Indiana coach Tom Crean met with reporters following Hoosier Hysteria on Saturday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch and listen to what Crean had to say about the capacity crowd at Assembly Hall, how big the night was for recruiting, seeing several former players return and more in the embedded media player below:
Indiana coach Tom Crean met with the media following Monday’s practice. Here are a few of the highlights:
1. Mosquera-Perea making progress
Freshman point guard Yogi Ferrell has gotten most of the talk and publicity during the offseason, and rightly so. Ferrell is expected to start, and he gives the Hoosiers an element they didn’t previously have.
But Ferrell isn’t the only freshman raising some eyebrows in the first few days of practice. Hanner Mosquera-Perea, who missed a good portion of the summer with a foot injury, has impressed Crean thus far. Mosquera-Perea was restricted to limited participation just two weeks ago, but he is quickly getting back into shape.
“It’s really amazing what he’s doing, and it’s made a big difference,” Crean said. “Two weeks ago today, he could do 30 minutes. He couldn’t even do the full 40 minutes. So to see where he’s at is just fantastic. He just brings another level of edge. It’s fun watching him get better day after day.”
2. Deeper or just more depth?
Crean was asked about the importance of the added depth provided by the four freshmen. With all five starters back from last year’s NCAA Tournament team, the Hoosiers’ depth has been a popular topic during the offseason.
“We’ve got the depth, but will we be deep?,” Crean asked. “They sound the same, but they’re really two different things. Depth a lot of times becomes bodies and athleticism. Deep is when there’s not a lot of drop off when you substitute. That’s what we have to work towards. I think we have the potential to be deep and create some havoc, but that remains to be seen. That’s an ongoing thing.”
Only time will tell if the Hoosiers can be a deep team. But their additional depth has already been felt in the first four days of practice. Crean knows IU will have to make significant strides on the defensive end if they are to accomplish their goal of winning a national title, but he said there’s already been improvement.
“We’re already better because there’s more length and more athleticism,” Crean said. “Over the last four days, just looking at how hard it is for people to score at the basket is a big thing. I think we can put a lot of pressure on the ball. The biggest thing for me is going to be like it was last year: can our transition defense keep taking steps? Can our shot clock defense keep taking steps? Because in-between, I think we’re going to be able to create a little havoc. But it’s when the breakdowns come.”
Inside the Hall had a chance to watch Indiana’s fourth practice of the season earlier today and here are our observations and what stood out:
· The competition and attitude was high level: Tom Crean has talked some in the preseason about IU’s depth affecting the level of competition and it certainly showed today. This was our second time watching a practice under Crean and the competition level combined with the spirit of the players was fun to watch. The bench could be a huge asset for Indiana given the amount of talent on the roster and how Crean has talked about wanting to play from a pace perspective. But ultimately how deep this group will be determined by the amount of drop off there is when going to the bench.
· Christian Watford, who is still getting his wind back after missing some time in the offseason with a foot issue, looked more aggressive around the basket. In one sequence, he blocked Victor Oladipo’s shot on a drive. And on a couple of occasions, Watford finished plays with dunks, something he’s rarely done over the previous three seasons.
· Rebounding and defense are two clear areas of emphasis for Indiana going into the season. From a rebounding perspective, sending four men to the glass is something Crean stressed the importance of as well as positioning when a shot goes up. One of the more interesting drills was a two-on-two situation where a manager’s shot went up and it was a free-for-all to see who could get the ball and end up finishing a putback. Will Sheehey and Hanner Mosquera-Perea battled throughout the drill, a matchup Crean later said he set up before practice. The grit of Sheehey going against the pure power and strength of Mosquera-Perea will no doubt result in improvement for both players.
· Mosquera-Perea was very aggressive attacking the glass for rebounds and like Watford, he’s still getting his conditioning where it needs to be after missing some time with a foot injury. But this much is clear: There are few guys with the physique and pure athleticism that Mosquera-Perea possesses. Crean said after practice that he’s very pleased with how Mosquera-Perea has progressed since returning two weeks ago.
· The mentoring of the freshman by the upperclassmen in the preseason has carried over into practice. When a mistake was made by the newcomers, the returning players were quick to step up and help coach them through it. Sheehey in particular was very vocal throughout the practice.
The college basketball season officially got underway earlier this evening with ESPNU’s broadcast of “Midnight Madness: Indiana practice,” which was hosted by Bram Weinstein, Jay Williams and Dan Dakich. (If you have access to ESPN3, you can watch a replay here.)
Here are some notes, observations and also some quotes from Tom Crean from the broadcast:
· A couple of injury-related observations: Sophomore guard Remy Abell’s left wrist was heavily taped (the photo above shows a black brace, but there was heavy white tape on the broadcast), but he participated in all of the drills. Freshman big man Peter Jurkin, meanwhile, was mostly a spectator with white tape over his nose in the contact drills. Jurkin’s injury occurred earlier this week in a workout. Neither injury was mentioned specifically on the broadcast. Cody Zeller also had a black left eye.
9:41 a.m. update: Freshman center Peter Jurkin stood off to the side for the majority of IU’s opening practice that was aired on ESPNU with a white bandage on his nose. Inside the Hall has learned via sources that Jurkin suffered a broken nose, which explains the bandage and why he was inactive for most of the broadcast. He is not expected to miss a significant amount of time due to the injury.
· One of the first drills showed Victor Oladipo putting ball pressure on Austin Etherington and Jeremy Hollowell and knocking the ball loose. Crean, wearing a mic, said this: “Good, Victor, good, Victor. Guys, yesterday should have taught you that. He’s going for steals. Good, good, Vic, dominate the drill, Vic. All day long.”
· Redshirt junior guard Maurice Creek participated for the entire broadcast and wore white pads on both knees. Creek looked to be moving better than he did when he returned in the fall of 2010. Crean said Creek doesn’t have all of his athleticism back, but “the confidence is back.”
· Yogi Ferrell had a strong upper body in high school, but looked noticeably bigger than he did over the summer in the Indiana-Kentucky All-Star game. That’s key for Ferrell as the Big Ten is arguably the most physical league in the country. Hanner Mosquera-Perea also looked to have made significant offseason gains in the weight room.
· Crean was asked by Dakich about how he’ll manage the off-court attention the players will receive as a result of being a highly ranked team. “I think the one thing that’s never changed, even when we weren’t playing well, is they were getting a lot of attention,” Crean said. “It was the wrong kind of attention in the sense of the negativity, but the school has always held the basketball players with such high esteem. I think they’ve had to learn to handle that since they’ve been here. And I think now the biggest thing is we’ve got really good kids, there’s a maturity about them. It’s not like we’re not going to make mistakes. It’s not like we’re not going to have issues. But the bottom line is, they’re pretty driven to do what they want to do. And I think it shows in a lot of areas. It definitely shows in their academics.”
Indiana coach Tom Crean joined “The Dan Dakich Show” on 1070 The Fan this afternoon (full audio here) and touched on a variety of topics. Below is a recap of some of the highlights:
On whether the team is talking about the preseason rankings and expectations or just working: “I think it’s both. I think it’d be crazy to think that they don’t see them. Everybody reads, everybody gets Twitter, everybody follows ESPN and the dot coms. And so, those things are not a secret. I think it’s all how you handle it. I would say this: There has not been one time since all this started — and it’s really been six and a half months since we played Kentucky — where we’ve looked at it, where there’s been a guy or a couple of guys that it’s like: ‘What are they doing? Why are they not working as hard? What’s wrong with their attitude?’ There hasn’t been any of that. And I think we do talk about it in the sense of how fleeting it is. And I think it’s like this: Last year, they responded to the lack of expectations, but they weren’t driven by it. They were driven by their desire to get better, they were driven by how hard they’d work in the summer. And I think it’s the same thing now. There’s a response that comes from that but I don’t think it’s what the drive is centered on. I think these kids are driven kids and I think that’s what’s most important. If I thought that they were just wound up and all excited because there’s rankings, well we would have probably saw it a year ago that they would have been depressed and nonchalant because there weren’t any. I don’t see any of that with this group.”
On the team’s offseason strength focus: “Guys have advanced their bodies. The biggest thing we needed to do in our mind from the offseason and especially the way we lost the Kentucky game — because there were certain times in that game we just got overpowered physically and where they took us to the rim or we couldn’t get a big rebound — and you could say Kentucky’s Kentucky and all that. But that’s the benchmark our guys use now. Because they know they’re the national champion, we played them in that environment and we’d beaten them here. So physical strength and being able to really hold our own in one-on-one situations is a big, big part of what we tried to improve this summer.”
On Christian Watford: “I think in Christian’s case, my biggest concern, our biggest concern there is he has not had a start to finish healthy summer. He was dealing with some issues from the season that he had to get taken care of in his foot. He did. There were a couple of setbacks at different times. He’s not had a smooth offseason. Now he’s done a great job with it. He’s changed his body even more. He’s not back where I would say: ‘Wow he’s really ready to go.’ So that’s going to take a little bit of time with him. He looks good. As far as that rhythm, he missed a lot of time with these guys in the pickup games and the individual workouts and things like that.”