Q & A: Blackmon Jr., Williams and Johnson give preseason update

  • 10/18/2015 3:56 pm in

James Blackmon Jr., Troy Williams and Robert Johnson met with the media on Saturday afternoon at Memorial Stadium during the IU-Rutgers football game and discussed a variety of topics.

A full transcript of their Q & A session is available below:

On expectations and next weekend’s Hoosier Hysteria:

Troy Williams: “All the expectations, we don’t really live by that. We know what we gotta do. We talk to coach (Tom) Crean every day, he tells us what we have to do. We just go out there and we do our thing. Hoosier Hysteria next week, we’re excited. This is my third year, but only my second time participating. Just go out there and have fun.”

On the status of James Blackmon Jr.’s knee and how he’s feeling:

James Blackmon Jr.: “I’m feeling great. With the injury, it was more of a frustration thing. I don’t think it hurt my game in any way, it was just more of a mindset.”

On what he did when he was out:

Blackmon Jr.: “Watched a lot of film, worked on my shot, ball handling, I did a lot of stuff.”

On whether he’s back to 100 percent health:

Blackmon Jr.: “Definitely 100 percent. It’s all back.”

On whether he’s back to where he was at the beginning of the summer when Crean said he was having his best summer yet:

Blackmon Jr.: “I definitely do feel like at the beginning of the summer, I was getting a lot stronger and more explosive, but I still feel the same that I did at the beginning of summer.”

On how Robert Johnson’s defense is progressing as well as the team’s defense:

Robert Johnson: “I think both are a focus for me and the team going forward. It’s something we struggled with last year and at some points, something I struggled with last year so just improving on that would be big for this year.”

On how big it would be to be able to pressure the ball full court:

Johnson: “I think it’s going to be really big, especially with the shot clocking moving down. Allowing us to play even faster, I think that plays into our advantage.”

On early impressions of the freshmen:

Johnson: “I think the freshmen have been pretty good. They add a lot of length, rebounding, a lot of speed and they’ve done a good job of just adjusting and rolling with all of the punches and just getting acclimated to all of the things we do.”

On the balance between guys improving individually defensively versus the size they’ve added in the frontcourt:

Johnson: “I think with the length that’s been added to the team, it will be easier to get out and pressure. We have a back line of defense with a guy like Thomas (Bryant) back there who can block shots. I think that will play to our advantage.”

On the two or three things he’ll be better at this season:

Johnson: “I think decision making wise, I’ll definitely be better. I think I’ll shoot the ball more consistently. And on defense, I think I’ll be a lot better also.”

On what was learned from working out with John Lucas:

Williams: “Just polishing up some things usually when I go there. I learned more terminology because he works out a lot of NBA players. The competition there is always great. I’ve always played up since I’ve been going there as a sophomore in high school. It’s always a great experience.”

On the things he’ll be better at this season:

Williams: “Decision making, defense and shooting the ball.”

On whether it’s different having a more senior laden team this year:

Williams: “No, not really. They’re just people who are older than us. We don’t see anybody as a senior, freshman, all the way down to the walk-ons to a scholarship player. Everybody is the same and everybody should be a leader.”

On who is going to lead the team this year:

Williams: “Everybody is a leader on the team. I came here as a freshman and coach put me out there in a leadership role. Everybody can be a leader, anybody can.”

On how good Indiana’s backcourt can be:

Blackmon Jr.: “I feel like we can be great. Last year we were as well, so just picking up on some of the things we lacked on last year, I feel like we can be one of the best.”

On whether the ball has been in his hands more so far than it was last year:

Blackmon Jr.: “Definitely. In practice I’ve been working on point guard skills, just running the point and becoming more comfortable with that.”

On whether we’ll see more guys being able to initiate the offense:

Williams: “For sure. For everybody on the team, versatility is big. Coach has been saying that anybody can play any position at any time. We don’t have positions now, it’s called spots. When you’re on the court, you should know the play from that spot.”

On what made an impact from the NBA feedback received last spring:

Williams: “Having the resources I do have, I’ve always heard it. Hearing it from the coaches and hearing it from the other people, it all just came down to the same thing.”

On what the NBA said they wanted to see improvement on:

Williams: “Just basic things. More shooting, a stronger body and more decision making.”

On last weekend’s trip to Baltimore:

Blackmon Jr.: “My favorite part was going to the (Ravens) practice and seeing how they prepare. They were very locked in and I feel like our team can learn from that.”

Williams: “My favorite part was talking to Steve Smith before the game. He talked to all of us. Hearing it from someone that’s been in that position and been in the league that long and the advice that he gave us and the knowledge that he gave us was very powerful.”

Johnson: “I’d probably say the same. Talking to Steve Smith and being able to go to the practice before the game, seeing how they prepare, how serious they take it, was something that stood out to me.”

On what Smith said to the team:

Johnson: “He talked about a lot of different things. Basically what it means to be a professional and how you should always carry yourself like that even if you aren’t specifically a professional right now. Just having a mindset and carrying yourself a certain type of way.”

On the Naval Academy experience:

Blackmon Jr.: “It was great to see the environment. We got a chance to practice there. We got a chance to see all around. It was just a good environment.”

Williams: “It was a really nice place and my uncle went to West Point for football, so I got a little taste from him of that experience. And then just going to the Naval Academy and seeing how they do things, it’s a whole other level. We got to see a lot of history stuff. I’m not a history guy, but I learned from it.”

Johnson: “Pretty much the same. It was just good to have the opportunity to see some of the leaders of our nation at the Naval Academy and just looking at the ways they have to be disciplined and all of the different things they have to do throughout the day is something that stood out to us.”

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