Tom Crean’s comments at Big Ten Media Day in Chicago

  • 10/27/2011 10:48 am in

Indiana coach Tom Crean took the podium today at the Crown Plaza O’Hare in Chicago at the Big Ten’s annual media day. The video of Crean’s presser is above or you can listen to the complete audio of Crean’s comments in the embedded media player below:


A full transcript is available after the jump.

THE MODERATOR: Coach, an opening statement.

COACH CREAN: Sure. We’re in a position right now where I think we’re trying to have a real climb mentality in the sense if we’re going to climb in this league, if we’re going to climb back to where we want Indiana to be, it has to be a daily process and one that’s not just about skill development and team development, but the mentality that you have to have.

And I think that started for us in the spring. I thought we had an outstanding spring, and one of the best I’ve been involved in in the sense of really trying to get our guys to understand that for us to take steps, it was going to have to be a complete year-round process.

This spring I think led to a very good summer. When they came back in the fall, when we were able to start working with them in the fall, I should say, we could see a difference in their bodies. I think guys had worked very hard on their skills, and I like our fall. I like the fall we had with them in the sense of the work that we did to try to build a defensive mentality, the work that we did to try to build a togetherness mentality, especially on that defensive end.

And I think we’re way behind offensively right now. I know we are as far as where I’ve been as a coach. But I think the time being spent on getting us to understand what team defense and individual responsibilities are defensively and then coming down and making plays for other people.

It’s been really important. And we’re trying to get the competition level to where great teams have it on a daily basis, where they have it on a yearly basis and we have not had that yet. We’ve not had the ability to have great competition day in, day out the first couple of years. We certainly haven’t had the consistency of depth or a team that’s been deep enough to gain any momentum, and then when injuries hit, we certainly weren’t able to do it. So every day is a step closer to being better in that sense, and I’ll answer questions if you have them on the individual guys.

But I like our camaraderie, the way that it’s developing. I like the toughness that is starting to come out. I think our team is maturing. What that means, it’s too early to tell. And we’ve had injuries this year like so many other coaches have had them. And I’ve talked to Doc Sadler. I thought we had some injury issues until he said he has six guys that still haven’t practiced. To me that’s what this time of year is all about; you just keep developing your team, try to keep getting guys that are going to feel good enough about their ability to contribute to your team. You try to build that competition. You know that the more competitive it is the more camaraderie that can be built from it if done the right way, and that’s what we’re trying to do.


Q. What have you seen so far from Cody these first couple of weeks? And when he establishes himself, how does he change the geometry of the game both for your offensively and defensively?

COACH CREAN: He’s the one player I made an example last week. We were scrimmaging and we were playing some short games and he wasn’t touching the ball much, and the team that was playing with him wasn’t winning the game. And we stopped practice in a very emphatic way and said that the basket didn’t count — or we weren’t going to score unless he touched it. It didn’t mean he had to score it, but he had to touch it in a scoring position.

And it was just amazing. Not to be a visionary, but kind of saw it coming; that team didn’t lose the next couple of scrimmages they played. The point at the end of it was no matter what you think you have been as a player here at Indiana, you’re not somebody that has made it easier for everybody else. Cody makes it easier for everybody else. He makes the game — we knew this when we recruited him. You can go at him and give him the ball and something can happen, or you can play through him, and that’s what our team has got to learn to do right now.

And I think he’s got the intelligence. He’s got the athleticism. He’s got the willingness to do that. He’s a quick, quick learner. He’s getting stronger. He’s gained probably 17, 18 pounds since at the got to Indiana in June. The athleticism is coming out.

I think he’s like any other player, they’re going so hard and competitive right now they have to be pushed even to a higher level. But when you start to push Cody a little bit, you start to see those gears in him that maybe he doesn’t even realize he has. And so he’s been a joy to have. I think his teammates really enjoy playing with him. And, again, he truly makes the game easier because he passes the ball. He rebounds the ball. He understands what the other guys need to do, and they’re learning how to play.

If there’s one thing I think that has really been glaring for us, and I take it as a slight to myself as a coach, our guys are not feeding the post nearly as well as we should be right now. And you start to look at it as a coach. What about that? Well, we haven’t really been throwing it in there the last couple of years. So we spent time on feeding the post, but we haven’t been emphatic about throwing it in the post every time, every other time, things like that.

So we’re kind of all learning together inside of the program, and I think the competition is good for him. I think it’s good for everybody else. But them learning how to play with him and him learning how to play with them has been really good.

Q. How important a recruit was Cody in the sense not just for his talent but the perception thing? A guy, Indiana, everybody said, boy, they really need to get him to turn the corner and get things going.

COACH CREAN: I think it was — I don’t think there’s any question that it was huge. And I think it’s been pretty noticeable. You look at the day he signed and just the effect that it was nationally, just having him, put it in a little bit of perspective. But I think having him made it that much easier for other guys to want to be a part of it.

But I also think Jordan Hulls being there and some of those type of people that Cody developed relationships with and knew from AU days and things like that helped. And we knew we were closer to being a lot better, and we also knew that he could have a huge, huge hand in helping us take steps.

And I think it’s not what you can look and say it’s just one step or two steps, but take a lot of steps. And I don’t think there’s any question that you can look at it perception-wise and say it was great, but in all reality it’s even better than that, because he’s such a skilled player. And he’s such a — he’s not a big guy. He’s just a big basketball player.

He really makes the game easier for everybody else in the sense and allows them to do more of what they can do. And we’ve continually played the last couple of years where the defense really could cheat off of one or two people and at almost any given time. So you could play people, a man and a half. You could double team certain people. You could build concepts around taking certain people out of the game. Well, you can’t win if you have that.

You have to have players that everybody has to guard. Well, to take it to the next step you’ve got to have somebody that can make it so much better for everybody else. Just based on the fact that they’re on the floor with the attention they command. And I think Cody’s got that potential.

Q. When you talk about Cody making other players better, can you talk about like which guys you think he’s going to help the most and what kind of opportunities is his presence going to create for other guys?

COACH CREAN: Oh, I think you’ve got to have — in this league, especially, learned a lot about it over the last three years, but the teams that win have five players on the floor that are two-way players and they’re players that you have to guard.

It’s very hard to scheme against players in this league, because they can make shots. Everybody has some special skills. It’s really not a specialty league. And there’s been times where we’ve been a specialty team. And you can’t — you can’t win consistently with that. You can’t say, well, this guy’s just a really good defender, this guy’s just a really good rebounder, or this guy’s just a really good shooter. You’ve got to have complete players and guys that have the potential to be complete.

So there’s not one person or one group of guys that a player with the talent of Cody affects. He affects the entire team, because the game is played with five on both ends. And now, in that sense, him playing with a Tom Pritchard who is a very good defender, an experienced player, four-year player, which certainly helps us, helps Cody a little bit defensively where Cody being on the court with him might help him offensively.

But that remains to be seen. But I think he’s just really been — it’s been good for the way the court has been able to be spread. We have some guys like Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey that can take people off the dribble, that can get to the rim. We have Verdell Jones, who’s an excellent mid-range player, very good pick-and-roll player. We have Jordan Hulls, who’s becoming better all the time.

When the court is opened up, when there’s a lot more spacing, when the lane — you just can’t sit in the lane and dare people to drive it, it makes it better for everybody else. So that’s what we’re hoping for.

Q. One senior on the roster last year, nine upperclassmen this year, how important is that experience level towards the climb you were talking about?

COACH CREAN: I don’t think there’s any question when you look at this league over the years, it’s an experienced league. It’s a deep league. Very talented league. And every year it becomes an old league, because there’s a lot of juniors and seniors in the league.

We’ve not been able to do that. We’re finally starting to get to that point. There’s no question. To have Verdell, to have Tom, to have — even going into the junior class with Christian Watford, with Jordan Hulls, with Derek Elston, and certainly we’d be bringing Maurice Creek into that, but he hasn’t played the equivalent of a freshman season yet for us.

But I think to have a deeper team you’ve got to have a team that’s got experience, has toughness, and that has been in some battles, and then you have a chance. So I think we’re starting to get closer to that, no doubt.

THE MODERATOR: Thank you, Coach.

Filed to:

  • unclekerfuffle

    I found it very interesting what Coach said about going thru the post over the last couple of seasons.  I am by no means a basketball expert but doesn’t the DD offense pretty much ignore that type of ball movement?  Someone help me to understand what seems to be an inconsistency.

    I also understand that IU has not had the post scoring threat over the last three seasons that Cody and the future recruits will bring to the game.

  • Anonymous

    I think what is being seen as an inconsistency can also just be seen as a lack of pieces. We haven’t had anyone with a good enough post game. I think we have see Crean play with what he had or thought he had to put on the floor. Now that the recruiting pieces are falling, Crean can start implementing a system… because we are having guys with skills at every position. 

    The DD offense is an offense that is supposed to take the pressure to create offense off of the post positions. Now that Crean has a “post-player” he can run more types of offenses. I think that Crean is a guy that leans more towards a DD offense, but you have to run multiple offenses and give different looks if you are going to be successful. 

  • MM

    The dribble drive is just one of any kind of motion offense. fact of the
    matter is you are trying to balance or un-balance (depending how you look at it) the floor in a certain manner to which you can leverage your players/the fact that you have the ball (based on how the defense reacts to what you do) in order to get buckets.

    That may mean dumping it into Cody so someone collapses and he can kick out, it may mean Jordy driving and dumping off to someone. the term “dribble drive” is just a name placed on a man to man offense that like most motion sets generally allows for a certain amount of reaction to what the defense does and allows you to get the offense started. how our players react and get the defense unbalanced really dictates what happens after the first couple passes.

    if this makes any sense i don’t know – hopefully it helps to clarify and obviously this is all easier said then done – defensive pressure, psychological pressure, confidence, preparation, athleticism and skill all affect how the game is played and the outcome.

    of course i could be wrong…..

  • GB

    Been discussing this with a buddy for a bit. I think it just seems awkward to think of the dribble drive offense (guard driving into the lane then dishing) mixed with a true big man (located somewhere low in the paint, causing clutter). But one way to think of it is to think about how open said big man (zeller/pritch) will be once people converge on the guard driving. A smooth bounce pass and it’s an easy 2 points for the big man. Then of course you have your wing players waiting for the open J.

    I’m not an expert or even sure of this by no means, but I was kind of with you on the DD offense, with a big man. But I’m guessing this above concept is a high possibility.

    But it’s also good to see Crean acknowledging we need to learn how to feed the post. Can’t blame them, never really had the reason, but now with someone like Cody, it’s going to be crucial.

  • Anonymous

    I’m assuming that when he said they weren’t passing the ball to CZ he meant that VJIII wasn’t passing the ball to CZ. Should be interesting to see how his teammates react to him on the floor in the exhibition games. That is reason alone to watch. If they aren’t passing the ball to him consistently then this could get real ugly, real quick.

  • unclekerfuffle

    That is sort of the conclusion I came to as well.  I just wanted to see if anyone else saw it that way.

    It should be interesting to see if the team will pass the ball inside when it comes to game time.  If not, I expect some seasoned players might be warming the pine.  You simply cannot have a player of CZ’s ability/potential on the court and him not getting a touch or two nearly every offensive set.  

    If the guards and wings want some wide open shots they will figure out that passing the ball into Cody will be the best way to get those shots.  He is too good of a passer and understands that his role is to do multiple things resulting in points being scored by the entire team not to kick it back out to the open man if he is covered up.

  • Jerm_cub_fan

    I hope they are getting the lesson from not “dumping” into the post.  They have been a primarily a perimeter team.  I would love to see a true inside – outside team again.  I have a feeling that Cream will reinforce the idea of the post game just like Knight would ‘reinforce’ what offense and defense he wanted.  

  • IU_Fan_99

    But I like our camaraderie, the way that it’s developing. I like the toughness that is starting to come out. I think our team is maturing. What that means, it’s too early to tell. And we’ve had injuries this year like so many other coaches have had them. And I’ve talked to Doc Sadler. I thought we had some injury issues until he said he has six guys that still haven’t practiced. To me that’s what this time of year is all about; you just keep developing your team, try to keep getting guys that are going to feel good enough about their ability to contribute to your team. You try to build that competition. You know that the more competitive it is the more camaraderie that can be built from it if done the right way, and that’s what we’re trying to do.

    What does Crean mean when he says 6 players have not practiced?

  • Anonymous

    Sadler means that he has 6 players that have been injured.

  • IU_Fan_99

    IU players? Mo, Pritch (boot), C-Wat (boot)…. who else?

  • CoachB

    Having a solid big guy is really beneficial to a DD offense.  It forces decisions on the defense in the lane that they never had to make before.  You have a wing driving the lane, in years past the D would help and take their chances with the guard trying to shoot over a big or recovering to Pritchard or someone else not as gifted as Zeller.

    With Zeller, coaches have to decide whether to help or not.  That big man down low on D won’t rotate away from Zeller as quickly giving some of our finishers dunks or easy 10 footers.  A couple of those and then the D starts to rotate, now you dump off.

    After that is successful, the opposing D starts bringing in more wing help.  So the drive happens, the big D stays on Zeller, the opposite wings come in to help, now the spot up 3’s are wide open. 

    Next progression is really where you get some good production, now the ball is passed out of the middle to the 3 point shooter.  You have a wing d sprinting out of position to the shooter.  You have a guard D behind the cutter (the guy that drove and passed) and Zeller has his man pinned to the inside because he had to hedge a little to help on the drive.  Now Zeller has great inside position with his man pinned and 2 or 3 of the wing defenders are sprinting  to get back to position.  This is called a defensive break down and that is something we have not been able to create for some time.

    I think we will see our 3 point shooting go way up as defenders will have to help more inside because of Zeller and guards can spot up instead of shooting off the dribble with a hand in their face.

  • Anonymous

    Wow. Got any other neat mind-reading tricks you’d like to share? Some people find any reason, real or imaginary, to dump on VJIII. I don’t understand “fans” like you.

  • Anonymous

    No, Doc Sadler has six players that haven’t practiced yet. That means there are six Nebraska players that haven’t taken the court yet. Pritchard and Watford have both practiced already, they’re just not practicing right now. And really Watford should be back…

  • vg/BMG

    Doc Sadler is the Nebraska head BB coach.  Since Nebraska is new to the BIG, most people are not aware of whom Crean was referencing in that statement.

  • Bleeding Crimson

    I’m pretty sure if CTC is stopping practice to point this out, he will do it in game situations.   Like he said, we never really had a true post player to learn to do this.  So this could take some time for the rest of the team to figure it out…but I’m pretty sure CTC already knows.  Our team will be a different team and style of ball moving forward.

  • Ask DeMarcus Cousins what the dribble-drive does for post players.

  • MillaRed

    Your second paragraph tells it all. The defense can no longer camp in the lane. Unless, of course TP’s man stays there and forces him to hit the 10 footer. Hopefully Hanner masters the short range game so no one can go anywhere. They usually end up in “no-man’s land” and that leads to fouls on the driver.

  • JerryCT

    To Unclekerfuffle:

    I think the inconsistency means we are going to run a different offense part of the time because you are right about where the post plays in the DD 90% of the time.

    Keep in mind we have no proven drivers off the dribble. Thus the post DE or TP must come out to set a pick to shake anybody loose. Then they have to get back to the weakside of the lane like a yo-yo. I would say 40% of the time TP has to come out to get an outlet pass to free up a hounded and stalled Hulls or Jones.

    I have said before that in DE,TP and now CZ we have big passers which fit nicely into a cutting , screening and passing game that VO and WS are particularly good at. Then when help comes to the cutter Hulls nails the open 3 on a kick out

    Of course I am guessing but I see less DD this year …………… mercifully

  • “We stopped practice in a very emphatic way and said that the basket didn’t count — or we weren’t going to score unless he touched it. It didn’t mean he had to score it, but he had to touch it in a scoring position.

    I ABSOLUTELY LOVE THIS! Cody is the best player on the roster, and everything on offense should move through him. Whether he can score with a post move, or kick out to Jordy when he draws a double team, or give CW a 1 on 1 opportunity, things will flow so much better this year with Cody on floor.With him in there, and him getting the ball, I can’t see those 5 to 6 minute droughts without scoring anymore, and thats going to be a big, big key in “taking the next step” as we talk about so much on this board here.

  • Anonymous

    I actually have been a big VJIII supporter but you can’t deny the fact that he dribbles too much and isn’t always a willing passer. Hulls passes the ball and RA has shown a willingness to pass quite often when I’ve seen him play. Just judging based on past performance. 

  • Anonymous

    Very revealing comments by Crean..especially about the need for Cody to be involved all the the offense.. Coach also..without throwing anybody under the bus..hit on some of the challenges IU has faced the last 3 years (no upper classmen…being a “speciality” team without five well rounded players available all the time etc.) Let’s hope the emphasis on defense “takes.”

  • Anonymous

    The team should learn fairly quickly.  Reminds me being in the locker room as an underclassman as my HS coach blew up.  We had a gifted senior post player, a 20-10 guy, who wasn’t getting the ball. 

    Coach comes in and blows up: “Guards, you’ve got the @#$! County Bank in the post and you’re not giving him the ^%#$ ball.  You wanna play hero, you’ll do it on the JV…(more swearing/yelling)…”

    Starting guards were benched to start the half and the first 5 possessions were run for our big man.  Didn’t have another problem the rest of the season. 

    If Crean wants to run things through Zeller, it’ll happen. 

  • unclekerfuffle

    Thanks for the explanation, MM.  That makes sense

  • unclekerfuffle

    Thanks, Coach; I actually understood that.  It’s going be fun to watch it develop.

  • unclekerfuffle

    I am hopefully your last line is prophetic.

  • IUball

    I completely agree! Just going through Cody is going to be better offense than we had all of last year. Cody is not only our best scorer, but our best passer as well. 

  • IUball

    It sure isn’t rocket science. Cody, Cody, Cody!

  • unclekerfuffle

    I should know not to drink this much beer and then post.

    I meant–Hopefully, your last line is prophetic.

  • Drewp1

    Those who dont like DD, curious if you watched last years tourney. Especially the later rounds. I watched some teams do it to perfection. They had the players to do it. It was a thing of beauty. It works. We might have to wait till Yogi and company get here to see the benefits.

  • Anonymous

    Been there.  Done that.  Doing it right now.

  • Anonymous

    Exactly, I think this is where Crean is coming from when he says that he stopped practice and told the team that CZ needed to at least touch the ball each possession, not necessarily score each time, but at least get a touch to try and make the D do what you so aptly explained above. This is also a good example of how CZ, having the bball IQ that he does, makes the others around him better

  • Anonymous

    Are you talking about the same Jones that had a higher assists per game than Hulls? He turned it over more too, but that’s because he attempted passes more often than Hulls, not less. Hulls was the better passer, not the more willing one.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, the same guy that had a 22.0 turnover rate last season compared to Hulls’ 18.6. The same guy that ignores TP on the pick/roll. The same guy that the offense stalls with when he’s running the point. The same guy that stands 30 feet from the basket and dribbles out the clock.

  • JerryCT

    I honestly do not know what you are referring to , UCONN, VCU, MARQ and KY I suppose. These are the only teams playing DD in the sweet 16 .

    BUT, ARZ, NC, SDSU, FLA all play spread P&R

    DUke/KS plays HI/Lo post , Wisc – Swing, Rich – Princeton, BYU – Fredette, OSU – post feed style

    All teams look to drive the ball but as an offensive scheme as popularized by Calipari  it is not a very successful scheme.Teams’ successful at the DD have at least one guy who can blow by anyone at will. Few teams have this player which is why they do not make the sweet 16