EAST LANSING, Mich. — Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 72-68 win over Michigan State on Tuesday at the Breslin Center.
Watch and listen to his postgame comments in the embedded media player below:
Quotes after the jump.
“Sometimes these games don’t live up to the hype. We played Michigan at home a few weeks ago for College Gameday and it did. Without a doubt, tonight it did. We knew that it would be a battle and I’m sure they knew it would be a battle. We told our guys that this would be the most physical game of basketball up to this point of the year. There might be more coming down the road, but we had to make sure that we did our part because we knew that Michigan State would do their part. When you play in games like this, it is not just about how tough you are but also how smart you are and I thought our guys did an excellent job of that tonight. I thought Tom’s (Izzo) guys did a great job of that and that is why it was such a great game. There was a lot of drama and a lot of adjustments, and our guys did an excellent job of never getting down. The talk in the game kept getting better and better. We said numerous times that we had to have ‘Ohio State’ talk, and to us that refers to a couple of weeks ago when our talk went to the next level for us and we had to have that. People asked if Victor Oladipo is 100 percent and there is no way of knowing that Victor wasn’t close to 100 percent tonight. The way he played was excellent, but the way he finished this game when he was winded and there’s no doubt that his foot hurt. He might tell you different, but I’ve been around him long enough to know when he is right and I knew that his mind was right. We got some excellent basketball. I’m proud of our bench in the first half, because we knew it was going to be a fast paced game. I’m proud of the way that our guys continued to compete. Christian Watford and Jordan Hulls are high-level seniors. Statistics aside, they made leadership decisions and plays through the game. When you have a mature team, a smart team and a team that is invested like they are, we have a lot of conversations in timeouts and during the game. I’ve grown to be a tremendous listener, because they are out there in the middle of the battle. Great win against a great team. They are very deserving of everything that is said about them. I think they’ve been at a high level all year. I don’t think it’s a situation where all of the sudden they have gotten better, but rather they have been getting better all year. I think that is why they are so good, and why Tom is such an excellent coach and leader.”
On Michigan State’s last possession:
“I don’t think we fouled (Gary) Harris. We had no intentions of fouling. At that point, we were in a switching defense. We said the word “verticality” and any shot they were going to make was going to have to be earned. We did not want to foul in that situation. I’ll have to watch the film, but my initial reaction is that we didn’t. It was called and we dealt with it and played it out.”
On knowing when Victor Oladipo would play:
“I don’t think that we ever felt that he wouldn’t play. His attitude was great. He was rehabbing at such a high level. Being able to play and being able to play at a level of effectiveness, those are night and day things. I think what he did tonight was that he has tried his best the last few days to be himself, but he really hasn’t been. It’s not bad, but his maturity and level of toughness went up another notch. There is no way that he felt good and there is no way the he had the normal level of conditioning, but he has such a mental toughness. We came up here a year ago and we weren’t tough enough to beat them here at that time. There are always springboards in your season and that was one of them for us. Over the long haul, your team has to continue to grow, and Victor (Oladipo) epitomizes that growth. Not only what he is doing as player, but what he is doing as a leader is phenomenal.”
On Christian Watford’s play:
“Christian (Watford) was just a grown man the whole night. Air balling and having 15,000 people yell at him didn’t affect him one bit. We just kept coming. We had the foul situations and the flagrant, which I just trust, because those are high-level officials. He didn’t let any of that affect him. He just kept playing, and the pass he made at the end from the three-quarter court was something we drew up and he had the sense to get it inbounds. To have the presence of mind to get it inbounds and find Victor (Olidipo) running up the court was phenomenal. Christian made big plays all night like he has all season long. He drew a very tough assignment in guarding Derrick Nix.”