Coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 70-55 win over Michigan State on Tuesday at Assembly Hall. Watch the press conference in high-definition quality video in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
“First thing, how about that crowd? Unbelievable. The bedlam of this place and you could sense it building all day with how the students were lined up, just phenomenal. I thought game management, game energy, the band, everybody was high level and fortunately our team was the same way. Our team responded as we kept saying today, it’s not hit or be hit, it’s hit or be out and this is a game where you’ve got to be in the mix because they set the tone and the standard for toughness in our league and in the country. They do, they’re just such a physically dominating team. They execute, they play both ends, they’ve got one of the best defenses in the country and certainly in the league, they’ve got star power, they’ve got high quality players and our guys matched it and I’m very, very proud of them because it’s a game where not only do you want to be measured by how you play against Michigan State, but to get a win like that means an awful lot.
“It’s the first time in the history of Indiana that an Indiana team has won three top-five games in the regular season, so that’s something they can all take with them. That’s remarkable considering where we have been. The thing I’m most proud of with this team, as we continue to get better, is every one of them has earned it. There’s been nothing handed to them. There’s been nothing given to them, in the sense of anything bestowed upon them, they haven’t been entitled to anything. They’ve just continued to improve in the program and they’re living proof of what happens when you persevere and you deal with adversity and you lock yourself in the gym and you just make yourself better. Our team is getting better and I think it was proven again tonight.
“The job Christian Watford did defensively is where I would start with talking about him. Obviously he had a double-double, but the eight deflections, the job he did on Keith Appling, then the job of going in to Draymond Green, I thought that was big. Cody (Zeller) was tremendous and to have five guys in double figures, but more importantly to rebound the way that we did, to defend the way that we did says a lot. We knew Draymond Green would be a handful and he was that and more. I think with the exception of a couple of buckets, we made him earn them and we did a really good job on other guys. Our guys continue to battle. They’re doing a very good job, for the most part right now, of executing by recognition, of recognizing what’s there on the break and when it’s not, making sure that they bring it out and that they play. I’m very proud of the way that they played. I feel good about where they’re at, but I feel even better about how much better they can get because our work ethic is high and I’m really proud of the way they’re playing.”
On the growth of the program:
“I think it’s like anything else and every team is different and every season is a new season, but they’ve never been in the situations. When we first got here we started talking about uncharted waters. It was for everybody. It was for all of you covering it, it was for all of them playing in it, it was for us coaching it, the fans being involved in it. Well it’s the same thing now. It’s uncharted when you’re climbing and when you’re getting better. Jay Bilas made a point in the interview afterward when he called it an innocent climb and I guess it is, it’s very Pat Riley-esque, but I guess it is and what we’ve got to continue to do is not get caught up in anything but that climb and that climb is all about practicing hard, getting better, not making wholesale changes, making competition the forefront of practice, making improvement what you’re measured by and making sure that everyone understands and I think that’s what happened.
“Christian Watford, he has spent enormous time in the gym since last spring, but as much as anytime in the last week and a half to build himself and in the film room. That helps bring confidence and so I think that’s key and that’s how you want your program to continue to grow and now as we move down the road and new guys come in, they’ll have people that have been through it seeing what happens when you do it right, they see what happens with success and they can help teach them. These older guys never had that.”
On Victor Oladipo setting the tone:
“We made a decision late this morning to put Victor on Draymond Green and we knew we would switch a lot because again with Christian (Watford), Will (Sheehey), and Victor I think you can see we’ve got guys that we can do a lot of switching with and they can guard a lot of different people. We made the decision to switch Will onto Branden Dawson and Victor on to Draymond Green. When Vic gets his energy going defensively it helps the team, but it certainly helps him and I think that was a big part of that and if you’re going to guard Draymond Green you’re going to be locked in right away and he was.”
On the decision to start Watford on Appling:
“We needed to switch onto Green because we needed to change the momentum with him. There were five points off the out of bounds in the first half that were mistakes and again maybe it’s the short prep, it was the first out of bounds play we went over and we didn’t handle that right, but we did a pretty good job on him, but there were times he got momentum and Christian wanted that matchup so we’re very confident with him on Keith Appling and he guarded Andre Hollins the other day, he’s guarded Lewis Jackson. We’re very, very comfortable with Christian guarding the point guard because when he’s down and when his hands are active, that’s a tough guy to get around and we made some adjustments on how we guarded Keith Appling from the first time. He hurt us a couple of times with it, but for the most part it helped us. Christian’s a big part of that because of his awareness. He’s a very, very smart player, extremely smart, but again, the story of the game for him, outside of the defense on Keith, was the rebounding.”
Filed to: Tom Crean