Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 73-56 loss to No. 5 Michigan State at Assembly Hall on Saturday afternoon.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
A transcript is available after the jump.
“Before I talk about us, I think they have all the makings of what a National Championship team would look like. I don’t think there’s any question.
“There’s no way to prepare to play against Michigan State and say that you can leave this guy here, you can leave that guy there.
“They’re too good. And they showed that today. I thought Will Sheehey did a phenomenal job on fighting Adreian Payne for space for his touches, really being aggressive with him. Adreian played excellent, didn’t force things. They just have too many guys right now, they have too many guys that understand each other at a really high level. They understand how to win and things that hurt us today, especially in the first half, and we’ve got to grow out of this, because it’s getting me downright angry with it.
“We’ve got to grow out of understanding how not to take momentum. So we get down 6, we get down 4, that’s not a time when you’re you’re rarely ever going to be in the bonuses as early as you are against Michigan State, like we were today. It’s hard. They don’t foul very much. Every winning statistic, they’re one of the most dominant teams in the country in those areas.
“When you find something you’ve got which is important to get to the foul line, then it can’t become jump shooting time.
“And we struggle right now with understanding momentum. We struggle with understanding time and score. Some of it is immaturity. Some of it is youth. Some of it is just not understanding the ball needs to go through the paint.
“Noah Vonleh is going to continue to get better. No doubt he’s got to become a more demanding presence. He works too hard on his game. He’s too good a person. He’s got to be a demanding presence and become downright a little selfish.
“And I hate using that term, but I have no better term than to use for him with that, because that’s what he’s got to be around the paint.
“And we just we scrapped back in. We played a lot of different lineups to get back in the game. We played hard. Okay. They played smart. And both teams played hard. I thought they were great battles on the boards, especially with the fact it’s a two rebound difference, but their maturity, their experience, their understanding of each other, that was a big, big difference in the game, the biggest difference in the game.
“That’s why they have a chance to win the National Championship and that’s why we have a lot to learn.”
How often is Noah open in the passing lanes when you watch him today and on film?
“I think it’s both, I think he’s learning. He’s going against physical people. There’s no question about that. He’s getting better out on the perimeter. We’ve gotta do a better job of creating a passing angle, sometimes when they’re backed off us right now it’s no CNN news flash that we’re not a great 3 point shooting team.
“So you’re not getting all out pressure, even though they had some guys today that they decided they were going after, just like we have guys we want to go after, and a little bit of it is creating the space. Our screening in the first half was sub zero, without having the grades, without doing the grades myself, they weren’t good enough on actions.
“We’re trying to make it simple to get it in. But we’ve got to be better. They’re a physical, imposing team. There’s no question this was an old style Big Ten game in the sense of the physicality in the post. Probably on both ends. vSo no question about that. And we’ve just gotta learn to deal with that. Learn to deal with that. Keep creating those angles. But Noah has got to get more than one offensive board. Let’s be honest about it. We’ve to do a better job making sure we’re getting putbacks.
“We’ve got to find easy baskets, whether they’re postups, through the lanes, offensive rebounds or whether, frankly, they’re free throws, being free throws. So those are things that are really, really important.
They attacked our dribble today like we attacked theirs. And they had more guys that could make shots when the ball went outside, and we didn’t. And we’ve got to continue to grow and learn from those things.”
Are you specifically talking about the stretch when you got down by just one?
“Absolutely. I want us to attack the rim. So some of it is offense. Some of it is offense. Some of it is reversal. We talk ad nauseam about points through the paint, constantly, whether it’s timeouts, whether it’s halftime, postgame, and we’ve just got to play we’ve got great kids. We’ve just got to have a basketball IQ, a basketball maturity right now.
“And that’s where the understanding is not there yet; that, no, we’ve got to drive it to the rim, get it swung, get it inside, get it in the paint.
“Great example, Jeremy Hollowell scores 2 breaks it down and goes to the rim, then trying to go inside on the second side, on the reversal play on one of our sets, we take a 3. That’s not time or place for a guy shooting in the teens to be shooting a 3 when we’re down 6.
“Those are the things that we’ve got to learn from just being completely blunt about it. So we will. I mean, we continue to come back and we played a lot we played different, but we are going to have to play a great game to beat them. Our first half hurt us. The start of the second half, we scrapped back but we never could ever get over the hump inside of the end of the first half, beginning of the second half, without having the book in front of me, knowing the book.”
Quick timeout early in the second half, was that just to make sure it wasn’t a Syracuse situation?
“I don’t remember. Probably. Just change our lineups. So when you have young guys, I mean the reason they’re so good they don’t have to rely on anybody young. That’s why this league is so good. The great ones just keep being experienced. They add new players, young players, but they’ve always got experience to deal with. We’ve got to grow through that.
“Our sophomores have to pick it up. No question about that. And all the way around. And again Will was phenomenal, okay? And it was the one leader that we had inside of this game, but he can do more with his voice.
“But when you’re guarding Adreian Payne and giving up that size and weight, you’re pretty much in a one man battle right there. You don’t have a lot of other things you can focus on. That’s how we have to play, how we have to go. We didn’t feel like anything different we could be in foul trouble from the very beginning of this game.”
Talk about Stan’s defense today on Gary Harris.
“Aggressive. I wish we would have got him on Harris quicker in the first half to be honest. Gary was an assassin today. Never hunted, always in spacing, always in movement. Very improved as a player. We’ve covered that a lot.
“But you got to match guys like that, guy’s desire to compete in the game. Stan did that. But his offense really came on just action, activity, aggressiveness, break, things like that.”
How have you seen Stan grow up these past few games?
“Stan? Going into the Illinois game, the previous seven games he had highest plus/minus and it wasn’t close. So there’s a good example. And what he’s doing I asked him to do this a couple weeks ago I don’t want it to be a technical but, again, I’ve got to look at that on film. It was a chippy game all the way across the board. So I’m not going to overreact to that.
“But he’s got a personality. He’s got a toughness about him. And he’s building his skill level. You’re always working and building your skills but you’re developing your mindset. And it comes your skills get better. That helps the confidence. But a lot of times just bringing out the personality and doing what you know and doing what’s always worked for you.
“A year and a half ago he was basically a 4 man in high school. That’s why they won so much. He came from a great high school program and went off to Finley, won a lot played against a lot of exposure. And here he is.
“We need him to be a blue collar, just go at it guy, because that’s what he is. And he’s doing more of that for us.”
What do you need to see more from Jeremy Hollowell?
“We need to see more out of everybody. I wouldn’t distinguish. When you lose a game, there’s not one class that doesn’t need to get better. But we’ve got the spotlight on the sophomores right now, if we’re going to break it down to class. They’ve got to improve.
“Everybody’s got places they can grow in, and shooting the ball, passing the ball, you know those types of things.
“But we just need to play, we need to play and understand time and score. Not play just going up and down the court just understanding what the game is bringing. The more you play, the more you learn that. I get that. I hope you all get that. I hope the fans get that. The more you do it, the better the understanding you have. It’s not like we can all of a sudden put three months of Big Ten basketball into these guys’ bodies.
“We can show them all the film we want. It doesn’t work that way. But we’ve got to start to understand time and score and momentum because that’s what so many of these games come down to throughout the game. And we’re pretty good on the break, pretty good at offensive rebound and pretty good in the middle.
“Michigan State is pretty good on the break, pretty good at offensive rebounding, they’re really good in the middle. And that’s really a microcosm of teams. They’re really, really strong throughout each possession. They understand time and score. They’ve got a lot of guys that can make plays. We’ve got to continue to trust what works for us. And when you’re in the bonus the way we are, we’ve got to understand that, that’s what we’ve got to continue to just pound on expound upon in practice and in coaching and film work and all those things all the time.
“We’ve got to understand that sometimes we’re just going to have to make some changes in the game with the personnel that’s on the floor to get that understood.”
How much was Michigan State hitting their 3s based on them hitting them on the defense, leaving them open?
“I haven’t really looked at the stats. Let me see. Big mistakes, couple times, especially when we fouled. We’re leaving this happens when teams don’t understand it yet which we don’t. You can never let the speed and the pressure of the game override what is really, really important, would like the scouting report. Travis Trice was shooting 74 percent from 3 in the away games.
“We probably said that 37,000 times in the last three days. You don’t leave him. You don’t do that. You’ve got to understand we’ve got the dribble picked up, and we just didn’t play with great awareness on some of that. And then a couple times we misplayed screens.
“Haven’t looked at the film obviously, but we misplayed screens. But a little bit was just overhelp and not get back out and just we stopped we stopped understanding and we got the ball covered. Don’t leave the shooters.
“And the other day we were really good at that. That’s part of the youth process, I guess, because the other day we held that team to 11 percent from 3.
“We didn’t help off shooters. They had outstanding shooters too we helped too much, got too much in the scramble.
“And frankly we played some lineups we don’t play very often, as you probably know. You throw caution to the wind and you’re trying to get back into the game.”