Update: Tom Crean postgame press conference audio is available here.
Here’s a transcript of Tom Crean’s postgame comments to Don Fischer following the Hoosiers’ 78-69 loss to Colorado in the IBN Sports Las Vegas Classic:
Don Fischer: Coach, I know there’s no moral victories anymore for this basketball team and your program, but I’ll tell you what: What heart this team showed in the comeback effort.
Tom Crean: We did because we were gasping for air and a lot of things bonded us. Whether it was the lack of getting to the foul the line, the score, the other team. But I don’t think the guys, I don’t think we were giving the other team too much credit. I don’t think we were out there having a ton of respect for them. We just felt like if we could just keep coming back that they were going to allow us back in the game and that’s exactly what they did. I felt like that certainly from watching tape, no offense to them but our guys struggled with that and when they finally figured that out and were playing with relentlessness and like their head was on fire then we started to make things happen.
DF: Coach, you got off to such a horrid shooting start in the second half. 1-of-16. That got you to the 19-point deficit you had to deal with. But you never got away from your game plan. You kept trying to get that ball down low and I thought Christian Watford, even though he had a bad shooting night, struggled in the first half, I thought he really became a man down in the post.
TC: Well, he did. Because he’s looking at me like ‘what do I do next?’ He was working so hard. It really was ridiculous. There’s really no other way to put it. It was ridiculous the lack of foul shooting that he didn’t get. It’s just part of it. But I’m really proud of him because he was struggling and he’s getting star treatment right now from the other team. He was playing against really good athletes and it was just a really hard day for him to deal with it. But he did and I’m proud of him. And I think something like this will help him down the road, that he’s gotta continue to play with it. And there were times he settled for jumpers. There were times he faded away on shots and that’s not the way he needs to play. But he’ll learn from that and he’ll continue to progress and I thought he really, really came alive for us.
DF: Another kid that really stepped up I thought was Victor Oladipo, Coach. He gave you so much energy out there and of course his rebounding was tremendous.
TC: Well, it was. By the way they played and by the way we were playing, we needed to go small. There was no way around it. We just weren’t getting enough done. And we just went with it. He did an excellent job. He got on the glass and to have five offensive boards, seven for the game, 16 points, following up missed free throws. That’s the kind of Victor we’ve gotta have. And I think he’ll continue to grow and he’ll learn a lot from this and he’ll be a better player because of a tournament like this as well.
DF: Coach, I hate to point this out, you’ve already mentioned it, 27 for 31 of course Colorado knocks it down in this ballgame. But you had 25 free throws. Well, I don’t even want to go there.
TC: It’s irrelevant right now. The game is over. We’ve just got to learn to continue to play through that. It’s where it’s at. But you know what? Our guys came back. It didn’t get us the win but our guys came back and they learned and this will help us down the road I have no doubt about that.
DF: Coach, I know you’re looking to go into Big Ten play now. You’ve got a few days before you start on Monday, but the Big Ten, I think you’re ready for it. Don’t you? Don’t you get a feeling that your team has taken a lot of huge strides in the last few weeks?
TC: Yeah, I’m excited that we’re playing. I really am. I’m not excited that the Big Ten scheduled us to play on the 27th, but they did and we need a great crowd because of it. I’ll tell you what, before I answer the rest of that question, our crowd out here was amazing. I mean it was amazing. We went the other night with some of the alumni folks and there were fans not only from Vegas but from Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, New York, California, Oregon, Hawaii. Just amazing. We had such a great crowd. What happened out here was we sold more tickets than all other three schools combined that played in this. That was an honor to have our fans cheer like that. And then we need the same thing when we get back home on Monday.
DF: Coach, we wish you the best of luck. I know we’ve gotta get going here, but I appreciate the fact that this team played so hard in this comeback effort tonight and like I said, I think this team is ready for Big Ten play, I really do.
TC: Well, we need to be ready. We really do. And after however many games we’ve played, after 13 games, I’m not sure I’m any closer to knowing how we’re going to play than I was when it started. But we may not be a conventional basketball team this year. That’s just the way that it is. Maybe I’ve been a little stubborn with that. But we’ve just gotta come out and figure out what’s going to get us wins and what’s going to get us relentless pressure and go with it.