Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 79-66 win over Nicholls State on Friday at Assembly Hall.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
A transcript is available after the jump.
COACH CREAN: I thought what was really important tonight was that we would do our very best to build on our style of play that we want to keep establishing, and in a game like this where the other team is going to be very deliberate in their offense and shorten the game, we certainly wanted to figure out how to lengthen it. I think to us the ability we needed to get to the foul line tonight. We needed to get into the paint. But the bottom line is we wanted to bring tempo and pace to the game.
I thought our guys did a good job of adjusting on defense, of doing things that we don’t normally do throughout the game, which is stay in pressure and then mix defenses, press into some different defenses. We just kept mixing it up. So any time you have a situation like that it’s not going to be as smooth, but it certainly gives us something to work with, to build on, and most importantly tonight was to bring pace to the game no matter what the other team wanted to do.
I thought the fact that we had 10 assists on 15 baskets in the second half was really good. I thought we had some guys play the way that we need to play. I thought we played a lot of guys, because we knew they were going to play a lot of guys, so you’re never going to get into a great rhythm. But it wasn’t about rhythm tonight as much as it was just about all out, hard nosed, bring pace to the game, put a lot of pressure into the game, and then there’s things certainly we’ve got to clean up. There’s no doubt about that. We’ve got to clean up our rim defense, got to clean some of our awareness.
But again, we were switching defenses, and sometimes we were pretty good at that and sometimes we weren’t as good. But it’s all a part of giving these guys as many experiences and giving them a chance to understand how important awareness is, how important all the parts of communication are, and how to do it when you’re really tired and under fatigue.
We made progress tonight. I thought Yogi Ferrell had an outstanding game, not only because he had eight assists but because the pace that he played at on both ends, and the way that he talked and then certainly the shooting I thought was a byproduct of that.
Jeremy, Noah with the rebounding, Will, a lot of good basketball from a lot of different guys where nobody was really together for that long a period of time. Definitely something that we can build on.
The middle 20 minutes it felt like the press really took hold. What allowed you to do that?
COACH CREAN: Well, I think the fact that we stayed in it. We pressured more tonight than we would have pressed in practice (inaudible) over the entire 52 practices and the 11 games we’ve played. We pressed some more in the week. We’re trying to get our team to a place where we can do different things, and tonight it worked out to allow us to do that. That’s what the press is supposed to bring. It’s supposed to bring fatigue to the game without fatiguing you, and at the same time we wanted guys to play to exhaustion inside of their minutes and then come out of the game, and I did very little pacing where guys might pace themselves on one end of the court to play longer minutes, and I didn’t have to really sub for that because that wasn’t what our mission was tonight. Our mission was to play really hard, bring pace to the game without pacing ourselves, and I thought we did a good job of that.
Did you come into the game planning to experiment?
COACH CREAN: I wouldn’t call it experimenting. I think when you work on it, I wouldn’t call it experimenting, I would call it more just changing the game up, because again, we’ve lost games because we can’t we’re not going to be successful if we let teams set their pace, okay, especially when it’s more deliberate. We had a feeling, obviously, that that could happen because they run good offense, and they want to get the shots that they want.
It even freed them up a little bit. The more we pressed, the looser they got, and certainly that’s going to happen. That’s one of the trade offs. But if you’re going to press, you’re trying to bring exhaustion and fatigue to the game. It’s more a sense of just changing things up, and if it was more experimental it would have been more experimental lineups, and it wasn’t like that. It was really more about bringing that speed to the game throughout the game.
Had you ever used a base defense before?
COACH CREAN: We had, but this team hadn’t done that, but we’ve done that in the past. So that was something that we worked on this week, and a little bit more personnel and it caught us one time when we didn’t match up because they could go from having a non shooting five men in the game to a three point shooting exclusive five men in the game. So we had that, then the communication has got to be really good, and we’ve dealt with that in the past in games, too, but that’s where we have to go now. We have to be able to we’ve got to get this to the point where we can do multiple things. It’s like you want multiple effort players, you’ve got to be able to do multiple things in the game, and that’s and again, you’re going to get a lot more out of your concepts, but there are game plan things that have to happen now that we haven’t been so good at, and some of it is because of the youth and inexperience, but some of that has also been indecisiveness, and we wanted to push that decisiveness limit to the hilt by how we had to be talking decisive, aware under fatigue, and playing as hard and fast as we could, so a lot of times we did that.
What did you see differently in Yogi’s second half?
COACH CREAN: What did you see? Because it’s kind of obvious. He was flying up the court, right? I mean, he’s moving the ball, he’s attacking, and he’s also our leading scorer. I think it’s pretty obvious when he plays that way. Now we just need to keep it going that way. I thought you saw, I thought everybody saw some really good examples of just how good he is.
Can the press be a weapon for you going on, and how good can it be?
COACH CREAN: Well, we’ll see. We have to become a deep team. We have to be able to change tempos. We don’t have we don’t have enough and again, we had our second best shooting night of the year, and we played extremely fast. So I think that’s important. But we got some lay ups. We got lay ups. We don’t want to become a team that trades baskets. We had a little bit of that, but I dealt with that personally because I know we haven’t spent as much time on the press.
In answer to your question, I think we can get good at a lot of different things, and I think very it’s important that we do get good at a lot of different things, because we have length, we have a chance to be deep, and we have guys that are really willing to play hard, and now we’ve just got to get it at a consistent level.
Talk about Jonny Marlin’s first half minutes.
COACH CREAN: We wanted to do that and see how it goes and put him out there in situations where he can spell Yogi, and at the same time that we don’t have a lot of drop off, and he works hard, and we’ve just got to put him out there and see where those capabilities are for this team in running the club.
How concerned are you about the turnovers?
COACH CREAN: Oh, I think our turnovers early on where we were trying to find our way were more like that. We’ve had a long week, very long week, and a long week academically because it’s really been a long couple of weeks academically. Not only is this the first time through for the young players through all of this game wise, but it’s their first time through exams at this level of academics that we have to be at. I get that. It’s not an excuse. It’s something you have to get them to push through it, and we spent a lot of time this week making sure that we did that.
Tonight it wasn’t going to be about I’m always concerned about the turnovers in the sense of when they’re sloppy or when we’re trying to do too much, and we’ve certainly spent a lot of time on that this week, and we’ll do the same with it again. But that, like our shooting, will get better. But if we build on some of the things that we did in the second half it’s all a matter of really getting guys to understand that the greatest form of toughness is your consistency, and we’ve got to become a consistent team, and we’ll be a lot better and tougher in a lot of different areas.
How comfortable is Yogi getting with being the leading scorer as you approach the end of the non conference?
COACH CREAN: I think it’s a matter of our style of play, and I think whoever is in those positions has to be able to play that way, and I don’t think there’s any question that he can. I think that’s what’s most important for us is that when I’m trying to get these guys they’re not responsible for what everybody does. They are responsible to help everyone and to bring their own unique talents to the court, and how that meshes and helps everyone is really important. Certainly he’s got a lot of unique talent, and the bottom line is it just becomes a consistency. I think he’s got a lot of he’s a very smart young man. He’s somebody that really works hard, very durable and wants to be a great player, and that’s what that position demands. I thought tonight he took a lot of steps in this game of playing that way, and that’s something we need to build on.
What do you know about Kennesaw coming in Sunday?
COACH CREAN: They’re going to come in here and they’re going to look like a Big Ten SEC Big East type of team with their bodies, with their athleticism. They played a lot of tough games. They have a coach that’s coached at all those levels, be it Notre Dame, be it Penn State, be it Florida. He certainly knows what players look like.
They’ve been in some good games, played a tough, challenging schedule, and I think the bottom line is we’ve got to build on what we did. We’ve got to have great team defense. There were certain things tonight where because we were playing at the pace we were playing at we gave up a couple of things. I don’t know if we’ll be able to do that as much in that game. But the bottom line is we want to have great team defense in this and we want to continue to make this game go at a fast pace, and if it becomes a situation where it’s a little slower there we want to try to speed it up, and I think it’s going to be the same for everybody.
Do you sense that the free throw line can be a strength of this offense?
COACH CREAN: Well, I don’t think there’s any sense. I think there’s no question it is, and I think when you look at what our free throw numbers have been all year long, that’s exactly where it needs to be. They gave up a lot of free throws on average, Nicholls State did, and we wanted to exploit that. We wanted to take advantage of that. I think we were giving up 33 or 35 a game. We got 33 no, what did we get, 35 free throws, so that’s important. And again, I thought our guys did a really good job of recognizing tonight that they were really packing the lane. They were packing the middle of the floor really well, and we started to make what I liked tonight is we made adjustments on the fly and there were some player adjustments, and that’s really important. That’s really, really important. Can you play fast, and at the same time be aware of what the game is giving you. We made strides in that area, got to continue to make those strides.