Indiana coach Tom Crean met with the media on Tuesday afternoon at Assembly Hall for a lengthy offseason update.
In his comments, Crean addressed the roster, player-by-player, and also took questions from the media on topics like the upcoming foreign tour in Montreal, Yogi Ferrell‘s growth, team leadership, the health of Collin Hartman, how he envisions next season’s team coming together and much more.
Watch the complete press conference in the media player below:
A full transcript is available after the jump.
Transcript via ASAP Sports:
Opening Statement: COACH CREAN: What I wanted to do today, the last time we were together, it was basically about our staff and about the hiring of Chuck and last time I saw, some other people, and I just really want to go over where our team is at and give you some updates on guys individually, now that we have had everybody here for a while with the exception of Nick Zeisloft, we can talk about him more and then as we get closer to going to Montréal. We’ll try to do a few other things and keep making sure that we get some players available. I really want to go over the team first and then we’ll start to open it up to questions.
We’re right in the middle of the workouts, and it’s been excellent. And as much as recruiting is a priority, the most important thing that we are working on on a daily basis is making this team better. And I think your recruiting gets a lot better when they see the players getting better, and there is no question that that’s been a huge part of what’s been going on here and will continue to go on like that.
Certainly when you judge the last draft, we are one of two schools in the last two years that have had three lottery picks, ourselves and Kansas. I’m not sure that you would look at our school and say, when those guys when they all came in, that they were no brainer lottery picks.
Certainly Cody and Noah are projected that way but nobody was projecting Victor that way. And that’s why the most important, and he’s actually back here this week and started working out with us again yesterday; because there’s a young man that knows no matter what he just did in Orlando in the summer league and in the season, it is not close to what he is capable of. And that’s what you want.
Any time someone like Victor is around that I can point to, all right, there’s a standard that he’s raising himself to that has nothing to do with where he’s at right now. You can’t have a better learning environment for your players than to see that, and to see how hard he goes through things and spends that kind of time. So those kinds of things are important, and that’s what we want to for everybody right now.
Going back to the spring, the season obviously didn’t end the way we wanted and it was clear in the sense of turnovers. It was clear in the sense of lack of maturity. We were 2 5 in games that came down to one possession inside of the league. Go back to the UCONN game, there were two chances inside the last five, six seconds to get that game and they win a national championship.
Looking deeper, our defense was better. We lead the league in three point defense. So many things were good, but there were too many times we had empty possessions. Too many times that turnovers didn’t give a chance to be a really good shooting team. Michigan averaged seven made 3s a game. We averaged five. If we get two more 3s a game, we have six more wins. Think about that. All of a sudden now you’re talking about a seed.
And we win a couple of those games that we’re 2 5 in, it’s another story. And there’s a lot of woulda, coulda, shoulda. That’s not what it’s about. The point is that everything matters. For every possession to matter in a game, you’ve got to get them to understand that every work out, every part of that work out, every part of the weight lifting, every part of the conditioning, everything matters, and it’s the best way to build a true maturity and a true collective toughness in your team.
And that’s what we’re building towards, and we had a great spring, as I’ve said to others before. We got better. The guys that were here, we got a lot better. The guys that have come in have added right to that. We’ve only had one practice for Montréal but we’ve had our ability to do our work. We don’t miss those.
As coaches, as a family, we took our first vacation last week over the Fourth of July weekend, first time we’ve done one in a year. I don’t know how guys in this day and age can get away, you know, and have summer homes and not be with their team. I mean, the most important thing you’ve got going is your team, but they need a little break, too, and my family did. And we picked right backup and we jumped right back on it.
Where we’re at individually, I’ll start age wise. Yogi is getting a lot better. He’s getting a lot stronger. He’s benching 245 right now which is phenomenal. He’s always been a strong young man but nobody really lifts in high school like they did in college, and that wasn’t a big part of his day. I mean, he is a force in that weight room right now; and he’s not only a force with what he’s doing and the way that he’s lifting but in the way that he’s talking and leading.
What I really like about him, and I’m going to put him in front of you here pretty soon so you get a chance to see, he’s starting to grasp what he’s capable of. And I don’t think he’s even grasped what he’s capable of on the court yet and I know he’s showing flashes of it.
I had a gentleman in this league tell me that his team they had polled their team on some different questions about the season, and he said, when it came down to the hardest matchup in the league, to a man, everybody said the hardest matchup for them to deal with was with Yogi. I haven’t even told him that yet.
We want people across the country saying that when they run into him. And he’s working towards that. The keys right now, that he become as great of a lead guard in the sense of, do multiple things but make others better constantly.
Offensively for himself, the vision is getting better. He’s always had very good vision but he’s more aware, even though we have not played a lot as a team. He’s working on finishing his length and strength and being even a better finisher around the basket. He’s developing a step back. He’s working on his range. We want him to become as proficient of a guard as there is in the pick and roll offense and being an absolute leader, catalyst on defense.
It’s really easy to point to him in anything that we’re doing, this is how you do it, whether it’s getting over a screen, whether it’s the way you run the break, whether it’s the way the ball moves in practice and drill to drill. That’s a big, big thing for us.
So his leadership is emerging. It’s ongoing like everybody else’s. He kind of epitomizes our team. We’re kind of talking about him like he’s a senior and he’s really only going to be a junior.
We are going to be an extremely young team, and there’s no doubt about that. But at the same time, there’s a youthful enthusiasm about these guys, and it’s turning into a more serious intent and that’s going to be a key for us; can that serious intent continue to grow.
Hanner’s body is continuing to change. Devin Davis is the strongest person on our team right now but Hanner is right there on his heels. Je’Ney keeps track of all kinds of different things, and these guys go at it early in the morning. I came back from recruiting on Thursday to be in here early on Friday morning, and I was inspired for the rest of the weekend, and it had nothing to do with the recruiting. It was unbelievable watching these guys go at it.
And Hanner and did he have on are competing in there. The big thing for us last year with Hanner is you need to win. You need to win drills. You need to win competitions. You need to win as many pick up games as you can. I don’t think he understood that. He’s starting to understand how important that is.
His body looks extremely good. He’s gaining confidence. He’s gaining stature around his teammates. He’s gaining more of a voice. He’s becoming a better worker, but it’s July 15, he’s got to keep it up. He’s got to keep it up. There’s no more inconsistency that can be there with Hanner, because if he gets consistent, he’s going to play in the NBA and there’s no question about that, with that athleticism, that length, that talent and when you see that body and speed that he’s capable of. But he’s got to become consistent because he epitomizes what we need in play harder, longer. That’s a big, big thing for us.
Devin Davis is the strongest. He came in here benching just over 200 and he’s now at 285. His feet are improving. His speed is improving. Big key with him is the versatility. He’s going to have to be able to do multiple things for us. We had a moment in practice last week where we took all the guards and put them on one team, okay, and put him and the biggest guy on their team was Troy and he had to run the point on his team. And every turnover was a minus two.
Now Tim Priller made 13 points inside of that, but they got negated because the team turned it over too much.
It was a great lesson for Devin, in the sense that your response is you keep making the game easier for everybody else, and when you do that, the game becomes that much easier for you as a player. He has a chance to do different things for us. He’s working to improve his shooting. His free throw shooting is going to be huge. I love his speed. There’s a lot of different things we can do with him and he’s just got to stay on a consistent run.
Hanner is on his heels, is becoming the strongest guy on the team, and I don’t think any of them should sleep on Robert Johnson, Jr., with where he came in at and where he’s going.
Collin Hartman, we started a few weeks back, really we’re using a lot of creativity to keep him involved in the drills because he’s not able to go up and down. He’s not able to really run and move, even though I have seen him do some more conditioning, so that’s coming. But we put him in situations and if you asked him, he would probably feel like he’s getting challenged and pressured like its midseason, because that’s what we need from him.
They need to hear Collin’s voice. Collin needs to hear their voices. Collin needs to continue to grow mentally as well as physically with his game. So there’s pressure on him. There’s nobody guarding him; he needs to make 70 percent of his shots, and I’m right there getting after him if he’s not. He needs to see himself I reminded him of this a couple weeks ago.
We didn’t offer him a scholarship because he was a phenomenal shooter. We offered him a scholarship because he made everybody better and he could really, really pass the ball. If he could get that shot to where it needs to be and he can get that consistency of the shooting, because that wasn’t a strength for him last year. It wasn’t a strength in practice or you’d have seen it more in games and obviously it wasn’t a strength for a lot of us.
We made 106 threes in the Big Ten and Noah and Will (Sheehey) made 88 of them. So it wasn’t a great strength all the way across the board. But Collin adds to what we are doing with the new guys in the sense that that could become much bigger for us but the ball movement is going to be a huge part of that. He’s getting stronger. He’s becoming a leader as much as he can, and he’s doing a good job for us.
Stan’s gaining a level of consistency that he has not had. His body’s different. His conditioning and energy are different and it’s not because he’s doing more. It’s because he’s smarter. Frankly, there had not been nearly as many early mornings for punishment reasons, which is a huge thing for Stan. We need a mature, leading Stan.
Here is a guy, he had the same amount of free throw attempts in the league that Noah did and Noah’s the ninth pick in the draft. Stan can get fouled, but Stan has got to build explosiveness into his game that is consistent, and he’s really working hard to get to that. He’s getting stronger. He’s probably benching right now 225, probably 245, somewhere in there and he’s growing.
When it comes to strength, Troy came in benching the bar, basically, okay. He’s up to 225 now. I mean, Je’Ney Jackson gets a lot of credit and there will be a lot of people thanking him for what he’s done for them. Troy probably deserves a full color poster in Je’Ney’s office right now for where he’s going with it and he’s really coming. There’s a guy that he had been to the weight room but he didn’t exactly have the key card to it.
Now he’s really learning a lot about that. He’s trying to gain we are trying to get him multi faceted and really having him on the same level of progression that we really wanted Victor on. Victor had not really handled the ball a lot in high school. He had not been in pick and rolls. I’m not saying that his improvement numbers are going to jump Victor went from 14 percent from three as a sophomore to 40 percent in the Big Ten but that progression of being able to do a lot of different things, valuing the basketball, finishing, not just dunking everything that’s there. But really trying to build that base so that we can not only go to Troy, but that we can play through him on the perimeter.
He’s worked hard on his shot. His work ethic has gained tremendously. Last summer his work ethic, his extra work ethic was right near the bottom of our team but right now it’s up there around the top when it comes to the extra work. So proud of what he’s doing there.
Jeremiah April, his speed is getting better. He’s learning a lot. Give you an example. Yesterday they ran 300 , 350 yard sprints after a full workout, leg workout, upper body the whole deal. Went over to camp and they ran five 350s. When he first got here he could barely get through the one 350 and yesterday he got through all five.
Now to me that’s progress. That’s how you measure progress. There’s not a result. There’s not a win/loss. It’s not he’s averaging this, he’s averaging that. That’s the progress you’ve got to see as you’re building a player. What that means for his season, I don’t know yet. He’s got a lot to learn but he’s a willing learner.
We like the attitude that he has. He’s spending a lot of time with Tim Priller. Tim’s feet are improving. Tim’s movements are improving and his strength is improving and his level of conditioning, he’s been well coached.
Again we played this game the other day and when the players, when Yogi said, one of the last things he said, don’t let Priller catch you. Kid goes for 13 points in a game, they lose the baskets because we take two points for every turn over. My basic message to Tim is: If you catch it and open, you shoot it. That’s 52 percent from three, a senior playing an inside spot, there’s a lot he’s a little bit situational right now but I think he’s going to grow out of that, I really do, because he’s got a great work ethic for it.
Max Hoetzel is learning a lot. We need him to be a shot maker. We need him, big key now is getting him to be able to get the ball out of bounds and run the break and trail. We never got the trail position worked out last year. We lost the best runner in college basketball in Cody Zeller the year before. We lost what I felt was the best trail player in Christian Watford. Never got either one of those where they need to be.
Noah was a great player in his own right and did a lot of good things and got 27 and a half percent of the defensive boards, and shot a high percent age, but we need that trail position. Christian went from 32 percent in two years to 48 percent his last two years and a lot of those threes came off the break.
So we need that. We never had anybody, even though we tried, we never had anybody that could grab that role and that we could really count on, and Max has got a tremendous opportunity at that.
But strength is a big thing for him right now. He’s not coming in with the base that some of the others are, the physicality that he needs to have. His confidence will grow from his strength. His confidence will grow from simple basketball as he continues to do that.
Robert Johnson is the strongest player flat out that we have ever brought into Indiana in the summer time regardless of position. He came in here 13 times, 185 on the bench and he’s up to 50. He came in here at 39 inches on the vertical and they will measure it again next week to see where that’s at it. He’s got a pit bull mentality. The few times we have gotten down and competed in a group of four on four, five on five, extremely well coached in some of the nuances and details of the game. And now it’s just a matter of consistency and it’s a matter of more explosion.
Big thing with Robert now, he can play with his eyes up, play with vision and see a lot of different things, but he’s in the gym, he and James are basically joined at the hip with the way that those guys work out after we work out or come back at night.
And James wasn’t doing 185 one time a year ago. Came in here doing itself en, and he is up to nine, probably close to ten right now, just like that. He’s been committed to getting ready for this. Well coached by his father, without a doubt, and his dad has done so many things to hold him accountable to become not only a better shooter but a better scorer and a better player over time. Now he’s learning about the explosiveness that he can play with and building that athleticism into his game.
But that right there to me, for a team that has not played a game yet, that right there, to see what he has done physically in the period of last summer to where he’s at right now, is a sign of things to come.
Again, I don’t judge where their confidence is at right now and I don’t judge where their game is at right now because so much is being thrown at them. They are going through the academics and going through the study halls and the lifting and the conditioning and the workouts and the playing. They are doing all these extra things and away from home for the first time. You’re not going to be overly confident with that but the bottom line is getting better is what’s key. I think they all see themselves getting better.
Most recent guy up here is Nate Ritchie. We are excited about him. He came up here and he worked out. I had seen him on film a little bit. Wanted to be at Indiana. He was coming to Indiana. He had turned down in offers of other Division I schools and there’s no question after his on campus evaluation that he’s going to be part of our team.
He’s going to have the same adherence to everything that everybody else has. Extremely athletic, willing learner, quick learner. He wants to be really good. I love his athleticism and pop. Just getting to know him. I’m excited about him. You guys got a chance to meet Ryan Burton recently. And if the tables were turned, I wish I would have known about Ryan last year, even though he would not have been able to play, it would have been great to have him in our environment last year. He would have helped bring a maturity just like that to our team.
But he was going to school, going to the Kelly School, and he’s got a great mind set, he’s one of those first one in, last one to leave type guys and that’s what you want. We don’t try to treat a walk on like a walk on. It’s not like, well, you get this shirt and you don’t, you get this pair of shoes, you get the 140 model and we’ll give you the 70 model. It’s not like that. But it’s the same thing with the work ethic oh, no, you may not get the minutes to go behind it, but you’re going to get better, and I love it. He wants that and that’s important.
Nick Zeisloft, when we found out about him and I know some of this is redundant to the quotes the other day, but watched every shot that he took for the season, watched his turnovers, watched probably seven or eight games, because I wanted to be right. I wanted us to look at this and say, okay, if we’re going to do this, let’s make sure this fits and not only did we take him because of what he’s done; he’s been well coached. Not only do we take what he’s done in high school and at AU and Illinois State, but I think there’s a lot there.
I think there’s a lot there. There’s athleticism, there’s a tenacity. I’m going to be shocked if there’s not a toughness level that I think is going to be high for us based on what I’ve seen. Tremendous student. Wanted Indiana, wanted the MBA from Indiana from the Kelly School badly, legacy type of situation because of his dad being here and his mom being at Michigan. So obviously takes academics extremely serious and graduated in three years, and we know how much of a challenge that can be with what we’ve had here.
But I think there’s a lot there. I think there’s a lot of ability to cut, move without the ball. I think there’s an ability to come off screens even more. I think he’s going to be an adequate defender. I think he’s got to get in the mix and board, and I think we’re going to find that there’s a multi dimension ability.
All in all, of the scholarships, of scholarship guys, and Nick being in that, we still finished I think third in the league last year in shooting, in three point shooting. We’re No. 1 over the last three years in BCS overall in league play and I didn’t think we shot the ball that well at all last year. And add five or six guys right now and Jeremiah can shoot it from probably 12, 15; but to add five guys that can makes threes allows us to really get the floor space, pick up our pace, play even faster.
Said this all along, and we lived it last year: Consistency, or depth is not numbers. Depth is consistency, and we didn’t have enough consistency. You know what, I put certain things last year, I would have booed me, too. I really would. Because we were trying to get guys in and we were trying to find some type of consistency on the court and we didn’t have enough of it.
I don’t know where it’s going to be this year but I like the upside of it. It’s competitive. We’re going to make changes. The biggest change is that we are going to have to be guarded a lot more than what we were last year. Now whether we make the shots or how we rebound, how we defend, those things are up for grabs. But we are going to have to be guarded. I know I’ve said a lot but I wanted to get those guys covered and then we can turn it into anything else that you want.
Q. You talked about the improved shooting how do you think that will impact Yogi as far as being able to open things up more for him and also make him more of a distributor?
COACH CREAN: Well, it’s two parts in this. The last three years, obviously we’ve had a lottery pick that we could throw to, and we’ve also, the last three years, we’ve scored a ton of points off the free throw line. For two years, we were number one in the country in free throws attempted, free throws made. Last year, we still scored the most percentage of points in the league from the foul line, 25 percent.
We are not going to have a guy that we are not necessarily throwing that ball into like that but yet we still have to get fouled, you know what I mean. You have to get fouled. You have to be able to get to the foul line.
One of the reasons Nebraska made such a big jump last year to me: They could shoot it, they could score it, they could get fouled. You have to be able to get it from numerous matchups. But you look at Nebraska and you wouldn’t say, well, they had a low post player that you had to throw the ball to. The guy that played their five position shot from 23 feet, so he’s hard to deal with.
In answer to your question, Yogi has got to be that much more versatile. Yogi has to be able to get to the rim. The more the ball moves, the more we play out of the corners, the more that we are in an attack mindset, that’s why everybody, Troy, Stan, not to mention without question, the young guys, have to build an explosiveness, driving the ball, dropping the shoulder. And for you that have covered us for a long time, think about where Vic was early to where he was late.
Look how much Cody was ninth in the country his last year, and free throw attempts, I would say you could go 50/50, 60/40 between what was scored on the posts and the drives. And as good as he was in high school and as well coached as he was in high school, he wasn’t doing a lot of driving in high school but he again, got fouled.
So Yogi has got to get fouled. Other guys have got to get fouled. We have got to get to the foul line. And the more that ball moves and we don’t just settle for the first one, we really have to have everybody wants to emulate the Spurs. It’s very hard to do that. You have to be committed to it. They have numerous things that stand out, but the `good to great shot’ phrase is key. We have to be able to get that great shot. And the more that ball moves, the more it’s going to come around.
And when you can point to Vic and say, okay, you know, some of the questions from the NBA, all right, and I don’t know how some of these people would even have their job when they ask these well, you didn’t shoot that much. Look at the percentages. I never had one GM or head coach ask me about, he didn’t shoot much.
But I had a bunch of them talk about the percentages. It’s about the percentages. It’s not about the averages. Vic averaged 13 and a half points his, he’s second pick in the draft of the average they got excited about was those 12.2 deflections.
And I say that for Yogi, too. I feel Yogi is one of the best defenders, not only in the league, but the country. Now the country has got to see that. It’s not me pounding the table saying, hey, look at him. That’s what people have to see now.
So Yogi has got to keep diversifying, multiplying, any way you want to look at his game, make everybody else better, and be on that attack offensively on the offensive and defensive end.
Q. You talked about whatever way you guys are going to play has to be unconventional. Have you started putting together a plan when you look at certain teams who inspire you, is there a team you look at as a mold for how you play with a very guard oriented team?
COACH CREAN: Well, we haven’t put much in yet. So much of this has been about spacing and how we utilize the three point line and the NBA so much of it is about just really, really getting the repetition of the fundamentals; of the basics of fundamentals and then the fundamentals for Indiana basketball with the spacing.
Because every team has their own things that they really hold on to, and I think the better we get that, the more we are going to be able to do different things. Like last year there was only one guy I wanted taking a shot in the corner and he was the point guard and I didn’t really want him taking that shot. And he was our best transition defender, along with Will.
So now the corner is going to be a whole other we are not going to become this NBA team living on shots out of the corner, but you’re going to have to guard us there, and there’s going to be that much more movement off of that.
Really I don’t think it becomes it’s got to be simplistic, it really does. I don’t think this is a team that’s going to, certainly we are not going to have the number of plays, we are not going to have to do that. That’s going to be a lot more play out of concepts, and then be extremely good in dead balls and after timeout situations.
We were not nearly as good in after timeout situations as we had been we were pretty good after timeouts and then a couple years, the 27, 29, we were unbelievable coming out of time outs. So we are not good at it at all last year. Those kinds of things have to happen. We want to run and we want to space. It’s not a lot of changes. It’s people that can make more of those plays.
I’ve gone back, I always study a lot of Europe, so I’ve been studying an enormous amount of some European coaches. I’ve been studying David Blatt before he got the Cleveland Cavaliers job. I’ve never met him but I think he’s one of the greatest coaches on both sides of the ball in terms of innovativeness. When he got hired I was watching stuff in 2007 when he was coach of the Russian national team. Unbelievable what this guy does, and the level of spacing and stealing things out of time outs and looking for matchups.
Watched a lot of UCONN, especially how they played with the guards and what they did with the ball screens. And as close as we came to beating them, they guarded us extremely well. UCONN’s defense was not given nearly enough credit for what they did as a team last year defensively, so I watched that.
But I’ve gone back to some old school stuff for me, and how Reece Gaines played at Louisville when he when we were back at Marquette. Villanova has played with three and four guards. They can have four guards and play one way, and they can bring in a forward and play an entirely different way at the drop of a hat. Things like that are important to me. There will be more as we get more into it. I always take my computer with me when we travel and load it up with new things to see.
We are putting in a lot of the concepts that we want in right now. But before we can start getting good at coming off the greens, ball screen this, and ball screen that, we have to get really good at some of the fundamentals, explosiveness, understand spacing and how hard you’ve got to go for how long you have to go, so we can start to get that down.
Q. Following the same thing, but how much have you seen, I know it’s early in terms of installing things, but how much have you seen Yogi embrace the idea that is a different kind of team or identity that he’s going to have to run and the things he’s going to be creating are potentially different from last year?
COACH CREAN: Well, one of the things that I think helped these guys when they move on from here, whether they go to Europe and they have got to fend for themselves or whether they go to the NBA and the expectations of being able to execute plays and come out of time outs and work hard, take care of yourself, is you’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to be able to demands from your teammates and it’s always not natural. You’ve got to be able to demand from yourself. You have to be able to come out and execute.
Right now what we have seen is we had workouts last week, and we put we did drills that our juniors in the sense of Yogi and Hanner and our sophomores, they are the ones that taught the drills. We’ll go down and do it when I leave here, and they will lead the way on those things.
Yogi is a vocal point but it has to be a collective leadership group more than ever, it really does. One of the reasons we had some immaturity issues last year is there wasn’t enough of and we’ll try, there’s no question about this but there wasn’t enough of that, I’m not letting this guy down. They have to see each other as leaders.
The biggest thing you want to get from your team in the summer time is that they respect one another. And it starts with respect on the court. You can love a guy all you want off the court and go to the mall and go to the movies with him but if you don’t think he can play, it’s not taking the next step.
So you want to make sure that you get that down. I think the way that I’m seeing Yogi grow in many areas and I say that, and we have never really done much like this in the past. I say that, the proverbial knock on wood, but you have to do that. We are growing.
We are expecting an awful lot out of a couple juniors and some sophomores when it comes to leadership. Yogi is a big reason but not the only reason.
Q. With so many different options on this team, do you see maybe shortening your rotation a little bit more than did you last year?
COACH CREAN: Well, the rotation was long last year because we didn’t have consistency. For people that get it, get the game, they see that. And we didn’t I mean, think about this for a second.
I know I gave this stat. We led the country in 3 point shooting, part of our offense. We had three guys get 88 of them in league play. Everybody else, do the math: 106 minus 88, right. That’s what we got. Yet we need to score points. We turned it over too much, all these different things. We under got tremendous consistency.
Our defense was better. There were statistics that we were better at the year before when we were No. 1 for 11, 12 weeks, whatever it was, right. So we never got that consistency on the offensive end where, that shot’s going in, there’s a pretty good chance that shot is going in, that ball is going to move. Then you end up turning it over because you get guys trying to do too much. Things like that.
So we are going to play, the players that give us the best chance, I do think, because we are not going to be as big, all right. We do need to bring some more speed to the game on the defensive end, all right. We do need to quicken the pace, because everybody has seen, even last year, you have teams coming in here that play fast one way, and they get to Indiana and they don’t play as fast. And I’d like to sit up here and say, well, we are playing great defense. No, they don’t want to get into the running game.
So we have got to make sure that we can get that running game. What we never got to last year, was having a consistent enough level on offense which allowed us to really get into the pressure situations on defense.
So long answer to your question is: The more guys can make plays, move the ball, make shots, the more we are going to be able to do defensively. Now whether that’s going to be a longer bench or shorter bench, I don’t know. So much of it becomes pace. But I think the offense has a lot more to do with the consistency that you have than the defense. It really does.
If you get a team that’s together, you’re going to be pretty good defense team defensive wise but it doesn’t have anything to do with how many shots you’re going to be able to make.
So that’s kind of where that’s at, and we will learn a lot about that when the season comes. Hopefully we’ll learn a lot about that in Montréal. But we really won’t learn about that until the season gets here.
Q. What do you want or need to see in Montreal to know this team is going in the right direction?
COACH CREAN: Too early to tell. I’ve never taken this young a team over there well, I take that back. In 2004 we went to Costa Rica no, 2003, 2004. No, this is the youngest team. We lost Dwayne Wade and Robert Jackson, but this will be the youngest team.
So to me it’s about respect. It’s about building. Your chemistry is only as good as your ability to affect it when it’s not going right for you. For us to have great chemistry, we can’t have frontrunners. I’m really anxious to see who is real up when we are playing well and who gets real down when we are not playing well. And then you’ve got to have guys that can impact the game on both ends of the floor.
So in answer to your question, are we building chemistry, are we eliminating frontrunning mentality and are we finding guys that can play on both ends of the floor. And then how do they play we are going to play Carleton College. I cannot wait.
Bo Ryan gave the advice: Do not open with Carleton because of how good they are. Took that advice. Listen to Bo any time, you know, so took that advice. We changed it. We play them the third game.
I’m looking forward to all that and seeing where that’s at. Now what we’ll learn from it, I don’t know. But we’re going to go through some tough days. We’re not going over there and winning all the games. No one is walking over there and saying, we have going 5 0 for it to be a successful trip.
No, we have to get better every day and learn how to have that chemistry and learn how to have that traction that comes from the chemistry, and learn how to get some two way players that don’t get their head down when things aren’t going well.
Q. Anybody else you see that has a lot of potential on the defensive end?
COACH CREAN: Oh, yeah, Stan has to be that. Stan Robinson has to become a stellar defender. He looks up to Victor. Let’s defend like that. I tried to get this stat across to these guys, and good, bad, or indifferent, it’s part of who we are with the deflections, always has been.
Four highest deflection guys I’ve ever coached all play in the NBA. Three of them went in the lottery. Dwyane Wade at 12.2; Victor Oladipo at 12.2; Cody Zeller at 9.8; Jerel McNeal at 11.2, and even Jerel has played with three different teams. And I have no doubt if we’d moved him to the point the year I came here, we moved him to the point at Marquette, he probably would have been a first round pick there.
But that correlates. I mean, that stuff correlates. And Stan’s got to see that. So much can happen from your defense on the offensive end. Because he’s trying to become a better offensive player and he certainly has to be for him to take the next step.
But if we can look out at Stan and say that that guy is going to be phenomenal defensively, Troy has to improve defensively. I don’t think there’s any question about that. There’s teams that look forward to Troy guarding ask Bo Ryan how many time outs he came out. But Troy could barely do the bar when he got here, right. Now the kid should be on a poster on Je’Ney’s wall. He’ll make improvements.
James, Rob, those guys are going to have to be very good for us defensively. Hanner is going to have to be a force. You have to have excellent team defense. I could go right down the line.
So this is not about we didn’t have enough guys that could get stops last year in one on one situation. That’s one of the reasons we are 2 5 in those one possession games. You have to have a team of stoppers. If we are switching or playing one on one or jumping into a zone; we had situations last year, three guys in zone and two guys in man. You know, you can’t have that, if you’re going to really win. That’s what the game has come down to. So we have to have a team of stoppers.
Q. How important is it you could have the same guy as a leader for two straight years?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I think that helps. I don’t think there’s any question it helps. But in the state of college basketball today, who thought a couple years ago we would have three lottery picks in two years, right.
When you look at how the transfer numbers have gone up over a period of time, it’s over 600 now. The game, it’s a fluid game. College basketball is a more fluid sport than any other sport in college sports. It just is. It’s constantly changing. So there’s no question that the older teams, and the teams that can grow old together, the teams that have very good balance, get that.
You know, we haven’t had as much of that. When we did, we were really good. We had a bad night against Syracuse, you know, and that same flip of games was flipped the other way that year in one possession games with the exception of Illinois and I think Minnesota comes to mind on that.
But there’s no question that helps. Do they respect each other; are they interconnected, okay. And will they you can’t have frontrunners. You cannot win. So it doesn’t matter. You could have a senior, you could have a freshman. If they are frontrunners and how is it going for me, how is it going for the team; if it’s based on that and they are not at a high level of how they are competing, you know, the best players, you shouldn’t really be able to look at them and see if they are not having a great statistical game. They should look the same.
That’s where you’ve got to grow. That’s part of maturity. It is what it is and in that sense we just have to continue to build on that every day and that’s what we are trying to get as much out of the summer as anything else with that.
Q. You talked about this at various points in the off season, but that maturity and some of the things that disappointed you on and off the floor last year, how much can you monitor how it’s growing in the summer?
COACH CREAN: I don’t know, everybody has them and some schools are pretty good at when you do this business for a living like we do, you know what goes on at other programs and you know how this doesn’t get out this, that doesn’t get out. Indiana is a little different like that.
We are sitting here and we are not there’s no, well, you know, put our arm around him and say, hey, don’t do that again; or try not to miss that class again, okay. No one’s doing that again. That’s why you get a 1000 on the APR four straight years with these guys leaving.
There’s a difference between punishment and discipline. I think guys are growing. There were mornings when guys were getting up, some mornings, they were working hard. Some mornings they were going over to see cancer patients at the hospital, because they need to understand, that’s a whole other world out there and the gift you’ve been given.
You know, some programs choose to bring a TV crew and invite every one of you over there in the morning and let’s do a documentary on it. That’s not me. Maybe we should do more of that. But that’s not how we do it. Because these kids are going to get into a point in their life where they are going to need to do something at the age of 24, 25, 26, 27, and you’re not going to be there to cover it. You’re not going to Tweet about it. You’re not going to bring a camera crew over there but they better do it. They better help people that need help.
In answer to your question, all you can do is keep building on that daily. That’s all you can do. You can keep trying to put them in a situation where they rely on one another to get better, all right. Where they can look at each other and say, I don’t want to let him down, okay. He’s working, I’m working. He can work better, I’m going to tell him. Because that will lead over to off the court. That will lead over.
They are filled with numerous things, you know, and when you play basketball at Indiana, it’s a whole different deal, and there’s a level of scrutiny that goes there. And they have got to understand that.
So I think we are growing there. But something could happen tonight. That’s the thing. I can’t jump out to there’s no soapbox. You just deal with it as it comes and you try to help people understand that there’s responsibilities that you have. There’s going to be consequences to your actions. But we are truly trying to be an extension of their family and help make them better. It’s not, well, I’m going to go to my beach house and I’ll get back in two weeks and I’ll get back to it. You know, you deal with it head on day after day, and that’s what you do. That’s how you raise family.
Q. Did you guys have a collective wake up call last year?
COACH CREAN: I don’t know if it’s collective. I thought about that actually. Scares you that we are on the same wavelength (laughter) but no one else believes it.
No, I don’t know, because we should have had one earlier, you know what I mean? No. the other week we were doing a camp Q & A and somebody said, didn’t look like the team liked each other. I said no, it wasn’t like that at all. If anything they liked each other too much. They didn’t pull each other out of situations they didn’t need to be in.
No, I think it’s individual. I’ve thought about that. I think it’s all individual. And I think you’ve just got to grow. We deal with a lot of things. I’ve said to parents that I am way past over involved in this but that’s the way it is. Let’s go fix it.
And it is what it is. Families, they expect us to be extensions. You tell them that in recruiting. They don’t really know what that means. We are going to hold to it.
Collective, that remains to be seen, but you get enough individuals that grow up I tell you what’s happening. Now there’s some experiences that with an older guy, and older is a sophomore or junior, says something to a younger guy, they know what that feels like and what they are talking about. They have experienced it.
And it’s not just how we work in practice or what study hall is like. It’s what it’s like to go here and the responsibility that you’re under and the mistakes you can’t make. But again I don’t sit up here and act like that’s not going to happen again. It’s not realistic. You just deal with it as you go and try to help people grow. You run into situations and you know what, potentially we are going to have addition by subtraction and that happens, too. That’s just part of it.
But you want to give everybody a chance to continue to grow, and this group they are building an interconnectedness, and you can’t force it as a coach. It has to come. You can try to facilitate it as a coach. You can’t make it happen. It’s like in parenting, you can’t make it happen. You have to try to facilitate it, and that’s what we are trying to do and see where it goes.
Q. Do you have an actual timeline on Collin?
COACH CREAN: No. No. It won’t be this summer. There will be nothing in Montréal. He’ll be with us but he’s not playing. No, it’s going to take a while. We are going to have to see how he progresses. It’s way too early to start thinking about who is going to play, who is going to red shirt, all those type of things.
And we won’t rush him back. We won’t do anything now, we push him to the level of what he can be pushed to with what his body can do. But it’s the mental part for me right now, the mental and the repetitions, getting the repetitions down constantly.
So we’ll take our time with that. But we’re further along with him than we would have been because we’ve thrown him right back into really, we’ve just taken about 80 percent of what we do in an individual workout and changed it around to add him to it. So there’s a component to him, so he’s just getting a ton of volume, which is important. Feel good about that, so we’ll see how it rolls.
Filed to: Tom Crean