News and notes from Tom Crean’s radio show

  • 02/14/2017 8:04 am in

Inside IU basketball with Tom Crean was live on Monday evening from the Holiday Inn in Bloomington. Derek Elston, director of player development, was the special guest.

Crean diagnosed and discussed possible solutions for the litany of issues currently plaguing the Hoosiers, spoke for the first time about the incoming recruiting class, and even joked about late night fast food.

Below are news and notes from Crean and Elston (all quotes are from Crean unless noted otherwise):

· “At the end of the day, the thing that you put at the top of the umbrella, and I should say it’s defense, but we’re not making open shots,” Crean said at the top of the show. “I mean, literally, we’re not making open shots. We’ve taken a few challenged ones too, there’s no question about that. Especially the pull-ups. We’re shooting too many pull-ups because we’re not getting enough separation from the defense. Some of it is in our set-ups, some of it is in not waiting for the screen, rushing, those types of things, rather than doing our work early.”

· On maturity, “The maturity issue for us, which we’ve fought all year, has really discombobulated us a bit. When we’re not making shots, you’ve gotta have the mental toughness to come back down and string multiple stops together. You can’t lose your focus and energy because you’re not seeing the ball go through the basket.”

· On why IU has been so inconsistent this season, “Mental toughness in reading the situation and trying to make things happen that aren’t there. Not as much out of selfishness, sometimes out of sloppiness. It’s too much. Thomas (Bryant) and Rob (Johnson) are committing too many turnovers that lead to baskets. They both bring a lot of value to the team, there’s no question about that, and we’ve gotta have them on the court, but there are too many turnovers that are leading to baskets. What happens is, when we’re really aggressive defensively, we’re creating more turnovers. Yesterday, we were a step slow in our rotations defensively. When I really look back at the film from yesterday, it’s just obvious. It’s semi-obvious when you’re watching the game, but it’s really obvious when you’re watching the film. There are certainly things that we can be doing a lot better – there are things that James (Blackmon) could be doing better, especially on the defensive end, with the rebounding. Same thing with Juwan (Morgan).”

· On the rash of injuries, especially with regards to Blackmon and Morgan, “James and Juwan are not close. They’re not close to where they are capable of being healthwise … James doesn’t have the – when he played against Michigan State, I personally thought, with all the injuries that he’s had, with the surgeries and things of that nature, he was as explosive and was separating from the defense as well as at any point in time that we’ve had him (at Indiana) … Then, all of a sudden at Michigan, he’s hurting and we’re back to square one. That part of it is not his fault. That’s a matter of the injury. What he’s gotta be able to do is to overcome that and make up for it with separation and running his man into the screen, or setting it up and waiting for the screen, using his shot-fake, things of that nature. Defending and blocking out at a better rate – things he can control while we try to get the athleticism back … I don’t think anybody realizes just how hurt Juwan was. I mean, literally, a referee ran into him in the Rutgers game and he’s never been the same since. Fluke accident? Absolutely. Just like it is when Devonte Green lifts up a 35-pound bar and creates a back spasm in his back and he’s out for a couple days. Then he ended up getting the flu last week, which really affected him. We’ve dealt with all those different things, but at the end of the day, it is what it is. We’re not close to as healthy as we need to be and we need to figure out ways around it. We need to figure out ways to mask it. That’s what’s taking up a lot of our time right now, to figure this out.”

· On the turnover issues, “There is no excuse for that. If I had a clear answer on substitutions, I’d make them abundantly. I get it to a degree, because some of the young guys are trying to make home run plays. That’s not what we need. They’re not trying to make a mistake, they’re just trying to make something happen. That’s when the veterans need to come in and say ‘We’ve gotta get this.’”

· On the team’s lack of basketball IQ over the latest stretch of games, “In all honesty, what really bothers me the most is I think we’ve done a pretty good job over a period of time of really teaching basketball IQ. There’s times it (looks like) we haven’t done it at all. That I take very personally. I take it hard, and that’s why we just come back every day. We practiced some things today that we probably shouldn’t be practicing in the middle of February, but we did, because we’re not doing it very well. It’s like anything else – when you’ve got a team that doesn’t have that natural leadership, the moment you don’t do something for a couple days, it’s like you didn’t do it for a couple of weeks. We’ve gotta keep working through that.”

· On the three signees of the 2017 class;

Al Durham – “Playing well in Georgia, very well. He looks like he’s about 165 pounds but he’s got toughness, he takes charges, he can get to the rim, he’s improving his shooting, he’s got good downhill ability. He’s got a toughness about him. When you first see him and see that smile, he’s so soft-spoken. Then you see him play, and he brings a high level of toughness to the game.”

Clifton Moore – “(He’s) definitely catching the east coast by surprise. Probably even some national people that have seen him. Chuck Martin did a great job on both (Durham & Moore). In the case of Clifton, we were actually seeing another player that we were recruiting, and Chuck comes out and says, ‘I think Clifton is better. I think he does this, I think he does that.’ He ended up, in my opinion, being exactly right. Chuck did a fantastic job, I went in and saw (Clifton), and it was a no-brainer to me … he’s having a fantastic year, he’s 6-foot-11, can make shots, can handle the ball, tremendous coaching, and just keeps getting better and better.”

Justin Smith – “I have a friend of mine that’s an NFL scout that saw him play the other day, and he described (Smith) as an NFL scout would describe a prospect. I was kind of pumped. Because it wasn’t about his jump shot or things like that – he had 26 points – but it was about his toughness, it was about his versatility, it was about his quickness, the way he exploded, those kinds of things. Which is exactly what we need.”

· On potentially adding another recruit, Crean mentioned that Hartman may not seek a medical redshirt, “So we’re definitely active, continuing our recruiting right now, and Collin could easily make the decision that he doesn’t want to play anymore. He’ll have his masters after this summer. we have to be prepared for a lot of different things, and that’s only doing good business. But those three (recruits we have signed), we really feel good about.”

The best exchange of the night came when Crean turned a Don Fischer live read for Subway into a conversation about late night fast food. Here is the full transcript:

Fischer – You can choose any one of six delicious six-inch subs and Subway will serve it up in a made just for you meal, all for just $6, every day. Subway, eat fresh.

Crean – They need to stay open later. I’ve tried to go there on a few late nights, like last night. And to no avail.

(laughs)

Fischer: Do you think we could extend their hours, somehow?

Crean: Not if I’m the only one going in after dark.

Fischer: (chuckling) Well, of course, you can always come down here to the Holiday Inn Burger Theory Restaurant and have some great burgers…

Crean: They’re probably not open late. Let’s go to Taco Bell.

· On how Indiana needs to work off Josh Newkirk, especially on the break, “There are numerous things that I think we’ve gotta attempt to do to get better, to make things easier. But one thing is we’ve got to get on the break better. I mean we’ve gotta get out way better. And not just on misses. And not just on turnovers. But we’ve gotta get out (on the break). And we’ve gotta find ways to get (Newkirk) the ball where there is less traffic. Because the one thing – he’s not putting nearly enough pressure on the rim on the break. Because, frankly, we’re not exerting enough energy with some of our wings on running the court. And we’ve been addressing that. We’re running to catch the ball rather than running to get a layup. There’s a huge difference between running to catch the ball on the wing and running to get a layup. It’s a whole different level of exertion that you use … that hurts our ability to get to the basket on the break. We’ve gotta either move some of those guys around that are on the wings, or we’ve gotta find a way to get (Newkirk) the ball in transition, not necessarily just when he’s coming down the court. We need him to put pressure on the rim, to be able to break down and get his shoulders – because he’s very, very strong. We’re still dealing with him on a daily basis trying to recover from the microfracture surgery a year ago. He plays very hard, he plays very well, but we have to keep an eye on his practices because he does get sore. So (we make sure) that he’s ready for the games. That’s really, really important. But he’s shooting the ball with much more confidence. Probably didn’t look for (his shot) enough yesterday.”

· On the strengths and weaknesses of playing De’Ron Davis and Bryant together, “It comes down to matchups and what that other four man is like. Thomas is certainly getting better there, in being able to guard those people. But it also comes down to ball-screen defense, in all honesty. Yesterday, Thomas’ ball-screen defense was not close to up to par. De’Ron is still learning how to defend quicker people, how to be up in the – we had to change coverages yesterday because we were up too high. We were letting the ball out of the trap, and (Derrick) Walton was making too many quick passes … You can’t put two men on the ball and not make the ball get picked up. That’s what was happening a little bit yesterday because we weren’t aggressive with our hands enough. That’s one area where De’Ron struggles a little bit. He’s really made a lot of strides and he’s grown, but we’ve gotta figure out – there’s no question that has to happen better, because Thomas can step away from the basket in a good way and De’Ron is really hard to guard down there. When they decided to guard De’Ron with one guy, he got whatever he wanted.”

· On the possibility of shaking things up as a result of the current skid, “We’re going to be very matter of fact, but I’m going to coach positive. There’s demanding, and sometimes demanding can seem negative. If there’s anyone that’s going to bring negative energy to the court, it’s going to be me. It’s not going to be anybody else. Because that’s my job. We don’t need it from other people. We need it from me. We need the rest of everybody else to be demanding and to hold people accountable. They’re not trying to miss shots. It’s not like they’re trying to miss. We’ve gotta do a better job of continuing to shoot, to help them build their confidence back up with that, and then find different ways to get them open easier. Especially when we’re navigating the injuries. Because, frankly, we are … The guys have gotta be responsible for what they can control. Their setups, moving without the ball, the screening – the partnership of screening that comes in – I’ve gotta do more to maybe be a little bit more creative to find ways that they can get open. And we’ve gotta use the shot-fake more.”

· Elston, when asked by Fischer about his job, said he takes on many roles. On Friday’s, Elston said he hosts what he calls ‘Friday Night Lights,’ where he helps players with their schoolwork. Elston also helps set the players up with community service opportunities.

· Elston said many of his mornings are spent helping with edits in the film room. From 11 am to 1 pm, Elston makes sure players are doing their necessary treatments and talks to ‘Timmy G’ (Elston’s nickname for head athletic trainer Tim Garl).

· Elston, on keeping players’ spirits up, “I know things aren’t going the right way … it’s easy to lose a game and put your head down and not want to be seen and not want to talk to anybody and go through practice. That’s easy. The hard part is cheering everybody up. Life goes on. The game, we’re rolling the balls up the next day. You can’t dwell on the past. We’ve got Minnesota coming up, let’s go in there, let’s work on our games, let’s make some shots, let’s get our camaraderie back, and let’s go back out there and win.”

· Elston, on how the times have changed, “Trust me guys, things have changed since my four years here. Already – apps and games and all this stuff they’ve got going on on their phones. The games changed. To be able to keep up with the music, oh my God, the music is just – I thought I’d never say that. But the stuff they listen to, it’s all changed. So to be down there every day and just ask ‘What’s new?’ ‘What’s Cool?’ ‘What do you guys like?’ One of the things I do, I grab gear. You’d be surprised, guys won’t put things on because it doesn’t look cool. I have a hand in that. It’s fun. It’s just fun to see what these guys like.”

Filed to:

  • Lance76

    If player has not been told how to complete a pick and roll= that’s on the coaches. If player can not follow through with instructions= that’s on the player. I suppose you could try to convince me that that IU staff with multiple D1 coaching experience have not instructed on pick and roll defense.

  • Koko

    Oh okay….I didn’t know the deference between being a lottery pic and just a regular old pick. I’m was more thinking
    he would be a pick not necessarily a lottery pick. OG the same.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Id assume Crean, as he has him play on the perimeter 50% of time. How can he work himself into a good post position if he is responsible to play perimeter, set the screens, then rush into the block.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    I believe it stops at 14th. You really think he’s the 20th best player in the league? I say, he gets picked 40th if he decides to go… which he shouldn’t

  • inLinE6

    I guess not all players are coachable to the same height or level? Otherwise Perea would’ve been a star in the NBA now.

  • IdahoHoosier

    Not saying the blame belongs more on one side (players) than the other (coaches), but I’ve been trying to get this concept through lately with little success. There is a difference between coaches not teaching something, and a player not executing something. I too have a hard time believing at this level these players aren’t being taught certain things. But who knows.

  • inadvertentelbows_stillhurt

    Guys have to own their mistakes… repetitions and practice doesn’t always translate to the floor.. The “real” basketball acumen of these discussions have left the building ..smh.. I used to love the insight of most on the paid forum but I left that because it’s to many that have zero clue about the nuances of the sport… IUs guards aren’t good passers .. they come from pick and pop systems .. that would have been ok had O.G. and JW’s athleticism… with defenders playing them more honestly and focused on keeping them off offensive glass .. also Colin would have kept the ball in motion and a scoring threat.. less pressure on Newkirk and on other guards as a whole.. Davis has been hurt and was outta shape most of the year… he gives you great footwork and terrible footwork all in the same games.. he is called for traveling almost every game even travels on made baskets..(take a peek at the replays) in limited minutes..(foul prone ,injuries ,conditioning)and when he is in the offense doesnt move the darn ball… they give it to him and stand watching.. no cutting.. no rebounding no anything… it’s sad watching replays.. so he gets taken out…coach is making moves.. they are just not working..

  • Chi-Town Hoosier

    Billy Donovan. Please.

  • IllinoisHoosier

    Kravitz said recently that last year crean was the talk of the town and now everyone wants his head. He thinks we should all relax. He pointed to 2 sweet 16 and big ten outright title. Well that’s how malaise has changed our perspective. I don’t accept those as success. I think a final four and more consistent wins at home alon with just better all around play. That’s success. This team andnunder crean many of his teams are not fun to watch. It’s too frustrating. I keep asking myself why they keep making the same mistakes. It’s the coaching. The only offense they have is fast break so as soon as they rebound they are looking to pass. How many times have defensive players held back and stole the ball? Too many. But that’s all they work on, run, run run. Because once in the half court, thy are horrible. Boring and frustrating to watch. No motion, no cutting, no pick and rolls, give and go, etc. they do meaningless screens near 3 line that do nothing. And their screens suck. Takes both players for a screen to work. We usually end up fouling because screener tries to come to defender. The ball handler needs to drive his man into the screen. Duh. But thy don’t. Half the time our ball handler goes so wide the screen was a waste. Defender just goes through. I’ve said it so much that I’m a broken record, but when is the last off ball screen you have seen? Players just think you stand around and magically open. Other teams take open shots. All our shots are guarded. Forced passes, no connection between players. It really looks like they are playing a pick up game. Defense is an after thought. Maybe creans d is too difficult. Just pick a guy and guard him. Too many switches. Too much Bryant leaving the post. So disgusted with that. Always leaves lane wide open because rarely does anyone shift. Pathetic. I’ve said since he came, average coach at best. He’s had good talent but they haven’t improved. Few yeas back had 2 eventual pros and only reached 16. Certainly pros don’t always guarantee success but the talent in that team was wasted. Crean was embarrassed by Syracuse and t was like he didn’t know they played the 2-3 d. They didn’t know what to do. That’s same story every game. Players show up and do what they do no matter what other teams do. Michigan is an average but they beat us soundly once and destroyed us another. Why, belein can coach. His players know what thy are doing. Crean likes to throw his players under the bus, but they don’t know what they are doing out there. Sad. He’s gotta go.

  • IllinoisHoosier

    That stat you point out is interesting and it counters what an announcer said earlier this year. As far as top 3(I think it was top 3) teams, crean has had the most success over like 6 years. Numbers might be a little off but it just shows that numbers can tell different tales d pending on what you are looking at. I agree with you that his record is less then stellar and is reinforced when you look at this season with the losses to neb at home and ipfw. These are only recent examples and they many in the past where I thought”how in the hell did we lose that game” I guess long story short is that good wins are more the exception than the rule of bad losses.

  • pcantidote

    Kravitz is trying to be relevant writing for a TV station website. His article was typical Kravitz click-bait.

  • vicbert caladipo

    I need to hear your credentials. You talk a lot of junk including completely missing my point about JBJ. Have you even checked the mock drafts? He is projected as high as 18 and as low as 45 but I have checked 6 different ones and he averages in the low 20’s. Do you even check things out or just think your word is god? Most people here respect Ole Mans comments, mine not so much. Ask him where he thinks TB will go? I am not saying TB has played great and that he is the second coming of Shaq. A drafts on potential and I would rather listen to Ole Man and the mock drafts than someone who has no facts and just an axe to grind cuz we aren’t playing well. As far as my post on the other thread about JBJ. I am no JBJ apologist. Just don’t feel the need to run down a kid who has experienced so much BS. The topic was you saying he was full of himself and that he carries himself as some prima donna. My defense wasn’t that I think he’s had a stellar career. My point was why run down a young mans character over crap you don’t know. Sheesh.

  • Ole Man

    IF the problem repeats itself on a yearly basis, as this and other problems, i.e. TOs, have then it would tend to point towards coaching.

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  • bandyindy

    I agree with you in the sense that I don’t see TB as anything higher than a 2nd round draft pick. I can’t see him as being anything more than a backup center at best in the NBA and backup centers aren’t lottery picks. JBJ will not be drafted if he leaves early, I see his career headed for the Dleague or international ball. I could see OG as a lottery pick, and this only if he were healthy and playing at the level he played at late last year. With OG’s injury and not being able to attend any of the NBA camps and combine, his 1st round status I think would be in question.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    Agreed, exactly. OG can be a lottery if his surgery recovery is very hasty and effective.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    IDK why don’t you ask the coach why he’s “running down” young man JBJ and RJ’s character, bc he did exactly that and you were defending him? Meanwhile, the season is completely shot so any potential JBJ had for the league got substantially worse when his coach said his guards weren’t mature. It was fine then though, with 5 meaningless games left in the season.

  • DonaldneedsAsafeSpace

    You need to hear my credentials, coming from the guy who used an article from a company that’s business is drawing sports plays, to highlight CTC’s SLOBS from before the season even started. I checked out TB’s draft status. Some are in the low 20s, equally as many are in the 40s. And those were months ago. W the way IU has been playing all of their stock has likely dropped, obviously

  • IUMIKE1

    When it comes to TB and post position: TB, while a lot better than several give him credit for, isn’t at the top of the list when I think of bigs that can establish and hold good post postion……..but, I think this teams’s biggest problem in that area is that it’s comes down to timing, as in him having position and one of the guards receiving the pass at approximately the same time that he cuts across the lane and establishes position, thus not requiring him to hold good post position for an extended amount of time. This way also makes it harder for the other team to successfully double him up. The way we execute it now is by the time the guard finally notices it and tries to get him the ball the other team’s D has had a chance to recover/ help and then the guards telegraphs that they want to try and get him the ball by just standing there looking at TB or pounding the air out of the ball while trying to get it to him. Then instead of forcing it or just ignoring him all together, swing the ball, and let him reestablish position on the other side of the lane and do it with the proper timing. Until the guards do a better job of having the ball coincide with when TB first comes open it will never be where it needs to be.

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  • Ole Man

    Excellent evaluation, Mike!

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