two practices that we've had. We've really worked hard on getting better and making defensive stops. I think that's what's going to help us as we move forward towards tomorrow."
On the improvement of Ohio State's Jared Sullinger:
"I think naturally he has progressed in a lot of areas and I'm sure after last season, he saw some things that he needed to work on and I'm sure he's done that in the offseason. He's a better all-around player. But at the same time, we've come a long way in the offseason and worked very hard to get to this point and we're excited to go out there and play tomorrow."
On Ohio State playing through four different players:
"I think they have that ability and they have that option with very talented players. It's just something that you have to prepare for and our coaching staff has done a great job scouting them and getting us prepared for what we're going to face tomorrow. We just have to play together as a team and realize that we can match up with them and stick to our principles and we'll able to do our thing and just play basketball."
On the challenge of this year's first three Big Ten games:
"I think that just comes with being in the Big Ten Conference. We know that there's always going to be tough stretches and this is a great opportunity for us. It's a great test coming in at the start of the Big Ten season. We know that we've prepared well for it in our non-conference schedule and its just time to take it one day at a time and keep working to get wins."