Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 63-52 win over No. 10 Michigan on Sunday at Assembly Hall.
Watch his comment in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
That was a great college basketball game, there’s no question about it, because it’s two teams that I think respect each other a great deal. They’re an outstanding team. The pageantry of the game, the atmosphere was tremendous, there’s no doubt about that.
It’s been this way forever. I don’t think we get that extra edge in a game without this crowd, and they’ve been doing it so well and they just stick with these guys, and our guys just feed off of it. But really proud of the way our team in a short period of time responded to a game plan, carried it out as much as possible.
The thing with Michigan is they’re not putting anybody out on the court that can’t score, and it’s the three point shots, it’s the ability to get to the rim, and in some of their cases the mid-range shooting that they have. They play excellent defense, and our guys continued to figure things out offensively as the game went on, and we really held true to what we wanted to do defensively.
We got a lot of excellent contributions from a lot of people. Yogi Ferrell is playing at an extremely high level. The approach that he takes to it, the leadership that he’s displaying over the last couple weeks, the improvement has been some of the best I’ve been around. If he continues to keep that up, sky’s the limit for him. There’s no doubt that he’s playing like a I wouldn’t call it a guard, I wouldn’t call it a point guard, I’d call him a lead guard, because when you’re capable of doing the things that he can do on both ends of the court and you’re leading your team, okay, you’re a lead guard.
Will did a phenomenal job of basically captaining our defense today based on what we wanted to do switching wise, and we had 49 deflections, which is a great number for us. When we win Yogi had 10, Noah and Will each had 9. I thought Troy made some great contributions inside the game. Evan Gordon was not cleared until late this morning to play because he had been sick the last couple of days, didn’t practice at all yesterday.
I knew he wanted to play. We had film sent over to his apartment last night, wasn’t even with the team last night. Comes in this morning, and today played as fast and as aggressive as we’ve seen him.
We got a lot of great efforts from a lot of really good young men, people that came in the game continued to play hard, impacted the game, so we’re proud of it.
Can you talk a little bit more about your defense? What’s been the key with this defense?
Well, I think energy wears itself a lot of different ways. I think it comes in the activity that you have with your hands. I think it’s the moving feet. You’ve got to let Michigan turn the corner for periods of time because they’re so good at getting into the lane, and Michigan is in a system, they’re really good because they can get to the rim and they can put pressure on you that way. Stauskas is such a great scorer because of the rim, because of the mid-range, because of the three point shooting, and because he assists. He gets so many assists.
When Michigan is doing a great job with their passing, they’re very, very hard to beat, and we needed to do an excellent job of trying to make it harder for them to find their outlets, make it harder for them to find the wings, and we also had to get back in transition. We didn’t do a great job of getting back in the first half. We did a much better job in the second half.
So I think the difference is the energy of the hands, talking and really just staying committed to what we needed to do in that game. These guys are learning, and this is the hardest for young guys defensively. The hardest thing for any of them is that you’ve got to continue to play through it when you’re not having a great game offensively or you’re not getting that confidence from your shot.
The hard part defensively is that every game is different, and you have to understand how that other team wants to win. Against Nebraska the other night we understood it pretty well in the first half, we got away from it in the second half. Today we understood it for the entire game, and we were successful.
How important was it that Yogi scored in the flow of the offense?
Yeah, very important. Heat checks are really a lot of times a recipe to get a break, and we can’t play that way. I thought our guys did a really good job of continuing to find him. You have to have Yogi in movement. He’s going to be guarded and he’s going to be guarded by the whole team. It’s just the way that it is. The more he stands or the more that he has it in his hands and the more that he’s dribbling in certain areas, it just plays right into the hands of the defense.
So he’s got to be in movement, and I thought that’s what he did well, whether it was zone, whether it was the break, whatever it was, he was really, really good in movement, and his teammates continued to move and cut. We stood around a little bit the other night, and some of that was him, some of that was us, some of it was just not continuing to flash into the gaps that are there, man or zone, and today we didn’t have that issue.
But he was a big part of that. The ball continued to move because he continued to move. Sometimes it’s not about the play call, it’s really you’ve just got to get movement. The pageantry of the game affected us a little bit coming out of timeouts; this guy is in the wrong spot here, this guy is in the wrong spot there, and sometimes you’ve just got to play through it, and we did a good job of that.
Beilein said what you guys did defensively was something he hasn’t seen in his tenure at Michigan. Why do you feel it was so effective?
Well, I think the best thing for me to do is to stay with the fact that we’ve got great coaches on our coaching staff. They’re phenomenal, and they’re head coaches, and they’ll be head coaches again. I think they deserve all the credit. But the players deserve the credit for carrying it out.
The bottom line is that we started working on this last week. You have to all I will really say about the game plan is we couldn’t guard them conventionally. We had tough match ups, so we had to overcome that a little bit, and I’ll give Tim Buckley, Steve McClain, Kenny Johnson, KJ Relentless for short, Rob Judson, give them credit because they deserve it.
How important was Will in carrying that out?
Tremendous. Wouldn’t have worked without him. Wouldn’t have worked without him. No question. In this game you really had to have a captain of the defense, and he did a phenomenal job. But I thought the confidence that other guys played with continued to help them, and even when we lost them, they were able to keep doing what we had to do.
When you were matched up individually, what did Yogi do to be so effective on Stauskas?
I just think you’ve got to be conscious of where Stauskas is at all times and understand that he can score from a lot of different areas, and you’ve got to try to make his catches hard, but you’ve got to make his ability to get free looks and open passes to the basket a little bit harder.
After the Nebraska game, how important is it for a guy that you want to keep developing as a leader to come out and play the way he did today to basically take those words and live them?
Well, I think he did, and I think our entire team did. So proud all of our guys defensively, but no question Yogi was a catalyst for our team on both ends of the court.