Northern Iowa postgame comments: Tom Crean
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.