Coach Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 85-74 win over Purdue on Sunday at Assembly Hall. Watch the press conference in high-definition quality video in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
“These guys have been so locked in and I said to Matt [Painter] just before the game, for what it’s worth, it’s amazing that our game a couple weeks ago has turned things for both of us [Purdue and Indiana]. Both were having pretty good years and all of a sudden, there’s a difference. We could see it on film and I feel it and see it every day when I’m with my team. I think they’ve been getting better all year, but even when we were losing some games I continually thought that these guys were improving. I know sometimes people wonder when they don’t see all the results the right way, but I knew they were and they are. They are getting better and I think that’s a great, great feeling as a coach. Senior Day is a tremendous day, but it’s different this year for a lot of reasons and one because I don’t think we’re anywhere near being where we want to be at this point and that’s a good feeling. Today was about understanding how hard we had to be defensively. The rebounding game – I think their [Purdue’s] offensive rebounding to me, might have been the most improved aspect of their team in the last few weeks. The numbers say something else, but I was watching them rebound: we rarely show a tape twice, but we led off the preparation with their offensive rebounding and we closed with it today with their offensive rebounding because I think it’s that good. They keep a lot of things going. Our guys had a great spirit, they had a great mindset, they carried the preparation, they carried the week right into today and they kept playing even when Purdue made a run. Our guys continued to be very serious minded. It’s not a mistake-free game, we know that, but they continued to play at a really, really high level. I thought Christian Watford is playing at a very high level. Cody Zeller is, Jordan Hulls did some excellent things, Will Sheehey played with great confidence, he was the last guy off the court today after walkthrough – he and Victor [Oladipo]. [They] were just making sure they got their extra ball handling and their extra shots not because any coach said it but because that’s who they are. I thought our seniors did an excellent job of impacting the game. Verdell [Jones], Tom [Pritchard] and Matt [Roth] did so many different things inside of the game. Matt’s threes are a huge, huge part of today but it was also his defense. It was the ball movement, it was the way you had to guard him, it was him getting lost in the game. Verdell did excellent work. It’s a fitting day for these guys to have a win like this, to beat a rival like this, to beat a team that arguably was playing as well as anyone in the last couple of weeks. I haven’t really studied the stat sheet much but I’m really, really proud of them and proud of how they work and again, they had a very good defensive mindset to start the game, we had a lot of deflections. We just continue to understand what wins for us.”
On offensive ball movement:
“It’s really important because, I’m into the rebounding with Purdue, but the thing that’s clear, is how well they’re moving without the basketball. Robbie Hummel, it’s like playing another version of [Michigan State’s] Draymond Green this week because everything is facilitated so much through Draymond. He can pass, he can shoot threes, he can play on the post. Robbie Hummel is the same way; it’s just more of a movement type offense. He was averaging 24 in over seven of the last five, six games and he was shooting the ball 16-to-17 times a game. He was shooting over six free-throws a game. Those are big numbers and you’ve got to put so much attention on him, and now what’s changed, since they had to change their team, is they just added another shooter to the lineup. That’s what makes them so dangerous to deal with. That all being said, we had to move the ball. If this became a stagnate offense, and we showed some film of a couple games where people didn’t match their movement, and we knew they would come in here and want to get off to a great start like they have been in some other games, especially on the road. We could not let them come down and have their way with us offensively and at the same time we couldn’t come down and be a first half team, be a quick shooting team, we had to play and I thought our guys did a great job on that.”
On graduating seniors’ legacy:
“They had no one to teach them. I can’t just quantify enough how great it was for all those former players to come back here. They come back all the time, but those first couple of months in the first two years were so big because they had to have somebody. They didn’t absorb it all at the time, but the more that they had it, the more that they could get it. I think, again, the thing to me that stands out so much now is that when you’ve played at Indiana, the program has always been bigger than any one person. People remember the teams. They remember the players certainly, but they remember the teams. The teams here, in my mind, in my recollection, were never people that were entitled or that anything was bestowed upon them, as great as the tradition was, everybody had to come and earn their way in. These guys have done that. Differently than a lot of the great teams, the great four-year segments, but they’ve done some things that others haven’t done and they can take that with them. The three top-five wins and how we’ve played this year against the Indiana schools. There’s so many things that they can take with them and now they’ve earned their way in to a really, really strong tradition because the one common theme is nothing ever gets handed to you at Indiana. You have to earn everything that comes your way and they understand that now.”