Coach Tom Crean, junior Christian Watford, junior Jordan Hulls and freshman Cody Zeller met with the media following the Hoosiers’ 79-71 loss to Wisconsin in the quarterfinals of the Big Ten Tournament on Friday afternoon.
Watch the complete press conference below, courtesy of IUAthletics on YouTube:
Complete transcript below.
Q. Did you guys sense the absence of Verdell Jones today?
JORDAN HULLS: Yeah, yeah, definitely. Having a good player like Verdell not being able to play for us, it’s pretty difficult, but a lot of years have been the next guys stepping up, and we fully have the guys on the bench who can fully do that. But you can’t replace directly a guy like Verdell, but we just gotta adapt to that.
Q. How difficult is it to top a Wisconsin team when they’re shooting like that and seems like everything is falling from beyond the arc for them early?
CHRISTIAN WATFORD: It’s difficult, but we did some crazy stuff. We just wasn’t playing intelligent on the defense end and made some shots.
Q. Cody, you only finished with one rebound. What were they doing defensively, keeping from you pulling down some of those rebounds?
CODY ZELLER: I mean, some of it has to do with them shooting 3s, but a lot of it had has to do with me. I gotta catch up at the boards harder. I gotta give better effort.
Q. Jordan, with the win yesterday and the competitive loss today, what did you guys really, really get out of these two rounds?
JORDAN HULLS: We always want to compete and obviously win, but I felt like we played hard, but we have to play a lot smarter to carry that into the next games that we have to play. So we gotta play more intelligent and get that team chemistry and keep building on that.
Q. When you guys didn’t say you didn’t feel like you were playing intelligent on defense, what does that mean? What did you feel like you guys were doing wrong? What wasn’t working for you on that end?
JORDAN HULLS: Just whether it’s switching. Whether it’s closing out with the hand lower than it needs to be on a shooter there, just rising up and hitting shots and pretty much open, so just gotta communicate a lot better and that’s just part of being intelligent.
Q. Jordan, until that 3-pointer you took at the very end, you didn’t attempt one, Matt Roth didn’t attempt one. Were they just taking that away today?
JORDAN HULLS: I was just trying to be aggressive off the pick-and-roll, so my shots were just mostly pull-up jumpers. I wasn’t going to try to force 3-pointers if it wasn’t there. So for me, that’s what I really felt. But as far as Matt or anybody else, that’s probably partly my fault too not driving and kicking enough and finding an open man on the 3-point line.
Q. Christian, I know that you obviously don’t want to lose in a tournament in the second round, but having those couple of days before Selection Sunday, does that give you guys a little bit of a chance to catch your breath and get ready for the NCAA tournament?
CHRISTIAN WATFORD: Oh, yeah, it does. But, like you said, we definitely didn’t want to lose today, but we’ll go back home and we’ll get ready and we’ll find out where we’re playing and who we’re playing. We’ll be ready.
Q. Before the game what, if anything, did you guys know about Rob Wilson?
CODY ZELLER: I mean, our coaches did a pretty nice job of doing the scouting reports and stuff for us. We knew that he could shoot the ball, but we gave him too many openings. Especially once he got hot, we didn’t change anything in our defensive strategy to get out on him more.
COACH CREAN OPENING STATEMENT: It was a high-level game in a lot of respects. We shot almost 50 percent, they shot almost 50 percent. Rob Wilson had his best game I’ve ever seen him play. I’m not at Wisconsin so I don’t know if they’ve seen him play better.
But as we told our team, he was the most improved player on our team since the first time we played him. He had a great game at Ohio State, and he really brought a different dose of energy to their team when he was in the game.
But to shoot it the way that he did today, in the last five games he hit seven threes and today he hit seven threes. Now, some of them were reading screens wrong, some of them were over-help situations. The one late in the game where we helped on the Taylor drive and left him was a mistake. No question about it.
But they don’t put anybody out on the floor that can’t make shots. But as far as us scoring, we weren’t having a lot of trouble scoring ourselves. We should have made it a little harder for them, but again, it was a high-level game and we had some guys play very well, they had guys play very well. The different was Rob Wilson played tremendous. And his aggressiveness and the way that he shot the ball, sometimes we were right there draped on him and he made shots; other times he was a product of good ball movement and our over helps.
But the other thing I would say about the game is every time we were close to getting momentum going back our way, they made a big play, and it was usually Rob Wilson making that play.
Q. Coach, kind of like what I asked Christian, the fact that you guys do have a couple of days to rest up, get healthy for the tournament, what will that mean to this ball …
COACH CREAN: I’m not sure. We’ve been getting a lot of rest. As it is, our guys have a lot of energy. They’re fresh. We didn’t lose today because we didn’t have energy, and it was — both teams had it.
We won’t make a lot of changes. I haven’t really thought that far ahead and to that structure. So we’ll get together as a coaching staff and decide what we need to do next.
Q. Coach, you kind of kind of stuttered on this answer a little bit, but in terms of just defending the three and some of those things, just what all just didn’t particularly go right there?
COACH CREAN: I think the over helps. I think the key with any great driver is you’ve go to keep your chest in front of the ball, and a couple times we didn’t do that.
And Ryan Evans played very well, without a doubt. And Taylor, as much attention as we gave him, he did a good job of moving the ball today. And again, they’re a highly skilled team.
And to have Rob Wilson playing that way for them, that’s you can sleep a lot better at night going into the tournament knowing that you’ve got a guy that’s got those capabilities. But again, we knew he was playing better, and but to shoot it like that, he got hot. We didn’t do a great of changing that. That we put different guys on him, but a couple instances we went under screens. Another instance we over helped on the post. And another instance we totally helped on the drive when we should have stayed connected to him. We really wanted to do a better job than what we did of staying connected to some of their shooters. But at the same time, when you have breakdowns on the ball, then that’s going to created help situations.
Q. I know Will returned to the game, but how’s he doing going forward?
COACH CREAN: It’s hard to tell. It’s hard to tell right now. Haven’t had a chance to talk to Tim Garl, our doctors. So we’ll see here in a little while.
Q. Wisconsin did a good job taking away Victor Oladipo or at least making him work for his shots, like making Victor Oladipo work for his shots. He didn’t shoot particularly well from the floor. What all did you see that went into that?
COACH CREAN: We still shot 50 percent almost for game. And we didn’t take a lot of 3s. Frankly, we didn’t need to. We got the ball in the lane. We got the ball into some post-up situations. We wanted to get to the foul line.
And Vic, it wasn’t one of his better games. But there’s a lot of room for improvement in him and he’s improved a great deal this year. So we fully believe and expect that he will. We’re asking him to do a lot, and he’s been doing a lot more for us since the first injury to Verdell after the Michigan game or during the Michigan game and been a big part of why we’ve played so well. And now with Verdell out, he’s gotta do even that much more.
But again, for him, so much of it comes down to how he’s defending, and he did some really good things and shooting the ball on a couple decisions, he’d probably like to have that back, but we’re very confident in what he can do.
Q. Tom, did you ever get an explanation as to why they wouldn’t go to the monitor on the Elston charge?
COACH CREAN: The one late in the game? It’s not reviewable. They said.
Q. Tom, I’m just curious what did your scouting report say going into this game about Rob Wilson?
COACH CREAN: Well, we said that he was — again, in the short time of preparation, we watched as much film of him as of anybody. He was the most improved player in our minds since we’d played him the first time, and he didn’t do a lot in this game. But really, the Ohio State game at Ohio State was where he really, I thought, came to life for their team.
So in the last five games, he was averaging six points but he’d made seven 3s. He was shooting 39 percent, I think. And we knew that he was an x factor because of his aggressiveness and his attackability. And there were times we were there, but there were other times that we weren’t.
And certainly, when you begin your plan with Jordan Taylor and Ryan Evans and Jared Berggren, but Rob Wilson was fully accounted for in the way that we prepared. It just didn’t look that way today, and he got really, really hot, and then we didn’t do a great job of taking him away.
And again, some of the 3s he made, he earned them. And other ones he made because he was open because we over helped on the ball. But we were fully aware of — Rob Wilson’s been a factor for them for some time. But again, he really had been playing well for them.
So in a short period of time we just didn’t want to let him get a lot of middle penetration. He’s got a great burst and explosiveness. And again, when you don’t have your chest in front of Rob Wilson or you don’t have your chest in front of Jordan Taylor, those are problems. And there were too many times today where we didn’t have our chest in front, and they hurt us with quickness and that created the helps.
Q. Coach, I know you’re disappointed about today, but looking ahead, come Sunday, knowing what that program has been through the last three years, you know you’re going to be selected. Just talk about what that moment is going to be like for you and this team.
COACH CREAN: I’m probably going to think more about that later. I’m not really in that mode. But it’s well earned. I know that, as I’ve said of this team many times.
You have to earn your way in that door. That is a tough door to get in. And the door gets — the room gets a little smaller once you get in, and that’s where you don’t want to beat yourself.
And I’ll be excited for these guys. They’ve earned their way in. There’s nobody that’s handed them anything, there’s nobody that — they weren’t anointed, the group, to go back to the NCAA Tournament. They really, really had to work.
So in that sense, I’ll be really happy for them and look forward to seeing their faces and the families of the staff and my family’s face. And about 15 minutes later, it will be time to start planning for who we’re going to play.