Tom Crean met with the media on Thursday evening to preview Friday’s game with Nicholls State at Assembly Hall.
Watch his press conference in the media player below:
Select quotes are available after the jump.
“As far as our week, we have been very locked in to getting better, without question. I think everyone on our team recognizes that there is plenty of room for improvement. And really it just comes down to establishing what our style of play is and where we want to take it. Learning from the most recent game against Notre Dame and learning from some of the past five game or so – the pluses and minuses of those – and then really locking in to our improvement.
“We are playing a team in Nicholls State tomorrow night that has won three of their last four games. They run very good sets. They run a very unique 5-man type of offense that I have never seen before. We want to make sure we are doing a great job of communication with all of that. The have 11 guys that play 10 minutes or more so they will be able to run different people out there. And that’s what our style of play needs to be. Our style of play needs to be a lot of different people contributing and forcing the tempo on both ends while moving the ball constantly. We have to get the ball through the paint, whether it’s a drive or a post-up, no matter what the defense is.
“From last Saturday, every time we played through the paint – on a catch, drive or post-up – we got great things. It is just amazing how much more the perimeter opens up when we do that. That’s exactly how we have to play.
“It’s a short weekend for us with two games, but it’s good. It has been a very important week to get better. But at the same time, they have had a very stressful and strenuous week with their academics. We will have guys taking finals all the way up through tomorrow afternoon. I know we have gotten better this week but how we play remains to be seen. The bottom of line is our style of play is a work in progress and we have to continue to build towards it.”
On having two games in three days this weekend:
“We are always going to build our stuff towards us. I was gone yesterday, so we just put in their offense and then we ran through it a little bit today and we will run through it tomorrow too. They have also seen it on film.
“The most important thing in almost any situation is the concept part of it. We have to continue to refine the concepts. That is just style of play. We have to get to the point where we create more turnovers; where our deflections create more baskets; where our running game needs to improve. Those are the bottom line things.
“We are always fundamental based, but now it is more emphasis on where we need to be and then see how it carries out inside of a game. There are always going to be more geared towards what we are trying to do as opposed to what they are trying to do. If you get good enough at your concepts, then you can gameplan. And we are not good enough at our concepts yet.”
On whether he hasn’t emphasized getting the ball in the lane enough early in the season:
“I don’t think it’s that. I think we have gotten the ball in the lane pretty good when you look at Noah Vonleh being one of the leaders in the country in getting fouled. That’s why his stats are so misleading. Every time we got the ball inside against Syracuse, we made good things happen. We had their frontline in foul trouble the whole game.
“I think it is time-and-score situations and understanding momentum. When it’s a 5-, 6-, 7-, 8-point games and what we need to get right now. A lot of that comes through moving the ball, reversing it, playing through the paint and playing through the post. We didn’t do a very good job of that the other day.
“Like I said, that is my responsibility to make sure that we understand how we are doing it and not assuming that we understand that. We have to make sure that it’s emphasized constantly until it becomes second-nature. It’s not second nature yet.”
On what is unique about Nicholls State offense:
“There is a lot of cutting to it. They want middle drive; they want back-cuts; they want you to screw up. So we have to be really sharp with how aggressive we are, who we are guarding, how we want to guard them and because they play so many guys, there are some personnel that you have to be locked in to.
“They are a very good shot fake team and a good mid-range teams. They want open 3-point field goals. Some of their biggest guys are 3-point shooters so they have that. But they want you to screw up, and they are going to run it until you do and they get the shot that they want. It is somewhat deliberate but some of the cuts are unique. Some of the curls and where they curl -where some people might run it as a double-stagger to come up the lane – they run a curl. You will see it tomorrow night and hopefully it won’t look very good. That’s our mission.”