Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 94-70 exhibition win over Northwood on Thursday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch the full press conference below, which begins with an update on Devin Davis:
A full transcript, via ASAP Sports, is available after the jump.
TOM CREAN: A couple of updates and a couple of answers. Devin, first and foremost, is progressing. A lot of us will see him again tonight when we leave here before he goes back to sleep. I think he spent a lot of time sleeping, but at the same time he’s getting a lot of therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, those type of things, and very proud of the way our players are not only going up and seeing him but going up there and spending some real quality time now that he’s starting to get where he can do more. Going for walks when he goes down the hallway yesterday was a big day. He went for two walks. That’s kind of where we’re at right now.
But I think our guys, just like our staff and just like Devin’s family, are learning that you take absolutely nothing for granted with anything, and as they see their teammate and as I see this young guy go through these aspects, this was only, I think, the second time in my head coaching career that I’ve had a player in a hospital bed when we were playing a game. Maurice Creek was our second year and Devin, and you don’t take that lightly.
We know he’s in good hands up there. We know he’s improving. The whole medical team, the nurses, the attendants, everybody that’s been with him has been fantastic. I can say that on behalf of their family, and he’s dealing with some definite issues inside of his head. We’re dealing with a traumatic brain injury is what we’re dealing with. I’m not going to pretend to be a doctor and get specific on that, but I’ve not been given anything that leads me to believe that he will not continue to improve, and he’s definitely making progress, and every day it’s just — it’s unbelievable to see it. So for what that’s worth, considering where we were at in the middle of the night on Friday.
As far as the guys that didn’t play that were suspended, Max and Jeremiah are not able to play due to injury, but Emmitt, Troy and Stan, I want them to learn a lot of things. I want them to learn that not only is it a privilege to play on the court, it’s a privilege to be out there supporting your teammates, and for any of you that ever participated in athletics, in a team sport, not an individual sport maybe but a team sport, that hurts, too, and I may change my mind on that as we go down the road. We’ll see. Obviously they’re going to sit out four games, but it hurts when you can’t be out there to support your teammates and be a part of that, but I felt like at this point that was part of it, and we wanted them to impact the game, so they kept charts, they had responsibilities that they kept, and each guy had about 30 seconds to speak to the team at halftime, and they had another 30, 45 seconds to speak to the team after the game, and I wanted them to feel a part of it.
There’s a punishment here, but at the same time you want them to get some internal discipline and to learn a few things along the way and understand that they can still impact their team. They’re not impacting them in a positive way by not being out there, but we’ve got to find a positive somewhere in that so that they continue to learn and improve.
As far as the game, I thought once we settled in, Zeisloft’s first shot almost went through the glass, and he’s a tremendous shooter as you’ve seen, we knew that was to be expected, our first live action inside of Assembly Hall for a few of those guys, but excited about the way we got better in the game, and changing defenses got us a little bit of momentum, and we got our legs under us a little bit.
We still have not been a team that has played an enormous amount of five on five. It’s been a real process for us. Certainly with the situation with Devin and Emmitt, I knew for a while that Stan and Troy weren’t going to be out there, but with Devin and Emmitt and then Max getting injured, I wish I would have played a little more five on five.
The guys have done a really good job getting inside of the game. I thought we were much better in the second half even at moving the basketball. We dribbled a little bit too much in the first half. We attacked better in the second half. We’ve got to get the ball into the paint. We had 40 transition trips, we were 27 of 40 for 55 points in our numbers for those, so that was very positive for us.
We’ve just got to continue to get better. The rebounding, we were +7, we’ve got to continue to improve that area. Defensive rebounding is going to be a challenge for this team, and we’ve got to continue to understand how important that is to get our bodies on people, and when we do that, we’ve got a lot of guys that can handle it off the break, so that’s important I thought to be +7 in the turnover department against them and only have 10 in this game with the amount of minutes that guys had to play. It was fairly positive for us. We can build on that.
One of the biggest keys to the game was being +29 at the foul line and to go 31 of 38 in there.
Individual questions, look at the stats sheet a little more and go from there.
Q. You said you might change your mind about that, but it wasn’t clear what …
TOM CREAN: Just putting them on the bench, letting them sit on the bench. I’m just giving a heads up before anybody asks why they were not out there. I’m not going to change my mind on the suspension. I can’t in one sense, but I wouldn’t anyways. But as far as them being in there, on the bench.
Q. Are the players going to the hospital as a group?
TOM CREAN: No, we don’t do that. They’re there all the time. I would say in their free time, they’re there as much as they possibly can be. They just try to get them to space it out. No, we’re not going to go as a group. That hasn’t been since really the first day.
Q. What do you like about the team’s rebounding tonight?
TOM CREAN: Well, we’ve got to make more contact, and we’re asking James and Robert and even Nick to be two-way rebounders. It’s one thing to be a defensive rebounder, but it’s another thing to go get the offensive boards. James and Robert and Nick over there, they have not had to do a lot of that. They have been able to be very effective being basketball players, being outside perimeter players, drivers, and we need them to rebound, because that’s going to be one of the big ways that we get fouled is to get offensive boards.
We’ve got to get more sprinting out of the corners, and defensively we’ve just got to make contact. It’s not about big, long, deep holding block-outs, it’s about sticking the man and then going, releasing and getting the ball and winning those 50/50 battles.
So more physical on the defensive end, more active on the offensive end is the short answer to that question.
Q. What did you think about James and Rob tonight, and specifically how they came out and really just attacked the basket?
TOM CREAN: I’m not surprised, and we saw some of that. Were you in Montreal? Some of the people that were in Montreal saw that. They’re very comfortable attacking, and what we want them to do is just continue to be really driving the ball at a high level.
One of the better drills that we do for helping our forwards learn how to guard guards, which has been good for us over a period of time in helping our guards to understand how to continue to move the ball and how to keep the game going and use their quickness to their advantage, is go four on four where the defense stays the same all the time with the bigs, and the only way they can score is to get a stop, and the guards have to score and get an offensive rebound, and a lot of times I’ll say just treat it like it’s four on four, you’re playing out of space, it’s not about the play, it’s about playing, playing out of the corners.
We didn’t get very many back cuts tonight. Those two got to learn to back cut better, and they move it off the ball fine, but it’s not just the moving off the screens and the spacing for threes, it’s the cutting. That’s really important.
To me they’ll just get better. This is a good start for them, and they did some really good things in Montreal. They play well together, and I thought it made the most sense to start the game that way.
Q. For you personally how cathartic was it to put everything from this week behind you?
TOM CREAN: I’m as concerned about everything today as I am every day, you know, the health and safety of this group, especially where Devin is at right now, their mindset. Everybody was anxious to play. I know that. There was a great — you could really feel it in practice yesterday, that they were really, really anxious to get to the court. I thought they played that way today.
My position is I’ve got a lot of hats to wear every day, and this is no different. It was just game day. It’s another day of my responsibilities, and it’s fun for everybody to see the culmination of what they do in practice and their extra work and things like that to be able to get those opportunities to play in a game, and I think this week will continue to teach us anything that playing this game is an absolute gift you can’t take for granted, and every game is a single milestone to you because they know they’ve got a teammate that’s laying in a hospital bed that didn’t get a chance to play tonight that would have loved to have been able to play.
I think it’s just the same way with me. Every game that you coach, every practice that you practice you’re excited about and put your very best into it.
Q. Anything on how Jeremiah is progressing?
TOM CREAN: He’s progressing not into a contact situation. He’s not in any contact yet. So before — when he can get to contact and when Max can get to contact, we’ll have a little bit more of an idea. Max is more about strength right now and getting his mobility where it needs to be from his injury, and Jeremiah’s is just really getting more comfortable with the cutting, with the speed. Not that he’s a speed merchant, but with his speed and his playing lower, we’re getting closer.
Hopefully, I would hope we have Max back next week. I think Jeremiah, it’s too early to tell.
Q. You mentioned James and being comfortable. What’s the maturity level for him as a freshman to come in and score 26 points?
TOM CREAN: Well, that’s pretty natural for him to be honest with you. I mean, he is a natural scorer. He is an effortless shooter, and when I mean effort, he puts a lot of effort and work into it, but his release, his technique, he’s so well coached by his father, and you think about what James Sr., not only as a player did, but he just got done developing Deshaun Thomas before Junior came into the high school scene, right, so he really knows how to make guys better when it comes to scoring and all the different ways to score.
And James has continued to learn. He went to the glass one time on a move and he shot it straight in and missed and went to the foul line rather than using the backboard, which he’s starting to learn more about, could have turned it into three points. But he’s got a maturity about him because he’s got a real seriousness about him. He doesn’t take himself too serious. Neither does Rob. But they take their craft real serious, they take their academics real serious, and there’s no question they’re going to continue to get better, and they’re young kids, young people I should say, so you have to preface everything with that.
But at the same time their mindset towards improving, towards how good they want to be, what kind of teammates they want to be is really, really strong.
Q. What do you see from Nick and the fact that you guys get to the free-throw line pretty consistently and he shoots it so well, how much did that benefit him?
TOM CREAN: Well, that’s a big thing. That’s one of the big keys that we talked about when he wanted to come here is it’s part of the whole situation with him. Like you mentioned, he’s a 90 percent foul shooter last year, but he was 27, 30, something like that. He was close. It wasn’t even close to being any type of being able to finish in the league standings with that, right.
So coming off screens, handling the ball, being in ball screens, getting to the rim, we posted him in some of our zone offense late in the game, those type of things, he’s going to become a more all-around player, a more complete player. I don’t have any doubt about it. That’s one of the reasons that I was so excited after I watched all of his film and watched every shot that he took for the entire season and then watched a bunch of game tapes, and you could see that there were places where he did what he had to do for his team at Illinois State, but you could see that there were areas where he could continue to expand, and that’s what he’s trying to do. He’s got a great work ethic. His mindset is excellent. There’s a maturity about him. He’s getting more and more comfortable in a leadership role here, and obviously the quicker the better.
On the floor, off the floor, the whole deal, but he’s capable of that. I’m not surprised by how he played, and I’m not also surprised that he shot one off the other side of the backboard when he took his first shot. It’s a big deal for him to play at Indiana. It’s a big, big deal, and it’s a big deal in our mind to have him here because he stands for a lot.
Q. You talked about the players being ready to play. How important maybe was it for them and how cathartic was it for them to get out tonight and just release?
TOM CREAN: Well, I think it’s the next step. In the scheme of things right now, I don’t think it’s been everything that’s gone on that this was the destination point. This just happened to come at the right time. I mean, they’re dealing with a lot. We’ve spent a lot of time together in the sense of different practices and stuff over the weekend, and we’ve spent a lot of time together away from the court, obviously, when we’re all up at the hospital or these six guys are there and these three coaches are there and all those type of things.
Obviously they love the game. The joy of the game was present out there for them tonight. Now they just have something else to go talk about with Devin and they’ll get ready for practice tomorrow, and the two-a-days we’ll take on the weekend and all those type of things and get ready for the next one. But you’ll have to ask them, but they were excited to play. There was no doubt about that. They were also apprehensive, a little nervous, but once they got out there and settled in, I thought they did an excellent job.
Q. Was Devin able to watch the game on the computer?
TOM CREAN: You know, I don’t know. His dad was here. It was big for his dad to come and support, so that’s a question I don’t have an answer to yet. I’m sure if there was a way, he did, but I’m not sure.
Q. Based on Montreal and tonight, do you think once you get all the players back from injuries and suspensions that you’ll plan to use these four-guard lineups at all?
TOM CREAN: That’s a hypothetical right now. We’ve done it in the sense of — it’s certainly part of the packages that we have, and there’s no doubt about that, and we mixed different ways of doing it in Montreal. We’ve done it different ways in practice. What I’d like to see eventually with this team is there’s different lineups that provide different packages on the offensive end for us and certainly there’s going to be different things that we can do defensively.
The key is to develop enough consistent depth, depth, not just playing guys, and unfortunately you and I saw a little too much of that last year where we’re playing guys that we would hope would provide a little bit more, and sometimes it doesn’t always work that way. But at the same time when you’re not getting a lot of consistency from certain spots, you have to try the bench. You have to go to those places. Hopefully it’s a competition all year long to get a really good playing group so that we can increase the fatigue in the game defensively. Tonight was a great example where we switched defenses in the half court, and I thought we changed momentum. But they were also taking quite a bit of time off the shot clock and running their offense through, and they’re running it excellent. He did an excellent job.
And so for us, we’re going to want to be able to change that tempo. So could it be with four guards, could it be? Troy certainly provides a lot of hybrid opportunities for us, Stan brings a lot of different things defensively. That’s not where we’re at right now, and certainly when we start thinking about people that can guard really almost anybody on the court right now, like I said before, Devin was coming off his best week. Devin is one of our better defenders. You just adjust, and we’ll see how that goes.
But in a perfect world and down the line, certainly we’d like to have that kind of depth with the guards and that kind of consistency, and at the same time be able to put a lot of pressure on the other team.
Q. I was going to ask you about the activity of Hanner.
TOM CREAN: He was very active. He played a lot of minutes. I’m sure it was career high, right? Did he ever start here before?
TOM CREAN: No, so to me that’s great. Everything is kind of new for him in that way. Tonight it didn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if we’re playing Northwood or North Carolina tonight, we’ve got to be excited to play, and they were. They were, and it was a great opportunity for Hanner because he didn’t get to Montreal, so it was a very good opportunity for him to play extended minutes and to prove that he could do that at this point, but it’s all about improving, it’s not about he’s going to do this or he could do that, it’s all about his improvement and doing what he’s doing, which is being consistent on a daily level — being consistent at a very good level on a daily basis I should say.
Q. Collin 19 minutes tonight. I know he’s still easing back in I would imagine to full strength. Is that about where you want him?
TOM CREAN: Well, in the whole scheme of things, this was way ahead of schedule for him to even be ready in my mind compared to where his injury was. Tim, Je’Ney, Dr.Rink, Dr.Ahlfeld, they have done a phenomenal job with him. But Collin has done a phenomenal job. Collin has worked like a great mindset getting better. Did everything he had to do rehabilitation wise. We adjusted things all summer long for him to be involved in the drills, and even when he couldn’t do anything but stand in a corner and shoot, we made a ton of adjustments, got creative with things when we were doing our workouts so he could feel a part of that, and in my mind he’s ahead of schedule. Would the doctors say that, I don’t know.
Anything with Collin right now is a bonus to me. We’re somewhat on a minute limit with him, and it’s not specific, but it’s kind of based on where he’s at. We’re not rushing him, but it was great to see him go out there and be active and play with freedom because you talk about somebody that is as nervous as the freshmen might have been playing a game, that was a big step for him, and I almost started him to get those jitters out right away but decided to go the other way, and I’m glad that he had a very active — not necessarily the numbers backed it up, but the activity that he played with in those 19 minutes were good.
Q. I want to ask about Rob a little bit more. After the fourth foul, what do you tell him?
TOM CREAN: That was really about he’s got to get his mind around not fouling out of this game because we want him to finish the game. He got caught with his hands a little bit. He got caught being driven into at the top, so we made a little adjustment defensively, but it was more about him being more alert, moving his feet. We call it stunting, stunting at the dribbler, which is just kind of stepping his foot, cat and mouse is a term that’s been used, and you’re just kind of playing with it a little bit where your hands are active, your feet are active, and it just keeps the dribbler a little bit off balance rather than just driving into your body. His whole thing was to spend the time on the bench, be locked in, okay, but have his mind around how he was going to stay active in the game without fouling.
Okay, thank you.
Filed to: Tom Crean