Tom Crean met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview Tuesday’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Syracuse.
Watch and listen to his comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
“I think we are excited to play. It feels like it’s been a while since we played, with taking some time off. We have had a chance to not only prepare for Syracuse, but also make sure we are getting better. Anytime you have this time and break in game action after seven games in 20 days there is a lot to get corrected, but there is a lot of things to build on.”
“I think as far as Syracuse goes, the things that are always going to remain constant with them are their athleticism, their length, they get a lot of steals and blocked shots, they are some of the nations leaders. Offensively they are doing a great job of getting the ball into the paint and they are getting to the foul line. They have very good players at every position and it seems like they know what they are trying to get out of every position.”
“The things that we want to be focused on right now as much as anything, whether it’s what we need to improve or things we didn’t do as well in DC last year, we have to take care of the ball. Turnovers and some of the mental errors were some of the worst things the first time we played them. Right now there is no question we have to cut down on our turnovers. Syracuse does a great job getting to the foul line. We have to make sure we are not putting them on the foul line. We can’t give them easy baskets, because they shoot a great percentage.”
“We have to play smart, I don’t want to say simple basketball, but we don’t want to complicate things, which is easier said than done, with this being a true road game and the level that Syracuse is at. We have to take care of the ball, because they capitalize so well on turnovers. Offensively you have to get a really good shot. It doesn’t matter if it’s early or late in the clock, you have to get a really good shot. They are very good at getting you to settle and I think settling is a recipe for disaster. Bottom line we have to have good ball movement, body movement and I know our guys are excited to play.”
On people looking at this game as a rematch and differences from last year
“I think it speaks for itself what they have lost and what we have lost with the pro and graduation players we have had. You can’t focus on rematch. We can focus on the things we learned from the game, but these are two different teams. They are not different in the sense that C.J. Fair is an All-American. The front line is back with the exception of Southerland. The length, the athleticism, the ability to get steals, to get blocked shots and be very hard to score against and they do a great job of limiting you to that one shot. That is where they are the same.”
On takeaways from Baylor vs. Syracuse game (Syracuse won 74-67 in Maui Invitational Final)
“I think it all comes down to what your philosophy is. We don’t want to go in there and play slow. Sometimes it’s easier said than done. You just have to go in and do what you do. We have been putting a lot of points on the board. We are getting good ball movement and our shot selection continues to improve. The bottom line is taking care of the basketball. We need to make sure we do enough to get to the foul line. We didn’t get to the foul line enough when we played them last year. We have to take advantage of the way the game is called. It can’t be they are in zone so they are not being aggressive, they are being aggressive, and so you have to make that aggressiveness work for you, instead of being in a situation where you settle. I think you can look at all the teams that have played them and at certain times, teams that were attacking them and at some point they stopped attacking. You have to continue to take what the game is giving you for the entire game.”
On sustaining aggressiveness against the Syracuse zone:
“We were too fast at times and we didn’t run enough at times. We just made too many mistakes. We picked a bad time to not have a good game. The bottom line is, it’s completely different, it won’t do a lot of good to put a lot of time into the game, because everyone is so different. When you are playing against teams like that you have to have concepts. You have to have plays, but you need concepts you can rely on and go to. One thing for us last year we shot the ball extremely well from three, but in that game we didn’t. We didn’t get to the foul line enough. Those are things that we have to be able to do now, no matter who we play. We need to get the ball inside, we have to get second shots, and we have to get to the foul line.”