Tom Crean met with the media following Indiana’s 89-68 win over North Florida on Saturday night at Assembly Hall.
Watch his postgame comments in the media player below:
A full transcript is available after the jump.
I thought our guys did a fantastic job of playing the way that they need to play to be successful over a long period of time. It wasn’t a complete 40-minute game that they were striving for. And I think the way we got off to the start, four assists on four baskets, one of our goals tonight was to cut down on our turnovers, but more importantly, get more assists, get more baskets, and we set a goal of anywhere from 17 or above and we hit it. And it’s amazing what happens when we pass the ball like that and the turnovers do cut down. A couple of the turnovers were guys trying to make plays like the spot where Will threw it to Yogi and Yogi stepped out of bounds. I don’t have any problems with those. Some of the ones where we’re not as aware and alert, those are the ones we’ve got to correct. But I think, again, we try to get anybody on your team, whether they’re starting or coming off the bench, to have a play-on-demand mentality. And I think these guys, they did that.
Talk about the bench players figuring out their role.
I mentioned to the referee, if he got — if there was a call made every time he got grabbed, going for a ball, at the glass, he might be averaging about three more free throw attempts and rebounds. He’s out there playing hard. The bigness of the other team’s report in that he gets out there, which is fantastic. It was great to see Evan get results offensively and it all came because he locked in defensively. The same with Stan Robinson. The same with Luke Fischer. Everybody’s trying to get better and our guys are learning what they’re capable of.
We had guys that were in, eight guys in this morning at 10:00. We had our walk through at 2:30, and we play the game tonight. And some of those guys that were in at 10, 2:30 games playing tonight, Luke and Hanner and Stan and Austin, did a fantastic job. Learning more and more what they’re capable and we just want to build on it. We’re playing against a team that went two in-a-row now in Oakland who beat Ohio University tonight. They have the leading 3-point shooter of makes and attempts coming in in Travis Bader. A well-coached team. And we turn right back around and get ready for that one.
Again, I think it’s the same thing for a starter. I have to go in and make decisions very clearly going into the game, okay, who gives us the best chance for that defensive energy for being on the glass, for moving the ball, and that means the starting lineup could change from time to time. But bottom line is when guys are ready and they’re locked into impacting the game the way it needs to be impacted not coming in thinking I have to shoot, I have to score, I have to make this drive, I have to get fouled. It’s more about I’ve got to get a stop defensively. I’ve got to communicate. I’ve got to call out the switch. I’ve got to rotate. I’ve got to block out. When you’re focused on those things it’s amazing how much easier the game becomes.
And what we’re imploring constantly is to have that concentration and focus when you’re sitting out so when you do go in you’re absolutely prepared for what’s in front of you.
Talk about team developing an identity.
Development is a good term. I think we’re learning that our development’s got a long way to go. I think we saw some of that the other night.
I think in the Syracuse game, when we were focused on the way we needed to attack the zone. We were focused on getting it inside, with the forwards in foul trouble in the first half. We get it to 33-33 and all of a sudden we shoot too many jump shots and we turn the ball over. And then they just — good teams snowball that, and so our identity has got to become take care of the ball, take what the defense has given us, make sure our transition defense is really good. Make sure our defensive energy and rebounding energy are really high.
And that’s got to be a constant in the identity. So those things are coming but I think this team can be a very good rebounding team can be a team that gets to the foul line. I think what we saw tonight is can we keep building on this, when we move the ball and we get in rhythm on 3s, we’re pretty good with it. We’re knocking them down.
When we feel like we have to take one or we take one after we hesitated or taken one too quick, we’re not good enough to do that right now. So our identity is ever-forming but it will come.
Was this the first time you set a statistical goal for assists?
That was just a whim. I don’t really get much into the assists. I really don’t. Because we’re a driving team. We’re trying to get to the foul line. Look at the game tonight. It’s hard to referee right now, it really is.
There were so many different calls that I think if you spent too much time thinking it’s going to be pretty, okay, it’s going to get ugly. And when you’re just planning, we’ve got to get to the rim, we’ve got to post it up, we’ve got to get ball reversal but the biggest thing there was just really continuing to make the next pass.
And even with turning the ball over, it’s not coming in every day. I mean the negative impact is hey don’t turn it over. No, the positive impact is what did you see. Make this pass. Make it simpler. Create an angle to feed the post. Those are the kind of things you want to focus on.
Well, when you’re focusing on just continuing to make the next pass and you get your game in rhythm, then those good things happen. But it’s the first time I’ve never really set assist goals in the past. We’ve always had 20 that was a game goal. Sometimes it was emphasized, sometimes it wasn’t. But when you’re scoring a lot of points and you’ve got guys that really understand the game like the last couple of years knew how to move the ball, sometimes it takes care of itself. But a year ago right now we were averaging 17 assists and 11 turnovers, so those are the numbers that we pay attention to where we were a year ago on the production part of it, and I thought that was a real positive step.
When you see the ball moving, does it make you think back to the last year’s team and how good this year’s team might be?
That’s a tough question. But if I thought about that, I might have been looking in the corner for Victor, Cody or Jordan to pop in there.
But I think you’re constantly trying to get your identity. When the ball moves like it does, it’s just really good-looking basketball, in the sense of the shot may not go but you’re getting great movement and all of a sudden it’s contagious. And it’s a fine line these days, especially with the team we have because we want to get it in the post. We want to drive. You’ve got to get to the foul line. We’re one of the leaders in the country in free-throw shooting. We want to make sure we’re not giving that up. But when that ball’s swinging like that, that’s a very good thing.
How important was it to get different players to hit perimeter shots tonight?
That’s when it looks like — looks like they’re getting — we’ve been spending a lot of time on that, but I’m very positive with this team as long as we’re taking good shots, because Iowa is what 11th in the league, what are they now first or second? Second. Same guys.
A year ago — I know I keep saying this, but a year ago, shooting 26, 27, 28 percent from the 3, ended the year at 44. You’ve got to work at it. You’ve got to work at it. That’s why we tried to — we try to get as much shooting in as we can. Try to shoot when we’re fresh and in the middle and when we’re tired, we try to do all those different things, the same thing with the free throws.
And it’s fun to watch guys’ confidence go up. But it’s like anything else: When they come in with an attitude of impacting the game in an area defensively or with the glass or with their hustle, it’s amazing what happens offensively.
They weren’t in the zone very long. No. Because not really, I mean it’s ball movement. Ball movement.
I mean, we want a shot fake on a long closeout. We want to rip it on a short closeout. Doesn’t matter if it’s man or zone.
Just attacking zones, we mix up a lot of movement actions. We’re trying to score early. We’re trying to make it hard for the defense to get set and adjusted on the break, trying screen the guards, always attack points in different parts of the zone, where you’re attacking or trying to attack their personnel.
When we were doing that the other night at Syracuse, we were doing an excellent job of that. When we stopped attacking the personnel the way we wanted to — it’s not just about attacking a zone or one guard or two guard find, you’ve still got to create matchups in it, if you’re going to be successful, especially when you’re not killing it from 3.
Talk about the production from Robinson and Gordon and how does that open the floor up for Yogi?
Oh, very much so. Because one of our things defensively, again, this team, the Beech kid is a kid we put a lot of emphasis on him because the bigger the game, the better he plays. And Moore just keeps getting better and better, career night tonight, that we made some adjustments on him.
We let him get his confidence when we came off the corners a little bit after, when he would give the ball up, and he showed a much better catch-and-shoot game than he showed in the previous games.
But again the whole game plan was Yogi is on him and all of a sudden Evan’s on him. All of a sudden when the ball movement is what it is offensively, you’ve got guys communicating better defensively, we go to a switch of defenses. Evan’s got a foul situation. I’ve got Will and Jeremy, we’ve got Will and Jeremy on the bench with two fouls. Evan’s got two fouls. I don’t want to take him out of the game, and we make an adjustment defensively, and his communication was fantastic.
Now, when those things are happening, when Stan’s aggressive like he was, when guys are really bringing their strengths to the table and they’re influencing each other’s strengths because of it, that’s a good thing. So that can only help us.
Did you see a night like this coming for Evan Gordon?
I think we’ve seen the offense, yeah, he spent a lot of time with Tim Buckley right now. Tim is phenomenal. He did it with Victor. Seth would be with Victor so much when we couldn’t be, in the sense of the practice day, the 20 hours and all of that kind of stuff. But Tim, whether it was Jerel McNeal, back at Marquette, who became the all-time leading scorer there, whether it was Evan, Tim does a phenomenal job — he’s got a lot of yin and yang with me, which is really good. Especially in the practice corner and the film room.
When I’m a little bit more demonstrative and it’s a little bit more passion-filled, and he can run the teaching role. When I’m a little bit more into, all right, making the points and it’s more in a teaching mode then Steve or Kenny or Tim can lay down the hammer a little more, that’s what you want out of a staff.
In answer to your question, Evan — when we recruited Evan, I said this to him on the bench tonight, when we recruited him — hopefully he’s figuring this out, we saw a lot left in the tank that he could get better at. We didn’t just see a guy that had played four years of college basketball that was coming in for his fifth year. We didn’t just see that. We saw a guy that could make improvements. We saw a guy that could have a bigger role. We saw a guy that could really, really be a stellar defender. And I think when he’s focused on what he is defensively, all of a sudden you get nights like that offensively and hopefully he can continue it.