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February 11, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Iowa - 78, Indiana - 85

COACH CREAN: First and foremost, the resiliency of our team, you've got to thank our crowd. Cody was with us tonight, and the decibel, I think, reached 120, 121 level his freshman year when he had a break-away against Michigan State, I remember hearing that. I don't know what it's been since then, but I think that decibel level was broke tonight a couple times in the game because it was excruciatingly loud and it was tremendous.

The crowd brought so much energy. We had a lot of energy because we were playing a great team. And Iowa is everything that they're made out to be. They're everything that we thought they would be, from watching them on film, from the way they've gotten better over the years. And they've earned their record. Nobody has handed it to them.

Fran is a great coach, tremendous coach, tremendous staff over there. And we knew we were going to have to play a very hard, competitive, efficient game. At times we weren't efficient but we found a way and we were very competitive. We played with really strong grit which these guys are learning what that's all about.

And we got a lot of contributions from a lot of different people. And I thought for us some real turning moments in the game, but I thought when Yogi came in the game after he took a couple of breaths and went back in, I don't know, it was the eight, nine-minute mark, whatever it was, I thought he really settled in and his performance tonight reminded me of the Notre Dame game. He wanted to win the game so bad against Notre Dame, and he wasn't shooting it that well.

And he settled himself in, made his teammates better. Played tremendous defense, and raised to everybody's level. That's really kind of what happened tonight. And -- but we got so much good play from so many people, and to outrebound this team, to get 44 deflections, to have the run we had in the second half, to have so many people contribute, is really a -- it's an honor to coach them because they work extremely hard every day and they do extra and they study extra, and at the same time they're doing such a good job in school. But they spend a lot of time with each other trying to make each other better, trying to understand each game for what it is. And we had to have all of that and more tonight, because that is -- Iowa is the real deal. There's no doubt about it.

So, we earned this one. And we're proud of our guys. And it only gets easier. Now we get to go to East Lansing. So there's our schedule. That computer had a way of spitting out the schedule for us this year. But I know Tom has been sitting there anxiously awaiting this game especially after Tuesday night. They'll have 15,000 of his closest friends ready to go along with his team and it will be a tremendous atmosphere.

But this is a big step for us to tonight, and we're looking forward to our next challenge on Sunday.

Q. It's a big step for you tonight, especially the rest of the schedule. What will a win like this do against a top five opponent like Iowa that you have so much respect for?
COACH CREAN: I think it's just another great experience. We'll find a lot of things that we could have done from film. And hopefully we'll find some things that we'll do better when we go to Iowa, just like Fran will. But the bottom line is we competed throughout the game, and we played with confidence.

I had tremendous confidence in our players tonight. Saturday night I got a little upset with them at times. I didn't see the same lookback. And I think tonight they were really, really -- they really wanted to win, and at times we just needed to settle down a little bit.

And I think that's what it is. I mean, you don't have to play perfect you've just got to try to play as right as you possibly can. And you've got to try to cover for one another, and you've got to win the hustle game because that's what Iowa wins. They win the hustle game. I thought the way the bench played, I thought the way we were on the glass, even though we gave up some timely rebounds, I thought the way we shot the ball from the free-throw line, the fact we got to the free-throw line, those are the kind of things. You've got to find a way. If we did a better job Saturday night of getting the ball in the paint and getting fouled, I don't think we would have lost the game. We shot 26 free throws and we were in the bonus at the 12 and half minute mark. The reason I bring that up is because it's all part of those experiences that you have to learn from. And we have some older guys that were still a relatively young team when it comes to the freshman Max being here, they're learning so much about each other. But every game is giving you something different and you have to figure that out, and I hope they take that from tonight.

Q. Question on the meaning of the win.
COACH CREAN: I haven't really looked at the numbers. I didn't really even know the score. I looked at the deflections and the rebounds. I haven't studied that really yet.

Q. Question on winning in team fashion.
COACH CREAN: No, absolutely. I just think some guys -- Troy was like Lazarus, he resurrected himself a couple of times in the game, right? I love Troy. We don't want to drive the baseline when there's three down there. We want to cut along that baseline when there's nobody there. But we wouldn't win these games without his activity, without the plays that he makes. He was really, really aggressive on the glass. So I think there was some really good moments. I think there were certainly some really hard-fought moments. They kept fighting.

Today you never know who is going to be in to close a game, and so today we weren't on the court very long for walk-through, but we did watch film. One of the things as a coach that you have to determine, it's a fine line, especially on the day of the game, okay, we're going to go over how they win games in the last two minutes, how they play at the end. Because you don't want to put doubts in your guys' minds.

But at the same time if they really take it in, if those moments come and they have that kind of confidence, we very much felt like Iowa wasn't going to go away no matter what we did. So it was the bottom line that we had to figure out a way to win the game. It's more that to me than it is the individual scoring and things like that. I'm sure the percentages will not be great, but the fact that -- I know the free throw percentage is great and that's key.

Q. Question on early season struggles.
COACH CREAN: No, not at all. No. I knew we were too young. I knew the inner workings. I knew we had some health issues with Thomas. We just weren't as connected yet as we needed to be offensively. No, we've got too good of people for them to have gone -- and I got a lot of confidence in myself and the staff. Our things were correctible. And there's no doubt about it. And we were working really hard.

I had a friend of mine tell me, because sometimes we might have been too hard. He said no, that's how you build your mental toughness. You work hard, you play in those type of games, you go through those experiences to get your mental toughness. And it manifests itself. If you don't do the work then it's too easy to give in in games. The one thing that this team hasn't done is give in in any games. But I was never worried that they wouldn't get better. And I think we can continue to get better. And I think we have to with the schedule we have to. So I was never worried about that.

Q. Question on using Collin as the primary defender on Uthoff.
COACH CREAN: Well, I think that the one thing he's got, he's like the -- he's got some Nowitski in his footwork, he's -- Krzyzewski. He's got some Keith Van Horn. Our players wouldn't remember Keith Van Horn, but he's got such good footwork.

He's athletic, he's longer than people think. He leads the league in blocked shots. I think the key is you can't give him a steady diet of anything. We did not guard him as well, obviously, as we wanted to. We did not defend him the way that we had practiced as much. But that's a tribute probably to him, as much as us. But the key is that you can't get your hands in his body.

You've got to get out wide. Get your chest out. Get your arms out and be active with your feet because he's so good with his feet.

One thing that we spend time on is studying what's their strong foot, what foot do they need to score on. He can go off either. And that's, for that level of player, for that size of player, to have that level of footwork, to go with all the other things he has, makes it really, really hard.

Jok is the same way. Jok has tremendous footwork as well. It's just a matter of giving them different looks and we felt he was the best for it. And we'll have to really look at the film and see what we have to do better next time we play them.

But they're hard to deal with. I mean, they are really hard to deal with. And one thing that's been such a plus for their team, one reason they're so good is their numbers across the board, when they go to the bench they don't lose much. And I thought our bench did a really good job tonight and we took every one of their guys on the bench as serious as we took their starters, because you have to with Iowa.

You will start for a lot of times, Baer would start for a lot of teams. Wagner, those guys. They're going to be their starters eventually there. So our guys, they did a really good job understanding personnel, but we've got to do much better in two weeks or three weeks when we play.

Q. Question on second half timeout huddles.
COACH CREAN: You've got to be careful with that, because the referee, be careful you say that they think you're stealing another timeout.

It wasn't going to be good if it wasn't real. They've been around me long enough to know when it's real and when I'm upset about something. I felt good with them. I felt like all of our mistakes were correctible. And I thought our mindset was great. We've had three really good days of work. Sunday night we were going to practice anyways. And it was more combative than what it would have been based on certainly the way we played Saturday night. And they responded to that.

And I have great belief in them. If we would have lost the game, it wasn't because they weren't doing everything they could do to win. We might have looked back, okay, this turnover got us or this mistake got us. But they were really, really going at it.

When you've got a team that's like that, you've got to keep encouraging them to believe they're going to get it done.

Q. Question on Yogi's maturity.
COACH CREAN: Not easy. I think the Notre Dame game was the turning point in my mind. Collin Hartman said this to somebody at some point, because I read it somewhere, that the difference in Yogi is he takes them with them.

Yogi is so smart. He's one of the smartest players I've ever coached, bar none, and I've coached some really smart players. But he really understands the game. And he wants to win badly.

And sometimes he's his own worst enemy because he tries to do it himself, and in the past missing those shots would have knocked him out. But I think he's starting to believe he's a really good point guard and that this team needs him to keep his confidence up so that they keep theirs up. And when he's moving the ball -- it's just a matter of time before Yogi is going to make the next shot.

At other times I can see what he needs to correct. He doesn't shoot it on the way up. It's just a little thing. But we've got the whistle blow, missed it, threw that lob that almost went over the backboard, it's time to get a break here for a minute. And he handled that extremely well. And no trepidation.

He went right back in and played great. So he's really matured this year. He understands. And he's got to keep up because he's had his moments. He could have led better on Saturday night. No doubt about that.

But when he attacks but makes the game easier for his teammates, it's amazing how well he scores. It's amazing how well he does things. And he's been a focal point of everybody's scouting report for really since Cody and Vic walked out the door, right? He's been the key guy there.

And it's even more so with no James. It just moves everybody up to the level of what they're trying to take away because James isn't there stretching the floor. So I'm really proud of him. He's doing an excellent job. And he works hard every day to be better.

Q. Question on taking a punch and coming back.
COACH CREAN: Crowd helped us, let's be honest about it. They stayed really strong with us. But I think these guys have been down -- they've earned their wins. They learned a lot from the losses. They learned a lot from the wins.

And we've been in some real battles. And I think that's -- this is obviously the best team we've played thus far. Just from top to bottom. And their top to bottom is 1 to 9 with what they have.

So I think they've got a lot of respect for Iowa. I don't think anybody looked at it, would you like to gun a run like we had against Michigan or Iowa State I'm sure you would but the other team has something to do with that too.

I think they're just growing up. They practice really hard and they compete against one another, and they push one another, there's a lot of encouragement with one another. I think all those things help.

The energy is high. Sometimes the energy may be a little negative. You know, especially maybe from me. But it's going to be high. The energy is going to be high. Tonight it was real positive energy the whole way.

Q. Question on playing Harrison early.
COACH CREAN: He did a really good job. I told Harrison the other day, he's done an excellent job for us. He's turning down scholarship offers to come to Indiana. And I told him and I told Ryan Burton the same thing, those two aren't doing anything wrong not to play. Sometimes there's a reason guys aren't playing. Sometimes they're just not good enough. Those two are.

We've just got some other guys that are ahead of them. It doesn't have anything to do with me that they're walk-ons, because the way they work, they do all the same things that everybody else does. And there's no question we're playing Yogi too many minutes at times. And I knew this was going to be an extremely fast-paced game.

And Harrison just needed to have that confidence. Sometimes he's his own worst enemy because he overthinks it, and we just wanted him to play fast. I wouldn't say reckless, but try to play fast and be really, really cognizant of moving the ball to people and be confident that he's out there and not worry about who he's matched up with, just do his best job. And I thought he did a fantastic job.

He's tough. He's a tough, young guy. And he's got to play more. I mean, it's been me, not him. It's just been playing those other guys more.

But with the loss of James, when it happened, we never had that depth that you truly wanted at the guard position. We can do other things because of O.G. and Juwan, because of their length and they can guard guards. But we have to have another guy that can handle the ball. And I was really proud of the way he played.

Q. Question on the win validating the team's standing.
COACH CREAN: Absolutely. Thus far. No, we didn't have anything to do with the schedule. We got the schedule that the computer gave us. We have our non-league schedule that we pick. But we got the schedule that the computer gave us.

So it is what it is. And certainly there's going to be television ramifications in there for the time of year with Big Ten Network or ESPN and CBS, things like that, I understand that. But I think that the mentality of this team, especially going back to early December, has been nobody has taken anybody lightly that we play, whether it's nonleague, whether it's league, whatever it is. Every game has got a tremendous value.

We were kind of left for dead, right? So they had to respond that way. And they did. That's why we won those games. So, no, I don't feel like that. I feel like our guys battled against one of the best teams in the country and we came out with the victory and we've got to go back there in a few weeks.

Q. Question on attacking the run with success.
COACH CREAN: I would say the easy answer is we weren't trying to take it into the shot blockers. But I think some of them were rebounds; some was getting behind the defense. They did a really good job post defense. They made it really hard for us to get the ball inside.

We worked on that. We knew they were going to go down three-quarter, and we tried to triangle a little bit, run a triangle on a side where we could kind of either enter it from the wing or the corner. And they did a really good job with that.

So we're really going to have to adjust how we get in on them again. But I think early on in the second half, I don't have a great answer for you, because we don't want to take challenge shots. But early on in the second half, we were so cognizant on trying to get it inside, and we weren't getting it and they were coming down and getting layups and dunks, that we just had to play. Let it flow the way that it flows.

So when that's happening, we get behind the defense. We get some shots from 3. We get some shots in the paint. And we're not a team that's going in trying to attack shot blockers. That's not what we're built for.

I'd have to watch the film to give you a real more of a clear-cut answer but that's more the mindset when we go.

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