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December 2, 2014

Tom Crean


COACH CREAN:  First, I'm proud of our team and the way they have responded, especially over the last few days and in the last week.  It was one of those things where I'd like to tell you we had two practices a day, countless film sessions, but it wasn't one of those situations.
We hadn't been together since Friday night till Sunday night because we had to take another day off this past week because we had not taken a day off the week before.
We took Saturday off.  We practiced Sunday.  We watched very little film.  We had a very spirited, full‑court, get‑after‑it practice.  Came back on Monday.  Much the same, a little bit shorter.  Worked hard on Pittsburgh on Monday and last night.
They made a lot of strides.  What they've shown is when they really focus and concentrate and put their mind to the defensive end of the court, put their mind and their bodies into the fight, especially on the glass.  Our numbers weren't reflective of how hard we worked on the backboards but the points in the paint certainly were.
That's one of the most dominant rebounding teams ever since I've been personally competing against them.  That team takes a backseat to nobody when it comes to rebounding the ball because everybody rebounds on their team.  Tonight everybody had to fight for us, and they did.
But the points in the paint was big.  I think key for us was we wanted to take away penetration as much as possible.  We got a little stagnant in our zone and even in our man late in the first half to give them some confidence with the threes.  We weren't moving quite as fast on the pass, a little bit more on the catch.  I told our team at halftime, This is the pace we want, I'm not sure they want this pace.
The second half, I think for the most part, you know, played that out in the fact that they didn't make as many threes in the second half, and we kept the running game going.  We knew they wouldn't go away, that they would come with pressure.  We had to continue to clean up a couple things, beat the ball.  We were doing a very good job of grabbing the ball with two hands, two‑hand rebounds, two‑hand loose balls, then all of a sudden at the end we're back to the one‑hand stuff.  We've got to continue to get that fixed.
We've got a lot of things to get better.  No question, I think every team would say that.  But the way that they came back with focus and a 40‑minute mindset tonight was really impressive for the youth of this team, especially with the young guys that did it.
A couple key things, not only did Emmitt play very well, but the fact that Hanner came back in the second half after playing just four minutes, playing so few minutes in the first half because of the foul situation, he came out and played like he'd been playing the entire game.  People always ask about Hanner.  That's the sign of consistency we have to get from him.
Certainly Emmitt did a fantastic job tonight.  I think the way James and Robert played against that type of pressure and physicality was really good.  I thought Yogi did a really good job of being able to come back in and play.  Rolled the dice at the end of the first half.  Not a steadfast rule to hold a guy out with two fouls.  I felt with the pace of this game, if they wanted to continue to run, the length of the game, it would be important to hold him.  I thought he did a really good job with that.
Really everybody that played, certainly Collin, Nick, the up‑and‑down play of Troy, back and forth on the court, all those things really helped provide a lot of energy for us.  A very good team win.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  Is that the Emmitt you see in practice?
COACH CREAN:  We have not seen Emmitt quite like that.  That's a pretty good Emmitt right there.  We've seen him hustle like that.
Emmitt is gaining confidence.  I think that's a huge thing.  He just didn't have the game experience.  He's a product of going against Hanner every day.  He has to deal with Troy every day.
I thought the over‑the‑top basket tonight...  The one big thing for us offensively, we're so far away from where we need to be on offense, the one thing we haven't been doing the last couple games is running the ball back at people when they scored.  Almost like we got deflated.  Young people, understanding disappointment is inevitable, they get discouraged.  Tonight we didn't let that be a factor and we ran.
The basket over the top, Cody might have gotten one and a half.  That was our first one of the season.  That's not quite indicative.  We hadn't seen from that Emmitt in practice.  He'll build on that.
Even when he was out he was working extremely hard.  I think he's learning a lot here.  I think he's growing a lot here.  Hopefully he'll continue to stay on that path, as hopefully they all will.

Q.  You talked about this the last two weeks, but what are the challenges working with him through the suspension on the court and also off the court with the emotional issues?
COACH CREAN:  I think certainly when you go back to the beginning of what happened with the accident, we didn't let him out of our sight the first 48 hours, literally, other than when he took a shower, used the restroom.  Other than that, there was an adult with him all the time, a staff member, because it was just too tough.  It was tough for everybody.
I mean, I think he's responded well to that.  I look at him and I think he's out there playing hard.  I see Devin there, who wants to play so bad.  I think if this team has learned ‑ knock on wood, we could have had an issue tonight, it's youth ‑ but I think they've learned when something is taken away, they're going to respond to that.  They're going to go one way or another, they are either going to respond in a positive, hungry way about it, or they're going to get down and pout.  They haven't done that.
He's worked extremely hard.  You just got to continue to grow.
But during the time of sitting out, with Troy and Stan and the other guys, we just spent a lot of time, the team would be done with the walk‑through, they'd go to eat, we'd work those guys out for 45 minutes.  We never let those guys think they weren't an important part of our team.
They had to understand they had to earn their way back into not only the good graces of the fans and community, but they had to earn their way back into team play.  They're working at that.  It's a big process.  But I think we're maturing.
It's hard to look at Devin.  But we are maturing.  We want to continue to do that.

Q.  (Question regarding Blackmon's game.)
COACH CREAN:  Well, he brings a lot with that.  You know what, I thought he played much better defensively tonight.
I think a big thing with James, one of the big reasons that he came here, is because he understood he needed to get to college to be a complete player.  Loved Indiana, from the state of Indiana, he wanted to be a complete player.  He can score with his eyes closed, right?  But he needed to get to the point where he could make decisions, could pass the ball, move without the ball, play faster, harder, longer, especially on the defensive end.
He's going to get better and better offensively.  They did a good job of knowing where he was at all the time.  That created so much more movement for everybody else.  Yet at the same time he did a good job coming off screens.  He's handling the ball.  He's getting better and better.
As he gets stronger, like the one play where we all would have liked to have seen a foul called on the left side, he has to learn to drop his shoulder there.  The referee said, They're both locked up with each other.  You would think the benefit of the doubt is going to go on the offense.  It isn't there yet.  He's gotten a lot stronger, but that strength part is not there yet.
As the strength comes, as the awareness of how many ways he can score without the ball, his cutting, his screening, his spacing, when he understands how well he can run that floor every time, when he gets better on the ball screen, then as he continues to grow defensively, he'll mean even more to the team.
He is one of the most willing workers, serious‑minded gym rat people I have been around, as is Robert.  That goes away, we've had some players started out pretty good here, all of a sudden they forgot that that key card is 24 hours.  It catches up with them.  The ones that remember that the key card is 24 hours, they end up in the NBA or a pretty good spot.  Hopefully he will continue to do that because he's just scratching the surface.

Q.  Do you think Emmitt has forgiven himself for what happened?
COACH CREAN:  I can't answer that because I wasn't even there and I know what I feel like.  I didn't mean for this to be like this tonight.
I don't know.  You know, we tried to make sure he understood right away that he was forgiven because that could have happened to anybody.  You could say, Well, you know you shouldn't have been there.  There's no question he shouldn't have been there.  There's no question, okay?  But he was.  He has to recover from it.
I think the Davis family, I think starting that Saturday night, they were fantastic.  Whether it was Devin Sr. here or his mother there at the hospital.  I'm not going to put words in anybody's mouth or put thoughts in somebody's head, but I was pretty inspired by the level‑‑ by the care they had for him.  I think that's continued.  I think his teammates did a great job of rallying around him, as they have Devin, as they have each other.
But, again, we just got to keep growing up.  We've just got to keep being better on the court, off the court, every area of life.  Hopefully this continues to show him that he's capable of this.
He continues to work.  There's never been a day he didn't work, I'll tell you that.  Might have been down, but they worked, and they worked to get better.

Q.  How did you find Emmitt?
COACH CREAN:  He was in the EYBL.  He should be at the academy right now.  That's an excellent coach.  He'd be getting coached well there, but we're glad he's here.

Q.  How has the success on the court been worked on in practice?
COACH CREAN:  Great research by Chuck Martin.  Tremendous research.  We got into the situation in August, pretty much around the Canada time.  We weren't going to go if we couldn't get the right guy.  There was other people we recruited.  But, I mean, we were just going to be active recruiting.  We weren't going to take someone just to take someone.  We weren't going to take someone to fill a scholarship.  We didn't need to do that.
We were going to find someone to have a chance to come in here and compete, not necessarily start, but have a chance to come in here and compete.
Chuck did a tremendous job with his contacts back there, of knowing that Emmitt played in the EYBL, was eligible to come out, was going to go to the Vermont Academy.  Did some research.  He had some other offers for the following year, turned down some offers for the past year.  We started studying film, we looked back through the EYBL.  We had seen him, but we hadn't studied him.
We moved really fast.  He was excited about it.  Bobby's family was here last week.  Think that helped him, to see his whole family here for Thanksgiving.
Don't anybody make any mistake here.  I'm not sitting up here trying to condone anything that's happened.  I mean, we've just been through a lot.  So I'm not looking for a sympathy vote on anything.  I'm just giving you my feelings of how they're growing.
But he came in and he was excited and we made it clear right away this guy is here to compete.  He's not here to be anybody's understudy.
Was he ready for it right away?  No, not on the court or off the court.  But he's learning.  Hopefully he'll continue to do that.

Q.  You had a lot of success tonight, especially getting the ball to the middle, opening things up.
COACH CREAN:  See, what we're trying to do in the games, and sometimes‑‑ the other night we should have cut more against UNCG.  We want them to understand how to move without the ball, how free that baseline is, some random cutting.
Tonight their zone was extended.  We're not doing a great job of, Bob would be the first to say, we're not pass faking.  We work on shot fakes.  Doesn't always look like it.  But we're not pass faking the zone enough.
But they were extended.  We were able to get it inside because of that extension.  That's where having really good shooters comes in.  They couldn't stay back on the three‑point line on those guys.
Hanner and Emmitt did a really good job of moving on the baseline.  We ran some actions that would cut from opposite corners.  I think we got a dunk.  Collin was in the middle when we got the pass on the opposite side to Conner.  That was one of our sets.
We want to get into the zone by slashing it, screening it or slipping it off the screen.  I thought they did a really good job.  The ball never stopped.  The ball never stopped all night.  At the end of the game when we're trying to take some air out of the clock, make the clock our ally, not our enemy, we went a little too fast.  Instead of taking it back out, we've got to continue to work on that.
I thought they showed great patience against the zone, but we weren't stagnant.  We were moving, we were trying to get the best shot.  For the most part we got it.  We were still able to rebound out of it.

Q.  Can you say 'no excuses' with the team?
COACH CREAN:  I don't know if you can say that with youth.  I don't know if you can say 'no excuses.'  You can make the point that we show a lot of film, this is what it looks like when we're doing it well, this is what it looks like when we're not doing it well.  I think you keep holding them accountable.  They see it more and more.
The bottom line, like I said to them, we have to come out as prepared for Savannah State as we were for Pittsburgh.  Same thing when we go into New York next week.  These are going to be great teams and we have a long way to go before we're one of those teams.
The only way you get there is to come out every game and attack it the same way.  That's what we have to do.  So that's up to the coaches.  That's up to the leadership of the group.
But here is what you really want now.  You want those players to know if somebody is not as locked in as they need to be because they had the success of doing it, connected, they will get on that person, they will make that point.  That's what we really hope to get.

Q.  (Question about following the scouting report.)
COACH CREAN:  They don't always hear what you're saying.  But that's what you want.  What you want to do is improve while you're winning, okay?  If you improve enough, you're going to win, right?  But you want to get better from one game to the next, then you want to be able to carry it out.  That's exactly what they did.
What they've got to learn now is that there's SMU, there's Pittsburgh, then there's some teams that maybe aren't household names to them.  There's some other teams on the horizon that are household names.  You've got to come that way every game.  That's the concern always with any team, but especially a team that hasn't been through it, with a team that has so many guys that are doing this for the first time.
That was our message in there.  If we're growing up, I would wouldn't use the term 'no excuses,' but as we grow up, if we prepare, it won't look any different.  The team may be different, the game plan might be different, but how we prepare won't be any different.
Now, is that wishful thinking?  To a degree, but we're going to do our best to hold them accountable to it.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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