Transcript: Tom Crean on Maui Invitational conference call

  • 07/28/2015 4:59 pm in

Indiana coach Tom Crean addressed the media earlier this afternoon on a conference call to discuss the 2015 Maui Jim Maui Invitational.

Read a full transcript of Crean’s remarks from the call after the jump:

How does Thomas Bryant change and make your team better?

Well, in a lot of different ways. The one area statistically that I think will change is our field goal percentage defense because now we’re going to be a little bit better at the rim, which is going to enable us to get out and pressure the ball a little bit more. We didn’t block shots very well last year. I think we blocked a shot about one out of every 23, 24 possessions. A team like Kentucky blocked a shot one out of every 11 or 12. You’ve got to have rim protection, so right away he brings that. He moves his feet pretty well. He’s really working hard to get down and understand what he’s got to be able to do in the short space as far as two things at once, three things at once, defending the ball, defending in help and then getting back and rotating. He’s learning those things. But he’s really going to affect us offensively, too. Because he demands the ball in the post with his body and he’s getting stronger. His squat went up in six weeks. It went up almost 100 pounds when we tested today. So that’s a good sign. There’s a guy that really, really understands that he’s got to get stronger. He can score. He’s an emerging shooter and a guy that’s going to be able to not only shoot catch-and-shoot 3s, but a guy that’s going to be able to shoot it off the move. We’re going to be able to do a lot of things in the ball screen with him, and eventually—I don’t know if it will be by November—but it will eventually lead with him handling the ball in the ball screen. But we’re excited about him and he’s got an infectious energy on his teammates.

I think you’ve been here a couple times before. If you could remind me of those occasions and just what you remember from those experiences and how they kind of helped your team be ready for the season.

I’ve been there a couple of times, actually. The one unique one was we were there in 2007—our last year at Marquette. And we played Chaminade and we played Oklahoma State and then we played Duke in the finals. I think we ended up losing the game by…I think it was three or four. It was maybe three. We came down with a chance to tie it at the very end of the game. It was an incredible game. An incredible atmosphere. And then the next year we came back and we opened up with Notre Dame and proceeded to get beat by 38 with our Indiana team that had really been left in a tough spot and we were really starting over with a new group of scholarship guys and walk-on guys. We ended up beating Chaminade by two in the 7th-8th place game, and it was like we were going to the Final Four. That’s how exciting that win was for us. So we’ve seen it on both accounts. There’s no question that the year we played at Marquette, it helped propel us to a lot of good things inside of that season to prepare us for the Big East. And in 2008, it was just a little different because we had a whole new team. So we had to learn on the fly, but I do remember this. I do remember sending our team back out to watch North Carolina warm up and play because I wanted them to see at that point at the tournament, this is what it really looks like. So when you’re building a team, you want them to see all those different examples of what championship success looks like. And I remember that. But it’s an incredible tournament and an unreal honor for us as a team and a staff and certainly a University and a fan base to be a part of it.

How much does this offer you as a coach a chance to look at this team and get a good early gauge for what they’re strengths are, what needs to improve. That sort of thing.

Well, I think it starts right off the bat with Wake Forest. They’ve got their five leading scorers back. They were in the top five in the ACC at getting to the free-throw line. They bring back balance. Danny (Manning) is an excellent coach. He’s getting ready to start his second year, so he’s got a full year with them under his belt now. And so I think it’s a great gauge. We’ve got to have a mindset that we’re always going to be hunting. Indiana is always going to be a destination game for whoever’s playing it. That’s just the way that it is. And it’s been that way for decades and decades and decades and it will be that way forever because of what’s been done at Indiana in the past. But for us, we can’t look at it like that. We’ve got to look at it as we’ve got to be on the hunt constantly. The chip on our shoulder is we’ve got to be tougher. We’ve got to be better defensively. We’ve got to be committed to moving the ball. We’ve got to be able to play through lulls and successes. I think when you’ve got a chance to play three games in three days like this with the completion level that it is, it just force feeds that right into you. I think that will be great for us to prepare for, great for us to deal with when we’re going through it, and then invaluable to us after we’re done.

What kind of benefit will it be to make a more experienced team to Maui this time around?

It’s different. There’s no question when you go to Maui, it’s a different level because of the ambiance, and you want them to enjoy that. But what this team has done in the past, even when we went to Montreal last summer, which gives us maybe the closest view of what it’s like to enjoy yourself, bond as a team, but when it’s really time to get to work in the film room or on the practice court, and certainly in the games, you do it. You know how to turn that switch on. And I think for us, we have some experience coming back, but we have very little experience on the front line. (Michigan transfer) Max Bielfeldt has certainly has played college basketball and is going to get better and better for us. But in the case of Thomas Bryant, Juwan Morgan and OG Anunoby, those guys are brand new to it. Judging on their summer, all four of those guys are going to be impact factors on our team if we’re going to have as good a team as we can have because we truly want to get ourselves to a point where we’re two-deep at everything that we do on the court. So it will be different. It will be the first trip for them, but I know we have very good leadership that can help them understand what it means to lock into the films and make that preparation time important and at the same time, as a coaching staff we’ll be cognizant in making sure that we have a good time. Because you’re fortunate if you get to go to Maui once in your life. If you get to go to it as a coach, you never take it for granted, but you also know that these players may never get back to an environment like this and you want them to be able to enjoy it and remember it for the rest of their lives in a very positive way.

Given the talent that you have returning, how important is it to have quality opponents in consecutive days this early in November?

Oh, I think it’s great. I really do. When you can get back-to-back experience, it prepares you for a lot, and you rarely get it before obviously with conference tournament play. But if you can get back-to-back-to-back, that’s awesome. It’s just absolutely tremendous. We’ve got to get creative in what we do practice-wise and how we stage it to give ourselves any sense of getting ready for that. Because obviously with the time change and being in Maui and the atmosphere, you’re never going to replicate that back in the United States. You’ve got to do everything you can do to a point where they can play their highest level.

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  • At the Quarries

    Another classic from Ole Man, LOL!

  • At the Quarries

    I think it’s very likely now that we have a much better supporting cast. I’m thinking back to Noah and how Crean would take him out early.

  • Bill Graham

    Heck if Max can just box out and force guys like Hammons to catch the ball further out…that would be an improvement.


    My first three words, agree to disagree. lol It may just be me and/or the people that I watch with a lot, but the general consensus among us is that he seems to be more open to a variance of his original game plan when facing something other than a zone. He even seems to be open to trying something pretty much completely outside of what the original game plan appeared to be when it comes to going against just about any type of defense thrown at us, but not near as much so when a zone is played against us. I would also like to see a breakdown of our, I’m going to go with a blanket term and say, efficiency, against a zone over the last 4 years or so. I don’t think you can legitimately include the first 3 seasons in an overall conceptual look at his decision making when it comes to zone offense. I’m wondering if Kenpom or some place like that has that kind of breakdown, hard to believe that there isn’t someplace out there in cyberspace that has that kind of info. I don’t know, maybe it’s what “we” see as his obvious reluctance to even try certain things when we are struggling against a zone that in our view amplifies this particular aspect. I say that because at one time I felt like we were poor at getting something good right out of a timeout. Two or three years ago there was a stat put out there by someone that had found a site that tracked that particular thing and it turns out that we were pretty darn good at it compared to the rest of Div 1 teams. I know sometimes it is best, or even a must at times, to think outside the box when faced with something the other team is doing that is causing your team to have problems, but normally it’s best to start with the more simple, tried and true, common knowledge things and maybe most importantly what has worked against it for other teams that have somewhat similar personnel and if those things don’t work, THEN go to the out of the box thoughts. For whatever reason it seems to be really hard for Crean to bring himself to make the call to do any of those things. Until I see some kind of facts that say other wise I have to disagree with, it just appears that he struggles against a quality zone because of cliches and poor journalism. If you were to put a hundred coaches in the same room I think I can guarantee you that it would be nearly impossible to get every single coach to completely agree on any certain detail of coaching, but one of those rare things is that every coach, and I mean every coach, has some part of their abilities that is not as good as all or most of the other parts (and if they can’t admit that they need to have their whistle snapped from their neck and have to watch the horror of it being stomped into many small pieces in front of everyone lol can you say complex, we’re a complicated bunch) and I/we just happen to think that Crean’s is attacking a zone offense. I’m not saying that he should be replaced or unfairly attacked in the press and by fans, but rather that attacking a zone offense, for lack of a better way to put it, is his weak link. That’s more than enough coach speak. Now I want every one of you young men to get out there, focus, and give 110 % in practice today. Let’s hit the floor gentlemen !

    Oh, wait a minute this isn’t practice is it ? lol

  • Dereck Johnson

    I agree at some point this season TB will be a inside-out player. Heck the sooner the better. However you kinda made that sound like a negative. He’ll be on the block a lot tho & definitely early on. I believe it’ll be next year, when he really becomes that player & will be a top 5 pick.

  • Dereck Johnson

    I agree with everything u said & love the passion Tom. I hope ur rite about Juwan but I believe he’s a year away from contributing. I think Max & especially Holt, will surprise a lot of ppl. TB will be a beast & next year he’ll be a complete inside-outside player & will be a top 5 pick. If he stays next season will be a lot better than ppl think. #GoIU&Colts #Can’tWait

  • Dereck Johnson

    This whole article got me pumped. I agree with you bc I saw a couple of TB’s games & he can def shoot catch & shoot 3’s. However he has a lot of work to do on his handles but he has the talent & work ethic 2do it. Id love to see it this year but it’ll probably take him 2yrs.

  • TomJameson

    Thanks Dereck. I think there are a few of the returning players that will have big jumps. Holt has been mentioned by other players as the one that will surprise the most, but I think specifically RJ, Troy, and JBJ will also. In my mind Juwan won’t be a big contributor right away, but I see him getting some minutes as well as OG. Maybe minutes expanding as he/they work on their “niche”. LOL

    I think you are absolutely right about TB. If he stays for two years I think he’ll be a top draft choice. I hope he’s a beast this year … he is also mentioned by his teammates as being a beast. He has improved his squat by 100 pounds since coming on campus!!! That’s amazing.