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November 30, 2015

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 112, Alcorn St. - 70

COACH CREAN: I thought our student energy was tremendous. I know it wasn't a packed house with students, but I thought they were great. I thought the band was excellent. That they got it rolling, the cheerleaders, the whole thing. That is the kind of atmosphere that it needs to be, because I think that kind of stuff helps us continue to get better. I thought these guys tonight really responded in a very positive way. Hit a lot of good Marx in the sense of defensive second half, cutting offensive rebounds down to three, Troy being right near a double-double was impressive.

James' shooting was certainly impressive. But the 15 deflections was far more impressive to me because that's what you want to do. You want to get it to the point where your defense is creating your offense. And I think the 2-1 turnover ratio which is really strong, we went through the paint a lot. We had six guys in double figures and we changed defenses. I thought we took care of the ball. We certainly didn't slow down. So we showed that we can play at a really good pace, and also take care of the ball.

But I thought the ball really, really moved well and it looked very accurate. It's a good win to the start of a really busy week, and a big week, obviously, because we're going on the road to Duke. But I thought they really responded over the last three days, coming back, getting off a plane on Friday night, taking a shower, getting something to eat and going right to practice. Then the time change starts to hit when you start to go back to school, and I thought they played with great energy.

So really proud of all of them, and proud of the way they prepared and proud of the way they came out and played the 40 minutes.

Q. I heard there was a players' only film session in Hawaii. Who organized that?
COACH CREAN: I think the players did. I was already gone. I think that it was Yogi and Max, yeah. So I was already gone and heard about it when I got back, and I thought it was great that they did. I think they went through the film. You'd have to ask them for sure, but I know they got a lot out of it. We watched film back here. We watched more edits. But I think they watched the game. That's good ownership.

Q. It seems like over Yogi's four years he's really matured. Is it communication on the court and how much freedom does he have?
COACH CREAN: Well, I think he's got a lot of freedom. I think he plays and knows our concepts very well. I think he's improved and matured constantly. And I thought he set the point of attack tonight defensively really, really good, and he brought a lot of confidence to his teammates with his defense. So really, that is the most important thing.

Is your leader, is he unselfish? Is he a hard worker? Is he an excellent defender, and can he impact the game when it's not going great for him? And he's well on the way to doing all of those things.

Q. As the game moved along, how was the offensive rebounding?
COACH CREAN: I think we showed it at halftime. I think at times we had three guys on the ball which created backside boards, and at times we had two or three guys trying to block the shot, which is not what you want. So a little bit of our rotations were not where they needed to be. So we want to rotate over, but we also want to rotate back so the weak side is really in the form of an I.

And the terminology is V-over, which slides over to help on the post up, and then the V-back, slides back into it, and he's going to get the backside board. Then the other top guy becomes the centerfielder, more or less. And we weren't getting that. We had two many guys rallying to the ball trying to make a play. But at the same time, when that ball is missed, there is nobody there. The guard doesn't come all the way down from the top of the key basically from where they were at. So we got that adjusted.

But we knew we wanted to change defenses more in the second half, and we did, and it got better. The fact that we only allowed -- I have to watch the film to see what our blockouts were like, but the fact it was only three offensive boards was a positive.

Q. What went into the decision to have three guards tonight?
COACH CREAN: I just made it basically. That's what I did.

Q. Nothing went it to it at all?
COACH CREAN: I just kind of rolled the dice and picked names out of a hat. No, we want to get better at it, right? It's just we want to do different things, so made a decision.

Q. You mentioned the time change and class after Maui. Was it beneficial to get back out there right away?
COACH CREAN: Absolutely. There is no question about that. It wouldn't matter if we're playing Duke on Wednesday. You want to play a game, especially a game of Duke's magnitude, you want to try to play another game because, again, the time changes and things like that hit everybody differently.

Personally I'm glad that game is so late on Wednesday night. I think that's great. I know it's a primetime game, but I think it's great it's going to be that late. Gives these guys a chance to get a little rest on Wednesday. They'll have a full day tomorrow before we leave. But, yeah, my first year here we played on a Sunday. I wasn't real sure about that move. We inherited that move. That's tough. We won the game. We beat Cornell, because remember all those wins that year which was a big win for us in its own right. But that's way too early, way too early. So Monday, Monday's about right.

Q. Given what happened in Maui, is there a concern on your part?
COACH CREAN: No, I think it's going to be their first road game. That is the most important thing, it's a first true road game in a tough environment. I've coached against Duke and Mike, but I've not coached at Cameron so I can't prepare them as much for that. It wouldn't matter if I could. I mean, it's different, right?

So that's the most important thing is that we stay in character. That we play the way we're capable of playing and play through mistakes and try to eliminate the unforced ones as much as possible.

Q. What do you need from James' game?
COACH CREAN: He just answered it. That's what he said. That's the whole key. It's so important that you focus on the other parts of it, the defense, the rebounding, the ball movement, moving without the ball. It's amazing. It's amazing how that ball moves when everybody's doing the same thing.

There were some great clips that we'll have to build on inside of this game on ball movement, even on some missed shots. But, again, it's the defense. It's coming out with an act of energy. It's coming out. Our defense, we can say it was a team that maybe wasn't as good as obviously the teams we played last week or we could say we were much better in attacking the ball or getting over screens.

We had some different things we're going to do defensively tonight that we never really got to. So we'll hold on to them. But that's what it is. It's really coming out with a defense, a rebounding, ball-movement mindset, and it's amazing. We're not going to lose too many games. You get five or six guys in double figures, and he just happened to be shooting at an incredible rate. But he also created so much of his defense for himself and others tonight.

Q. Going along with that, what about James' defense?
COACH CREAN: Big time, big time. That's huge. Because they need -- we see it as coaches, but it's -- and you can show it on film, but it's so different when they feel it and they do it themselves different. And they need those reminders that this is what it looks like.

I kept track of his deflections, I saw his points at halftime and my eyes popped. I didn't realize he had that many. I knew he was playing good defense, and I knew we all were moving the ball. But once I saw he had that many deflections at the half, it was important he kept doing it, and I think he was at 9-6. That's important. 9 of the 6 with less minutes in the second. So that's really important that you continue to build on that.

There were numerous situations like that. Troy's rebounding, the ball movement I mentioned so much rotations, getting, I think we'll be a lot happier when we look at the film and see how we attack the screens.

You've got to attack. We had ball screen problems there because of some of our coverages that guys aren't really to do that as much yet. But it's still no reason that we can't be attacking our leg over the screen and just fight over the screen. Tonight maybe the screens weren't as strong, but we were a lot stronger in our fight and our getting over the pick. And that's really important.

Q. Coach, you've got a lot of players in this evening. Harrison scored his first bucket?
COACH CREAN: Happy for him. He's worked hard.

Q. Any rituals for that when a player scores his first bucket?
COACH CREAN: I think we ought to start something. I think we'll shave his head. I think we'll give him a head shave. Can we do that? We'll get in trouble? No, I think we'll just thank him and tell him to come back in early tomorrow morning. He's had a full day. He lifted weights this morning. He did an individual. He's a great kid.

We had a little meeting yesterday about how important it is that even though he's not playing that he prepare and play like he's playing because his opportunity will come, and it could have come earlier tonight, but I wanted to do a couple different things. But we love having him. I mean, he's going to be a good player here. So I'm just kidding about the shaved head. It won't happen.

Q. What will be the big challenges with Duke?
COACH CREAN: Oh, tremendous challenges. They drive to the rim. They get fouled. They have inside-outside attacks. They really, really want to get fouled. I think Grayson Allen may be averaging seven or eight fouls drawn a game. That's tough. We'll have to be really sharp defensively.

It will be interesting to see how the game gets called early. I had a lot of conversations tonight with the referees. It wasn't arguing, it's more about understanding. It's still how you draw charges and on the perimeter and how you deal with a pushoff. There is still so much learning going on.

I'm not one of those that has complaints about the rules, and I don't have complaints about the officiating. I have -- we're all trying to understand it. And as long as the referees are good at helping me try to understand it. I even said tonight, tell him why that's a foul.

We do that all the time in practice, and I guess I get used to that. Right? It's not their job. But when they do, everybody's trying to get better. You're trying to make the game of basketball better constantly. If the rules are going to do that, let's do it. Let's just see how quickly we can understand them.

Duke provides a lot of challenges because of the way they drive the ball. They have very good spacing, and they're shooting the ball at a high rate. Luke Kennard is coming off a really good game. Marshall Plumlee, think about it, he came out with Cody Zeller. Cody's in his third year in the NBA. Marshall is an energy force on their team. He's going to be hard to deal with because of the length and his strength.

It will be a challenge. So we're looking forward to it though.

Q. Talk about not being able to prepare a team for an environment when you approach a game like this, how much does he want them to kind of think about that and think about the gravity of the game and use that as motivation versus getting too wrapped up in it?
COACH CREAN: I don't think we'll have any trouble with being ready to play a game like that. It's more making sure we understand the personnel, understand what they want to do, and understand how best we want to attack that and try to keep as accurate and we want to play fast, but we can't play reckless. You can't play reckless against anybody and give the ball away, and you certainly can't do it there.

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