Indiana coach Tom Crean met with the media following the Hoosiers’ 83-64 win over Texas Southern on Monday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch the full press conference below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
We knew we were playing a really good team in the sense that they’ve been to the NCAA Tournament. Mike is an outstanding coach. It was really nice to see him get that reception. That says a lot about Indiana fans, to do that, and they knew that he did some really good things here. But he also brought in a really good team, and when that team gels and they get used to playing together, he’s got a lot of talent on that team, guys like Biggs and Chris Thomas, those guys have done things, and we knew that. We tried to get that across to our team.
We’ve had an extremely long couple of weeks, and we’re playing short-handed and things like that, and I thought our guys continued to basically gut it out during the game. It was important that we not lose momentum in the game. It was not a night for over-substitutions, it was a night to continue to move the ball. I thought once we figured that out inside of the game, we got better with it. We still have not grasped just how good things are for us when we’re moving the ball from side to side and playing out of the corners and really utilizing the whole court. But we will. We’ll continue to figure that out.
I thought Robert Johnson played outstanding tonight, and really there really wasn’t even a time I wanted to take him off the floor. I thought James did a good job in the first half. He wasn’t as aggressive getting to the glass or moving without the ball. It wasn’t so much that they were taking him away, it’s just that he wasn’t as aggressive, and I thought he was much more aggressive offensively in the second half.
I thought Yogi played a good floor game. I think he’s capable of playing an even better one, but what he did, which I think is outstanding, he had 13 deflections and Collin Hartman had 14. Collin Hartman could go months without — I’m not sure he had 14 all year, and to have 14 in a game for us with his activity doing the things that he’s doing in 17 minutes is really important.
Hanner is continuing to learn what he’s capable of. We need him to continue to do all the little things that have made him a consistent player in practice, in our early games for us, and there’s a lot of room for improvement. But we knew we played a good team, and we’re happy with the win.
With Hanner, talk about kind of getting and adding more what he’s been doing in practice into games. How far has that come in a short period of time?
We just want him to be consistent, and what’s consistent for Hanner is not to be measured by anybody, it’s to be measured by what Hanner can do, and everybody just needs to let that happen, including me, and not push it because he’s playing a lot harder, longer, smarter, determined things than he’s ever done at Indiana, and you can see the improved footwork, you can see the jump shot. He’s got to continue to play with his head up.
I like that he’s confident that he can score. He’s got to still continue to understand where the openings and the gaps are for him, and he’ll continue to improve. There’s no doubt about it.
You mentioned James playing more aggressive in the second half. Did you feel a sense of urgency from him?
No, I don’t think that’s it at all. I think it was a really good job of understanding, taking what the game was giving to him, but at the same time be more aggressive in looking for cuts and opportunities to — getting into spaces where we’re creating two-on-ones on the backside. There was one time in the first half where Yogi had it and he came up rather than staying in the corner which would have created a quick two on one.
It’s all learning parts. James can play without the ball in his hands, he just hasn’t figured out how good he can be without the ball in his hands, and I think what you saw in the second half is him really getting free, getting into good space, footwork being down, and looking for his shot, and he also made some good cuts where he didn’t get the ball. But that’s the way our team has got to be.
We have numerous guys that can make shots and plays, and the more it goes to the paint and the more we read how we’re being played, is it time to backcut — we missed — we didn’t have any backcuts in the first half. We probably missed four opportunities in the second half for backcuts. I know we got a couple, but that’s something we were working hard at emphasizing the last couple days. We just need experience. We just need game experience and going through it, and he’s a great example of that. He can score in bunches, and when he gets even better at moving without the ball, we had a whole package of things to go to screen-wise tonight, but we were getting it into the paint, so we’re getting the free looks. You go to the screens maybe when you’re not getting the free looks.
Sometimes we inhibited our own path by dribbling it in one area rather than continuing to attack through the paint, and James’s improvement of attacking through the paint improved in the second half, as well, and then he was the beneficiary of getting some shots on reversals because of that.
Robert Johnson, has an unusual maturity about himself. Is that just part of his personality?
I think so, yeah, I think so, and this whole team right now, it’s about never getting ahead of themselves, and they play just as hard. He’s very serious minded, as is James, as is Max. Max just didn’t — in the sense that he wasn’t as physical and aggressive as he needed to be from the start, and he’ll grow. They’ll all grow with that.
Tonight just wasn’t one of those nights where we were going to sit there and work through things. This team had too much respect for that team, that they could score in bunches, and we just needed to do what we needed to do to win the game. But Robert needed to be on the floor. He makes a lot of things happen.
I think a great example tonight, we were trying to get the third foul on No. 1, and we called an action, and he got it isolated and he took it, and he had a path to the rim, but he also had a wide-open player in the corner, and he made the pass. That’s a maturity. For a guy that scored a lot of points in high school, that’s a tremendous maturity to give the ball up that way.
So he and James are just continuing to improve all the time because of how much time they spend at it. We’re asking a lot of them. They’re playing an awful lot of minutes early on in the season, and we’re spending a lot of time together. The last couple weeks, these kids have gone through a lot, and then the games come, and you would think that would be the freedom of movement, and boy, let’s go, and it’s — you know, they’re carrying a lot. We’ve just got to continue to learn to process that and continue to do the simple things really well, and Rob and James are two guys that are really capable of doing the simple things really well.
Talk about Collin Hartman’s play.
Collin is a basketball player. That’s what we recruited. He really is. He’s a basketball player. He’s playing numerous positions for us, and he’s still not all the way back health-wise. We still have some limitations with him in practice, but he’s staking his claim. He’s out there. And that’s what you want. I mean, he’s a great example of a guy, and I’ve talked about how much better he’s gotten and how hard he worked in his rehab, but he just goes out there and does what it takes to win the game, and it’s funny that some of the guys from 2002 were in the building and knowing that Mike coached that game, and Kyle Hornsby talked to our team yesterday. It was really good. Dr. Kyle Hornsby, and he had some great parallels, the way they started and all these different things. He said, but everybody really, really had to learn and accept their role and know that their role was really important, and a lot of times when guys figure that out, the earlier the better, but boy, the more their role expands, and I think that’s where Collin is at.
How do you evaluate a good rebounding performance from Hanner?
How quick he was to the ball. That’s a great question, great question, because again, it’s so much more than just the numbers. One thing he’s doing right now, there’s a couple things we’ve got to work with him on technique-wise, and that’s something that I think we can fix over a little bit of a period of time, but it’s how quick he’s getting to the board, how quick he is in his post-up. You know, short space quickness is such a big thing, and sometimes he gets a little spread out and wide because he’s small and we want him to play long, but we don’t really want his feet spread out, okay, and I think sometimes that’s what’s happening to him a little bit in his post moves and things like that. He’s got to compact his stance a little more. But at the same time you want a guy that can spread out and get range rebounds and block shots like he’s doing. It’s truly a work in progress with him getting more offensive boards, with him getting more opportunities to score, and then defensive rebounding he’s got to make sure, especially with what we have coming in here Thursday night, that he hits and then goes and releases and gets the ball.
Short space quickness is probably the biggest thing, and what’s his initial movement like when the shot goes up, and is he reading how he’s being — where his man is on the rebounding, and is he reading how he’s being played on the offensive glass.
With three guys coming back, what will determine who plays and doesn’t play?
Practice. Practice will determine that, and there’s really no deep thought process behind that. There was no hidden meaning behind it. Tonight we did what we needed to do to win the game, and we won it.
What did you not like and like about the team’s defensive performance tonight?
I’ve got to watch the film. I thought we had a lot of deflections. I thought we got better. We’re still giving up too much penetration into the lane. Our transition defense was not as good as it needed to be, and we weren’t getting the ball picked up early enough. We had some — we haven’t spent a lot of time on switching everything, and I think that showed. At one point we were playing five wings. We’ve just got to get better at those type of things, and we will over the next couple weeks.