Tom Crean Archive

Consistency in “spirit” key for Hoosiers moving forward

BLOOMINGTON –- Watching Indiana basketball develop over the last two-plus years has been something akin to watching a college freshman trying to take an 400-level test while also trying to study the material.

Friday night certainly seemed like another such example, given the giant disparity in sheer talent between No. 2 Ohio State and IU, now 9-6 and 0-2 in the Big Ten.

But perhaps it’s a credit to Indiana that these games — where the gulf between the two teams is so easily recognized – have begun to serve an even more important purpose.

First of all, to be fair, they’re becoming harder to find. No longer are the Hoosiers as outmatched as they once were in either talent or depth.

Christian Watford, one game lost to back spasms aside, continues to put forth All-Big Ten performances. The more aggressiveness Tom Crean can coax out of Jordan Hulls offensively – and the more room Hulls can find on offense – the more dangerous he’ll become. Victor Oladipo continues to emerge offensively as well.

But by Crean’s own admission, Friday night served to highlight a problem in need of rapid correction as Big Ten play enters January. Seeking to compare his team’s effort Friday, when the Hoosiers struggled mightily on defense but never truly let the game slip away or their hustle wane until the end, to the loss last Monday to Penn State, Indiana’s coach was frank.

“If we’d have played with the same spirit and energy on Monday night that we had tonight – it’s not an excuse, we lost by 18 – but we’d have won the game,” he said of Penn State. “We would have won the game. We’d be 1-1, going to Minnesota.

“But we’re not.”

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Ohio State Postgame Audio: Crean, Oladipo, Watford

Listen to the postgame comments of Indiana coach Tom Crean, freshman Victor Oladipo and sophomore Christian Watford following Indiana’s 85-67 loss to No. 2 Ohio State on Friday at Assembly Hall in the embedded media players below:

Crean

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Oladipo

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Watford

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Update: Here’s Zach’s video of Crean’s postgame press conference:

And some video, courtesy of IU Athletics:

So what comes next?

BLOOMINGTON — Tom Crean appeared a man defiant in his postgame press conference Monday night.

He oozed belief, while admitting that, at times, his team has lost it. He said “old scars” were still hurting Indiana, particularly in close games like this, but remained adamant that his team will eventually put them to rest forever. He said the things a man in his position must say, perhaps the only things he could say.

But there’s a disconnect in that reasoning.

Indiana’s problems are no longer individual. They are not problems with Verdell Jones, or problems with rebounding, or turnovers or 3-point shooting or perimeter defense or ball pressure.

Indiana is losing as a team, suffering from an epidemic lack of confidence. Against Penn State on Monday night, players looked the wrong kind of cautious — double-clutching under the rim when a straight put-back would have been fine, unwilling to move or move the ball, or any of a host of other signs of a team that no longer believes in its every move.

“The old wounds and the old scars of getting close and not being able to pull it off came back and got us,” Crean said, referring to his team’s near comeback Monday night. The Hoosiers were down as much as 14 in the first half, but cut slowly into the deficit in the second, taking a brief one-point lead that lasted 35 seconds.

But, as has happened too many times over the last 2 1/2 years, the game slipped away, lost on what Crean described essentially as the fundamentals — box outs, defense — and a lack of belief.

“I’m not looking to see a 2:28 timeout with a ‘We just can’t get over the hump’ look, because that was the past repeating itself,” he said. “We’ve got to learn to get over the hump, and we haven’t been able to do that.”

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Penn State Postgame Video: Tom Crean

Watch and listen to Indiana coach Tom Crean’s complete postgame press conference following Indiana’s 69-60 loss to Penn State on Monday at Assembly Hall in the embedded media players below:

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Penn State Postgame Audio: Tom Crean

Listen to Indiana coach Tom Crean’s comments following the Hoosiers’ 69-60 loss to Penn State at Assembly Hall on Monday in the embedded media player below.

The loss was IU’s third straight, dropping the Hoosiers to 9-5 overall and 0-1 in the Big Ten.

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Colorado postgame comments: Tom Crean

BLOOMINGTON, IN - NOVEMBER 23: Tom Crean the Head Coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the North Carolina Central Eagles at Assembly Hall on November 23, 2010 in Bloomington, Indiana. Indiana won 72-56. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Update: Tom Crean postgame press conference audio is available here.

Here’s a transcript of Tom Crean’s postgame comments to Don Fischer following the Hoosiers’ 78-69 loss to Colorado in the IBN Sports Las Vegas Classic:

Don Fischer: Coach, I know there’s no moral victories anymore for this basketball team and your program, but I’ll tell you what: What heart this team showed in the comeback effort.

Tom Crean: We did because we were gasping for air and a lot of things bonded us. Whether it was the lack of getting to the foul the line, the score, the other team. But I don’t think the guys, I don’t think we were giving the other team too much credit. I don’t think we were out there having a ton of respect for them. We just felt like if we could just keep coming back that they were going to allow us back in the game and that’s exactly what they did. I felt like that certainly from watching tape, no offense to them but our guys struggled with that and when they finally figured that out and were playing with relentlessness and like their head was on fire then we started to make things happen.

DF: Coach, you got off to such a horrid shooting start in the second half. 1-of-16. That got you to the 19-point deficit you had to deal with. But you never got away from your game plan. You kept trying to get that ball down low and I thought Christian Watford, even though he had a bad shooting night, struggled in the first half, I thought he really became a man down in the post.

TC: Well, he did. Because he’s looking at me like ‘what do I do next?’ He was working so hard. It really was ridiculous. There’s really no other way to put it. It was ridiculous the lack of foul shooting that he didn’t get. It’s just part of it. But I’m really proud of him because he was struggling and he’s getting star treatment right now from the other team. He was playing against really good athletes and it was just a really hard day for him to deal with it. But he did and I’m proud of him. And I think something like this will help him down the road, that he’s gotta continue to play with it. And there were times he settled for jumpers. There were times he faded away on shots and that’s not the way he needs to play. But he’ll learn from that and he’ll continue to progress and I thought he really, really came alive for us.

DF: Another kid that really stepped up I thought was Victor Oladipo, Coach. He gave you so much energy out there and of course his rebounding was tremendous.

TC: Well, it was. By the way they played and by the way we were playing, we needed to go small. There was no way around it. We just weren’t getting enough done. And we just went with it. He did an excellent job. He got on the glass and to have five offensive boards, seven for the game, 16 points, following up missed free throws. That’s the kind of Victor we’ve gotta have. And I think he’ll continue to grow and he’ll learn a lot from this and he’ll be a better player because of a tournament like this as well.

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Northern Iowa postgame comments: Tom Crean

LEXINGTON, KY - DECEMBER 11: Tom Crean the Head Coach of the Indiana Hoosiers gives instructions to his team during the game against the Kentucky Wildcats on December 11, 2010 in Lexington, Kentucky. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)Here’s a transcript of Tom Crean’s postgame comments to Don Fischer following the Hoosiers’ 67-61 loss to Northern Iowa in the IBN Sports Las Vegas Classic:

Don Fischer: Coach Crean, I know that’s a pretty disappointed locker room right now.

Tom Crean: Absolutely, it should be. We just didn’t play well enough in the first half. We got away from our mindset. We got away from what works for us, which is having a defensive disposition all the way across the court when it comes to pressuring shots, when it comes to pressuring the ball. We knew their stuff inside-out, we knew it cold, we prepared well, but then you just gotta turn around and go. And then we started thinking we were going to get it back with offense and it just doesn’t work that way.

Fischer: Coach, the 3-point shooting in the first half really cooled down for them in the second half. Was that a product of what you were doing defensively?

Crean: No, we were just better. We were better in the second half. We were more aggressive. We were more alert and aware. We put defense first. This team cannot play, I don’t many championship level type teams that can, but I know this team and we’re not championship level certainly, but we can’t even begin to be anything other than a very good defensive team and a pressure team that doesn’t allow people to run their stuff or doesn’t allow them to get open looks the way they got them. We didn’t make them earn baskets. There’s a couple of categories that we’re really, really into: defensive rebounding, defensive field goal percentage, defensive 3-point percentage and points off turnovers. And we lost all four of those battles. And when you lose all four of those battles, you’re not going to win the game.

Fischer: Coach, a couple of performances tonight. Derek Elston gave you a great start offensively in this ballgame. Christian Watford was tremendous throughout the contest from an offensive standpoint and rebounding.

Crean: Yeah. They were good. There’s no doubt about that. But we just didn’t sustain it on the defensive end so I have a hard time looking at the offensive part of it right now. We got the shots we wanted, we got the looks that we wanted and at one point, I said, ‘we’ve got to get the game called the same way on both ends’. And the referee says, ‘you’ve just been to the foul line the last two times, what are you complaining about?’ Those are the kind of things you really don’t want to hear because our whole game, we were 13-of-15 in the first half of scoring baskets when we got the ball into the paint. And that’s what we want to continue to be able to do. And that’s what the game called for. And so we got it in the lane and we didn’t always finish. Again, this game came down to our defensive mindset at the beginning of the game and it wasn’t good enough.

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