Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 88-52 win over Florida Atlantic at Assembly Hall on Friday. Crean addressed Jeremy Hollowell’s absence, the play of freshman Hanner Mosquera-Perea, the growth of Victor Oladipo and more.
Watch and listen to the press conference in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
Check out 20 photos by Jamie Owens from Indiana’s 88-52 win over Florida Atlantic at Assembly Hall in the embedded photo gallery after the jump. Purchase prints from J. Scott Sports.
Thoughts on an 88-52 win against the Owls:
I. This was the performance from Cody Zeller some were waiting for. Getting the ball early. Attacking. Making moves in the post and looking to finish strong. Even hitting a 16-footer. Couple this with his typical scores on the break, and it lead to a season-high 24 points in 22 minutes. To top it off? The Washington product, who has had some early-season struggles from the line was near perfect on the evening (12-of-13). (Aside: Zeller did get his shot blocked somewhat emphatically by smaller players twice.)
Christian Watford also played a particularly aggressive game out of the post and connected on 2-of-4 from distance on the evening to score 17 points.
II. Welcome to the floor, Peter Jurkin. It appears any talk of the Sudan native redshirting will now be laid to rest. (Jeremy Hollowell on the other hand? He sat the full 40 for a second consecutive game.) Jurkin’s hands were at issue in the preseason — if you remember, his elder buddy, Derek Elston, came up with the idea of playing baseball catch with him — and it reared its head early. Jurkin mishandled a rebound off a Florida Atlantic free throw and it fell out of bounds. Jurkin also had a smaller Florida Atlantic player make a move and score over him. But this much is certain about him: He’s tall. Really tall. (Analysis!) If he’s able to work into the speed of the college game and find his groove a bit, some decent reserve minutes may still be in store for him. You can’t teach that size and length.
Hanner Mosquera-Perea made his third appearance this evening and threw down his first dunk — with authority — off a pick-and-roll with Watford. He also had a nice tip-in. But here’s the key number: The freshman had 10 rebounds in 13 minutes. He’s an excellent leaper and it allows him to get up high and snatch misses off the rim. If the trust is there come Big Ten season, this sort of skill could certainly come in handy in close games for the Hoosiers, allowing for second chances on the offensive end and closing out opponent possessions on the other side of the ball.
There’s still a lot of teaching moments with these guys. In the second half, Jordan Hulls fired a pass into Mosquera-Perea that led him toward the rim. The freshman didn’t get his hands on it. He was subbed out. Kenny Johnson stopped him before he sat down on the bench and looked to be instructing him on what to do next time around. There were also times when their teammates had words of instruction for them during stoppages in play.
If there was ever any doubt as to how well James Blackmon Jr. would be able to recover from last year’s season-ending knee injury, he’s put those questions to rest pretty quickly.
Blackmon Jr., a 2014 Indiana commit, is making up for lost time to start his junior high school season.
The 6-foot-2 guard is averaging 37.3 points per game through Fort Wayne Bishop Luers’ first three games fresh off a torn ACL injury that ended his season last February.
“It really kind of feels the same as it did before because of all the work I put in for my knee,” Blackmon Jr. told Inside the Hall of his success. “I just feel like I got better in different aspects. Sitting out watching, I watched a lot of film and stuff, so I’m a thinker of the game now too. My athleticism got a little bit better even though I had a torn ACL.”
Blackmon Jr. opened the year with 38 points in a 79-74 loss to Mishawaka Marian. He was even more impressive his next time out in front of Tom Crean, scoring a career-high 44 points, including six 3-pointers, in a 79-63 win over Fort Wayne South.
He added another 30 points in a 77-68 loss to Fort Wayne Concordia last Friday.
“This isn’t anything I really expected,” Blackmon Jr. said. “It’s just that, my teammates, I needed them to help me, and they got me open a lot. I did what I could to win the games, but I never really thought about scoring a lot of points. It was just something that came with playing hard and working hard.”
It’s a quick turnaround for Indiana as the Hoosiers return to Branch McCracken Court on Friday night for a meeting with Florida Atlantic. The Owls (5-6) are coming off a 69-68 loss at home to Stetson. Indiana will be looking for its 16th consecutive win at Assembly Hall.
The game will be televised on ESPN2.
The competition doesn’t figure to stiffen much for Indiana until the Big Ten season tips off on Dec. 31, but the Hoosiers will round out the non-conference schedule with a pair of Friday games with Florida Atlantic and Jacksonville.
FAU is up first and the Owls are led by former George Washington and St. John’s coach Mike Jarvis, who produced a winning season and NIT birth in 2011-2012, but has otherwise struggled to gain momentum in Boca Raton. This season doesn’t look promising as Florida Atlantic was picked to finish just fourth in the east division of the Sun Belt.
Indiana will once again get the challenge of trying to contain one of the nation’s leading scorers as FAU features senior guard Greg Gantt (pictured), who is averaging 21.5 points. Gantt is shooting an identical percentage on 2-point and 3-point field goal attempts (42.7) and the distribution of his attempts is pretty equal as well (104 2-point attempts vs. 82 3-point attempts).
The only other Owl scoring in double figures is 5-foot-10 guard Stefan Moody, who is averaging 15 points. But the freshman won’t be available on Friday as he was suspended for three games prior to FAU’s loss to Stetson. Cavon Baker, another freshman guard who averages 3.9 points, is also suspended.
The absence of Moody means that Jarvis will need more offensive production from guard Pablo Bertone (7.1 ppg), guard Jackson Trapp (6.5 ppg) and forward Jordan McCoy (5.3 ppg) if the Owls hope to keep things competitive on Friday. Trapp has a solid assist rate (20.2), but is turnover prone (33 in 11 games) and McCoy is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.4 per game.
Senior forward Derek Elston played for the first time this season in No. 6 Indiana’s 93-54 victory against Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday night, but freshmen Jeremy Hollowell and Peter Jurkin failed to get off the bench.
Hollowell had been part of the Hoosiers’ regular rotation through the first 10 games, and he was in uniform and warmed up with the Hoosiers prior to the game against the Mountaineers. And Jurkin, who was suspended for the first nine games of the season and didn’t get off the bench on Saturday against Butler, also didn’t play on Wednesday despite the Hoosiers’ large lead.
Afterward, Indiana coach Tom Crean didn’t offer much in the way of a concrete explanation.
In his opening statement, Crean said: “We dealt with a multitude of situations with staff and players, whether it be an injury or a sickness.”
He went on to mention that athletic trainer Tim Garl had been sick all day and some of the staff had been as well. But he never said definitively why Hollowell or Jurkin did not play despite repeated inquiries.
When asked if Hollowell was sick as well, Crean said: “Yeah. We just had a multitude of things we dealt with and we played the guys that were there to play for us and help us.”
And then when asked specifically about Jurkin, Crean continued to be vague: “I went with the guys that I played. That’s who I went with.”
Elston, meanwhile, returned to the floor ahead of schedule. The Tipton native had knee surgery prior to the start of the season, and the team had targeted a return shortly after Christmas.
But Elston worked hard in his rehabilitation, practiced lightly over the last few days, and got on the floor for nine minutes against Mount St. Mary’s. Elston made his only field goal attempt, scoring two points and grabbing two rebounds to go along with a blocked shot.
Elston received a standing ovation from the Assembly Hall crowd when he entered the game in the first half.
“It felt great to get back out there again,” Elston said. “You can only go through so many practices without it actually hitting you that you want to get out there, get in front of the crowd and see what you can do.
“The standing ovation, that just shows that these people really haven’t forgotten about me. It shows that maybe I do [matter] to this program. Sometimes when you get hurt like that and you’re out so long, you feel like people kind of forget about you. Sometimes, inside of any player, especially me, I feel like people just don’t remember you. But when I go out there and I get that, that standing ovation, it makes me feel special.”
Christian Watford, Derek Elston, Remy Abell and Will Sheehey met with the media following Indiana’s 93-54 win over Mount St. Mary’s on Wednesday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to both press conferences in the embedded media player below: