Q & A: Blackmon Jr., Williams and Johnson give preseason update

  • 10/18/2015 3:56 pm in

James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams and Robert Johnson met with the media on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium during the IU-Rutgers football game and discussed a variety of topics.

A full transcript of their Q & A session is available below:

On expectations and next weekend’s Hoosier Hysteria:

Troy Williams: “All the expectations, we don’t really live by that. We know what we gotta do. We talk to coach (Tom) Crean every day, he tells us what we have to do. We just go out there and we do our thing. Hoosier Hysteria next week, we’re excited. This is my third year, but only my second time participating. Just go out there and have fun.”

On the status of James Blackmon Jr.’s knee and how he’s feeling:

James Blackmon Jr.: “I’m feeling great. With the injury, it was more of a frustration thing. I don’t think it hurt my game in any way, it was just more of a mindset.”

On what he did when he was out:

Blackmon Jr.: “Watched a lot of film, worked on my shot, ball handling, I did a lot of stuff.”

On whether he’s back to 100 percent health:

Blackmon Jr.: “Definitely 100 percent. It’s all back.”

On whether he’s back to where he was at the beginning of the summer when Crean said he was having his best summer yet:

Blackmon Jr.: “I definitely do feel like at the beginning of the summer, I was getting a lot stronger and more explosive, but I still feel the same that I did at the beginning of summer.”

On how Robert Johnson’s defense is progressing as well as the team’s defense:

Robert Johnson: “I think both are a focus for me and the team going forward. It’s something we struggled with last year and at some points, something I struggled with last year so just improving on that would be big for this year.”

On how big it would be to be able to pressure the ball full court:

Johnson: “I think it’s going to be really big, especially with the shot clocking moving down. Allowing us to play even faster, I think that plays into our advantage.”

On early impressions of the freshmen:

Johnson: “I think the freshmen have been pretty good. They add a lot of length, rebounding, a lot of speed and they’ve done a good job of just adjusting and rolling with all of the punches and just getting acclimated to all of the things we do.”

On the balance between guys improving individually defensively versus the size they’ve added in the frontcourt:

Johnson: “I think with the length that’s been added to the team, it will be easier to get out and pressure. We have a back line of defense with a guy like Thomas (Bryant) back there who can block shots. I think that will play to our advantage.”

On the two or three things he’ll be better at this season:

Johnson: “I think decision making wise, I’ll definitely be better. I think I’ll shoot the ball more consistently. And on defense, I think I’ll be a lot better also.”

On what was learned from working out with John Lucas:

Williams: “Just polishing up some things usually when I go there. I learned more terminology because he works out a lot of NBA players. The competition there is always great. I’ve always played up since I’ve been going there as a sophomore in high school. It’s always a great experience.”

On the things he’ll be better at this season:

Williams: “Decision making, defense and shooting the ball.”

On whether it’s different having a more senior laden team this year:

Williams: “No, not really. They’re just people who are older than us. We don’t see anybody as a senior, freshman, all the way down to the walk-ons to a scholarship player. Everybody is the same and everybody should be a leader.”

On who is going to lead the team this year:

Williams: “Everybody is a leader on the team. I came here as a freshman and coach put me out there in a leadership role. Everybody can be a leader, anybody can.”

On how good Indiana’s backcourt can be:

Blackmon Jr.: “I feel like we can be great. Last year we were as well, so just picking up on some of the things we lacked on last year, I feel like we can be one of the best.”

On whether the ball has been in his hands more so far than it was last year:

Blackmon Jr.: “Definitely. In practice I’ve been working on point guard skills, just running the point and becoming more comfortable with that.”

On whether we’ll see more guys being able to initiate the offense:

Williams: “For sure. For everybody on the team, versatility is big. Coach has been saying that anybody can play any position at any time. We don’t have positions now, it’s called spots. When you’re on the court, you should know the play from that spot.”

On what made an impact from the NBA feedback received last spring:

Williams: “Having the resources I do have, I’ve always heard it. Hearing it from the coaches and hearing it from the other people, it all just came down to the same thing.”

On what the NBA said they wanted to see improvement on:

Williams: “Just basic things. More shooting, a stronger body and more decision making.”

On last weekend’s trip to Baltimore:

Blackmon Jr.: “My favorite part was going to the (Ravens) practice and seeing how they prepare. They were very locked in and I feel like our team can learn from that.”

Williams: “My favorite part was talking to Steve Smith before the game. He talked to all of us. Hearing it from someone that’s been in that position and been in the league that long and the advice that he gave us and the knowledge that he gave us was very powerful.”

Johnson: “I’d probably say the same. Talking to Steve Smith and being able to go to the practice before the game, seeing how they prepare, how serious they take it, was something that stood out to me.”

On what Smith said to the team:

Johnson: “He talked about a lot of different things. Basically what it means to be a professional and how you should always carry yourself like that even if you aren’t specifically a professional right now. Just having a mindset and carrying yourself a certain type of way.”

On the Naval Academy experience:

Blackmon Jr.: “It was great to see the environment. We got a chance to practice there. We got a chance to see all around. It was just a good environment.”

Williams: “It was a really nice place and my uncle went to West Point for football, so I got a little taste from him of that experience. And then just going to the Naval Academy and seeing how they do things, it’s a whole other level. We got to see a lot of history stuff. I’m not a history guy, but I learned from it.”

Johnson: “Pretty much the same. It was just good to have the opportunity to see some of the leaders of our nation at the Naval Academy and just looking at the ways they have to be disciplined and all of the different things they have to do throughout the day is something that stood out to us.”

Filed to:

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    We have a lot of talent on this team and we should be really good this year but to me there is something about TW. He does the right thing he is always positive he really carries his IU pride well.

  • TomJameson

    This could be a very special year for IU. It just seems like the determination is there. I think this is a great group of young men.

  • straight no chaser

    I’ll never forget TW’s great attitude after the horrible year we had post Vic and Cody. Great kid.

  • ArghSonOfOhCrap

    You are so right I am a TW fan he will be our next lottery pick. I’ve been saying this since he was a Freshman.

  • straight no chaser

    I really like most of what I heard, but regarding Troy’s statement about leadership:

    “Everybody is a leader on the team. I came here as a freshman and coach put me out there in a leadership role. Everybody can be a leader, anybody can.”

    Sorry, buddy, but that just isn’t true. Not everybody is or can be a leader. A leader is a special breed of the alpha male (or female), LOL.

  • IULore

    Everyone can and SHOULD conduct themselves as a leader. Leadership is servitude. The self-less act of putting others before yourself and conducting your life in a way that sets an example for others. It is NOT this Alpha-Dog bogus non-sense (people mistake being a prick for being a leader.)

  • straight no chaser

    LOL you got me there. But isn’t that just citizenship?

  • TomJameson

    I agree with that point about selflessness. Anybody can lead by example, by “conducting your life in a way that sets an example for others….” The alpha-dog isn’t always accepted as a leader, so much depends on the attitude. To be a leader, everybody else has to accept you as one … LOL And on this team I see different leaders in different situations. Yogi is without a doubt the leader of the team when he is on the court … the floor general. But in the locker room … who knows? In “normal” campus life … who knows?

    One thing for certain, I can see that whole leadership question being resolved with the addition of Derek in his new role. That guy is a leader in all instances.

  • Young Hoosier

    I’ll agree with straight here somewhat. Not everyone is a true leader. We may look at certain players who SHOULD be leaders but real leaders will greatly stand out at all times. The last two years or even this summer unfortunately. Maybe something had clicked with a player somewhere. Idk. Obviously someone like Yogi should be THE leader. But that hasn’t happened yet. Leaders are a special breed. Leadership isn’t something everyone can do. That’s a special trait. If you’re saying “everyone is a leader”… you most likely don’t have one at all.

  • straight no chaser

    Just to be clear iulore said alpha-dog I said alpha-male/female. So you prefer to call the alpha male a floor general that’s fine by me. I happen to believe that there is a leadership instinct among some that is not as strong with others. Some of us are wired to lead so let’s just get past the pc mumbo jumbo lol.

  • straight no chaser

    It’s a miracle I actually agree with YG! Lol.

  • TomJameson

    I didn’t say everyone is a leader, so you having that in quotes means you are quoting somebody else, not me. I said (cut and pasted) ” Anybody can lead by example”.

    In my 60 years I’ve followed others because of rank/position. Some have been good leaders and others have not. I consider myself a good leader … mainly because in spite of what I want, others put me in that position.

    I do speak from experience Young.

  • TomJameson

    Not sure where that is coming from, I’m probably the least PC correct person you know. LOL the term “alpha-dog” can be used for both male/female … if that’s what you’re talking about.

    The topic of leadership, and who is a leader, is quite complicated. Not as easy just saying “I’m a leader” and it’s done. Didn’t want to get into it, and still don’t. My main point is that Yogi is the floor general, the off court leader isn’t really clear and could very well be multiple folks.

    For that matter everybody on the court can speak up, communicate, help out, direct each other … doesn’t make them “the” leader … just gives them all some leadership qualities.

  • straight no chaser

    Two points I was making that IULore tried to undermine: 1) him turning the discourse into one about “dogs” lessens what I was saying; he used “dog” in a pejorative sense, although dogs are honorable animals! There is nothing shameful or base about the phenomenon of the alpha male/female. Nature (and nurture) endows some of us with qualities that are actually mobilized in the spirit of selfless servitude; no shame in admitting that we are part of the animal kingdom that way. 2) I did not say there can only be a single leader, although I see how the use of the term “alpha male” makes you read that into what I said. My point is that to me it is misleading to create the impression that anyone is and can be a leader. Especially considering the lack of leadership on our team (as CTC himself has said), I think some elaboration on the meaning of the term is no a bad thing.


    BOOM lol EXACTLY what I was thinking when I read that part (cue the Twilight Zone theme). The only thing that I would add to the last part of your comment is that, to increase the chances of having a successful team you have to have a clear cut leader, and 99% of successful teams will end up having a clear cut leader.

    The other line that made me think that way was, “everyone is the same, everyone should be a leader”. I don’t know, maybe he was trying to say that everybody should do their part, but everybody doing their part and someone being the “leader” are two different things to this IU bball fan.

    On what the NBA said they wanted to see improvement on:
    Williams: “Just basic things. More shooting, a stronger body and more decision making.” Ahhhh, if I’m not mistaken they mentioned a minor little thing called being a lot better defense as well. I know he said they were working to get better on defense in one of his other answers, but him not mentioning it in relation to what the NBA people told him worries me a little bit. Maybe it’s just me, but I just think soooo much of our success is dependent upon how much better our defense will be that I nitpick anything to do with it apart.


    True that on the last sentence of your comment.

  • Young Hoosier

    Everyone is a leader is from from Troy. Not you.

  • straight no chaser

    Yes, exactly. And Vic did say that the presence of a leader is tremendously important on defense, and that he was that person on our team, especially in his last year at IU. Yes, maybe Troy was using the word “leader” loosely, perhaps as “initiative” or “individual responsibility.”


    Just MHOs; If one is a true leader of a group he can’t just be a part time leader, when a situation arises off the court that creates a need for good leadership to be exercised he can’t shy away from it because they aren’t actually playing bball or it’s inconvenient cause he’s having some quality me time. I’m not saying that’s what YF, or any other player has done or is doing, I’m just saying if someone is going to be a true leader he can’t do it part time and be successful at it.

    Yes, everybody on the court can, and should, speak up, communicate, help out etc, etc, but every successful team needs a person that does that, one, on a consistent basis, and two, is someone that the other players don’t hear as just another teammate speaking up, is someone whose words will be respected by all of the others and someone whose words will actually be put into action.

    I know TC has said that he doesn’t push anyone or try to create situations where any certain player becomes a leader, but that is where he and I differ on that subject. He has been waaaay more successful at coaching than I ever was so maybe I’m completely wrong. To me, especially when you have a group that hasn’t shown that they have a real leader for more than just a season or so, you have to try and create an atmosphere that is conducive to someone that you think could be a successful leader to become just that. Now, that doesn’t mean you suddenly announce that so and so is now the leader so do what he says, or that creating that atmosphere will for sure create a leader, cause that player may very well turn out to not be that kind of leader. I also think that you have to do that kind of a thing in such a way that it isn’t blatantly obvious that said player, and the others, don’t immediately realize you are doing the things to try and achieve that result.