Tom Crean Archive
WASHINGTON — Tom Crean, Christian Watford, Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo met with the media following Indiana’s 61-50 loss to Syracuse in the East regional semifinal. Read comments from their postgame reaction below.
THE MODERATOR: We are joined by Indiana, student athletes Christian Watford, Victor Oladipo and Cody Zeller and Coach Tom Crean. We will start with an opening statement from Coach Tom Crean.
COACH CREAN: Well, we have had a heck of a ride with this group, and it doesn’t feel like that tonight, won’t feel like that for a couple of days, maybe longer.
But the bottom line is that this program has come from so far and I hope at some point in time, the seniors, the guys on this team will remember that they did things that hadn’t been done first off in 20 years at Indiana but more importantly there are not any programs, whether this be Syracuse, Kentucky, Carolina, Duke, you name it that are the blue blood programs of the country that have had to endure what these guys have had to endure. They have done it with perseverance, toughness, and improvement and they have done it with great class and they will all be better for it.
That’s how I view it. Our minds are around closure right now, they’re not. So we have to look at it that way. The story of the game for us is we didn’t take care of the ball enough. We gave them too many opportunities. We did not do a good enough job on a couple of their guys, especially Michael Carter-Williams and we couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t get that gap, that margin where we needed it to be. They played well and they deserve it, we didn’t play as well, we played extremely hard. They move on and we call it a great year.
Q. Christan, it must be hard to do right now but is there any way you can put into perspective your career at Indiana right now?
CHRISTIAN WATFORD: As you know, it’s been full of up’s and down’s but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I love my teammates and I’m happy to be an Indiana Hoosier at the end of the day.
Q. Victor, what made their two-three zone so difficult? What kind of challenges did they present in their zone?
VICTOR OLADIPO: They were just long and active. We just didn’t take care of the ball like we should have. In the first half we got a little too anxious, catching the ball, moving out the ball, not having the ball secure in our hands, and our shots weren’t falling at the same time.
So that’s pretty much it.
WASHINGTON — Indiana saw just about everything imaginable in the Big Ten this season.
But not quite.
“We don’t see a lot of 2-3 zone like this,” guard Jordan Hulls said of Syracuse. “They’re very long, very athletic, they close out to balls a lot faster than what we’ve seen, even on film.”
The Hoosiers will finally get a look at the Syracuse zone that gets talked about so much when they play the Orange in a Sweet 16 game Thursday night at the Verizon Center.
What makes the Syracuse different and more challenging than other zones is the athletes Jim Boeheim recruits to play in it. Brandon Triche (6-foot-4) is the shortest player in the Orange’s starting lineup, and the other four are Michael Carter-Williams (6-foot-6), James Southerland (6-foot-8), C.J. Fair (6-foot-8) and Rakeem Christmas (6-foot-9).
“They’re athletic guys, long guys. They like to get up in your face,” said forward Will Sheehey. “They get out and challenge passing lanes, they don’t kinda pack it in. It’s almost like a pressure 2-3 zone.”
Added point guard Yogi Ferrell: “They have the best zone defense in the country. We’ve been practicing against it, watching a lot of film. It’s going to be a very tough test for us.”
Crean coached against Boeheim and Syracuse twice when he was at Marquette, so the zone won’t be completely new to him when he sees it Thursday night. Plus, Crean had almost four days to prepare for it, so the turnaround wasn’t all that short.
Even so, the Syracuse zone has proven to be one that can add new wrinkles and function in different ways depending on the opponent and the game. Plus, Crean is 0-2 in those two games.
“At Marquette we didn’t necessarily have the ability to score in the low post that maybe we have now,” Crean said Wednesday. “So it was a little bit different attack and we had good guards, people like Jerel McNeal, Wes Matthews, you know Dominic James, Lazar Hayward, so people like that that could make plays but we didn’t necessarily have the low post ability.
“I don’t think you can look at that zone and think you’re going to beat it any one way but I don’t think you can look at the zone and think you can stand around and pass the ball around the perimeter, either. That is a recipe for defeat.”
One thing that will be key to beating the zone is knocking down perimeter shots, especially early in the game. The Hoosiers didn’t shoot particularly well against Temple on Sunday, and that will have to change.
WASHINGTON — Indiana and its fans may not have been thrilled to end up in the East Region instead of the Midwest, but John Harbaugh sure was.
The coach of the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens made the short trip to the Verizon Center on Wednesday afternoon to watch the Hoosiers practice and see his brother-in-law, Tom Crean.
“I’m excited to be a part of it. I love these players,” Harbaugh said. “I’ve seem them practice over the years and I’ve kind of been around for the last four years, so it’s just a great experience to be a part of.”
Harbaugh and his brother, Jim, coach of the San Francisco 49ers, have always spent a good amount of time around Crean and the Indiana program, especially during the football offseason. John Harbaugh said he’s been impressed by what the Hoosiers have already accomplished this season.
“To hold on to that No. 1 spot for as long as they did, to me, is an amazing accomplishment,” he said. “They’ve been consistent, they’ve been steady. I love the Temple game, I love overcoming adversity the way they did. They kind of reminded me a little bit of our Ravens. That wouldn’t be a bad thing.”
Harbaugh, who wore a gray Indiana sweatshirt and stood on the baseline while the Hoosiers practiced, said he plans to follow the team as far as it goes. He hopes he’ll be spending this weekend in the nation’s capital and next week, well …
“I’ve got a plane ticket to Atlanta,” he said, “and I’m not going if the Hoosiers don’t go.”
Sunday afternoon’s game had so much to it, it was difficult to digest it all immediately after the game. Especially when a late March snowstorm was staring right at the greater Dayton area.
So, after more than 24 hours to think about and analyze the Hoosiers’ 58-52 win over Temple, and how they got there, I took a look at the game in a much more complete way.
First, when I said in my column from Sunday night that the Hoosier won ugly, I wasn’t kidding. It was UGLY in every possible way, and Indiana undoubtedly caught some breaks (like the fact that every Temple player not named Wyatt seemed to forget how to score), but to advance in the NCAA Tournament, you sometimes need an element of luck. Ask Marquette. Or Ohio State. Or Miami.
The fact of the matter is, in a game they had no business winning, the Hoosiers found a way to advance to the Sweet 16 for the second straight year. And ultimately, that’s all that matters. I remember sitting on my couch watching the 2008 team play in the Tournament. There was no fight, no will, no desire. The Hoosiers faced adversity, and they quit.
When Tom Crean took control of the program, he vowed to change the culture. So give him credit because he has done that. Even when the Hoosiers trailed and couldn’t seem to do anything right against Temple, they kept believing. They played hurt. They made winning plays.
That, more than anything, is what I take from Indiana’s third-round win. Sure, it was ugly and there are many things that need to be corrected before it sees Syracuse on Thursday night, but we now know that this team has no quit in it (if we didn’t already).
Who’d Wyatt score on?
Not everything about the Hoosiers’ win over Temple, of course, was pretty. There was this guy, Khalif Wyatt, who went off in the first half and poured in 31 points. Wyatt’s done it many times before, but his production against Indiana was a bit surprising because the Hoosiers knew how dangerous he was. And they had the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year in Victor Oladipo to check him.
But nevertheless, Wyatt went off in a losing effort. So how much does it mean? How troubled is Indiana’s defense going forward?
Answer: Not very.
DAYTON, Ohio — This was the type of game Indiana rarely finds a way to win. The pace slow, the play physical, the score low, the game ugly.
We’ve seen it too many times before. Butler. Wisconsin. Minnesota. Wisconsin again.
Temple gave the top-seeded Hoosiers everything they could handle on Sunday afternoon in Dayton. They had them on the ropes, had them frazzled. Their dream season was quickly slipping away.
But this time, Indiana found a way — an ugly, low-scoring and physical one — and the Hoosiers are moving on. They won a game in a way they never can. Now, the Hoosiers are more dangerous than ever. Now, they have won in every imaginable way.
Indiana 58, Temple 52.
“It was just a matter of time, the way our guys approached it, that things would break for them,” said Indiana coach Tom Crean. “If we just continued to defend, if we continued to get good shots and good ball movement and get the ball inside out on offense … That’s exactly what happened.”
What made this one different? Well, it’s really quite simple: Leadership. This team’s seniors have been through it all. They’ve lost too many times to Wisconsin and Wisconsin-like teams to let it end their collegiate careers.
Jordan Hulls, who took a brutal hit to his shoulder in the first half only to come back and hit big shots later, made sure his teammates never quit. He took control in the team’s huddles during timeouts.
“He said, ‘We were down by five with 52 seconds to go at Michigan,'” associate head coach Tim Buckley said of Hulls. “He said that with two minutes to go in the game.”
“Jordan kept saying, ‘We’re not done, we’re not done,'” Yogi Ferrell said.
Hulls’ words were important, but his actions were even more so. He was clearly in pain — he constantly grimaced late in the first half — but he refused to remain on the bench in the biggest game of Indiana’s season. Hulls wanted to be on the floor.
DAYTON, Ohio — In a lot of ways, Temple’s Khalif Wyatt and Indiana’s Victor Oladipo are spitting images of one another. Both were under recruited and overlooked by most of the country when they were in high school, and both have blossomed into two of the best players in college basketball.
Wyatt, the player of the year in the stacked Atlantic 10 Conference, was rated as just a two-star recruit by Rivals.com. He had only three offers — Temple, Delaware and St. Joe’s. He was overlooked because of his uncommon build for a guard (6-foot-4, 215 pounds), and his rather unorthodox playing style.
Wyatt has found his niche with Fran Dunphy and Temple, though it didn’t work at first.
“In the beginning, he had his way of doing things and I had mine,” Dunphy said Saturday. “We were trying to get together on it, but he was a pain in the butt sometimes, and he’ll be the first to tell you. But he’s grown. … Now he’s a very low-maintenance guy. Early in his career he was killing me with high maintenance.”
Oladipo’s story is one you probably know much better. It’s been written and talked about time and again this season. He was an athletic, gregarious kid without a basketball skill set. He couldn’t shoot, dribble or score all that well, so he focused on defense.
When he got to Indiana, he worked and worked and worked, and grew into a national player of the year candidate. And the Big Ten’s defensive player of the year.
On Sunday afternoon in Dayton, Wyatt and Oladipo will meet. It figures to be some matchup to watch.
“He’s a good defender,” Wyatt said of Oladipo, “but, I mean, not the first good defender.”
Dunphy said what makes Wyatt a great player and what made him a recruiting target years ago is and was his fearlessness as a player. Wyatt averages more than 20 points per game on the season, and he has scored 30 or more in two of his last three games. He put 33 points on Syracuse in a winning effort earlier this season.
Wyatt certainly won’t be afraid of Oladipo.
“He’s really good,” Oladipo said. “This won’t be the first time I’ve seen him play. He can score the basketball in different ways.”