Tom Crean quotes
“First of all I want to congratulate our women’s soccer team for making the NCAA tournament. (Head Coach) Amy Berbary, doing that in her first year is pretty incredible. They got off to a great start and kept getting better and better as the season has gone along. I also want to congratulate our football team on, what I thought, was a tremendous improvement game. They got better from one week to the next and also improved during the game. I wish them the best as they move forward.
“We have a guest today, Joe Hillman is talking to our team. People that were around when he was here, they say he is one of the greatest leaders they have ever witnessed or had a chance to be around.
“This is a great week for us and we are trying to keep focused and take it one day at a time. We can’t afford to get ahead of ourselves. This is an NCAA tournament team. If they had beaten James Madison this is the team we would have faced in the tournament. They have won three straight league titles. In Brinkman, they have one of the leading assist guys in the country. He had 14 assists in their first game of the season. I think getting ready for him is like getting ready for Aaron Craft. He knows how to find people and he makes everyone on the court better. He is a capable scorer and shooter. They have great spacing. They have mid-season form spacing. They have a great coach and they continue to get better. They score a lot of points. They get to the rim. They make the next pass and get back in transition. This will be a good game for us. The new guys will see more pick and roll and more screen action than they have seen in their entire lives. It will be a great test for us.
“As far as where we stand, we have had guys practice very well. Our team has to understand they have to be competitive on a daily basis. We don’t understand what we are capable of yet. The learning ability is there, but the sustainability is not there yet. It’s going to be an interesting week playing three games against good competition. Hopefully we will learn a lot about our team as we go down the line.”
On playing seven games in 20 days: “We have to do a great job of making sure we don’t get ahead of ourselves. There are certain things we want to get better at from one game to the next. For right now, I would think it’s the pursuit of the ball after we block out or after we stick the opponent and make contact. I think they are seeing there are more opportunities to move without the basketball. There are more opportunities to make a back cut. We have a unique team in that we are very comfortable with some guys like Devin (Davis) and Noah (Vonleh) getting out on the break, but we have to work on our spacing. I think its great that we have these games. We scheduled it that way and part of it is because of our Wounded Warriors tournament in New York. I’m excited to see where we are at by the end of this week.”
On the play of the freshman in their first live action last Friday:
“It was good in that sequence and good on that day, but now you are looking for consistency. I would say after those seven games in 20 days, we will have a good idea of who is picking up what it means to be consistent. Part of that is in practice. It really carries over into practice. It’s going to be hard for them with practice and turning around for another game, there is going to be a lot going on in their heads. Every game brings something different, but you also want them to stay true to some fundamental concepts. I think they did a good job the other night in the sense of taking what the game was giving them. I think we need to take care of the ball better. We don’t want to have as many unforced errors.”
On teaching the freshman players and not having them rely on just their athleticism and length:
“They are getting so many things thrown at them. One of the big things we are working on is spacing. That is one of the things we have been really good at over the last couple of years. We are working on interior spacing. Some of this is going to take time. We can have all this length and athleticism and the ability to cover ground and make up for mistakes, that can be our edge, but our strength has to be the discipline of our defense. Not reaching, not gambling, not going for a play that is not there, not being late on a rotation, not switching and having our hands down, not challenging a shot the right way. The discipline of all those details, are what make a great defense. That is what we are trying to get them to understand. We are trying to create havoc with our deflections. We are trying to work on our transition defense. You are not to make up for not getting back by being longer, we have to get back and be in the right position.”