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January 23, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Northwestern - 57, Indiana - 89

COACH CREAN: Our guys are really locked in to getting better throughout the week. I think when you can carry it out in the game, and it always shows up in the keys, and the keys of personnel and in the keys inside of the game. And the best thing is when they can make adjustments inside of the game because they know it could be better.

We have a lot of respect for Northwestern because they have -- they cut as hard and run their offense as well as anybody that we see. They have numerous guys that can make shots, and when you've got a guy like Tre Demps and the match-up issue that he is, and he made some tough shots today. I'm sure we're going to see somewhere we could have defended him better, but he also made tough shots, and we were really locked in to making sure that we kept pressure on their guards, especially Bryant McIntosh throughout the game.

One of the keys for us inside of this game was that Aaron Falzon who was shooting 59% on the road from three in the Big Ten didn't get loose. We had some foul trouble in the first half and he made one three late, but, again, those type of things are the things that we're really understanding and we're playing hard, aggressive.

Sometimes we're not staying and shrinking the floor the way we need to, but the bottom line is they figure it out. Offensively when we can get a stop and get the game going, it's really, really good for us, because the ball movement is strong because the body movement is really strong. Meaning that we're getting a lot of cutting and movement. The more that ball can move, the better we are.

But the keys where we didn't want to give them open threes and we wanted to keep them off the foul line, and most importantly, they were the number one offensive rebounding team in the league and we wanted to keep them off the glass. The second chance point differential, the rebound differential and the fact that we had the free throw differential, those were huge, huge keys.

When we're playing like that and making simple plays on the other end, which still we've got to continue to learn how to do a better job of, but we have a chance to keep improving. That's what their whole mindset is about.

We were in here last night watching film late, shooting free throws. They're right back in here this morning to stretch, walk through a couple things, watch some film, eat, right back in here at noon. They were right -- they had great energy to start the game. I'd be remiss if I didn't thank the crowd for their energy. It was fantastic.

Rob Judson deserves a ton of credit for the way that he prepared, as all of those guys do with Chuck Martin and Tim Buckley. But this was Rob's scout, and he did a fantastic job of leaving no stone unturned with our guys and they responded. So a big win for us against a very good team.

Q. What do you guys do to work on rebounding?
COACH CREAN: We rebound every day in practice. I think we're getting more physical with our blockouts, and there is an awareness thing to it. There really is. I don't know what the rebound difference was as far as our guard rebounding, but that's key for us as well. Our guys have a lot of respect for the opponent, and I think when you have a team that respects the opponent and respects how they win and doesn't take their abilities for granted, then that's good. That's the hunger that we've got to play with. Because, again, the lead clips, I think they had six straight rebounds and one possession, one trip down the court the other night against Maryland.

They are a team that thrives on the 50-50 balls, and we are too. We are too. So I haven't seen those numbers to see how those turn out.

But Chris is a great coach. I said this yesterday. He's not a great young coach. He's a great coach. He might be young in age, but he's not young in capability and not young in experience. He's got a great staff over there. Brian James, I've known forever. So we have a great respect level for everything about Northwestern, and our guys played that way.

Q. You talked about ball sharing, but 48 assists in the last two games, I guess that says it all?
COACH CREAN: The more simple we can make our passing and the more active we can be in our cutting, the better we are. We're moving the ball, there is no question about that. Sometimes we move it at the wrong time, wrong spot. But really the last week we've been really good about being on time, on target, and that's so crucial. It's one thing to have a passing mindset. It's a whole different thing to have an accuracy level. Again, we knew with the absence of James, and we weren't as good at this early. We got a little better at Nebraska, a little better against Wisconsin and it started to get a lot better. But we were going to have to move the ball a lot more without him because the spacing changes.

When you're guarding him, you're guarding James. James goes to 23 feet, well, you're there with him because you know he can shoot that shot. So we're seeing different defenses from people, and we've just got to make sure that we're keeping the game moving from side-to-side. Playing through the middle, playing out of the corners and really just reading where the cuts are and our guys are playing with their head up.

Q. In addition to that, nine guys made threes. Do you think guys are more comfortable taking the shot?
COACH CREAN: I think it's that. We spend a lot of time shooting the ball. We definitely cut our practice times back, but we're not cutting shooting out. We're spending a lot of time on lay-ups and different lay-ups and sometimes it looks like it, sometimes it doesn't. We posted too low today. We've got to do a much better job of that. We started posting and catching and blocking under.

Then we had three turnovers, I think, in the first half where we went out of bounds. And so we've got to do a better job there. There are so many different ways to score. You want to make sure you're trying to cover as much of it as you can in your practice. But the bottom line, they've got to be ready to shoot. They've got to be confident to take the shot. What our guys are doing are really making the adjustments with the way they're cutting and moving without it, and they're making the next pass. That's when we're at our best.

Q. Can you talk generally about what he brought to the table?
COACH CREAN: You know what's happening with OG, we're starting to expect a lot more out of him. He may not have had the numbers, but we're looking at him not as a freshman. So I guess that's the greatest compliment I could give to him, even though that he is. We're as nit-picky with him as we are with the older guys because he's capable. He's smart. He definitely has to -- his energy is a little mysterious sometimes because he doesn't always talk and he's not as vocal as he needs to be, though he's playing hard. We need more of that from him.

But what he's done, and we started to see this in practice right before the Big Ten, and it coincided, obviously, with the injury to James. It coincided a good time for him to be able to play. Because he got on the court. He can shoot the ball, but he's on the court because he can defend numerous people, and you can do a lot of different things with him. As we continue to get better and as he continues to get better, we're going to be able to do more switching. He's guarding more guards. He has to guard guys like Yogi and Rob every day in practice, so that makes him better. And he's very active. So he uses his activity, he uses his athleticism. He's got pretty good awareness, and that sustaining intensity and energy has picked up, and that's where he's got it.

He started to really figure out the spacing. He doesn't quite have it yet, but he's getting closer to that, which, because of his ability to shoot the three should give him even more open opportunities. But when he's aggressive to the glass and aggressive defensively he can split out and challenge shots and keep the dribble in front of you, he's really, really important to have on the floor.

Q. Talk about running the 17s in practice?
COACH CREAN: That's recent, yeah.

Q. What did that start?
COACH CREAN: A few weeks ago. I give them chances. They win certain things to buy out of it. They'll have one. We have the numbers. So they'll get one tomorrow night unless they buy-out of it in the sense of competition. But it's really a Big Ten thing.

But the bottom line is these guys are too good to be giving the ball over or back like that, and that's going to be one of the biggest things going to Wisconsin. We give them far too many opportunities to score here off of our own mistakes. We've got to really go up and keep getting strong with that.

But we don't talk about, hey, let's not turn it over. We just keep talking about the decision making and keep putting them in situations in practice where they have to do different things. A lot of three on four, four on five things when we can, and that stuff helps them. But, again, when you're cutting and moving without the ball like that, it shouldn't be that hard.

We really, really just need to be accurate, right? If we're accurate with our ball movement, then we're going to get good looks. If we get to the glass, we've got a chance to get the second shot.

Q. How much is Yogi raising the bar?
COACH CREAN: Oh tremendous, tremendous amount. The work ethic is always a constant, so that's not any different. It's certainly not any less. As you get to the age of him, it just continues to increase for him, and it was already pretty high when he walked in here. But I think he's sharing his knowledge. He's sharing what he sees on film. He spends a lot of extra time in film. He's way more vocal. Again today, I called a timeout and gave him the huddle, because we needed to get our pick-and-roll defense fixed. I'm very comfortable doing that with him. He just takes a seat, and I stand behind him or stand on the side.

That's the kind of ownership you want from a guy like that, but it's got to be his idea, right? Because it can be a coach's idea all you want, but until the player makes it his idea, you're never going to get the full effect. He's made it his idea. If he keeps that up, he's going to have a really good hear. He can't revert back. He's a very smart player. One of the smartest players I've ever had the privilege to coach. When you've got a smart player like that, you want them to share that knowledge and you want them to share it in realtime. Not just film sessions, which he does, and not just halftime, which he does or postgame which he does, but in realtime when the game is flying.

Q. How has Max improved since coming to Indiana?
COACH CREAN: Every area. First it was athletically and then it was foot work, and then it coincided with him getting healthier, especially in his hip. He started to see that ball go in. It's amazing the confidence level that people get when they see the ball go in the basket and when their teammates want them to see the ball go in the basket, right.

So he just continues to work very hard at that and we just keep adding aspects to it, whether it's the dribble you saw the other night in a side out of bounds play with 3 seconds to go. He went into a freeze move that was an option. There were two options coming off the timeout with 3 seconds, and you've got to make a quick play, right? There's not enough time. It's either one pass or go to the rim. He made a great decision, he got fouled on the play because he put the ball out in front of him. Those are the type of things.

We're very comfortable with him getting better with his handle. He can pass. The thing that he's really helped our team with, outside of the experience of being in this league and with the understanding post positions and defenses, he really gets deflections. Really, really active hands. Again, I think it's just because we coach him to be a better athlete every day. He's trained to be a better athlete, and we coach him to be one. He's an integral part of the group.

Q. What about his contributions?
COACH CREAN: What about Collin's contributions so far?

Q. Yes, both offensively and defensively?
COACH CREAN: He's a mainstay. You saw it last year, he just keeps getting better and better. I noticed this in film the other night, and I pointed it out to everyone else and to James who is going to be going through the same thing as he recovers. There were times when a guy would run a plant and run a crossover or would change direction on the dribble. Last year he wasn't healthy enough to recover that, and now he is. So like he played last year not even close to the 100% athletically that he would need to be, right, to be a high-level player, but he was still the second leading three-point shooter in the league.

So my point is he just continues to make progress. He's smart. He's tough. He's active. He sees things. He's aggressive. He can even be more aggressive on the glass. He can be even better cutting without the ball. He's got to play hands free. That's the biggest thing. We talk every game about, and we don't just talk at the game, we do in practice, in segments of practice where we have to understand what the officials' mandates are. It doesn't matter if we like it or not, that's what they're going to call and we've got to deal with it. And he's one of those guys that's got to continue to play hands free, move his feet and be active with his hands outside of his body. And he picks it up, right? He picks it up.

But he gets a lot of assignments that are huge, can do numerous things. We can play him at numerous positions. He ran some point guard for us as far as setting up the offense. There's been a lot more adjustments, maybe, since James has gone down than meet the eye because we've got to continue to -- maybe you see it. We've got to continue to create spacing for ourselves.

Because those first couple games, the lane was really packed in, and we've got to really make sure. Right now, when you're moving and they're playing with the confidence that they have, it's really hard to do that. And Collin, finishing your question, is a big part of that.

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