STARLIGHT, Ind. — Before addressing a strong contingency of fans who gather annually at Hubery Winery to hear from the coaches from a variety of Indiana’s athletic programs, Tom Crean met with the media at length on Wednesday evening and addressed a variety of topics.
Inside the Hall was in attendance and we’ve got the full video of Crean’s comments including his early thoughts on next season’s team, a health update on Peter Jurkin, the future of Hanner Mosquera-Perea, Indiana’s schedule for next season, a trip to Montreal in August and much more:
Watch the in-depth update from the first stop of the 2014 “On the Road” tour below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
On Coming to Huber Farms
It is so festive with so many people that love Indiana. This is truly one of the foundations of Indiana University and IU Athletics. Southern Indiana is phenomenal for that and has been for a long time. I feel that energy when I’m in there and the only thing, I wish is that our players were in town so we could be working with them, but they are on a break and will start to come in this weekend. All the freshmen will be here in a couple of weeks and we will be back at it again. It is great to be in this environment and great to be with all the other coaches. They are people you see throughout the year, but when they all come together like this, to Huber Farms, it is a big deal.
On the Trip To Montreal
I like the way our summer is structured, with our workouts and the fact that we are going to take this trip to Montreal, where we will play five games in six days. Those games will be important because we will play some really good teams and at the same time we will get to practice.
The 10 practices in the past used to be a much bigger deal until they put in the new rule where we will get two hours to work with our players and 10 practices. This trip will give us a chance to do a lot of things in a short period of time and I think that is really good.
Distance and they still get some quality summer time. They will still have some time when they get back before school. I think the key is that you get really good competition and we feel like this competition is going to be pretty substantial for us.
Last summer there was a vacuum of leadership that wasn’t filled by anybody and leadership is exactly what we need this summer. What we have tried to get established in the spring is that everyone that is with us. They get so bonded and so close, that when the new guys come they know how to bring them in, basically they become mentors and adopt them. We are going to be really young again. I don’t know where we will stack up in the Big Ten, I have to believe we are right there. The bottom line is we have to have guys come together throughout the summer.
On Yogi Ferrell
He has been gone, but he had a great spring. We had spring break that week and started the following Monday. We had 21 individual workouts. We had over 35 lifts. It started to come and there is no question Yogi has to become better, he has to be a leader and mature. Our whole team has to mature. We lost 6,900 points the year before, which we knew we weren’t going to replace that easily. The decision making, the maturity of that team, we really lost that. It is not just the obvious guys that were in the lottery. It is guys like Derek Elston. We never had a replacement for Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls this past year. We didn’t have a replacement for the energy of a Derek Elston. We had guys that were mature enough to put people in their place when they needed to be put there. Our guys last year spent too much time being buddies, than being absolute comrades. Comrades and even friends, they don’t let you make mistakes. It is not just what goes on, on the floor, it is what it is off the floor. Buddies are afraid sometimes of telling each other what needs to be done and we have to outgrow that and Yogi is a key component of that.
It has to come from others as well. I’ll use the UConn game as a great example. We had probably six or seven games what we lost, of the two that we won, that were decided by a possession. When we got beat by UConn, we still had chances at the end of the game. They had great guard play and we had a great guard and there is a big difference. We had one guy that could really make shots, where they had numerous guys and we still had a chance to win that game. The point being, you have to have it come from more than one person. The key for this team is going to be the unselfishness of it, the ball movement, and the intensity. Last year we always worked hard, there was not a doubt that we were a hard working team, but we didn’t always compete the way we needed to. Sometimes that happens with a young team and that’s one of the reasons we were inconsistent. We were not as consistent in that flat out, we are getting this win. His leadership is growing, it is on going, but it has to come from other places. This is not a situation where it is Yogi’s team or it is the junior’s team, there are no seniors for it to be their team. It has to be a team that really comes together in a lot of different ways, but he really has to lead the way in a sense of what it takes to do it at this level.
On the signings of Jeremiah April and Tim Priller
We are looking for upside. When you are signing late and you are signing young players like that, you have to be able to project that upside. Jeremiah April, to me, he has grown four inches in just a couple of years. He has put on weight and played a lot of games. He is one of those late bloomer guys, but I don’t think he is anywhere near where he is going to be. He will get into campus this weekend and starting next week we will have a chance to have him with us and he can get indoctrinated into what we are trying to do, along with Tim Priller. Jeremiah has very good timing and excellent hands. For a big player he has a tremendous soft touch. He is relatively raw, there is no question about that. If he didn’t have really good hands and excellent touch, you are looking at a guy that might not become a good shooter, we think he is going to become a very good shooter. He has good timing to block shots. I don’t think he understands the intensity level yet he is capable of playing at on a daily basis or what is going to be expected of him. I love his attitude and I love his family. I really like his coach and I like how excited he is to come to Indiana.
Tim Priller is one of those players that remind me of a more athletic Nick Fazekas, who played at Nevada and we recruited at Marquette, who was the second pick in the second round to the Dallas Mavericks, years back. He was one of those guys that was a little unorthodox, but the shot went in. To me Tim brings that. Anyone that is that size and playing at that level of competition and shooting 52 percent from three, that is going to get your attention right away. He has an attitude of getting better and I think he is going to bring in a real hunger to improve and prove people wrong. I loved what I saw on film and it wasn’t just the ability to make shots, it was how he impacted games when he wasn’t getting the ball. It was getting a charge, at 6’9″ to win a game. It is grabbing a big rebound. I think he can pass the ball. He has to get stronger. Both of them have to be blanket and pillow guys at Cook Hall, with the weight room, there is no question about that. They have to gain strength and the level of intensity they are going to need to train at. Both guys have been well coached and they come from pretty good basketball areas. I think the upside is really strong.
On the non-conference schedule
In the perfect world one of those games would have been shifted into this past season, especially one of the home ones, but it didn’t work out that way. A lot of the things we were holding onto with last year’s schedule, not withstanding the three-year classic with UCLA, Kentucky and North Carolina. We were looking at doing that, but the dates with that and the Crossroads Classic were going to conflict, so we could not make that happen so Ohio State took that spot. We had different things we were working on last year that didn’t all come to fruition, so this year it is all coming at once. The Georgetown game is a unique opportunity to play right after Christmas at Madison Square Garden against a great team. It is certainly not what you are used to doing in that sense of playing somebody that strong right after Christmas, but it will be really good for us. More often we likely are going to open the league on New Year’s Eve. I don’t know that for sure, but I would assume we are. The fact that we get to go to New York twice, I think is good for us, because we are going to be out there more and more with the Big Ten has such a scope of being on the east coast. I don’t think anyone there was disappointed to see us take that game. The Louisville game is something that has been in the works for a while with playing them in the Jimmy V Classic.
SMU, when we decide to do that, it was really last early fall and then they went out and had a phenomenal season. They are adding players left and right and are going to be a top-10 team without question and bring in an experienced team and a tremendous freshmen class. Butler is Butler and they are always going to be a tough team to play. They get Roosevelt Jones back, who is one of the tougher matchups in college basketball, not to mention Kellen Dunham and the rest of the guys they have, and the fact that we are getting a home game with a team like Pittsburgh says a lot. We had a lot of battles with them when we were at Marquette and played them our second year here at Indiana in the Garden. We have had great battles with them over a period of time.
I think our home fans are going to enjoy the schedule, the people on the east coast are going to enjoy the schedule and that doesn’t take into account the great Big Ten games we will have.
On how Peter Jurkin is doing physically
That is an up and down situation. There is no clear path to that right now. He had his surgery. The poor guy, he has never had any consistent health situation since he has been here and it goes back to his high school days. We have never seen Peter get to where he would like to get, where we would like to see him get and where his teammates would like to see him get, because of the health situation. It is very hard for him to overcome that, but he is there, he is going to summer school, he is doing a good job. At some point, is he going to be able to play or not? That is really what it is coming down to in year three now. He is a great kid, but we want him to be successful, but you have to be healthy to have that chance to be successful.
On how optimistic he is about the shooting with the new guys coming in
I didn’t think we shot very well last year, but you go back and look at the BCS standings, over the last three years, overall and in conference play and we are number one in three-point shooting. Duke is right behind us, we are at 39.9 percent in league play. We have led the BCS and we were third in the league last year and yet I didn’t think we were that good of a shooting team. We didn’t make timely shots last year. Guys that we needed to make shots for us, with the exception of Yogi and Noah, those didn’t always happen. Noah and Yogi were very consistent shooters. There is no question the shooting caught us. It is going to be a huge thing this year, because it is not only the shooting, it is the ability to get shots. Our spacing didn’t change, how we were guarding changed. We still run the same actions and the same concepts of spacing, but they didn’t have to guard us as much, because we were not as consistent. We went three out of five games at the end of the year where we didn’t score a point out of the two spot. We never got the four spot, the trail spot worked out the way we needed it to be. It didn’t progress that way and we tried to do a lot of different things with Noah and we ended up moving Troy into a lot of different positions and he got better and better. His forte wasn’t shooting and Noah’s wasn’t volume shooting. Noah is not a guy that hunts shots. With all that being said, I think our shooting will be considerable better, when you look at the three we added with Robert, James and Max, and now you add a fourth in Tim. Jeremiah might not be able to shoot with range yet, but he has a nice touch, which is going to make him a better shooter.
Our guys have worked very hard in improving their shooting. Maybe more then those things it is going to be decision making with the ball. The national average in turnovers last year was 12. We averaged 14.4 in the league and 15 overall. We were outscored in the league by two points. We were outscored in points off turnovers by four points. Those come from the turnovers. Field goal percentage defense was two percentage points different than one year that it was the year before and yet our three-point defense was better and we led the league in three-point defense. So many things were close, but the turnovers and the lack of timely shooting, which goes into the decision-making, were not where we needed it to be. When you can pinpoint that like we have been able to do and you know you are going to get better with that, that gives you a lot of optimism. We don’t want to give in some other areas, that is going to be why it is important we have a great summer.
On Noah Vonleh
I have no idea what team he is best suited for, but I think he will go high in the draft. I think he can play a lot of different ways. He is an outstanding shooter. He got better and better. We put together a tape of what he looked like at the beginning versus what he was playing like in the last month of the season and we will send to the NBA teams and let them see it. His ability to rebound defensively is phenomenal. He and Joel Embiid both rebound at 27 percent at the defensive rebound rate. What he has to keep doing is he has to keep playing. He is a young guy that is not going to be 19 until the end of August. My greatest hope for him is not necessarily the team he goes to or what pick he is, but is he going to go somewhere, where he is going to get a chance to play in meaningful minutes, not just to a team that is trying to get back in next year’s lottery. I hope he gets to play meaningful minutes and get meaningful development, not only from the head coach, but also from other coaches. There is so much room for growth with him when you look at how he jumped. When I talk to teams I think they are excited about that, but they are also excited about his future, because they know he is capable of so much.
On Hanner Mosquera-Perea
It is time to play. It is time to be serious about playing extended minutes. It is time to be an enforcer at the basket. It is time to show that toughness that his body gives him. It is going to have to happen, or he won’t be out there as much. We need his consistency. It is time for him to lock in and mature and no more talk, lets get at it. Let’s be a guy that can grab rebounds out of your area and play more than a couple of minutes at a time, without getting winded. Let’s be a guy that has continued to progress defensively like he has. We have to get him to the foul line. He has not shown, but he has made tremendous strides as a shooter.
The thing about next year’s team that is going to be unique and I cannot tell you how it is going to look, other than it won’t be conventional. We are not that big. We don’t have a lottery pick that we are going to throw the ball to, like we have had in the last three years. It is going to be a different team. Can Hanner run the court? Can he screen and role? Can he get loose in the alley? Can he post-up and rip through? Can he play on double-teams? They can’t just happen in practice and a couple of days at a time throughout the season. I could say the same thing about Devin Davis. We need both of those guys to really step up and take the opportunity that is there. The opportunity is tremendous. It will never be better for Hanner than it is right now. It is time for him to expand his game by expanding his mindset on what he is capable of.
Filed to: Tom Crean