Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 90-74 win over Stony Brook on Sunday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
A full transcript is available after the jump.
Transcript via ASAP Sports
COACH CREAN: This will come back as being an outstanding victory for us for a couple reasons. Number one, that’s an outstanding team, and they’ve won their league three out of four times. I certainly wouldn’t bet against them this year. They’ve got experience; they’ve got depth; they’ve got inside play; they’ve got three point shooting. They’ve got tremendous driving ability. Puriefoy it’s ridiculous how good he is getting baskets and making plays. Coach Pikiell, he’s a guy it doesn’t matter what level he’s at, he’s a high level coach, very high level coach and coaches with intensity. He’s creative and innovative, and you can see that by what they run. But what they are is extremely disciplined to what they want to get done. They have a good plan that if we would not have attacked and got the ball reversed and settled on any side of the court, it would have been a problem for us. The ball had to move today. Bodies had to move. We had to there were going to be times it was getting down into the clock a little bit to get the movement we needed, get the ball back in Yogi’s hand’s maybe or get it inside. We wanted to score on the clock or make sure we got some reversals. The last thing we wanted to do was settle.
It wasn’t a perfect game by any stretch, not even close. We did some excellent things offensively. We did some things we missed the free throws, not so good. But what we did is we figured out that the intensity and the energy level cannot wain. If it does you’re not going to be in the game. One of the key points of this game was Collin Hartman coming back in in the first half. I learned a long time ago that when you’re trying to change momentum, because we hit a lull, we had hit a lull. We were a little quiet. We were flat. Whether we were getting disciplined they were getting foul shots, whatever it was, whatever it went through, we hit a lull. Collin came in and changed energy level. So it’s a great example of it does not matter who it is, what it is, where it is, there’s always somebody that can change momentum, and I thought Collin Hartman did that in the first half. One of the reasons is because he never stop talking on that bench. Never stopped talking. He was asking questions. He’s constantly pointing things out to his teammates. That’s what we have to have. That’s how you grow up and learn, and we have to have it from everybody.
Second half was much better for us, especially on the backboards. We were only up three on the boards and we had four offensive rebounds at halftime, and that can’t happen. That can’t happen. We’re going to find out if we battle as a strength because we’re getting ready to go on the road. It’s not a strength unless it travels. It’s not a strength unless you can do it against the best people. So we’ve certainly got the components of being really good at some things. Got the components of having a deep team. We certainly have the talent that when we continue to understand how important intensity and intelligence are and then you can play on your instincts and grow from there.
But, again, the more we play, two best games he’s played at Indiana because number one, they’re back to back, and really played the same way. He played way more minutes than I would have liked today, but that’s just the way it was. But he was continually trying to find what the game was giving his teammates and what the game was giving him. And he’s playing defense at an extremely high level, and he’s doing a great job of figuring out what we have to do to win that possession. Doesn’t mean we’re always going to win it, but to win that possession with the best shot, the best movement inside of that possession, and all of a sudden, he’s got 50 points in two games. If he continues to do that, because it’s not like we’re going to go down the line and all of a sudden he’ll be the focal point on another team’s scouting report. He’s already there. He’s already at the top of the list. I put him there. When you have that attention being paid to you, it’s not always going to be the way you want it. You have to figure out how you can get it where it needs to be and he’s doing that.
Noah, J.D. just told us, there hasn’t been a triple double here for 40 years. Yeah, but Noah’s got two in my mind because of 15 deflections today again. He had 12. So I think we had 63 on the day with two guys, two freshmen in double figures and deflections, that’s a huge, huge deal for what we’re doing. Evan Gordan did a great job. They isolated him in the first half, and as I told him, no one’s going to get isolated on this team, let alone a senior in the sense of being attacked off the dribble. He did a much better job in the second half. Figured that out, and in two games he’s got 22 points. He’s attacking the rim. He’s working very hard. He’s got to continue to bring a high level of intensity and competitiveness to everything that he does and continue to bring the level up. It’s got to come up for him to continue to grow the way that he has and the way that he is. All of a sudden, Troy Williams has the second best time plus minus on our team, and that’s strong. That’s strong. When you’re a freshman, he makes a lot of plays. He makes a lot of things happen. He’s getting better right before our eyes, your eyes, everybody’s eyes, and there is really no limit to him.
Luke Fischer came in in the second half. Our best lineup in the first half was the one we started in the beginning of the second half. They scored seven of eight possessions together. So we like the energy of it, and we went with that lineup in the second half. It’s not about who starts. It’s not about necessarily who gets what minutes. It’s who is going to figure out a way for us to win, and then it’s a lot more about who finishes the game. And I thought that second half starting lineup really gave us some good things. I could go on and on, but I’m sure you’ve got questions so I’ll open it up.
Q. Playing not just the rebounding, but being able to establish Noah in the last couple games, getting him the ball, what’s that meant to the team?
COACH CREAN: I think it’s him. It has to go in first and foremost, and I think I said this the other day that on Tuesday night we had nine post ups in 40 minutes. I said we’re going to have nine post ups in the first eight or nine minutes and we continued to do that. I think now what he’s got to continue to do because the double teams carry. They come from different angles. He’s going to start to be scouted at an even higher level. So he’s got to be quicker with his moves. But the bottom line is he is demanding the ball with his body. Soon he’ll be demanding the ball verbally, but he’s demanding the ball with his body he knows if he doesn’t demand the ball, I’m going to take him out of the game because he’s too good not to do that. He’s learning. He’s learning the offense. He’s learning what we want to get after timeouts. He’s learning what happens next. He took the three. I want him to shoot threes and that one came down there, and that’s where he should have drove the ball to the post. He’s still learning a lot of different things, but I think that’s helped him. Hunter is establishing that we can go in there and make things happen. Luke is going to establish that we can go inside to him, and Jeremy needs to continue to establish that. I think you saw tonight when we posted Yogi in different situations. So there are a lot of different things we can do to get the ball inside. But the number one premise has to be it’s going in there no matter who it is.
Q. What growth have you seen in Vonleh’s game in the last several weeks? What further growth do you want to see?
COACH CREAN: I think it’s just that he’s playing. I think you can see it. We’ll have some setbacks, believe me. It’s like I said last week, we worked offense for about an hour and ten minutes and had a two hour practice, and we got out there Tuesday night and looked like we’d never been together. We looked like we were coming to play some games at the HPER and let’s just go run. It’s going to take time. I’m just trying to let them know we don’t have a lot of time. We have to get better every day with it. It’s the same with him. He really wants to be great. He’s got a tremendous humility.
I wouldn’t trade him or anybody in that class and there are a lot of great players and all that kind of stuff that I’m talking about upside of what he is capable of, what he’s willing to do to get there and how much he knows he doesn’t know at this point. When you start putting humility into a talented person, now you have a chance for incredible upside. So I can’t give you an answer on where it’s going to be. I don’t think anybody could, but he’s going to continue to expand. He’s going to continue to get better. He’s going to continue to get more comfortable. He’s going to continue to certainly get more attention. And there are things. There are things that will work with him every day. Whether it be post up wise, rebounding wise, stuff that we want to get on film that people can’t scout to. That’s what we want to continue to do. He’s like all of them. There are a lot of room for growth, and he knows it and wants it.
Q. I know you’re not surprised he’s having those kind of games back to back. Is it just his confidence that he seems to have really come on now?
COACH CREAN: I said this to him a couple weeks ago. He’s going to be as great as his leadership allows him to be. I think you’re seeing that. There are going to be some nights that he’s not going to make shots. There are going to be some night that’s he doesn’t get a ton of shots. He’s got to have the same disposition. He’s got a very, very high level disposition on both ends of the court right now. He knows that his defense can fuel his offense. He knows that our defense can fuel our offense. He knows that his offense can fuel his defense. When you have the ball in your hands like he does, and I think that he’s really what he’s really I think enjoying, but he’s gaining a lot from it is we’re moving him around a lot. He’s in a lot of different positions. We always try to move players. Well, as the point guard, we don’t have him in just a standard position. That is not the strength of what our program is, and that’s not the strength of how we’re trying to develop guys. We want the strength to be multiple things at any given time, where one possession this, one possession that. But he’s playing defense at an extremely high level, extremely high. I think that’s the biggest thing, that disposition.
Q. Can you talk about the foul rules and all that stuff over the last couple of games? Do you see a bit of a difference today? Do you think the guys grasped one that means a little more?
COACH CREAN: I think it’s all part of the process. I’m just going to take time. I think the last foul that you have cannot affect your next play. Trying to figure out they’re trying to figure it out. The referees are trying to figure it all out. That’s not a negative. That’s just the way that it is. That crew, there were a couple things that happened today on the play where Noah got called for a foul when he was laying on the ground. The one referee said to me you might see that every ten years. We saw it twice today. There were two calls like that. It’s just a different day. It’s just different. So if you can’t adjust to it mentally, and if you can’t adjust to it physically, you can’t adjust. You have to have both of those things. It goes for the coaches. It goes for the players. It goes for everybody. The other team’s trying to do the same thing. I had a buddy of mine the other night tell me my team and I screwed up. It can’t. It can’t. You’ve got to be able to move right on.
And I thought they did a great job tonight of drawing the contact, creating it, isolating. I think it brings a lot of strategy into the game. Anybody that argues it’s not pretty good. He puts points on the board in the game (No Microphone). I’m not into calling too many of them anyways because you need them late in the game. And that sure screwed me up, because we had three timeouts with 54 seconds left, and we took all three of those home. So I don’t ever want to call it. That will make some fans happy. But bottom line is if you can’t adjust, you’re behind in this game, and that’s the way that it’s right now. The player that’s can adjust, and again, it’s for everybody. It doesn’t matter what your age is because that went out the window when the new rules came in. So if you can’t adjust, it’s going to be hard to play because you’ve got to move right on, move on to the next thing.
Q. Is that what you were kind of concerned about with Will when you were talking to him after he sat out that he didn’t adjust to?
COACH CREAN: There are certain energy levels of things all night of guys that I didn’t like, and that situation you just get right back in. Will’s better than that. Will will be fine. Will’s better than that. But to me, I’ve got to see it on film. You can’t allow the out of bounds there. Will’s intent is excellent. There is no question about that. But like I said, it doesn’t matter if you’re a freshman or it doesn’t matter if you’re a senior. If we and if I don’t hold them accountable for making those adjustments that they can make, well, then what am I? You know what I mean? So I love every one of them. You know, I love them to death, but we’ve got to have more. We needed more from him tonight. Those fouls, it gets it plays with you, and you just can’t let it. You’ve got to move right on. He’ll be fine. But I mean it won’t be the last time that will happen to somebody. We’ll just deal with it.
But our whole deal right now is you’ve got to be it doesn’t matter if you’re starting. Doesn’t matter if you’re coming off the bench. It’s play on demand. When you go in, you absolutely have to be ready to go. Now that’s hard for a young team. I get that. But that’s we’re also going to keep pushing that constantly. We had some guys tonight that were ready to go and we had a come that weren’t. And we just have to learn from it as we go. I answered a couple long ones. Go ahead.
Q. You’re going on the road. What are the keys especially for a young team?
COACH CREAN: Well, I think the bottom line is you can talk about it. We can talk about it all week in the sense that we’re going to New York and lights aren’t any brighter, it’s a 90 foot court with ten foot from the floor to the rim, it doesn’t make any difference, but it is. It’s different. Okay.
So what we’ve got to do is continue to harp on what the identity is. And whether it’s the intensity, whether it’s the way we get back on defense, I think Washington is going to pose tremendous issues for us because they’re going to make it really, really hard for us to get open. They are probably from what we’ve seen as fast at getting the ball out of bounds right now as anybody in the country, and it’s what we were a year ago. It’s what Carolina has always been. They are going up that court. Okay? So if our transition defense isn’t right, if our shot selection isn’t right, if you’re ability and technique and details of getting open, and you saw some of it tonight the way they were just catching and making some plays (Indiscernible) it’s got to been engrained in the fundamentals of executing, cutting, getting back, helping on defense. There is not a lot of time to think that the lights are a little brighter in New York. You know what, as soon as somebody gets out of that mainstream, we’ve got to make a change. They’ve got to learn. It’s not going to be any time all year that we play in big time atmospheres against high level opponents.
I can’t wait for it personally. It’s going to be a lot of fun to go in there. We’re going to have a ton of fans. I think we’ve got probably as many as anybody right now, and I think there will be a ton of walk ups in there. It felt great further last year at Barclays, and last night there were so many fans. It was like a split with Georgetown. It was great. I hope we have a ton of people there on Thursday. But the bottom line is we’ve got to go in there and really keep forming our identity about how we play.
Q. Do you scratch your head (about Will), Coach, when he played so well in the opening game?
COACH CREAN: It’s the old thing about it being contagious. I don’t think there is any question about that. It just is. But what I don’t like about that is when we start getting nervous about it and we start getting a little quiet or we shorten our shot. That’s when you have to bring more confidence to each other on the court. You have to walk up and make more reminders. I’m trying to yell at them, but they know each other’s game more and more now. I’d be far more concerned if we weren’t getting the attempts. 49 attempts we’ll take those. We’ll take those, then that would be a problem. What you do is every foul you get you’re making it just a little bit harder for that team and you’re climbing in the depth. So the plus in getting to the line, the negative, not making them. But the bottom line, we’re better than that. We’ll be better than that, and we’ll continue to work on it the way we have.