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December 19, 2014

Tom Crean

COACH CREAN:  We've had a productive week hopefully in the sense we've been able to get some rest and get energized.  At the same time the most important thing is they had the proper energy to fulfill everything they needed to do academically this week.  Obviously a huge week with finals, as have the last couple of weeks been, especially last week.
With all the games, practices, all the things they're doing academically, it's really important they make sure their edge first and foremost is everything they need with their class work.  At the same time the residual effect is they're a little more rested when they practice and play because it's a little bit more exciting when they are there than the drudgery of the long days because they're spending so much time on their schoolwork, preparing for the exams.
They're excited to play, the next couple of games, especially as we get ready to play tomorrow.  We have a lot of respect for Butler, a lot of respect for how they play.  They're one of the more experienced teams.  A lot more experienced than us.  But I think our guys are excited to go in for that challenge and play in that environment.  We're excited to go.
So go ahead.

Q.¬† Statistically they're top 10 or 20 in three‑point defense.¬† What have you seen from them guarding the perimeter?
COACH CREAN:  The numbers are only as good as the game you play and the way you have to move them around.
But I would say, to answer your question, they do a good job of switching.  They've got pretty good length.  They can cover a lot of ground because of the experience.  They can help and at the same time get back.
They don't lose perspective very often on what they need to do. ¬†So it's not like they're in an over‑help situation or they're susceptible to a lot of things.¬† You've just got to keep moving them.
Because they do such a good job of playing along the three‑point line, they're never really being rotated that much, where they're constantly in movement.¬† Because of the switching, it allows them to kind of stay the way they want to.
They're very solid.  They're very solid.  'Definitive' is just another word for efficient.  They know what they want to do.  They know how they want to play ball screens, they know how they want to play the post.  They play to their personnel strengths very well on both sides of the ball.
I'm not sure I would have a comparison of somebody right now.  They're just very good.

Q.  They have a couple of matchup problems, in particular Roosevelt Jones.  What kind of problems does he present?
COACH CREAN:  He's a tremendous driver.  We didn't do a very good job of getting him under control a couple years ago.  He drives well.  He's very strong.  It's very hard to put anybody out there because of that size and the way that he plays.
When he's able to drop his shoulder, he's really going to a runner, a floater type of shot.  He gets it up high off the glass.  He's a tremendous rebounder.
You just have to be very efficient, stay in front of him, not give him any angles, and at the same time you got to block him out, as you do with everybody else.

Q.  What makes them so efficient on rebounding?
COACH CREAN:  They just go.  They're athletic.  They're very athletic.  They're very aggressive on the glass.  They're going to create a lot of contact when they go to the glass.  If you're not prepared for it, you'll end up three, four, five feet from where you started.
They use their hands very well in getting to the boards.  Woods, he's there every time, and he spends a lot of time in that alley area, that short corner area, which puts him in position.  Jones is a very good rebounder.  They shoot enough threes, they create some long rebounds.
But they're very, very effective in the sense that their forwards, some of their wings, really go every time.  I think that's what it is more than anything else.
You've got to be committed to the block‑outs.¬† Where they've had big numbers offensive rebounding‑wise, it didn't appear to me the opponent was committed to blocking them out.¬† We have to be better there.¬† We were better last Saturday than we were last Tuesday.¬† We still need to makes strides.¬† At the same time we have to put pressure on the offensive end.¬† We have to rebound the ball better.¬† That has to become a strength for us moving forward.
No question about it, rebounding will be a huge factor in the game tomorrow.  No matter who wins it, that number is going to probably have a lot to do with it.

Q.¬† How much of practice this week was self‑assessment?
COACH CREAN:  We do that every day.  We don't take a week where we have a week in between and just factor on the other team or factor on us.  We work into us every day.  That's one of the things we do.  When it's skill development, I think that's why the improvement level has been so high over the years, because I don't think we ever get away from the fundamental development.
I don't care if it's walk‑through, it doesn't matter if it's one or two a day, we're never going to take a day and not get better at something that we need to get better at.
We're constantly, the term might be 'self‑scout', we're constantly doing that.¬† That's what your films are for, your practice films are for, your statistics are for, and really knowing your team.¬† Keeping track every day.¬† I do it myself every day, where we're at with guys.
It's almost like it is with our academics.  Every day we know exactly where the guys are in that class, what they got done the day before, what they have to do that day, what they did in study hall that night before, and what's next.
It's got to be the same with your team.¬† You got to be able to give them feedback in sometimes a structured setting, be it a film room, meeting, one‑on‑one meeting.¬† But really that feedback comes in practice, real‑time, moving time.
I couldn't tell you what the percentage of it is in practice because that sometimes varies.  But I don't think you'd have the improvement we've had in players with the shooting, with the ball handling, with the perimeter play, all those different things, defensively as guys get better through the year, if we weren't focusing on what we need to do.

Q.  What is the challenge playing Butler and Georgetown before Big Ten play?
COACH CREAN:  Well, it's where we're at.  I don't look at those assessments either.  We've got New Orleans on Monday night, who is playing extremely well.  Have a couple guys who are shooting very well, their field goal percentage, getting better all the time.
Don't look at it like that.  That's part of your assessment of where you're at as a team after you've studied that game.  Certainly we know of those games.  We know what might work because we've looked ahead to the point of studying them.
We studied Butler, Georgetown, Pittsburgh, Louisville, all those teams.  We've been studying them since the summer, then certainly reviewing it again in the fall before practice starts.  Adding to it, that's before they ever played a game this year.
With that, you're able to put stuff in motion a lot earlier, not necessarily their sets, but how you want to attack, how you want to defend.¬† Sometimes you can use similarities.¬† But we're very much a game‑plan team, very much game‑plan specific.¬† That's why we play different defenses, that's why we have different matchups, that's why we'll do different things inside of the game, sometimes inside of the possession.¬† That's what their running strengths are coming into it.
I think you're constantly looking at where your team is at after every game, and you're getting ready for that the next practice which hopefully leads to the next game.  Over the last couple of weeks, we have gotten better.  I think that's key, that we get better throughout the week.  That's why the improvement constantly has to be at the forefront, the fundamental improvement of your team.
This week there's just a little more time to do it because there's not as many games.  It's a little bit more compact because of what we're doing academically.  We want to try to do our very best to have everybody there at once.  It doesn't always work out that way.  Sometimes you may practice late, you may practice early.  It's definitely about getting ready for the game.  But you're always looking forward to the point where, Okay, we work on this, this is going to help us in two weeks.  I think there's some of that, too.

Q.  (Question regarding playing against Kellen Dunham.)
COACH CREAN:¬† Doesn't change it at all.¬† We play against great shooters all the time.¬† What he does, there's a lot of movement after he makes the catch.¬† There's a lot of shot‑faking, putting his shoulder into you, jumping into you.¬† You have to be very, very smart with how you defend him.
He's very good at creating that contact and certainly having it appear the defense created the contact.  You have to be very disciplined in how you guard him.  You've got to have great discipline and verticality once he gets the ball picked up because there's so much movement after the catch.
So the bottom line is he's more than just a shooter, he's a scorer.  He's a guy that can drive.  He has an arsenal he can get to off the dribble.  You got to be very, very disciplined not only with your individual defense but with your team defense with him.  Obviously there's other guys on the court that can make a lot of shots, as well.

Q.  (Question regarding the Crossroads Classic.)
COACH CREAN:  It's really good for the state.  It's something that was put together years ago.  It continues to be something that we're going to play for years to come.  It puts four teams in there that are all pretty good.
Maybe someday there comes a point where other teams in the state are in an event like this, it's a longer day, or a two‑day period, something like that.
It's a great recognition for everybody in the state of Indiana, all right?  No matter what network is covering it, everybody has a chance to see it, right?
But there's a lot of great basketball in the state of Indiana.  Maybe the day comes it's not only the Division I teams in the state, but maybe there's Marion or DePauw, Wabash, somebody like that, and they get a chance to play.  I'm not trying to play promotor, schedule maker, but it's a great state.
The more that you can get people to see that, see there's a lot of really good basketball here, the better it would be.
But the bottom line is every time you're in it, you're playing a very tough opponent.  That's what's most important.  That's what's most challenging.

Q.  Talking about Devin, you thought he might be able to be back for classes in the spring.  Obviously things went slower in terms of getting back to basketball.  Where do those things stand right now?
COACH CREAN:  Well, again, that's being assessed by the doctors at different times.
But it's really having a plan for either way, which we've had for some time now.  Whether he was going to be able to come back and play, whether he was not going to be able to come back and play, if he can't play, how much school can he have.  We want to be set for whatever the doctors feel is the best situation.
We're getting closer to that.  There's still a long time before the semester starts.  He's still got a lot of healing to do before the next semester starts.
As far as anytime looking at him being on the court, nobody sees that right now.  As far as him being able to get better every day, get his physical strength and stamina up, not to mention what he needs to do with his therapy, that's the most important.
What's most important is that he heals properly, that he knows it's here when he gets back, and that he can get back to being a student, because he's been a fantastic student here, a very good student here.  He was doing very well at the time of the accident, had a very good summer, had a very good freshman year.
It's certainly not going to be a normal year for him.¬† But the more you can bring normalcy back to him in the sense of getting him back to what a 19‑, 20‑year‑old structure should be like, the more we can get to that in the sense of him having his classes, being around his teammates...
We have a lot of different contingency things going on right now.  When we know where it's at, we would certainly anticipate him being back in school, and that being the most important thing.

Q.  Is there a point when you would probably say his best interest would be to redshirt him?
COACH CREAN:  I think that becomes a personal choice.  I mean, there's never been any destination date in our mind or my mind.  There's never been any target date.  I don't think there's been one in his.
I think his bottom line is he would have loved to have been healthy enough to play now.  Would he have liked to have played by now?  Probably.  The whole thing is, let's not be in a rush, let's just get better.
Every injury's hard, right?  This is completely different because you're dealing with the brain.  It's very hard to put a time assessment on that.  It's very hard to put a destination on that.
The redshirt thing has certainly been a possibility in my mind, in all of our minds really ever since it happened.  I mean, the progress he's made compared to where he's been, I mean, I can't tell you how inspiring that is.
Is it as much progress as he would probably like to make?  No, he would have probably liked to have played the first night.  It just doesn't work that way.
Either way he's going to be in a really good spot.  We just need to follow what the doctors are doing, what his rehab specialists are doing, what his therapists are doing.  We have great communication.  But at the same time our bridge is his doctors that are working with him constantly.
No matter when he comes back, it's not like it's going to be back to normal.  We need to be set up and equipped for that.  We're looking forward to that.  We're ready for that.
It's like anything else.  If they said, Okay, he's coming back today, it wouldn't take us but a very few minutes to get ready.  It's not that he is, but that's kind of the plan you have to have.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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