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January 31, 2015

Tom Crean

Indiana ¬Ė 72
Rutgers - 64

TOM CREAN:  This was a great win for a lot of reasons because we knew Rutgers would come in, and in this league you can't play anybody by their stats.  You've got to play them by how well they're coached and by the capabilities of their players and what they're capable of doing, and just because the Rutgers guys are new to the Big Ten, they're certainly not new to college basketball and they're not new to success, especially with Jack and Myles Mack, and you watch these guys from high school on, so you know that they have capabilities, and we knew we were going to get a really good Rutgers team, and our guys prepared that way.
It wasn't about the margin of victory, it was about the way that they got better in the game, because we've had a long week, and certainly when you lose a couple games like we did and you go on the road, it just messes with you, but we knew that we had to get better.¬† They definitely worked very hard.¬† We had a tremendous practice yesterday.¬† They were ready to go, and we had to grind it out.¬† I hate the word grind, but we had to be really tough today to figure out a way to win it.¬† We had to play‑‑ we just had to have a harder exterior. ¬†It's not about playing hard.¬† I think everybody does that, even when you lose, I'd be hard pressed to find a time we didn't play hard, but you've got to be harder to deal with, you've got to be harder to score against, you've got to be harder to stop.¬† You've got to be harder on the glass.
We tried to push a few buttons that would do that, and I thought our guys really responded.¬† We had some great runs.¬† That run at the end of the first half was a key, key run for us in this game, and we had different people that were a part of it.¬† When we first started to make the run at the end of the second half, we had four freshmen and Troy in the game, and then I think in the last 10 possessions, Rutgers had, we got seven stops, and that's to me‑‑ it's not about passing the eye test, it's not about being beautiful, it's about being productive.
We needed to be a more efficient executing offense.  In a lot of ways we were.  We needed to be a more connected defense.  We needed to be better on the boards, and we were.  We needed to get to the foul line, and we didn't make some early, but I think we made our last 10; is that right?  We made our last 10.  And we had guys play through it.
And then Myles Mack, we knew what he was capable of, he did it, and then we were able to get that tightened up a little bit.
As far as the starting lineup, it's a couple different things.¬† I've said for some time we've got numerous guys that I believe can start, and this one was really about in the case of Stan, it was about the match‑up with Kadeem Jack, and in the case of Rob, it was more about bringing‑‑ we knew we needed to bring fatigue to the game, and we needed to have a better push in the middle of the game.¬† We needed to get‑‑ we didn't need to back off our brake, back up our early offense in the middle of the first half, and I thought it would be good to change it up today.¬† I thought it would, and I think there was a good response to that, and Troy had a double‑double, but really had an Indiana triple‑double because he got 11 deflections, and when Troy is playing that way, that's the Troy Williams that we need to have.
The points to me are a byproduct of his efficiency, his activity, his desire to get to the basket, his desire to deflect and defend, his desire to rebound, the energy that he played with, and usually when he plays like that, he gets the points.  I thought Rob came in and made some big plays, but those guys are starters.  They just didn't start today.  That's what it is.  It's really not any deeper than that.  Nobody did anything wrong.  It's just a matter of changing it up and going a little bit different.

Q.  Did you try to play simpler when you made the run?
TOM CREAN:¬† Yeah, we've got to go back and watch what we were running on offense, but we wanted to make sure that we‑‑ the ball needed to move and it needed to be reversed and it needed to go through the paint.¬† We say that every time, right; well sometimes that's easier said than done.¬† So we had a little bit more set calls today, and in fact, what we really put the game away on was off of something that we have that we usually don't get to the third pass on, and then all of a sudden we're executing it throughout the game and all of a sudden Nick is wide open and just little spacing things, making the pass one dribble sooner.
So yes, I do think without having the memory of everything that we did at the end of that half offensively that the ball moved quick, that it moved one dribble early.  We had some great back cuts inside of the game, so we definitely cut with a purpose.  That's where Troy is at his best, right, and played with our head up.
And it's very, very easy to lose sight that the greatest fundamental you can have on offense is to have vision and to play with your head up, and it's also very easy to, like anything else, if you're not focused on that, it's easy to get away from it, and today I thought we played with our head up and I thought our defensive connectedness was certainly much better at the end of that first half.

Q.  Did you have to encourage Nick to shoot the ball tonight?
TOM CREAN:  No, the only thing I want Nick to know a little bit more is time and score, but we could have come back down and Nick could have maybe knocked that down three, four, five more times.  This guy had 18 points in a couple of minutes at Evansville last year.  He can get it going.  What we want is for him to continue to be a complete player, but at the same time he was a product of his cuts, he was a product of the ball moving, good screening, getting squared up.  The only thing I ever say to him about his shot sometimes is like I said, time and score and then just where his body is at, his footwork.  Even great shooters need those reminders now and again.  No, we didn't have to remind him of that.  He's out there.  We weren't out there to take time off the clock, we were out there to execute offense, and he did a great job with that.

Q.  How do you execute better after getting offensive rebounds?
TOM CREAN:¬† Well, let me see, because we put it right back up and in.¬† I'm going to go with the fact that we had 13 offensive rebounds and say that's a real plus.¬† I know there was some ones that we got up‑‑ I think James shot some right back up when we had some early and we didn't get those, but I think what we want to continue to do to really be better is when we don't have something right at the paint‑‑ the majority of those were right at the paint if I'm remembering correctly and we just didn't get them, but if we have something that's outside the paint we want to do a better job of finding the three.¬† We have not emphasized that this year because the last thing you want to have happen and those guys that are making threes to be waiting for that offensive rebound that never comes, right, so that lineup today, the only guy not going to the offensive board was Yogi.¬† Again, James had an excellent game because he got his game going with the defense and he got his game going with the rebounding and all of a sudden at the end of the game he's got 20 points.
It's the secret you want everybody to figure out.  When you're focused on the things that you can control, the rest of it comes.
So we don't want to overemphasize that three off the board.  What we want to do is go get the board and then sprint out if we don't have it in the paint and get that next pass for a three or even one more pass and try to get more threes in the game off our offensive rebounding, but we've got to get the board first.

Q.  Did you try to get Troy to respond by keeping him out of the starting lineup?
TOM CREAN:  No, I didn't say that.  I didn't say there was a message sent.  It wasn't anything more than what I said.

Q.  Does the team's performance depend on whether Troy has a good game or a bad game?
TOM CREAN:¬† Sure, that's Troy's identity.¬† You just watched Troy's identity as a player right there.¬† That's what it looks like.¬† It's very easy to look, well, as Troy goes the team goes.¬† I saw Matt Painter said that.¬† He's right to a degree on that, but it's more than the points and the rebounds.¬† It's the activity, it's the energy, it's the leadership.¬† It's the sharing his knowledge.¬† Stephen Bardo said something today at the pregame walk‑through, he said, when did Troy start leading like that, because he heard him on the court holding guys like Max and people like that responsible for where they needed to be.¬† Well, that's his intelligence, and that's why we hold Troy to a very high standard, because he is a very smart person and player.
When he plays like that and he's sharing that knowledge and he's aware and energized like that, everybody is better for it, and then like I said at the end of the day, there's the points, right, but it's all a byproduct of the energy, the activity, the intelligence and all those type of things, and we just need to remind him that that's what he does best.

Q.  Is it a natural part of Troy's growth to have a valley or a dip?
TOM CREAN:¬† Sure, absolutely.¬† It's all understanding‑‑ it's very easy to get away from what your identity is.¬† There's a lot of things to read, there's a lot of things to hear, and the bottom line is you've got to stay true to it, and that's where the coach comes in.¬† That's when Troy is at his best because he's smart now, and adding to what Stephen said, I'd come last year and he said, he wasn't like that then.¬† He grows up.¬† You grow up and you keep pushing him to be at that point, and hopefully whether it's Stephen Bardo or somebody else sees that in a year when they're watching a Saturday morning walk‑through as they're preparing to do TV for the game, they see the same thing in some of the younger guys.
We're trying to teach them constantly their responsibility of leadership, and it's not all about rah‑rah and it's not all about back slapping and it's not all about chest bumping, but it is about carrying it out, using your gifts, using your knowledge, and holding people responsible.¬† Transition defense, and we got quiet a couple times on screens and Myles Mack hit a couple.¬† The game is always moving at a pace, and if your mind is not around it and your talk is not around it, it's really hard to have your feet and your hands around it.¬† That's what we're trying to continue to learn all the time.

Q.¬† On defense how do you make pressure more often than just a few‑minute stretches here and there?
TOM CREAN:¬† You mean today?¬† Because we have won some games in the Big Ten.¬† We've played some decent defense in those games.¬† I don't know, get ready for the next game.¬† I don't have an answer to that.¬† If I had the answer to that, we wouldn't have momentum shifts and swings.¬† I mean, it's just part of it.¬† You just read the game, right, and they really‑‑ they did a good job of clamping down.¬† Our communication was better.¬† Our urgency was high.
I'll give you an answer.¬† You've got to have a high level of urgency, and the higher that you have it, not where there's anxiety and you're rushing, because we've had some plays where we overreacted, all of a sudden they get a back‑cut lay‑up or a get a roll dunk.¬† You don't want that.¬† You just want to be alert, calling it early, staying in front, chest in front of the ball.¬† It's the basic fundamentals, but it's just doing them time and time again.

Q.  You talked about the way Troy responds to adversity, but does the team follow Troy's lead?
TOM CREAN:¬† No, we're not someone‑‑ no.¬† I think they're a pretty connected group.¬† They like each other a lot.¬† They responded.¬† They knew that‑‑ I didn't know it when Mike asked the question yesterday but then heard about it after. ¬†They responded to a question of toughness, right?¬† I'm just kind of going by what I see, but they responded to that.¬† So I think that's good.¬† They work extremely hard.¬† These guys are, without a doubt‑‑ if the season ended today, and thank God it doesn't, but this would be one of the hardest working teams that I've ever had the privilege of coaching, and they're young.¬† They're also as young or one of the youngest I've ever coached, ever been a part of.¬† But they are that hard‑working.¬† But continue to understand‑‑ and that means the whole deal.¬† That means practices, that means extra work, that means getting in that film room and really trying to dive in and do it.¬† The way they work in the weight room.¬† They're a hard‑working group.¬† It's just a matter of maturing to the consistency level of how you stay connected in the game and how you stay efficient on the offensive end and how you keep going time and time again to the glass, those type of things.¬† How do you keep doing it‑‑ how do you do the things you do the most the best and just keep going at it, and that's what we're trying to make sure they understand, and they're slowly but surely learning that.

Q.¬† How do you keep a free‑flowing offense going?
TOM CREAN:¬† Well, we're a different‑‑ I'm not ready to talk about Wisconsin yet other than they are unbelievably good.¬† I haven't seen enough to have that plan down.¬† But we have to play different ways.¬† I said that at the beginning, in the sense of today was good, it ended up being more of a possession by possession.¬† Sometimes we created that, okay.¬† We weren't trying to slow the game down, but we were trying to execute our offense better.¬† Sometimes we broke that off and a couple times we subbed for it because what we're trying to get them to understand‑‑ that's a pretty good question.¬† I probably should say this more.
When is it time to pass, when is it time to shoot, what's the action for them because we are free‑flowing, right, and there were times today we passed up numerous shots, and the fans even responded I heard a couple times to that.¬† Rob had a wide‑open three on the wing; take it.¬† We're not trying to get him to not take those shots.¬† Have it simplified to the point, make sure that ball is touching the paint, make sure it's a rhythm shot that you can make, and when it's time to run an action, when we're trying to go inside because we don't have a true post‑up game per se right now so we have to get the post‑up through different places.¬† It's fun to think we're just going to go through the paint every time.¬† We've got to actually get it in the post.¬† The few times that we're trying to do that, we've got to make sure we do that because we're putting guards down in the post some so that they can play, rip the ball through, drive it, get a match‑up, but at the same time also kick it out to shooters.
It's really a balance of players understanding we're running this play or we're just playing, and when we run the play, now it free flows into a lot of movement from there.  But sometimes this is what we have to get, and we haven't done a great job of understanding that because we are letting them play very free, and I let them probably play a lot freer than coaches on my staff would like to see that be, but bottom line is I want them to be able to learn through those mistakes, learn through the cuts.  Those aren't set plays when Troy Williams is dunking on that baseline.  That's movement, and that's a key for us.  I don't have a great answer how that's going to happen consistently, but I know we keep working at it daily.

Q.  You've mentioned this is your hardest working team.  Is that a result of the influx of freshmen?
TOM CREAN:¬† It's everybody.¬† I've said all year, the freshmen are serious.¬† No.¬† You don't have a hard‑working team if it's just a group.¬† You have a hard‑working team if it's a team.¬† We've had hard‑working players.¬† Last year's team had some really hard‑working players, but it wasn't the hardest working team I've ever coached, okay, because it's the extra work and things like that.¬† It's the sacrifice you make.¬† This team has grown into that.¬† They have a very serious mindset, the young guys do for the most part, especially Rob and James, and the older guys are growing up, they're seeing it, they're having success, they want to keep having it.¬† Slowly but surely they're understanding what makes them successful, and at the same time at times what makes them not be successful.¬† I think it's everybody.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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