Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 75-70 win over Michigan State on Sunday at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
Quotes available after the jump.
“We knew that they were really good, and I don’t think there is any question about that. If they were a football team, they would be one of those teams that are so balanced with their inside scoring and their outside scoring. There’s really not one place where that you can say ‘well, we can give this up in the game’. We knew that we really wanted to get into the post and make it hard, and then they did a very good job of making that pass after the pass out to make some open jumpers. I say that because this was a game of adjustments, and that’s what it was the entire game. The one thing that never needed to be adjusted was our energy, our attitude towards winning and our spirit. They were high-level the entire way. I don’t know what Tom [Izzo] said, but from what I could see from them, it looked like theirs were the same way. I think that’s why after the game with the CBS interview, Greg Anthony said that this game had the feel and the execution of a Final Four game, and I hope he’s right because I think they are really, really good. For us to get this win in this environment, for us to make the plays that we made especially at the end, for us to make the defensive stops that we made to get the buckets that we needed to get, I thought that was huge. I think the statistics that were a big part of this game. The rebounds were relatively even, but I think the fact that we kept them off the foul line was huge because they’re an excellent foul-shooting team, especially Gary Harris and Keith Appling. Adreian Payne is getting better all of the time. We never really let them get a great break. We did give up some transition buckets, and some was our lack of alertness and awareness. They taught us something there, so we’ve got to get better in a hurry with that. It was a physical game. It was a hard-nosed game. It was a high-level game, and they are a great team and that’s why it’s a great win for us.”
On how a close win like this will help down the road as opposed to the blowouts:
“We’re not a team that’s going to get a lot of those types of wins, and we’re not in a league where you’re going to get a lot of those types of big wins, so you’ve got to be in some fights. We’ll get better from this, and I’m certain Michigan State will get better from this. If you’re going to win over the long haul, you’ve got to find ways. Our guys had great will. I thought Christian Watford was excellent in the second half because they were picking on him in the first half and he responded. He responded in a big way and played through a lot of things. I thought the charge that Cody [Zeller] drew and then the play that we ran where he got the layup off the high pick-and-roll is something that we’ve been sneaking into our 5-on-5 work and I knew I was going to call it at some point and he went out there and executed it. That’s a high-level player that can do something like that. He was 30 feet away from the bucket and drove that thing in for a lay-up with his left hand. Those are the things that make a difference. Victor Oladipo did something in the first half that I’ve never been a part of in coaching. He had 15 deflections in a half. He ended up with 22 in the game and six steals. Victor is a great example. We watch a lot of film as a team but he always watches that much more. He’s getting a knowledge base to go with those instincts and his talent and his athleticism and the more he does that, the better he’s going to be. Guys like that learn that your instincts cant’ get better without that knowledge. They can get to a point, but the more you add to that knowledge of’ I can do this and I can do that’ and ‘when he comes this way I can go there.’ That’s part of the game. That’s part of them taking the next step, and this game was like that. For us to have to make the adjustments that we had to make and find a way to win was big.”
On Victor Oladipo’s development since he got on campus:
“Well he came with the athleticism; he came with the work ethic. I think the fact that he started more games here in two years here than he did in high school says a lot about him, but I think also the fact that he has a higher GPA than he even did and he was over a 3.0 in high school says a lot about him. I think he’s a great example of the old boring statement of daily improvement. I have not seen him not have a day where he was not doing something extra in the day whether it’s after practice, whether it’s in the summer time or the springtime and being in the gym extra. I think the film thing is something that’s really, really helped him where he’ll watch that extra film. He’ll have edits made for him where he can watch the different match-ups. I think the biggest difference is he was always a very charismatic personality driven young man, didn’t really want to hurt anybody feelings. He’s not real worried about that any more as a leader. He’s grown and I say that with dead seriousness. You can’t be a leader without being demanding and hurting some people’s feelings once and being able to call them out and he’s getting there. I think his road to leadership, he’s got a great voice with this team. I think if you look at his numbers, and we did this the other day, if you look at his numbers six games into the Big Ten last year into six games this year, it was astronomical and I’m sure we will see the same thing when we looks at the stats from last year to this year after seven games. He just keeps getting better.”
On the trust that the team has in Cody Zeller to make a play like he did:
“Well, they know he can play. He can do a lot of different things. He’s not just an inside player. There are so many areas where he is just scratching the surface. He’s got to talk more, especially in the back line. They got a couple of lobs in the first half where he wasn’t as aware of where his teammates were as he needed to be. He’s got to take away certain things in the game but it was winning time and Cody answered the bell. He rang the bell. To get that charge and then get that drive and make that play in the heat of the game, that’s where his mental toughness is. He came with that, and I’m sure he was born into it and it being in the family that he’s been in. That’s a part of it. (His high school coach) Gene Miller did an unbelievable job of making him a better player. That mental toughness is always there. He’s so non-statistic driven, and that’s why he’s such a winner because he just does what it takes. I had no hesitation with that call. We didn’t call it out of the timeout. I had it in the bag and looked good because he ran it to perfection. The other guys were all in movement as well. He continues to improve. They just aren’t always as apparent but he’s getting better and better.”