Tom Crean Archive
Indiana coach Tom Crean sensed in the postgame locker room on Tuesday night that his team wanted to quickly move on from the loss.
After the Hoosiers lost their second game of the season in a 69-52 collapse at No. 4 Syracuse, Crean questioned everything from Indiana’s spirit to its leadership. His team trailed only 33-29 at halftime, but in the second half, a 23-3 Orange run would ultimately doom the Hoosiers.
“The other night was a lot of different things for us, but at the end of the day, it was the first true road game,” Crean said on Friday afternoon in advance of Indiana’s game against North Florida tonight. “And in the second half, we played like that.”
When Crean looked at his team in that locker room in Syracuse, he saw that his players knew they were capable of more. There wasn’t going to be much dwelling on the loss, Crean thought, because he could sense the hunger and desire for his team to move on and stay locked in.
And in the practices since the team arrived back in Bloomington, Crean says his players have done exactly that.
“I think our guys from the other night, they knew they did not play the way they are capable of in the second half,” he said. “They have not needed a lot of reminders on that. They have come out with great energy and focus and resolve.”
So, Crean has put the Syracuse loss on the back burner, for now. When it’s time for Indiana to play on the road again, he’ll go through with his players how to ensure history doesn’t repeat itself.
After the game, Indiana coach Tom Crean opened his press conference with the blunt words that summed up the night.
“I’ve never been involved in a game where a team was as different in one half as they were in the other today,” he said.
He was angry, disappointed, embarrassed. In the Hoosiers’ true lone away game of the non-conference season, his team was within four points at halftime against the No. 5 Syracuse Orange.
By the final buzzer, Indiana had lost, 69-52.
From the start of that second half, Indiana had gone from potentially upsetting the team that knocked them out in last year’s NCAA tournament to going back to the drawing board. What changed?
“I just felt like we got away from what was working for us in the first half and that’s why they got the lead and stretched it out,” freshman Noah Vonleh said. “In the first half, we were establishing it in the post, catching it in the high post, looking for guys in the corners, the wings, attacking, everybody was getting fouled. We were in the bonus early.
“But when the second half started, we just started settling for 3-pointers, and that’s not where our game plan is.”
Crean could sense by the time his team left the locker room for the second half that something was wrong. His team was quiet. Too quiet.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 69-52 loss to Syracuse in the Big Ten-ACC Challenge at the Carrier Dome.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the media player below:
Whatever you call it, Indiana won’t think of it as a rematch.
Less than nine months after Syracuse knocked Indiana out of the NCAA tournament in the Sweet 16 in Washington, D.C., the two teams will face each other tonight at the Carrier Dome at 7:15 p.m., as part of the Big Ten/ACC Challenge.
For Indiana senior Will Sheehey, he experienced the loss firsthand. He played 26 minutes that game, as the Hoosiers’ national title hopes were dashed in their lowest scoring output of the season, a 61-50 defeat. But even he, on the eve of their matchup against the No. 4 team in the country, hesitated to call it a rematch.
“We’re going to look at it just purely as a basketball game, not really at the emotions surrounding it,” he said. “Obviously, reliving the end of your season last year is not what you want to do but we’re going to dive into the film, and we have been, in looking at specific things within the game. Not necessarily the emotional part, but more like the X’s and O’s.”
Yes, eight months removed from the decisive game, both teams are much different — each losing significant contributors to graduation or the NBA. Indiana lost four of its five starters. Syracuse lost three of its four leading scorers (Brandon Triche, James Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams).
“We can’t focus on ‘rematch,’ ” Indiana coach Tom Crean said. “We can focus on the things we learned from the game, but it’s two different teams.”
Still, much remains the same.
Tom Crean met with the media on Monday afternoon to preview Tuesday’s Big Ten-ACC Challenge game at Syracuse.
Watch and listen to his comments in the media player below:
Quotes are available after the jump.
Indiana coach Tom Crean saw his team’s potential in perhaps its worst half of the season.
On Friday, Nov. 22, in the 2K Sports Classic final against then-No. 18 Connecticut, his Hoosiers went 9-for-24 from the field, had 12 turnovers and somehow only trailed, 30-24. Though Indiana would subsequently lose the game, 59-58, Crean was convinced.
“You’ve got limited time and you’re trying to not wear them down and they are young guys, and you’ve got a million things you’re thinking about,” he said on Nov. 26, following Indiana’s 77-46 win against Evansville. “But the bottom line is we just have to get better at certain things every day and not get ahead of ourselves. We never get ahead of ourselves game wise, but we are asking them to learn a lot.”
Seven games into the season, Crean has a lot to be optimistic about.
As of Saturday morning, Indiana (6-1) was the No. 4 offensive rebounding team (45.6 offensive rebounding percentage) in the nation and was No. 11 in getting to the foul line with a free throw rate (FTA/FGA) of 60.6 percent. His team is playing to the pace he wants with an adjusted tempo of 74.3 possessions per game, which ranks 20th nationally.
Indiana is also averaging 86.4 points per game — No. 24 in the country — and is limiting opponents to an effective field goal percentage of 39.5, which is fifth nationally.
But his team is still one of the youngest in the country, one that has six freshmen and five sophomores on scholarship. According to KenPom.com, the Hoosiers rank 325th in the country in terms of experience.
“I’m the first one that’s getting too far ahead, and I realized that today,” Crean said after the Evansville win.
“I think the hard thing for me, I see how good they can be. I see their talent level. I’ve known them for so long through the recruiting process and things like that. I want greatness for them.”
As the news circulated, Indiana fans were perplexed.
When Indiana’s starting lineup was announced for its seventh game of the season on Tuesday night against Evansville, sophomore Jeremy Hollowell, who had started the Hoosiers’ six prior games, was excluded. In his place, senior walk-on Jeff Howard — who had played only 85 minutes of college basketball in his career — would start.
The buzz generated on social media led to “Jeff Howard” trending nationally on Twitter during much of Indiana’s 77-46 win against Evansville, as the Hoosiers advanced to 6-1 in the 2013-2014 season.
“Coach did what he did for his reasons,” Howard said following the game, in which he scored two points, grabbed three rebounds and had one assist in 15 minutes of action. “I just came and brought to the team what I bring to the team.”
Before Tuesday’s game, Indiana coach Tom Crean told both Howard and Hollowell the news. His reasoning, Crean insisted, was that Howard “epitomized what we wanted out there in the form of energy, communication and intensity.”
But Howard has played only eight minutes this entire season. There was no intention, Crean said, of trying to “light a fire” for Hollowell to perform better.