Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 100-72 win over Chicago State on Friday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
COACH CREAN: For a first game, our guys showed a lot of the upside that’s there, a lot of the athleticism. With 13 blocks, it was phenomenal. The free throw record, that’s amazing when you really think about how long the Indiana basketball program has historically been known for not only the free throw shooting, but the free throw attempts and making more free throws than their opponent’s attempt. It’s a big deal for us to get to the line, especially it’s always been a big deal for us to get to the line, but especially now with the rules the way they are, and the fact that we’ve got to be a lot better shooting team. We had 63 deflections. Over the last two years. we’ve been 18 1 when we have five or more guys in double figures scoring. The only loss was the Kentucky loss in the Sweet Sixteen. Tonight we get six guys. Jeremy has a career high, Noah has a triple double in the sense of the rebounds, points and 12 deflections, to me that’s a big deal in his first game. And there is probably a five page laundry list of things we have to be better at. So that’s kind of where we’re at in this season. It’s a good start, a lot of guys played, lot of different combinations. We got up and down the court. We went against our first real doses of pressure, and I thought they did a good job with that. We showed that we’ve got to get better with our hands in challenging shots and our rotations and things of that nature that only playing the game can bring. We can be more efficient with the ball. We can be more efficient with reversals, but at the same time we scored a ton of points in the paint, and certainly we were rewarded for it at the free throw line. So things to build on, a lot of games. I think we started a span of 7 games in 20 days, right? So we’re going to learn a lot in a short period of time, and we’ve got to keep making sure that they understand the number one focus above all else is are they getting better? Are they improving? You want to improve inside of the games and certainly you want to improve in the days leading up to the games.
Q. Talk about the new rules. Is that what you envisioned?
COACH CREAN: Well, I think the game gave us that in the sense that it was a fast paced game and both teams and they exploited us a little bit. But it’s a new game. There is no question about that. There were some body fouls tonight where guys are really working to show their hands and it just becomes two things have to happen. How quick can you adjust to the game? Okay, and can you not allow frustration to enter it in? You can’t get sad. You have to get determined. And that is exactly how it is with the way the game is going to be officiated. When we had a situation tonight, we get a foul and Will gets his second foul and the next play gets his third foul. I mean, you have to move on immediately. You have to move on as an individual, you have to move on as a team, and you have to be able to adjust at the drop of a hat. If you wait for some time in the second half, if you wait for halftime, it’s going to be too late. So there are going to be all kinds of strategy type deals within the game. The bottom line is you’ve got to play downhill as much as possible to try to create that contact.
Q. Especially with how fast the game was moving up and down, how quickly do you think some of the young guys like Troy, Noah and Devin kind of found that comfort?
COACH CREAN: I think when you have a team like ours you want to get as many possessions as you can. I think the flip side of that is it gives them experience. But what they really do they gain the understanding? I think we’ve still got to understand I said I go on a fine line as a coach. I want them to attack the rim a lot. I want them to get to the foul line. I want them to really challenge at the basket. But at the same time, you have to look for the next pass. I think we might have had one bad lay up tonight, and that’s not enough. Now that is a sign that we just don’t understand it yet. We don’t understand as well how to move without the ball. We see that rim, and sometimes we don’t see that somebody else might have a better look. So we’ve got to continue to learn that. That comes from film. That comes from doing, and it comes from the experiences of playing inside games.
Q. Is this a team that’s going to block a lot of shots?
COACH CREAN: I think it’s certainly got the capabilities, and I don’t think we’re even challenged. I’m more concerned about the shot challenges especially on the perimeter, I should say. But I thought from game one to game two in the exhibition season, we really did a better job with our length. Not just because the deflections are up, but I thought we played longer. I thought we got out into the passing lanes a little bit without the denials, and we just put more pressure on the ball. Tonight we didn’t do as good a job with that. Our switches were more switches of convenience rather than switches of being pro active and take things away. It’s not that there were bad intentions; we just weren’t as aggressive with our hands and being up. So I do think we’re going to be able to block some shots. I do think we’ll get some deflections, but I think we’ve got to be a great stick and pursue team rebounding team and a great shot challenge team. But it all starts with you have nothing if you don’t have great transition defense, and that’s got to get better.
Q. What was your deflection number?
COACH CREAN: 63.
Q. 52 of the 55 points you guys had off field goals were in the paint. Is that a point of emphasis? Is that the new rules?
COACH CREAN: No, no. I don’t think that. Both Royce Waltman and Tim Garl both made the same point about the points and only having one three. Here’s what I think: This is a plus to me especially in the second half. They didn’t hunt shots. As a young team they didn’t take the first three they saw, and I think that’s really, really important because we didn’t want to get we didn’t guard as well. I know we gave up some points, but you don’t want to get into a settling mode. You don’t want to get into I’m going to take the first jumper I see mode because that’s not our strength. We’ll get a lot better shooting the ball, I have no doubt about that. We’ll prove that. We’ll continue to recruit to it and all those type of things. But the key is you have to take what the game is giving you. If you start inventing in your mind that this is the best play for me to take this first side jumper or let me get this free, that’s not always what’s good. You have to take what it’s giving you, and I thought our guys did a pretty good job of that offensively, even though we’ve been more efficient.
Q. How impressed were you with the way they adjusted to a game the way it was with the stop and start nature, and also to be part of an effort like that from them?
COACH CREAN: I hope Noah Vonleh gets some positive tweets from some of you after a couple of the exhibition games. And don’t be taking any credit for motivating him. He’s in the gym. I mean, he spends more time just joking but he spends more time in the gym right now working on his free throw, and it was great to see him rewarded for that. I mean, what did he have? 14 rebounds. He’s not going to grade out at a high level with this rebounding tonight because there were too many times one of the reasons I made the sub quick in the second half is he and Jeremy just stood there when Troy missed a lay up. When he learns to go every time, when he learns how efficient he can be around the bucket, he’s going to shoot a lot of free throws because he’s going to get fouled on the break. He’s going to get foul on the glass, and he’s going to get fouled on the post ups and the cuts. You see what he’s capable of when he starts with the ball on the break. We’re very comfortable with Noah and Devin, those two guys pushing the ball after a missed rebound, as long as they’re looking up the floor. So when you do that and you become harder to guard, and you become harder to guard, you have more opportunities to get to the foul line. So I thought the 82% was indicative of guys that were really working on it. It’s like anything else. It’s contagious, and hopefully we’ll keep plenty of opportunities to go up there and find out if we can make them.
Q. The way the game is being called, are they playing the way you want to play? Because you want to play fast, but with so many starts and stops, does that allow that to be effective?
COACH CREAN: I haven’t thought about that. I didn’t coach as much in the second half. If I was coaching for mistakes or subbing for mistakes, I’d have subbed an awful lot because we made too many. But we didn’t have any presses in yet. They hadn’t seen that kind of full court length like that. They’ll do it because we’re going to have to start doing it more in our own practices. But bottom line, you have to adjust. I don’t think you can come in with any set plan. If you’re not flexible, you’re going to lose, and I think that’s going to be most important for, not just for staffs, but for players. Take what the game is giving you, and get the ball in the paint as much as possible and see what happens.
Q. Can you talk about the effort you got from Hollowell and the blocked shots?
COACH CREAN: Well, and again, going to the foul line was really good. He’s just going to continue to get better. He’s doing multiple things, and he’s just at a place where the coach wants him to play with the same level of energy every possession. When he learns that, again, that’s where you can say he’s just scratching the surface. When he learns to do that and learns the efficiency that he’s capable of on both ends, he’s going to be an outstanding player. But he really wants it. He wants to get better. What I liked tonight he made some mistakes and he was mad at himself. He wasn’t looking around. There was no victim role out of him. He just kept moving. To me, that’s what’s most important because he’s got a chance to be just be a very central figure on this team on both ends of the floor.
Q. Did everyone have that similar attitude to go on the fast break?
COACH CREAN: I think with Devin and Noah it’s something they had coming in here. I think we’d be stifling them. I think it would be different. The whole key is throw it ahead. If somebody’s open, throw it ahead. But if you have one man to beat, beat them. I guess an answer to your question, thinking about that, yeah. I might be missing somebody right now. I would say probably Austin and Collin right now need to find a guard quicker. But it’s a great reinforcement to go get defensive rebounds. I mean, we’re at an unbelievable rate of scoring when Noah got the defensive board. So when you can skip the step on the outlet pass and you can get everybody running, and we’re still not running to the spots the way that we need to. I mean, we’ve shown them enough film where Victor scored in the short corner and how many baskets he got there and we’re rarely there. That just takes time to get to. I think when you can skip that outlet pass you can create some real havoc and hopefully we can continue to do that.