Coach Tom Crean and junior guard Jordan Hulls met with the media on Wednesday afternoon to preview Thursday’s game at Assembly Hall with Illinois. Watch both press conferences in high-definition quality video in the embedded media players below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
“I think our guys are really excited to be home. Last week was a challenging week, an interesting week, and one where we played a lot of different games and to come out of it 2-1, especially with the start we had at Michigan, I think was strong for us overall. We learned a lot about ourselves last week. I think we really did. We learned what we’re capable of. We learned what kind of toughness you have to have and how you have to be resilient when you’re not as tough or when you’re not as aggressive or when you’re not on the attack like you are one night and you’ve got to turn back around and understand that you’re fully capable of it and I think that’s what our guys did at Purdue. We knew we there would be very little margin for error when you go into a place like Purdue and what errors you make you’ve got be able to make up for in your hustle, you’ve got be able to make up for in your aggressiveness, you’ve got to be able to make up for in your confidence and you just keep playing and I thought our guys did that.
“So now as we get ready for Illinois it’s much the same situation. We’re going to be playing against a team that is hungry. We’re going to be playing against a team that has won big games, that has been ranked throughout the season, that knows how to win on the road, and they’re extremely well-coached. I think they’re one of the better coaching staffs in the country. I think the Big Ten is full of good coaches, but I think the Illinois staff is one of the best in the country and I think they’ve proven that over a period of time with how they’ve played year after year. It’s a tough league and they’re capable of winning anytime, anywhere. That’s exactly how we’re preparing for this game. We know it’s a big game for the fans in the sense of rivalry. We know that we had a big win against them last year. We also know that we got smacked around pretty good when we went up to Illinois last year. They really showed no mercy in that game and we did not match their aggressiveness and we did not match their intensity and we paid for it.
“So we’ve had some really interesting games with them over a period of time, but we know this one is one that will be an incredible challenge because they understand what’s at stake. They’ve got some guys that have been through it. They know what it’s like to play big games in the months of February and March and we’ve got to continue to learn to understand what that means. That being said, we’re looking forward to a phenomenal crowd. It’s not only a white out, but I hope it’s a loud out. I hope it’s just numbing for how loud it is inside of the building and just breaks that decibel level again like we have a couple times this year so that’s what we’re excited about. We’ve had a good week of practice and we’re excited to play.”
On the problems that Illinois presents:
“They’ve got a very talented team. They’re explosive. They’ve got tremendous guard play. Right off the bat they’ve got the leading scorer in the league, the guy that makes more threes a game than anybody else in Brandon Paul. They’ve got a guy that went from averaging two and one a year ago to 13 and 9 and gets all kinds of attention in Meyers Leonard. They’ve got Joseph Bertrand, who has bided his time in that program and is now one of the mainstays in that program. They’ve got Tracy Abrams who is a freshman point guard who has started all these games in the league and doesn’t play like a freshman. They’ve got D.J. Richardson who is one of the more underrated guards in our league and maybe in a lot of leagues because of how good he is and how quick he is with the ball and how good of a three-point shooter he is. So they’re a very talented team.
“Sam Maniscalco is a guy that has made big shots his entire career. He’s a guy that has been a volume free throw shooter. He’s a guy that is a tremendous three-point shooter when he was at Bradley. He’s a guy they have on the court for them at the end of games when it’s winning time so they’re a deep team. (Myke) Henry is a tremendous athlete who can shoot the ball, who can get to the basket. Tyler Griffey I’ve always felt is a very underrated player in this league. They’re a very good team and there’s balance there. There’s inside outside, they can run, they can score in the half court. They’re one of the better teams in this league and I think when you have a lot of teams that are right there together sometimes it’s easy to forget that. They’re one of two teams that have beaten Ohio State in this league and they had a guy get 43 in that game so we know what we’re up against.”