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December 6, 2014

James Blackmon, Jr.

Tom Crean

Yogi Ferrell


Q.  You guys, I think the second half or the first half, seemed like you started a little slow, they stayed with you for a little while.  What allowed you to put your foot down?
JAMES BLACKMON, JR.:  The way we played defense and it led to our offense.  We wanted to go out the first half strong, you could say, finish just for that half, and I think we did that in that run.

Q.  What did you focus on to win?
JAMES BLACKMON, JR.:  Well, really, we learned that from our Eastern Washington game; if you don't get up for a team, they start to gain confidence and they think that they can play with you.  Tonight we just wanted to start from the beginning and that's what we did.

Q.  How hard is it maybe to get up for an opponent that might not be(as strong) is that something that's hard to do? 
YOGI FERRELL:  I don't think that's hard for our team because we emphasize every team is a big game.  Even against Savannah State, that's like a National Championship game to us.  So when we go out there, we want to give it everything we got like it is our last game, so that game can transfer over to the next game so we can get wins on top of wins.

Q.  How much more comfortable are you?
YOGI FERRELL:  I think the way Emmitt is playing, the reason he's playing so well, is because he practices every day.  Hunter is going at him, and Emmitt is going back at him, so I felt like Emmitt feeds off of Hunter and it just translates over to the game.
So Emmitt is just going out there and doing everything he does in practice.  I feel like Emmitt can pass well off the post, especially when he gets in that alley, he can finish down low.  He's a great offensive rebounder.  We definitely need him out there doing that for us.  We just have that same confidence in that everything he's doing in practice; he'll play well.

Q.  Stan is adjusting to his role right now, how good is it for him to play steady pressure?
YOGI FERRELL:  One thing about Stan, it's kind of hard guarding him, and the front court adjusting, he's going full speed because he knows how to use it very well.  And that's one of the gifts that he has; he can use his body going in for a layup or just driving down the lane.
So when Stan just makes the simple passes, read in there (indiscernible) ‑‑ I saw Stan had some great assists to Nick and Emmitt and guys like that.  So when Stan just goes downhill, doesn't slow down, goes full speed, making simple pass, great things can happen for our team.

Q.  Is there anything about the matchups?
JAMES BLACKMON, JR.:  Really, the coaches emphasize on cracking and blocking out.  We took a lot for not out‑rebounding Pittsburgh.  So coming in here, we wanted to make that a statement.

Q.  What kind of challenges doesSavannah State present for you guys, good ball pressure team; is that a preview for what's ahead on Tuesday maybe?
YOGI FERRELL:  That was a great I guess pre‑test for us.  We do know Louisville presses, so we wanted to go out there and try to beat the press as best we could, pass, attack, move.  So this is a good pre‑test for us.

Q.  How do you feel like you did, maybe got you early but the whole backcourt got more comfortable as the game went on?
YOGI FERRELL:  Yeah, at one point I know I had a turnover trying to throw it ‑‑ trying to throw it under the backboard but after that we were not very stagnant with the ball.  We got it out, pushed, looked up the court, looked towards the middle.  I think that's the biggest thing for us.  We can't hold the ball.  We just have to attack the press.
COACH CREAN:  I am excited about the seriousness of how we approached this game.  We had a few moments yesterday where I wasn't as sure but they got themselves focused in a big way.  I thought our coaches did a fantastic job this week of game planning for Pittsburgh, and at the same time, turning around and getting us ready to play this game, and we just want our players to continue to understand that they have to be in control of what they can control.
And they can't control everything that goes on in a game, but they can control their intensity.  They can control their talk.  They can control, you know, what we are trying to do with the game plan.  They can control how hard they run, those type of things.
So that's the kind of improvement we want to continue to make, and if you make that improvement, then all of a sudden your execution is better, and you get more stops.
I thought the fact that there were‑‑ that Jay said that they got two baskets in the last 23 possessions of the first half.  So we closed out the first half with a lead, which was important.  And I thought we came back out right away in the second half, and they made a few more baskets, but the bottom line is we played hard, we made adjustments, and a lot of people contributed.  So I was excited about that.
There were‑‑ any time you're going to play that way, you're going to have a lot of really good individual performances inside of the game.  But the biggest thing to me was the connectedness on the defensive ends and the ball movement that continued on the offensive end.

Q.  Can you talk about how much of it was defense executing, I think the 23‑5 run you finished off in the first half?
COACH CREAN:  Oh, it was huge.  I thought it was a carry over from the other night.
They have to realize, the bottom line, especially when you get ready to go on the road, you're never going to be able to control every aspect of the game but you can control the intensity of it, like I said.  And really, we are not trying to give them every possible thing to think about right now when they are on defense.  But there are certain things that have got to be constants outside of their basic fundamentals, and we wanted to make those improvements.
Tonight I thought our weak side got better.  We have seen two teams this week that do a really good job wanting little drive, whether it's Pittsburgh or is a I can't in a taste and really so much of what they do is predicated by how much they get the ball to the middle.  Especially for both teams on the left side looking in to drive right, but that can go both ways with it.
So we wanted to do a good job with that.  There were certain things in the post that we wanted to be able to take away, and they are learning.  They are learning the different segments that go into‑‑ have to be connected, no matter if it's a side pick‑and‑roll and we're in one coverage that two or three guys are really involved with or all five are involved or if it's changing defenses or how the post is being played.
All those different things, they understand everybody has to be at their best.  And if you're going to beat good teams, you can't have one guy doing this, or one guy relaxed over here or one guy‑‑ so we are learning that.  And I thought this week, we took some real steps with that.
And then I think our running game continued to get better this week.  I thought we did a good job of turning the defensive stops into really good run‑outs but at the same time when they scored baskets, we got it out quick, we got it up in advance.  I thought we dealt with their pressure pretty well tonight, which obviously we are going to see as good of a pressure basketball team‑‑ I haven't seen everybody play, not even close, but a little, and I haven't seen a lot of Louisville.
But I've seen enough to know from last year and years past and certainly even a little bit this year that their pressure defense is as good as anybody's in the country.  The more we can attack, the more we can move the ball, the more that we can get stops defensively and get out and do those same things, the better we'll be.

Q.  Stan adjusting to the role, how important was that?
COACH CREAN:  Oh, very important, very, very important.  He's worked very hard and it's not easy for him.
Try to remind him that even his second game back, he was even one of the guys at the end of the game finishing the game for us in the last five minutes of the game.
But Stan works extremely hard.  Since he's been back, he doesn't go home after the walk‑through.  He eats, he sits around a little bit and then he goes back out in the gym and shoots.  I see it countless; I'm worried, okay, are you working too hard.  I mean, he wants it so bad.
So to me, we are trying to remind him as his shooting improves, just do what his strengths entail and just go as hard as you can go, change speed and direction, attack the rim, make simple plays, and be just a defensive Hawk.
And I thought tonight was a big step for him in playing that way, and statistics showed it, but most importantly the spirit and the mentality that he played with showed it.

Q.  When you get 15 points off the bench from Emmitt and Colin combined, you have to be pretty happy with that.
COACH CREAN:  Yeah, I have not even really looked at that close.  I was happy Jeremiah went in with some of the main guys and did okay, too.
So we've got to keep developing that.  We are not‑‑ we have got so many eyes that you really couldn't define the position; they just need to be basketball players and play the game and it doesn't matter who they are guarding or what their position is, they just play as hard as they can play.
And Colin and Emmitt are getting so much done because of the hustle game.  Emmitt still has got a lot to learn, we gave up a couple buckets on the out‑of‑bounds play because he miss played the action and Colin, I've said before, we're continuing to really monitor his minutes in practice.  He doesn't like it, but it's what's best for him; it's what's best for the long run to continue to have him be as strong as he can be throughout the season.
But they come into the games and they really are playing like they belong and they are making a difference and they are impacting our team.

Q.  Can you talk about the way‑‑
COACH CREAN:  Anybody ever tell you you look like Johnny Marlin?  Played for us, he's now the leading scorer at Indiana Westland?  You look dead on him‑‑ that's great.  That's a compliment.  He's a good kid.
Anybody say what?  You distracted me, I'm sorry.
It's got to be constant.  That's the bottom line.  We put a week together, and we put a good week together, back‑to‑back games.  And this is probably the first time all year where we had back‑to‑back games where the defensive intensity was really the key to the game.
And I think that makes everything happen from there.  It makes your rebounding better.  It makes your attack game better.  It makes your fast break better.  And when you're playing that hard and they score, you don't like it, but they have to learn, we get the ball right up the court.
So that's‑‑ your team, if your team is unselfish on offense, you're going to be good.  If your team is connected on defense, you have a chance to be really good.  And that's what we've got to continue to build.  We've got a long way to go to get that every possession, but we made strides this week.  But they will get severely tested on Tuesday.

Q.  Can you talk aboutthat a little bit?
COACH CREAN:  As far as what?  They are outstanding.  There's no question about it.  I'm not as prepared to talk about the personnel and things of that nature as I will be over the next few days.
The bottom line is, Rick is one of the best that's ever done it.  There's no way around that.  If he had not gone to the NBA with the Knicks and with the Celtics, he could be sitting right there with Mike Krzyzewski getting ready to get his thousandth win.  He's that good a coach.  We've had battles with him in the past back when we were at Marquette, and learned a lot from watching his teams, the way he coaches the game.
They have as good of a pressure defensive team as I have seen to this point.  We are going to have to‑‑ our defense is going to have to be out standing.  Because they are going to do different things defensively but you really have to be able to run your zone offense and run it, run it crisply and sharp and get movement.
So we are going to have to be really good there.  And they don't let up.  The bottom line is, they never go away and they don't let up.  And their guards are extremely physical in the sense of how well they get up into the ball.
The one thing that we ‑‑ preparing for this season was how good SMU created defensive pressure and got steals, how good Pittsburgh got steals, how good Louisville was at getting steals and back tips.  Louisville is as the head of the class on that right now.  So we are going to be really, really great with the basketball.

Q.  How do you see your rotation of bench players in the post game?
COACH CREAN:  Once I pulled them, I subbed.  I didn't pull anybody tonight for any other reason other than substitutions.  So when you pull is when you're getting a guy out of the game for a reason.
Just the way it worked out.  We are starting to get a little bit more where we want to get the guards out at a certain time, especially the three starting guards, get them out at certain points in time.  It didn't work out that way.
Tonight, Yogi playing so hard in the first half that I didn't get him a second blow there that I would have liked but he never wants to come out.  That's why I got him out a little bit earlier in the second half.  I put them all in at that point.  I'm not a big fan of putting in three or four at a time.  I don't think over a period of time that really helps you.
But tonight it didn't hurt us, and I don't know if we have a true rotation yet.  It's based on a lot of different things.  But I know we have got guys that want to be in the rotation and belong in the rotation and it just becomes a situation of how well they play once they are inside of it.

Q.  James mentionedblocking out ‑‑
COACH CREAN:  Well, yeah, we get into them about improvement, everybody, every day.

Q.  What's the main lesson‑‑
COACH CREAN:  Well, I think it's just more technique.  I think James is‑‑ what did he have tonight, rebound‑wise?  So he's probably still right there, one of the leaders in the team in rebounding.
I think the block out principles of making contact and pivoting, we missed some rebounds over the last few weeks and even tonight where we go up with one hand.  I think we are trying to become much better at two‑handed rebounding.  We are not just going to go up and get a bunch of one‑handed boards and get things done, and we have to be a two‑hand position or rebounding team, block out team, hit and pursue.
So it's really just making sure that we are constantly never getting away from it every possession, but at the same time, them knowing that we are not going to win games giving up 20 offensive rebounds.  You can't bank on a team only getting 14 points out of those 25 boards, all right, and we have got to be‑‑ we were in a fight, but now we have got to do a better job of being in position to grab the ball first, rather than just being in the fight and getting more 50/50 balls.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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