IU head coach Tom Crean met with reporters following Friday’s Hoosier Hysteria at Assembly Hall. A complete transcript of Crean’s comments is available below:
“The energy of the crowd was non-stop. It was just fantastic. I know our players and the whole program appreciates that when you come out there and see that. This is the last fun time of the year when they get to come out, there’s no real coaching going on. Not taking anything away from the honorary coaches, but we’d had a hour and forty minute workout before we came out. Maurice, we’re just going to go very, very careful with Maurice. He’s not injured, but he’s also not ready to go every day the way that we need to. We’ve been going pretty hard the last few days and we’ll go twice tomorrow and it’s just kind of where we’re at. We always take the last two hours that we get and we put those in at the end of the week right before we start practice because it’s so hard to go from a forty or sixty minute workout to now all of the sudden, you expect them to go a couple of hours. We’re going to try to be very moderate with him and at the same time, building our team.”
On the crowd’s first impression of Victor Oladipo
“I didn’t have any doubt that they’d fall in love with him quickly. He’s got a tremendous personality. We’re talking about a kid that there’s 380 young men in his school in Hyattsville, Maryland, he was one of ten people picked out of the whole school as a junior to go have lunch at the White House with the President. He’s got some special qualities and I think people will see that in him. I think the same thing with Will and with Guy. Those are three guys that have come in and set a standard for what young guys should look like with the way that they work on their bodies and the way that they should work on their games and certainly with what they’re doing academically. And Victor, I think the crowd got a chance to see some of that.”
On Matt Roth being ready to go
“I think he is. And he’s only been back a week because he had a concussion that he got trying to draw a charge in one of our four-on-four games and he missed two weeks. There’s a huge amount of confidence when he’s on the court and he gets that ball in his hands. He’s got range and I didn’t know Christian (Watford) had that kind of range, but then Christian’s legs left him quick, but Matt, he’s got a feel for it and he knows how to get open and I think he’s going to be a bigger part of what we do. When you sit there and you watch him shoot the ball you realize how much we missed him last year.”
On expectations for Guy-Marc Michel
“I just think improvement. He really wants it. He really, really wants to be good. And I don’t think there’s any doubt he’s going to get a lot better. He’s got a good feel, he’s got the jump hook and we want to continue to develop that. We’ve got to get him tighter in every area of his game with getting the ball below his knee on his crab dribble, sealing with his back side, not his back and continue getting him in shape. This is hard for those guys. We’ve had a very challenging preseason by design and it’s not like we’ve put a lot of offense in and it’s not like you can run any offense in this first one anyways. We expect a lot out of him and he expects a lot out of himself.”
BLOOMINGTON — They came, as they always do, from all over the state, to see 16 college-age basketball players. They found a recovering record-setter, a 95-percent star and a 7-foot-1 giant born closer to Brazil than to Bloomington.
Hoosier Hysteria — we’re going to refrain from calling it Midnight Madness, because as I type the first words in this column it is 11:15 — is so often defined by optimism and hope.
For Matt Roth, Guy-Marc Michel and Maurice Creek, Friday offered one combined stage to prove three individual things.
Much of the focus of IU basketball fans Friday, at least based on the enthusiasm behind the applause he got from the crowd, was on Creek, and his left knee. Creek’s rehabilitation has been a popular topic in the offseason, and coming into this night’s festivities, all appeared on schedule. Tom Crean said afterward that’s where Indiana left it, as well.
“You don’t just pick up from where you left off. He’s still going through a very strenuous rehab,” Crean said afterward. “I just don’t want to rush it too quick for him.”
Creek came down the stairs of the south bleachers, through the students’ section, apparently favoring that left knee, if only slightly. During warm-ups and layup drills, while his teammates spun and moved nimbly with the ball, Creek often chose to shoot spot-up jumpers.
He did not participate in the scrimmage at the end of the night.
“Me coming back from a tough injury is perfect right now. I’m walking, shooting and working out in the gym,” Creek said, describing himself as “about 95 percent.”
“It’s gonna take some time to get to 100, but I feel real good about myself.”
Both coach and player were confident that Creek will be good to go once the season begins in just less than a month.
While Creek worked quietly, Matt Roth was trying to prove himself all over again. The best 3-point shooter in Illinois history came into last season hoping to show off improved athleticism and defense. Instead, he was saddled with a season-ending injury after just two games, and Friday night might have felt like something of a forgotten man.
Indiana coach Tom Crean and guards Maurice Creek, Victor Oladipo and Matt Roth met with the media following Friday’s Hoosier Hysteria:
Here are both of Victor Oladipo’s dunks from the Hoosier Hysteria dunk contest, which he won in convincing fashion over teammates Bobby Capobianco, Tom Pritchard and Will Sheehey:
It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Verdell Jones.
So about a year and a half ago, I wrote a column that I cannot currently locate, which said that I thought Verdell Jones should be named the 2009 Big Ten Freshman of the Year. Call it blind homerism, call it bad journalism, call it whatever you want, but I wrote it, and it’s probably still hurtling through cyberspace somewhere, waiting to pop up and surprise me.
But I stood by it then, and I’ll bet I look a fair bit smarter now. That’s what I tell myself, anyway.
It wasn’t exactly sage to pick Jones as a big part of Indiana’s future. He scored 11 points per game his freshman year, and pushed that number to almost 15 last season.
More than that, though, is the ways Jones scores. “Ways,” that’s the key word. He’s versatile, and makes up for a lack of size (still listed at 185 in his third year in college) with exceptional body and ball control when attacking in the paint. He has range that he’ll show on occasion, but Jones’ best work is done inside the arc, just short of the rim.
In addition, Jones has become more comfortable running the offense, although his turnover numbers (2.8 per game) are still too high.
What’s most important about Jones, inarguably, is his leadership skill. One of the lasting images of his sophomore season is Jones gathering his teammates at big moments on the court during Indiana’s 81-78 overtime win against Minnesota at home. Jones’ steadying presence on the court, accompanied by some clutch points in the game’s dying moments, all but carried Indiana to victory.
There’s no denying there are holes in Jones’ game. The turnovers speak loudly, and Jones still gives up size when he’s guarding bigger players, and speed when he’s guarding quicker ones. But Verdell Jones, who has turned into the jewel of Tom Crean’s first recruiting haul in Bloomington, is one of the unquestioned leaders on a team that needs unquestioned leaders, which makes him invaluable.
It’s time for Inside the Hall’s player-by-player breakdown of the 2010-2011 Indiana Hoosiers. Today: Mo Creek.
I’ll be honest: It wasn’t until working on my piece for Maple Street Press’ Hoosier Tip-Off 2010-11 — available now! — and chatting with the Big Ten Geeks that I fully appreciated just how stellar Maurice Creek’s cut-short freshman campaign was, and how much the team could have used him during Big Ten play.
Creek appeared in all 12 non-conference games; his season-ending knee injury occurred in the second half against Bryant on Dec. 28, the last game before IU started their conference slate against Michigan on New Year’s Eve.
Now, it’s likely Creek’s numbers would have taken somewhat of a hit had he played all season and competed in the Big Ten against overall tougher competition. But stick with me here: For players with a minimum of 12 games last season, Creek’s effective field-goal percentage of 64.12 percent was good for 26th in the country. Not for freshman. For all of Division I.
Creek shot 52.7 precent from the floor, and nailed an impressive 44.8 percent of his threes. He also averaged 1.4 steals a game, showing he can be an agitator on the defensive end. If kept up for the whole season, he would have led the team. (Jeremiah Rivers finished the year with 1.3 steals per game, the team’s leader otherwise.)
Perhaps nowhere was Creek’s shooting acumen more on display than IU’s Dec. 12 loss to Kentucky, where he poured in 31 points in a losing effort against the Wildcats (9-of-14 from the floor, 5-of-8 from distance, 8-of-8 from the line).
Creek proved to be a highly efficient scorer last season, something IU sorely lacked as they trudged through that 10-game in-conference losing streak. A healthy Mo Creek gets this team more victories last season.
So what to expect from Creek this season? Well, as the Geeks told me, it’s probably too much to expect Creek to match his stellar numbers from a year ago. And really: That’s OK. Even if Creek’s percentages aren’t quite as high, a drop likely still keeps him as IU’s most prolific offensive weapon. And if defenses are showing him more attention, that should open up things for his teammates.