Tom Crean met with the media Thursday and we’ve sifted through his comments and posted some highlights below. A full transcript is available here and you can listen to the audio from the H-T/Hoosier Scoop here.
On Jeremiah Rivers:
“As a coach you want the leadership vacuum to be filled right now. You want it to be set. But it is not like that. He hasn’t played in a year. I don’t know that he always understands when I say this, but he has won at every level. There is no question about that. He won in high school and he won in college. He has won three BIG EAST Championships and has been to a Final Four. However, outside of high school, which is a little different, I’m not sure he has absolutely been responsible for winning. He is going to have a huge responsibility in how we play to win. Not just coming in like at Georgetown. Now, he was on the court a lot at winning time at Georgetown because of his defensive abilities, but he also wasn’t the lead guard. He also wasn’t one of the 28 or 30 minutes a game guys. He very well could play into that for us.”
On Maurice Creek and how his later arrival to campus has effected him:
“I think he is right in the middle of the `push him and he falls over, shake his hand and it hurts’ type of deal because his body isn’t used to that yet. We don’t try and speed them up so much that they don’t want to come back, but after about two weeks in, it really starts to kick in and he will really feel good about his body. We will be able judge that by his explosiveness to the rim. He also has really quick feet. He is going to be an excellent defender and can really get up and down the floor. His mom gave me the greatest tip when she said, `He loves to run and stop at the three-point line, so you have to get him to run all the way for a lay-up.’ So I’ve reminded him of that. You may hear it today. He is going to be really good.”
On the overall talent level of this years team compared to last years:
“I think significantly (higher talent level). I don’t think there is any question about that. Just so many more options and guys are better. You know Daniel Moore was making tremendous progress, but he got injured and he missed his summer. But there is a guy that’s going to go in there and battle and he did a lot of things for us last year. Brett Finkelmeier gets better, and those guys are walk-ons. There is no doubt that we are getting better along with the newcomers getting better. We already talked about the veterans that are coming back. Even though they are one-year veterans, no question the talent level is better. That doesn’t play into the equation or skills and strength and how powerful this league (Big Ten) is right now. What’s relevant to us that there is a definite talent upgrade here.”
On the use of last season as a learning tool:
“It certainly wasn’t the best year, and it was the worst year. Record-wise and things like that, I didn’t want it to end for the fact that these guys were getting so much better. They were working so hard, they came to practice everyday excited. We had our moments. We had games where the roof almost caved in on us and we might not have come back through it, but that never happened. I think a big part of that was how much energy was derived from our crowds, and how people felt about the program at that time. With that being said, its not like we go back and watch films with our team yet. We haven’t really taken any of our allotted time to do much of that, we will get into that certainly when practice starts. They will see more of that when we get into opponent research for our guys to see, but we haven’t spent a lot of time on that. With that being said, and as much as I was excited to coach, I am anxious, I think all of us our anxious to get that totally behind us and to start this next year.”
A couple of thoughts: Jeremiah Rivers is going to be pivotal to IU’s success. Point guard play a season ago was one of many problems and Rivers has the ability to come in and at the least, provide stability. As Crean point out, he has experience winning at a high level and that should help in closing out tight games that were losses a year ago. I’m curious to see how his offensive game has progressed since his days at Georgetown.
Maurice Creek is, without a doubt, a huge addition. He’s not an Eric Gordon level impact player, but he definitely possesses the offensive talent that the Hoosiers desperately lacked a season ago. And he plays defense. I’m sold.
Finally: options, options and more options. Last year, if Verdell Jones or Devan Dumes had a rough night, the alternatives were Brett Finkelmeier and Daniel Moore. This year, Crean will have a rotation that could conceivably go nine or ten deep. Playing time will be at a premium and those who earn the minutes will play the minutes. And that’s exactly how it should be.