TOM CREAN’S OPENING STATEMENT:
I’m very encouraged by the way our team responded over the last few days. We’ve done very little in the form of physical work on the floor. Probably 1 hour and 10 minutes of practice yesterday. Walk through today, walk through last night.
I thought it was very important that the players grasp how much better they could play and really understand that the way we played the other night is going to be a recipe for disaster. We’ve got to grow up in a hurry. I thought our guys over the last couple of days absorbed that message and they retained it throughout the evening. Now will they be able to apply it over a period of time? That’s what the key is going to be. It’s not like we got any older the last couple of days. We haven’t had any birthdays. But the bottom line is I think they’ve grown.
They saw on film they could play so much better. They came out here tonight and did that. To a man, everybody improved and took what the game was giving them. We established how we wanted to play and we stuck to it.
I thought we did an excellent job defensively. Again, Benny’s team is very young and they’ve got some talent, there’s no question about it. The number one thing they do is execute offensively. I mean, he’s committed to a style of play. It’s going to be there for him. There’s no question about it. But they execute. We needed to bust up that execution. We needed to make the entries and their sets hard. Our guys did that in the sense of the other night we really didn’t play the game plan very well at all.
I don’t think we were comfortable with some of the things we were trying to do defensively yet. But that’s going to be the way it’s going to be for a while with this team. There’s no way they can know everything they have to know. Some of it’s going to be by trial and error on the court. Figured it out. We won the game, but tonight we played the game one way for 40 minutes. I thought it was very hard, it was very competitive. It was great hustle and energy to it. We established what we wanted to established. We were going to get the ball in the paint, we were going to get the ball to the basket. We were going to put pressure on the rim which in turn is going to put pressure on the whistle. I thought our guys did an excellent job of that. I thought we got a lot of very solid basketball from a lot of different guys. It showed up in our field goal percentage defenses. It showed up in our rebounding numbers. It showed up in our free throw attempts. It showed up in our points in the paint. It showed up in our deflections with 69.
Q. When a game gets out of hand like that, you lose focus. You didn’t seem to lose focus.
COACH CREAN: I’ll give you an example. There’s just no way to know. He we spent so much time on spacing in Sunday’s practice. Probably 1 hour and 10 minutes of a two hour practice was just on spacing. We got out there Tuesday night and looked like it was our first time together. You never really know with that when they’re as young as they are. The one thing they’ve been, even the other night, they continued to play, no one panicked. Tonight they stayed with it. I think they understood the seriousness of how important it was that they continue to get better in the game. And it was working. What they were doing, they were having a lot of success with it in the sense of how they were attacking, how we were getting back defensively. Then that gave us a chance to do some different things defensively as the game went on. We certainly didn’t want to lose any ability to drop our intensity. I think what’s happening is guys are looking around, if they’re not playing hard enough, there’s enough other guys on the bench, you may miss a few reps. I don’t think anybody wants to be in that position. We want our depth to be a strength. We don’t want to use the bench out of a sign of weakness. We want to use it as a position of strength.
QQ. Noah gets the double double. Troy almost gets a double double. How important is it to have that help?
COACH CREAN:: I think what it says is that we’ve got a pretty good group of freshmen. Guys like Noah and Troy are not getting the attention that some of the other better freshmen in the country are getting right now. Everybody’s earning it. So are these guys. That’s Noah’s third straight double double. It won’t be his last. And Troy is just continuing to get better constantly. Troy made as much progress as anybody has from Tuesday to Friday. They all did. There’s so much room to grow in the game mentally and understanding what it takes. Luke is a couple weeks away from where he is going to be as a freshman because of all that time he missed. Stan is playing hard but still not where he would be yet conditioning wise, what he would have been, for having all those practices. I thought Collin was as shocked as anybody going in first the way he did. He came in there and did an excellent job. That’s what it is, play on demand. Thought he did a very good job. Devin continues to be very consistent for us. So there’s no question that in the sense of Noah and Troy, those guys, they recruited the way they were recruited for a reason. They were ranked the way they were for a reason. They’re going to continue to get better and better. But what they’re seeing is they’ve got to play that way every day. What I like about those guys, what I like about all our freshmen, they’re out there trying to make sure the team is better. They’re not out there trying to do anything for themselves. Not that they’re not making mistakes, because they are. We all are. But they’re playing to make the team better. That’s why we love them.
Q. Talk about Hanner’s play.
COACH CREAN:: Well, what you’re seeing is what we always think is such a difference maker on anybody, but especially your forwards, and that’s your short space quickness. He is getting so much better. He’s getting smarter. He’s getting more confident. I say ‘smarter’. He’s got a better understanding of the game. He’s in excellent shape. I mean, this is still a young guy that is walking around in a boot when he’s not on the basketball court. So it’s not like he’s 100% healthy. But what he’s doing is he’s really gaining confidence. I always talk about his footwork. That footwork compounds into the part where he’s working in the post. I thought he could have had a couple more dunks tonight. We want Hanner to be a demanding presence. It starts with the presence before it starts with the verbal part. But we want those demands to be strong. When he’s demanding the ball with his body, when he’s demanding the ball with his actions and playing with that kind of aggressiveness and confidence, everybody gets excited about that.
: Q. Yogi, career high tonight.
COACH CREAN: : Let the game come to him. Yogi had his best game at Indiana thus far. Won’t be his last best game. He let the game come to him. He established it defensively. You could see it coming. You could see it coming in the way he absorbed the film on Tuesday. You could see it coming the way he practiced yesterday, the way he’s talking in walk throughs. Slowly but surely Yogi is figuring out just how good he can be. That’s really important. But he let the game come to him. Then all of a sudden he’s just nailing shots and getting to the rim, the whole gamut. But he made the game easier and better for everybody else with his point of attack pickup on defense. We played the point guards differently tonight. We played the starter differently than we played the backup. He adjusted to that very well. But he just continued to play at an extremely high level.
: Q. Talk about what you got from Evan Gordon.
COACH CREAN:: Evan, he’s got to be ready to shoot. We don’t want him being in a situation where he’s not down and ready. But he is so fast and he’s got such a low center of gravity, he can get the ball out in front. He’s really an attack guard. Those are the things that we think he’s going to continue to get better and better at. The shot will come. The free throws will come, things like that. But he defends at a pretty high level. He was one of our leaders if not the leader in deflections tonight. He got rebounds, he got to the rim. If he makes his free throws, he’s got a really big night. Bottom line is in any situation he’s a very valuable player with the way he can get to the basket and defend. With the way the rules are now, he’s even that much more valuable.