home jobs contact us
Our Clients:
Browse by Sport
Find us on ASAP sports on Facebook ASAP sports on Twitter
ASAP Sports RSS Subscribe to RSS
Click to go to
ASAP Sports e-Brochure View our


February 8, 2015

Tom Crean


COACH CREAN:  The loss of Dean Smith, I knew him a little bit, but I can't say I had a friendship with him.  But I was an assistant coach at Western Kentucky, Michigan State.  In fact, Tom Izzo's second college game was against Dean Smith in North Carolina.
But what stood out to me with him, meeting him on Nike trips when I was at Marquette, was on a committee with him once for an award, he always made a coach feel like a coach.¬† That's big‑time when you have a guy that's at that status because we all know that he's a coach.¬† He would make other people feel like they were a coach just by referencing to you, asking you about your team.
There's so many things that he brought to the game, there's so many things that he brought to coaching, and it's been well‑documented.¬† I think it will live out for a long, long time.
I think when you start to think about what he did with situations, what he did with strategies, what he did with offense and defense, all the different things that he did, those things will stand the test of time.
The other thing that will stand the test of time is the unselfishness that his teams played with.  I'm sure it wasn't easy.  He had some of the greatest players in the world.  Bottom line, those teams were unselfish.  They were the model of unselfishness in so many years for coaches, young coaches, for everybody to look at.
The biggest thing that always stood out to me, one thing I've never forgotten, is reading one time where one of the his former players in a book said that Coach Smith has three or four favorite players, but the difference is every one of his former players think they're one of those three or four.  I thought that was the greatest thing you could ever say about a coach.
Certainly he'll be missed.  Like I say, I don't profess to know him remotely close to what other coaches and his players know.  But our respect is high.  Our condolences are with his family, his wife, all the players and coaches that were with him.  He brought so much, so much to sports and to basketball and to coaching.
As far as today, one of the biggest things over the last three years, the difference in the three games over the last three years has been one free throw attempt with Michigan, over the last five years it's been seven free throw attempts.  That's how close the games have been.
We certainly didn't anticipate anything different than that.  We knew they would come in with great tenacity, energy, togetherness, all the things that John has built there.  We knew they would come in with that, especially after the way they played on Thursday night.  They couldn't have been happy with that.  Much like we felt like we were getting with Rutgers last weekend after playing Michigan State.  It was two teams that came in to battle.
I don't think any of us would take these games and call these our best games of the year.  But I know our guys fought and his guys fought.  I think that's the bottom line.  Fortunately we were able to have the ball one last time and we were able to get one more stop.
The free throw difference for us in the second half ended up being the difference in the game.  We got six more free throw attempts, we made four, we win the game by three.  All those things matter.
What we're trying to get our team to understand is that whatever your mindset is about, what you're going to do offensively or what you think the game is going to turn out, you're only as good as your ability to adjust, you're only as good as your ability to make the plays that need to be made when they need to be made.
We executed better coming out of timeouts.  We stayed locked in.  We stayed focused.  We made our mistakes.  We recovered from them.  That's where our maturity is growing.
Again, there's a lot of learning points from this game, as there is from every game.  It was a tale of two halves, especially with the scoring.
The bottom line is the way they're changing defenses, there's different attack points. ¬†When our guys figured that out, we had success.¬† When there's 1‑3‑1, we have to attack from this way, when they're 2‑3, we have to attack from this point.¬† When they're man‑to‑man we want to get to this.
All ends up with getting the ball in the paint, getting the ball reversed and making the next pass.  That's what it all comes down to.
Proud of our efforts, proud to have that win against a team that was very hungry.  We'll look forward to getting ready for Maryland.
THE MODERATOR:  Questions.

Q.  Anything in particular that you've taken from Coach Smith?
COACH CREAN:  Oh, absolutely.  Absolutely.  I think the driving thing would be how much time he spent on situations.  I'm sure there were a lot of coaches that spent that time, but he was the won that really dove into it.
You don't see it in every team, but you definitely see it with Roy's teams, when Bill Guthridge was there.  There was always an answer and strategy for everything.  They spent a considerable amount of time, when you look back at the books with his practice plans.
I think we all could stand, me included, to go back and study some of those principles because he was the ultimate in making sure that you were unselfish with your teammates.  He really was.
It wasn't about the scoring averages, but about the way they rewarded each other with the point after the pass, the humbling things they made the young guys do.  Those are all still things that can be done.
But I would say the situations to me, as good as he was, the ability to change defenses, and then the unselfishness.  It is good or it is cool, whatever term you want to use, all right, to be a really great player, have a great team, but make sure that your teammates get the credit.  That's some of the stuff I've really taken from following him.

Q.  How has this team been keeping its confidence?
COACH CREAN:  I think they're playing through the fatigue.  They're playing through the lulls.  When we do that, you're constantly trying to fight off that mental fatigue.  I think every team does.  It's the time of the year.  For the young teams, I'm sure John's team is going through it because they're so young.  He has key freshmen and sophomores that are playing considerable minutes with considerable responsibility.  It's not just the responsibility of scoring, it's the responsibility of what they have to do defensively.
With us, we're a game plan team, so we can do something entirely different defensively for a game.¬† Really we're getting to the point now where we're adding to the different bases we have with our defenses, whether it's a 2‑3 zone, our combination, our man‑to‑man.¬† We're adding to it.
But that takes a lot of mental wear and tear.  I think the fact that they are playing through that...  We were really good today coming out of timeouts, that's a big step, and we executed end of the half.  Yogi improvised, made a tremendous read when Collin got the read because they jumped into a different zone.
I think they're growing with that.¬† But they've come back.¬† We've had three really demanding days.¬† It was a lot less five‑on‑five, let's get ready for a game.¬† We're always fundamental, but I think it was a lot more about the details.¬† They're learning they can't get bored with that because that's what wins and loses games.
We'll be able to show that off the film.  Our coaches did a phenomenal job.  They got this thing done on Wednesday, I went recruiting in New York, but it was another place in here for a couple days.  Steve, Tim with the scouts, Chuck, just a tremendous job.  I think that's a big part of this.
I tell these guys all the time, We got five former head coaches in that room, plus me it's six.  They've sat in that chair.  When they're telling you something, they're not telling you something they hope happens, they're telling you something they've seen happens.  I think that's really important for us.

Q.  You talked a lot about maturity on and off the floor.  Are there moments whether it's in the game or film study where you watch the film and say, This wouldn't have happened last year?
COACH CREAN:  Sure.  I'm proud of these guys, knock on wood, cover it again, they're growing up.  That doesn't mean we're not going to have another mistake.  But they're making tremendous strides on and off the court.  I'm proud of what they're doing.
I'll give you a great example.  I said it to him after the game.  A year ago, Troy made a mistake, something went wrong, okay?  A year ago it would have taken four or five minutes to get him back into it.  He was ready one play later.  A year ago I would take him out of the game.  It doesn't mean it went right, that it was perfect, he just grew through it.  That's what you want.
You're always doing the Roy Firestone thing by the way.  I'm getting sick of that.  Most of these guys in here don't know, but Bob knows.
That's the biggest thing.  There's countless ways they're growing up on the court, off the court.  We just need to keep doing that every day.

Q.  About Hanner, were you trying to get him in each half?
COACH CREAN:  Yes and no.  We have to feel it.  We weren't sure till yesterday.  He didn't get up and down the court.  We knew there was certainly a chance on Thursday and Friday, but it was more after practice yesterday, Okay, we're going to be able to put him in.  It would have been great to get him extended minutes, but he wasn't ready for it.
He just wasn't as fluid with it.  But he's been through it now.  We'll get a couple days of work and we'll need him on Wednesday night and next Sunday.
So yes and no.¬† That's why I went with Stan in the second half defensively inside.¬† We weren't doing a good job with their five man.¬† The number one good thing those guys do is rebound the basketball, and today they did more than that.¬† We let Donnal step in and hit a three.¬† We know he's a three‑point shooter.¬† Did a good job on Bielfeldt.¬† Ricky Doyle played the majority of the minutes.
We covered that screen on the backside for three days, and all of a sudden we're running into it.  Then we get a help, they get a layup.  Those are the kind of mistakes we haven't grown out of yet, but we can continue to learn from.
So it really just became about really having great awareness at that position.  Hanner has missed too much time.  It wouldn't have been fair to him.  If he got off to a good start, maybe it would have been a little bit different.  It wouldn't be fair to him to have that responsibility because they're doing so many different angle screening things with Ricky Doyle that we prepared for but didn't cover well.

Q.  (Question about Blackmon's injury.)
COACH CREAN:¬† He injured his ankle.¬† It was just one of those things where he couldn't put enough pressure on it to perform on Tuesday.¬† We kept him out of practice on Sunday and Monday.¬† I tried at the walk‑through before the game.
It was really what he could deal with pain‑wise.¬† It was just too much.¬† So you don't want to injure it worse, and you don't want him to be favoring it.¬† It becomes what he can deal with type of thing.
So we kept him out a little bit.¬† He's recovered.¬† Had some freshness.¬† A guy getting a couple days, it's like going on a three‑week vacation body‑wise.
He did a good job in the second half because the game became about getting it into the short corner and getting it into the middle, the drive.¬† We went through a span of not getting close enough to the bonus, then we really got fouled, so we had to crank it up so we could win the three‑point part of this game.¬† It appeared very much it was going to come down to that at the end.
Thank you.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

About ASAP SportsFastScripts ArchiveRecent InterviewsCaptioningUpcoming EventsContact Us
FastScripts | Events Covered | Our Clients | Other Services | ASAP in the News | Site Map | Job Opportunities | Links
ASAP Sports, Inc. | T: 1.212 385 0297