Tom Crean, Yogi Ferrell and Will Sheehey met with the media following Indiana’s 64-54 loss to Illinois in the opening round of the Big Ten tournament on Thursday afternoon at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
Watch their postgame comments and read a full transcript below:
Q. You guys got it going from the three-point line in the first half, missed the last 11. Did they come out on you more? What changed the rest of the game?
WILL SHEEHEY: The ones in the first half kind of came off movement and penetration. The second half we didn’t necessarily get the same penetration and movement that we did the first half.
Q. I’ll ask both of you, the zones seemed to give you some troubles. Was that a big factor in the game for you? You came out the second half really penetrating and they went to the zone. There must have been a reason for it.
YOGI FERRELL: We needed to move the ball more, still kind of play inside and out. But we didn’t do that the second half.
WILL SHEEHEY: I think we had some sets where we actually did have some pretty good movement within the zone but it wasn’t on a consistent basis.
Q. For either of you, what about Illinois toward the end of that game, why were you not able to get over the hump there?
YOGI FERRELL: When they were running the high ball screen, we weren’t defending that as well as we were especially in the first half and then they got a couple of key offensive rebounds down the stretch in the second half.
Q. Yogi, specifically, what’s it like to play against Abrams that you played against now for two years at that guard position. It seems like he never quits.
YOGI FERRELL: Yeah, I’ve been playing against him for a while now. You know, he’s a good guard, big body. He attacks the rim really well.
Q. Tom, what was your — what is your message to your team at this point?
COACH CREAN: Bottom line is we can play better. We have to — you have to match the toughness and the competitive spirit every time that you play. And we’ve just got to quit making defensive mistakes in coverages and giving them live ball turnovers. Really what I want to do is try to find a different way to say that message because I’ve given it a few times. And that’s the biggest thing.
Q. Coach, you were ?? you guys were down 53 to 52 with a little over a minute left. What kind of defense?? it looks like you guys were trying to transition?
COACH CREAN: It was a defensive mistake. It’s something that we practiced. It was just a mistake. We didn’t get into that rotation as quick as we needed to. We’ve done it all year. I mean, we’ve played that kind of defense all year. And in that situation, going to man, they were really hurting us with our high ball screen. So that was one reason that we had to go to more of the zone. We just didn’t get over there quick enough based on the person that was up that had to jump into the zone.
Q. Coach, what were your thoughts on your team’s energy, especially down the stretch? It seems that guys maybe weren’t as energetic that maybe they might normally be in such a close game?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I have to watch the film. I didn’t think our execution was where it needed to be today. At some point you have to grow over — when things aren’t going right for you in lack of offense, then you have to be able to overcome it. And you can’t make mistakes on the other end.
Q. Tom, how would you define this season?
COACH CREAN: I wouldn’t. Because I hope it’s going to continue to keep going. So I’m really, 15, 20minutes after the game has ended, I really don’t have a definition of — I hope we get to continue to play. It would be an honor to keep playing. And I’d like to see us continuing to get better.
Q. Tom, you mentioned that at some point you have to grow over. What are the biggest growth areas still out there for these guys?
COACH CREAN: The value of the basketball is a big one. Just a four-minute talk on the court. And sometimes the energy can lacking when the communication is not where it needs to be. Just continue to make simple basketball plays.
And probably the biggest word that we use is just that intent — the intent of it — intent covers a lot of things. It covers your competitiveness. It covers your awareness. It covers your grit. It covers your will, you know, the intent of getting stops.
We started the second half, I think we had seven or eight stops in a row. So that’s very good intent. I mean, without question, but it’s the consistency of that. And going back to Dana’s question, it was your question, right? I think the biggest thing to me that I don’t want to define it as but it’s certainly been that way this season is we’ve just never been as consistent as we need to be.
Like I said, I hope that we’re going to continue to play and we can keep building it. Because there’s a lot of talent. There’s a lot of work ethic in there. We’ve got to keep understanding what our individual responsibilities are for winning and that means making the game easier for your teammates.
And that is the hardest thing in my mind to get when you have a lot of guys that maybe winning came easy or they were surrounded with other good players or there wasn’t a premium put on it. But when there a premium put on winning, you have to make a simple play. You have to make it about your teammate.
You cannot lose intent even if it’s not going right for you. That’s the hardest process to go through with it. If you don’t have enough talent, well, that’s another hard process. We have the talent. They just have to grow up and they have to continue to learn those lessons.
And days like today, they’re hard. You beat Iowa, you beat Ohio State, those lessons come alive pretty good. But you lose like today, in the Michigan game, we had all of that. But again, there was some costly defensive mistakes down the stretch and a couple of turnovers.
And that’s been the part of our season that’s really been the crux, that as hard as we try to work to get out of it, it still carries over into the games. And we just want to continue to build on that. Every bit of experience this team can get, especially being in this league and what we’ve learned from this league, to continue to go out and play is very important.
Q. Coach, Vonleh hasn’t had double digits in over a month. Do you think that’s kind of a result of the foot injury or do you think it’s kind of hitting the freshman wall?
COACH CREAN: I don’t know. The injury has definitely been there. He was very limited in practice this week. I think you can see that in his energy at times in the game. We’ve really had to hold him back in the practices. And it’s part of it.
So there’s no question he can be more aggressive. There’s no question about that. But he gets a lot of focus too as you see. As good as Yogi is and as good as Will is, the post double and things like that, the freshman that misses time, it’s like missing considerable amounts.
And again, you can say they’re playing the games but it’s that rhythm of practice. That’s why the one zone play we ran at the end when Noah hit Will and Will hit Troy, that shows how good they can execute it. We ran that two days ago. The opportunity to learn it and get those things done, you got to keep doing it time and time again. And young freshmen go through different walls.
I don’t know if you ever see a proverbial wall where they just run up to it and smack it. They can hide it pretty well. You can hide it with your practices and not going as long. But there’s no question that missing the games that he missed and those type of things bothered him.
But he’s going to be a very good player and he’s just got to continue to learn and we got to continue to try to help him get better.