MONTREAL — Tom Crean, Devin Davis (four points, 10 rebounds) Troy Williams (21 points, seven rebounds, four assists) and Robert Johnson (17 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals) met with the media following Indiana’s 109-77 win over the University of Quebec at Montreal on Wednesday afternoon.
Watch and listen to their postgame comments in the media players below:
“The one thing that was most impressive to me today was the last 10 minutes of the game and the intensity we played with. I think they learned a lot about it. They learned a lot the whole trip mentally and physically. But, I don’t think there was any question that we were tired today. Even though we had a really good second quarter, it could have very easily turned into the last 20 minutes being `Let’s get through this and go home.” We continued to play hard in the third quarter, but not with as much purpose and I thought in the fourth quarter, we played with tremendous purpose. I thought every guy made a decision that he was going to bring everything he had to every one of those possessions. The good news is they played extremely hard. This team’s level of intensity and hard nose basketball was on par with Carleton and Ottawa in a sense of not as good of players, but that level on intensity so that was really good for us.”
“I thought our guys got a lot stronger in the fourth quarter and it was very indicative of what happens: you can be at your best, it brings it out of the other team. We only won the quarter by six, but the bottom line was the guys went in there with much more purpose. The starting group we had at the beginning of the fourth quarter was plus-10 when they started to come out. That’s what you want, you want to have a very good beginning and you want to have a very good ending. You want the rest of it in between to be a ton of life lessons for them – basketball-wise and in their life.”
“In a nutshell, the things we didn’t spend as much time on to prepare for this trip, it showed. Rotations defensively, close outs, guarding the ball one-on-one, we did help-defensive things and shell defense, but not to level of the live that we saw here. We spent no time on blocking out and offensive rebounding was not an emphasis like I said to you yesterday, it was a conscious decision about how physical we wanted to be in the summertime.
“We had to play very physical out here and it gives us a great indication of who needs what, it gives us a very good indication of what we need to spend time in the fall on to prepare for. But, you cannot put a value on what it means for them to come out here and have the ball movement, to have to play this type of intensity and in some cases, very good competition. Playing against some very good players, the toughness.
“The thing we were talking about this morning that is so different with the 24-second clock is that you’re playing fast and you think you’re playing a lot faster than you are at home because you are. But, they take it to a whole different level here because everybody plays with the 24-second clock so if you’re not getting more possessions, you’re no better than the other guy. These teams are very, very good at trying to capitalize on more possessions – take the ball from you, grab the 50-50s (rebounds), relentless offensive rebounders. If that ball’s anywhere near loose when you pull it down, they’re trying to grab it away. I love it.
“We’ve learned a ton. We saw a lot of different defenses and we didn’t do as much set-wise or things like that offensively, but the ball movement and understanding how good everybody is and getting a feel for one another out there for this type of youth on this team is very, very good for us.”
On Robert Johnson’s performance in the game:
“You know what’s funny, I don’t know who brought it up yesterday, but I hadn’t read the stat sheet when we talked. I didn’t have any clue that he didn’t even score a point. I told him that’s the good news and the bad news. The good news is it didn’t affect him in my mind because we were asking him to do so many different things inside of the game. At the same time, he knew when we talked that he wasn’t as aggressive as he could be in looking for shots, in getting to the rim, in getting to the foul line. But, his seven boards, those things were good. I thought it was a great sign of somebody who went out there and impacted the game and it wasn’t his scoring.
“Today he impacted the game and his scoring was a big impact in the game as well. And that lesson right there, Rob will come back to look at that. I hope there are not too many nights where he’s not any scoring points, and I don’t think there will be because he can score. There was one little thing with his jump shot we saw and he got that tweaked in a hurry. He was fading some, especially off the dribble and he cleaned that up, he did better with it. I thought today was a great bounce back for a guy to be rewarded with scoring that really continued to play a very good floor game, a good leadership game and a good defensive game.”
On if the offense played in the corners during the trip is different than offense played in the past:
“No, if you think back to our teams the couple years we were really, really good, you had to guard our people there. Victor Oladipo was so good at understanding he wasn’t going to take threes from the corner, but he was really, really hard to guard in that short corner. Victor used to average anywhere from four to six points a game in the short corner alone, just in that action alone – whether it’s back cuts, getting loose behind it.
“No, it’s not different and it’s nothing unique to good basketball. It’s having guys that can make those shots. The trick is, the better they are at moving without the basketball, the better they are at driving the ball. Obviously the shooting enhances so much of that. When you’re not sure if they’re going to cut, drive it, pass it, shoot it – that makes you very, very dangerous in the corners and that’s what we have to continue to have. What it is not is a license for everybody to shoot corner three’s. We don’t want to be 12 seconds into a game and taking a corner three, but we’ll learn more about that. Our spacing is going to be a strength of our team, there’s no doubt about that, I think you saw some of that.”
On the importance of the improved shooting percentage:
“We got good shots. When I chart the games with my grading system back in the room, we’re not taking too many bad shots. We might take some quick shots and we maybe should have made the next pass – that’s what we really got to learn, it’s how to make the next pass that makes the shot better.
“We had six guys in double figures today and when that ball is moving, it doesn’t matter who is getting it. That’s what our team has to understand – a lot of different guys can do a lot of different things. The more it moves, the more you’re going to put the defense in a tough place and the more we can get the defenses rotating, the better we will be.
“Simple action – we run a double pick-and-roll set, we spread Yogi Ferrell and Robert Johnson from one corner to another, well the defense is chasing them because they have to guard them in the corners and both can hit corner threes, and James Blackmon Jr. goes and hits a layup. That’s the type of stuff for a young team to grasp is really, really good. Veterans like Yogi know that when that ball moves, there’s a really good chance it’s going in and you’re getting an assist next to your name and I think that’s important too.”
On playing Troy Williams at the top during a zone:.
“We played our combination defense, we played our 2-3 zone, we didn’t do anything else. I was going to get scientist-driven today and decided not too and just stick with a couple things we’ve been doing. There’s a lot of versatility on the team, which means there’s going to be a lot of versatility in the lineups. It’s not just where you can play offensively, it’s the different things you can do defensively.
“If you noticed when we were playing zone, the majority of the time, Yogi was on the bottom where Yogi has always really been at the top. Yogi’s so strong and he’s physical and he can get down and fight you down low. We didn’t spend very much time on the zone, we spent really no time at all on any live blocking out of the zone and it showed. We just put it in two days before we left so we didn’t really get down to the rotations of it and things like that. It gives us a lot of `been there, done that’ now and we can really, really tweak it, add to it, drill it, break the drills down and have them have a better understanding of it. The versatility of moving guys around will be crucial to that.”
On being able to adapt the 2-3 zone without as much length:
“You have to be active with your hands, and we weren’t. We were not nearly as active with our hands as we could have been. I know we had deflections, but our deflection numbers would not be reflective of where we have to be defensively, especially in our league with the low turnover teams that we deal with. That’s going to be crucial, that we get the most out of our length. Moving Troy Williams around, moving people towards the middle, all those types of things. We’re not overly long, but we’re long enough to cause problems.”
On if the team played better than expected:
“I don’t know. Anytime you start putting expectations, you’re creating hypotheticals. The only thing that exceeded expectations for me going in was how good the officiating has been. It really has been.
“Now, again it’s a different game over here than it is in college and there would have been a lot more foul trouble on both ends if it hadn’t been that way. But for me, I didn’t look at it like that. I just wanted to keep getting better. What I’m happiest about is that the last ten minutes of this trip, we got better. It wasn’t about the score and it wasn’t about the game being in balance. These kinds of lessons will be countless for these guys going through time.”