Video, Transcript: Tom Crean at Big Ten media day

  • 10/16/2014 9:39 am in

ROSEMONT, Ill. — Indiana coach Tom Crean took the podium this morning at the Hyatt Regency O’Hare for his annual preseason comments at Big Ten media day. Here’s the full video of his comments and a transcript is available below:

TOM CREAN:  First of all, the State of Illinois and the history of the Big Ten lost a really, really good one yesterday with Wayne McClain’s passing.  I didn’t know Wayne as well as most, but had great respect for what he did as a coach certainly in high school and then what he brought to the Illini and the Illini Nation and was a big part of the history of this state in many ways.  Indiana basketball sends condolences to his family and friends and anybody that worked or played for him.

As far as us, we’re trying to get ourselves to a point right now where we can look at every day and know that we are tenacious, that we are on the attack, and that we are fundamentally driven, and that’s the goal.  It’s been the goal since the season ended when we started spring workouts the week after our season, and it has been the goal with every new player that’s come in.  We’re at 60 percent of a new team right now, but getting the team to understand every day the compete level that they have to have, the togetherness that they have to have, the ability to move the ball, to move their bodies, to understand the value of defense.  If you’re going to be any good in this league, you have to defend and rebound.

Last year we ended up being sixth in the country in rebound margin, and we lost a pretty good rebounder in Noah Vonleh, so that’s one of the things we have to get established that we can rebound the ball, and if you’re going to be good in this league you’ve got to be able to get back in defense and stop the transition because there’s so many great fast break teams in this league.  You’ve got to be able to control the dribble, and because of the passing in this league, you’ve got to be able to control the dribbler without a lot of help because this league will pick you apart when you’re over help over rotation system.  You’ve got defending the three, and you’ve got to be able to rebound.  So those are big, big aspects for us moving forward.

Love our attitude.  The Montreal trip for us this summer where we got the ten extra days of practice and a chance to go over there any play five games which were all extremely competitive was very, very good for us and helped our team in many ways.  I love the way that they’re working.  I love their energy.  And this year right now we’re much more focused on our fundamentals and the details of the game and the spacing rather than trying to get guys to understand how hard they have to go, how competitive they have to be.  So that’s a sign of maturity right there for our team.

Individually, I won’t take all the time up here to talk about those guys.  Like I said, we’re excited about the new guys and the fact that Yogi Ferrell is back with us for his third year and has had the success that he has had in this league.  On being the point guard on a team that was number one in the country for 10 or 11 weeks as a freshman to the things that we had to have him do last year.  We probably had to have him do more last year than what would have been in a perfect world, but he was capable.  And now I think we’ve put more people around that will get the floor spaced, will be able to allow him to play more to the style that he is so good at being able to play, which is not only to score the ball but to move the ball, and along with that, we’re excited.

I’ll just mention two other older guys.  We’re excited about the addition of Nick Zeisloft who’s from the city of Chicago but from Illinois State University.  He brings a wealth of experience to us, but he brings a tremendous competitiveness and that tenaciousness that we talk about and the energy that we need, not to mention a high skill level, especially shooting the ball.  And we’re hoping for the emergence of Hanner Perea.  People ask what’s different with him when they see us back home, and his body continues to change.  He continues to get bigger and stronger, but he’s playing with a poise, and he’s playing with a consistency.

Now, it’s early.  It’s two weeks in, but that’s a start.  With that, we’re excited about the direction of the team and the way that they’re working.

Q.  Getting back to Hanner, what have you seen from him so far and what are your expectations for him this year?

TOM CREAN:  Well, consistency, that’s the word.  Consistent in everything, consistent off the court, consistent on, consistent with his effort and energy level.  Because if there’s one thing that’s held him back in the past, it’s not being able to play long stretches consistently, and certainly Noah Vonleh took a lot of minutes last year and rightfully so because of the production that he had.  But we need Hanner to be a real disrupter and force defensively with the ability not only to block shots but to cover ground.  Our goal is to get him to a place where he can guard everybody on the court, not only on the post, whether it’s a switch?out, whether it’s if he gets isolated, being able to use his length, his quickness, his athleticism to use that, and he’s got to be able to score for us in transition, score on offensive rebounds, but also be able to score in the post.

And we’re going to have to find a lot of different ways to score in the paint.  I think we scored 25 percent of our points in the paint last year, and we don’t want to give that up because that’s where so many of your free throws come, and he’s got to be able to get fouled for us.

But he just really needs to continue to build on the consistency that he has and the poise that he’s playing with because he’s really slowed himself down in the post.  In the past he’s struggled playing in any type of traffic, and I think because of the spacing we’re going to hopefully be able to have this year that’s going to help him with that, but at the same time he just doesn’t need to get ahead of himself and be in a rush when he gets the ball and continue to play on that poise level.

Q.  Your thoughts on James Blackmon, what you’re seeing from him early and what you need to get from him?

TOM CREAN:  Well, he’s come in with a beyond serious work ethic.  Robert Johnson, Jr., and James Blackmon, for as highly ranked and they were and certainly being from Indiana and being a McDonald’s All?American, sometimes those can go another way.  And the fortunate thing we’ve had is we’ve never had a McDonald’s All?American before we got to Indiana, but they have the same basic thread that other greats we’ve coached and other greats we’ve heard about have when it comes to the work ethic.

He’s a never?day?off guy, he is constantly working on his game.  He’s very, very easy to coach because he knows he needs to get better.  He knows he’s good, but he knows he needs to get better, and he takes it.  He’s extremely humble in the sense of where he needs to improve.  What I love about him is he knows he needs every aspect of it.  A year ago this time, he might have been able to do 185 pounds back home maybe once, maybe, when he got to Indiana in early June he did it seven times.  Two and a half weeks ago, he did it 13 times.  So that’s a guy that’s serious not only about the basketball part of it, he’s serious that everything he’s going to need to be really successful at this for a long time.  He’s been a tremendous student early on in the summer and is really learning the leadership that he’s capable of and the best leadership he can bring right now is just that consistent level of toughness and determination in practice and competing when he gets a little winded, and I think he’s going to be really, really fun to coach.  He certainly has been to this point.

Filed to:

  • David Macer

    Let the season commence !!!!

  • hoosierfan2336

    If we want to even think about being successful this year we will have to be complete assholes on defense and use our quickness and athleticism to compensate for our size. I would love to see every player with swollen elbows and knees from hitting the floor too many times.

    We know how good yogi is, we know how good Blackmon, williams, and johnson can be, but I won’t be sold on anything Crean has said about Perea until he gets serious minutes against serious competition this year.

    I’m going in with low expectations on this season and thinking we are at best a bubble team. Hopefully I’m proven wrong, but we should be fun to watch regardless.

  • IUBizmark

    Two thoughts on HMP:
    1) Everyone is going to try to get him to foul out knowing we don’t have much depth after HMP
    2) Physically, I’d put him toe to toe with anyone in the NCAA. The kid was huge before and now Crean says he’s getting bigger. I foresee Hanner having an excellent year. There will be a few games when it doesn’t all come together, but overall, the season is going to be great for HMP.

  • hoosierfan2336

    I sure hope so. He has always been a physical beast though, and his raw athletic ability has never been a problem. For the past two years he has looked completely lost whenever he stepped on the court. So his improvements need to come from decision making and overall basketball sensibility. It doesn’t help that there have been a lot of things limiting him from gaining experience like injuries, visa problems, DUI, the weird booster issue his freshman year. It’s really a shame considering he would have benefitted more than anyone from the Canada trip.

  • N71

    ITH posts/content has really picked recently, its kind of like Christmas. Thank you!

  • Drew

    Can Hanner produce? May just be the biggest question for IU basketball entering the season.

  • IUBizmark

    I keep reminding people of the issues limiting his play. All told, that’s almost a season of experience he’s missed out on. Which is why I think he’ll have a good year. Essentially it’s the sophomore leap even though he’s a junior.

  • VAHoosier

    Hanner’s progress is (probably rightly) regarded as the biggest variable for this team. But I think it may be a bit overstated. We don’t need Hanner to be NV. We aren’t going to be funneling the ball through the post… we didn’t even do that last year when we had a solid post player and few perimeter scorers. It’s simply not in CTC’s DNA to run his offense through the post. We just need reasonably good defense and rebounding from our post players, and we have players that can give us that, I think, in Hanner, DD, and Holt. This is where Hanner’s progress needs to be noticeable–defensive fundamentals. Offensively, we’ll get to the paint and foul line plenty with our guard penetration.

    To me, the biggest variable is whether Troy can defend the 4, because we have to expect he’ll get some or most of his minutes there.

  • hoosierfan2336

    Exactly. It was so frustrating the last 3 years having two of the most versatile big men in the country and not figuring out how to give them the ball.

  • Hoosier Taxidermist

    I can’t wait to see the season start. I have high hopes but realistic expectations.

  • NateMH

    Am I the only one who takes everything Crean says with a grain of salt? Anyway hope we go dancing this year!

  • hoosierfan2336

    “Scouts need to look at Jordan Hulls as an NBA player.”

    I don’t know what you’re talking about haha

  • Gregory Spera

    When it comes to Hanner, I am of the KISS state of mind. No one is expecting a Kareem sky-hook, a Dirk fade-away, a Duncan bank shot. Just when the ball is in the air, when it’s coming off the rim… GO GET IT! That’s all we’re asking.

  • Kyl470

    I’ve said similar things in other posts. In today’s college basketball world you don’t need post scorers, but you do need big men to rebound and defend the paint. A lot of our points in the paint this year will come from guys driving or hitting cutters. As long as Hanner can rebound and defend that will be enough. This team doesn’t need him to score double digits.

  • NateMH

    Lol…Crean classic!

  • ForeverIU

    Something tells me that by focusing too much on Hanner we might be setting him (or ourselves) up for failure. How about we just focus on total team improvement, instead of putting one player under the microscope?

  • WhatsUpKnight

    i get it though. this team’s success depends greatly on what’s essentially an unknown commodity. we’ve seen flashes of potential, and we’ve seen him put up airballs that didn’t get within five feet of the rim.

  • CreanFaithful

    I don’t recall ever seeing Hanner air-ball a shot. Could be wrong…

  • Alford Bailey

    I’m really concerned about the excessive use of hair product by this coaching staff. Just not diggin the Calipari look:)

  • Erik Holm

    He’s had real issues just catching the ball in the post. Not so much with rebounding, but the pace of a pass has been in issue. Hope it isn’t in issue anymore.

  • WhatsUpKnight

    trust me, it happened. i wish i could forget it, but that shot is forever burned into my brain.

  • AnonymousDave

    I think that in part will be cut out through experience and loss of jitters. Kind of like when a young receiver drops a 20 yard pass because he was thinking about what move to do afterwards to get the touchdown.

  • AnonymousDave

    Well if your gonna work with the media then you are going to have to expect them to ask questions about the biggest question mark on the team especially when they only have time for two questions. I haven’t really heard any unrealistic expectations. Crean keeps referring to consistency. A large part of consistency is determined by effort and the player determines how much effort he puts in.

  • hoosierfan2336

    Mollusks naturally produce and secrete many oils, which is why calipari’s hair looks the way it does.

  • hoosierfan2336

    Of course you don’t need scoring from post players if you have a great back court. But, if all you have on a team is yogi and vonleh, you better learn how to get the ball inside.

  • ‘Nuff_Said

    HMP’s level of contribution will directly correlate to just how good of a season we have. He plays well and we will be quite good. He doesn’t play well and it could be another frustrating season.

  • ForeverIU

    I’m not just talking about Crean but fan commentary as well. As far as Crean goes, it’s okay for me if he just responds with a few cliches (and a joke or two) and leaves the rigorous discourse for the practice sessions. I’m tired of nitpicking and excessive blabber. First it’s let’s see if he can play, then it’s let’s see if he can stay consistent, and next it’s going to be let’s see if he can play consistently consistent, and, finally, guess what he just hit an air ball can you believe it oh my gosh he is human after all … bench him!. LOL!

  • Ole Man

    Agree. They’ve done the same thing with Troy; attempting to make him the second coming of V.O. in terms of his progress.

  • AnonymousDave

    Agreed but that simply doesn’t make very good off season entertainment lol and that why were all here. I think most fans on here daydream about his potential but realize he has a lot of work to put in. The word potential is very comforting when you’re “recovering” from a 17-15 season lol

  • Erik Holm

    Sounds about right.

  • AnonymousDave

    I think more are comparing Troys potential to VO more than his progress. If we see work ethic than we could see a heck of a lot of progress, but two entirely different people. If Troy does this better or that better he is going to be a heck of player for us. Perhaps we should remove our NBA draft forecast though lol. That might have been a bit unfair of me, but I don’t say that because I expect it. I say it because it’s a possibility if he gets a lot better in certain areas.

  • Gregory Spera

    Exactly. Hell, Hanner, Troy, Devin, JBJ, RJ, (even Crean)… we are counting on a lot of “breakout” seasons this year.

  • ForeverIU

    Agree and I’ve been guilty of some of that.

  • AnonymousDave

    That’s a two way street. If all you have is Vonleh and Ferrell then Vonleh better learn how to pass out of the post. He got swarmed with double teams and sometimes triple teams last year and would try and muscle it up anyway. Every team we played last year played us with the mindset that they weren’t going to let Vonleh beat them and it worked time after time.

  • AnonymousDave

    I’m not really sure how people think this. Cody led our team in scoring. Two main problems kept him from being even better was shying away from contact which could be understood with his body, but never developing the confidence in his jumpshot was the biggest. We all know he had one and we gave him the ball plenty of times outside the post but he never shot it. That would have spread the court tremendously and would have made his speed and high level IQ much more of a factor.

  • HoosierDawg

    Ummmm…no.

  • Hoosier1158

    You need inside scorers for a good balance of talent. IU won the B1G season, because Cody scored the last 6 points of that game. It also helped that MI could not hit a free throw.

  • Yes I think you may be…