Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 81-73 win over Michigan on Saturday at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
“Sometimes in these situations when there is so much attention and hoopla and hype surrounding a game it can’t live up to it and this one did I think. We knew Michigan was really good but after being on the court with them for a couple of hours they’re even better as I thought as a coach and I think we’ve watched as much film as we could over the last couple of weeks. They are really good and they did things tonight that we hadn’t seen as much. They did a good job of covering the ball screen. They were very physical on our hand-offs and our things across the top. They did a good job of screening.
“I don’t know how John (Beilein) feels about his game and his team but looking at them, they are so good and they get a lot of attention for their scoring and their break but they played a very physical game. Our guys really adjusted to how physical they had to play tonight. They made a lot of adjustments in the game. I thought we played with a great purpose. Our energy was tremendous. There’s no question that this crowd was as ecstatic and exciting as any that I’ve been a part of here and we’ve been a part of some unbelievable crowds here. They were there from start to finish and our team kept being fueled by that and I think the big thing for us is in the second half we tightened up some things. We did a good job of getting to the glass. We didn’t always do a great job with them on the boards but we did a really good job, especially after they started blitzing the ball-screens of attacking and then our forwards followed it up. Cody got some good dunks out of that.
“The bottom line is we took care of the ball better. We had 11 turnovers at halftime. We had 5 in the second. We felt like the one thing, it wasn’t the tough threes that they made in the first half that was keeping them in it, it was our turnovers that was keeping them in it. We knew that. We knew we had to have great focus and great discipline and we got a lot better with that in the second half. We defended the three well. I think they made their threes at the end of the game and we could have defended those better but they were playing catch up and we made a couple of mistakes but very proud of our guys with the way that they are maturing. It’s one thing to be at home but our guys knew there was a lot of hoopla and hype surrounding this too. We knew it was new business tonight playing Michigan but we felt that the Michigan that we had played last year, the Indiana defense they saw is what they remembered and we wanted to give them something different because we did not guard them as well as we should have a year ago. We really wanted to prove to ourselves that we were a much better defensive team against a team that is that good and they truly are that good. They are going to continue to have a great season and let’s hope when we meet at the end of the year that we are all playing for something really big.”
On the Gameday experience:
“Well it made for an exciting day. It made for a long day, but it made for an exciting day. The best thing we did was not only get the players out of here after their appearance this morning and get them home and not practice until later this afternoon, but not open up the lines for the students until three o’clock this afternoon so that they would go home and get some rest. I think you want o take in the whole atmosphere. You want to see everything in the morning and you want to reflect a little bit and say this is really a big deal. We had been a part of one at Marquette and obviously when we started here it wasn’t like Gameday was on the horizon anytime soon. The program worked its way to have this to be a place where they wanted to go. I thought they had a great day here but I think it’s a huge honor for us to have something like this but I also think it’s well-earned not only by the program but by our fans. We didn’t want there to be anything that they didn’t see but the bottom line was how we played from 9 to 11 tonight.”
On this team’s defense and how it’s improved from a season ago:
“There are a couple of things that really stand out but our transition defense is better for one thing but we are doing a much better job of trying to keep the ball on one side. Our pick-and-roll defense is better. Our deflections are up so far in the Big Ten from where they were a year ago. I think the biggest thing is because our guys really understand that the better defense they play, the more we finish it off with a defensive board the more we can get out and be more of an explosive offensive team. That’s the fuel for them because it’s not like we are going to work hard on defense and then come down and walk it up. It might be a little bit harder to get them to understand how important defense is if we were in that situation. Really tonight we had a couple of turnovers and the only one we’d really like to have back was (Victor Oladipo) shot it too quick and he knows it late in the game. That’s where you’ve got to make them foul you because they were in that position where they were going to have to make a decision there. I think the thing that we knew going back from last season, the two biggest things were we had to get physically stronger and do a much better of guarding one-on-one because when you do that then you don’t have to be an over help team and there has been too many times, even this year, where we still over help. You over help against Michigan and you are giving them an open shot. Every time that we over helped or didn’t play a screen the right way they got a great look. You really realize that if you’re going to be a high-level team it better start with your gameplan defensively and how committed you are to it and our guys are learning that.”
On using multiple guys to defend Trey Burke:
“We have the luxury of doing that now. That’s really important. Every time we got on his side, he made a good play. Some he made, some he didn’t. There were a couple, the one at the end of the first half that was just a bomb. We were right there. He makes those shots. He is a tremendous player. I get it. I’ve had a lot of respect for him for a long time but now you get in the game with him and he just plays. He doesn’t say anything to him or talks to his team. He just plays. He’s outstanding. You’ve got to have different guys. You’ve have to have some different coverages for the pick-and-roll in your bag. I think if you come into a game with Michigan and think you are just going to put all of your eggs into one basket you’re probably going to lose. You’ve got to make sure you are giving him different looks, giving him different looks personnel wise, giving him different looks schematically although we didn’t do a lot of that tonight. We had a couple of things that we didn’t have to go to that hopefully we can save for another time but we’ve got multiple defenders and I think that really helps us.”
On the importance of Christian Watford’s defensive rebounding against Michigan’s offensive rebounding:
“Really good, really big because (Michigan) can. Cody’s loose ball rebound late on our end offensively was unbelievable. He’ll have some SportsCenter dunks but that loose ball rebound that’s why he’s such a special player. Christian is the same way. Christian was everything we needed him to be tonight, very aggressive, did a very good job defensively, posted up made his foul shots, took good shots and had a great confidence about. He’s constantly maturing as a two-way player all the time.”
On getting off to a hot start and then responding to Michigan’s run in the second half:
“Well I think we knew why they were making a run. There was one time where Tim Hardaway was all over Will (Sheehey) in the corner and Will takes a three rather than breaking him down and let’s go get his fourth foul. We didn’t do an unbelievable job tonight of time and score and when we figured that out we were much better. We take that three out of the corner and then Hardaway comes down and makes a three. That’s a six -point swing. Those are the things that we’ve got to break. In the course of the game the key is moving onto the next play and I think that’s why we were successful in the game. We were able to close it. We made a couple of mistakes on late threes but when it was time to put the game away before they started hitting those at the end we did it and we did it on both ends.”