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March 6, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Maryland 62, Indiana 80

COACH CREAN: I think people who have been here know how special a night it is on senior night, especially with everything that's gone on this year with this team and the way they've responded. And it worked out in a big way. We knew it was going to have to. And I'm really proud of the way these guys had tremendous focus, because senior night can go so many directions.

And the emotions can overtake it and can make you do things that you shouldn't do. And it can make you think thoughts that get in the way of winning and competing. And our guys didn't let that happen. We had a couple of moments where we had a couple of turnovers and going so fast. And we could see it yesterday in practice. They've been ready for this game since Friday. We haven't been ready probably medically and dealing with some virus issues with guys that we handled. But they were really edgy the last couple of days.

They were anxious to play. And I knew that was a very good thing because I never worried about anything complacency-wise coming into this group because it hasn't all year. But you also worry about getting out of character. And they didn't do that. And they didn't do that. And we knew we were going to have to be everything that has made us successful and then some because of the talent of Maryland, because the way Mark coaches them, because of their ability to score inside and outside. And our guys did that.

They did. And Maryland is a dynamic team. When you have people that can score at the block, score at the 3 like that, it's an issue. But our crowd was great. Our guys were very focused. I haven't even looked at, studied the stat sheet at all, so I can't tell you a lot about that. We met again here -- we met right after the game and we met here just a few minutes ago.

And other than that, I haven't really looked at anything other than what we've been doing outside. So I'll try to answer your questions best I can. But this team responded today the way that they have responded throughout much of this season. And they play with tremendous resiliency. And their mental toughness is gaining. They're getting better. I think there's room for them to continue to improve. As I said to Yogi Ferrell, when you can look at a guy like Yogi and honestly tell him that he's getting better every week and you can see differences in his game -- maybe I'm the only one that can see him, because I see him so much -- but when you're seeing that in him and you know that everybody else is doing the same thing.

And they are improving. And senior night can really -- it can turn it into a closure situation, but it's really not. And these guys are excited. They're focused. They know they've got a lot left in them. And we've got a lot of improvement we can make over the next few days before we get to Indianapolis. So go ahead.

Q. Bigger picture on Yogi. A lot said about him tonight and throughout the season. Any group of moments where you felt like you just saw, and maybe you could talk about it, was there a different player in him as a senior and why?
COACH CREAN: It probably is hard to pinpoint that. I would say the Notre Dame game, because he wanted to win the game so bad. And he wasn't having a very good first half. And he wanted to play well. So guys want to win, they want to play well. And he was forcing it. And it was just very clear to me that he just needed to let it come to him and make his teammates better.

I think he saw the results of that. And he did some really good things inside the game, defended, passed -- made a couple of shots at the end. But I think it's those kind of moments. And then they kind of compound. And I think what Yogi has learned to do is not let his offense, or if it was really good or if it wasn't so good, affect how he led, affect how he defended. I don't know if it's ever affected how he's defended here.

I mean, I think he's one of the best -- he's definitely one of the best defensive players I've ever had the privilege of coaching. But he's also one of the best defensive players I've watched as a college coach, because he can guard one through four, or guard the five, if you want him to, guard the five player. He's so good at it. But to me he knew that -- he really bought into the fact that he could do a lot to impact winning. And some of it would be seen. Some of it wouldn't be seen. But at the end of the day the results were going to take care of themselves. And I think that's what he's done. And he's always set a tone with work ethic here. He set a tone with how hard he practices. He set a tone with his competitiveness. He set a tone with his seriousness. And I think this year he absolutely set a tone with sharing his knowledge with his teammates and holding them more accountable even today in huddles.

And he's not afraid to -- he's very comfortable getting after someone because he knows what they're capable of. Not just because they made a mistake, but because he knows and he's invested in what they're capable of. When you have a senior that's like that with his freshmen and sophomores, let alone the guys in his own class, it's a pretty strong deal. And he's made himself not only a tremendous player but a tremendous leader.

Q. How impressive is it that the team has shown how much they can grow?
COACH CREAN: Well, again to me, it's not a closure time. I mean, so you can't -- I don't even want to think in those terms. But they've been gradually getting better. It's not like we made a lot of changes at 5 and 3. If anything, our offense was as poor as what was going on defensively.

Defensively, we weren't as aggressive. Defensively, we had to change a couple of pick-and-roll coverages. Defensively, we weren't playing -- you always want to get a guy that will play on the ball like he is not going to have any help. There were too many times early in the season where we were waiting for the help to be there, rather than really trying to guard their player, especially in Maui.

We'd get hit on a screen and we'd wait for somebody to pick it up. Thomas wasn't ready to do all that yet. And we grew out of that because we just kept getting better. Kept getting tougher with that. But our defense and the defensive field goal percentage was so poor because we were turning it over so much. And because we were giving up baskets, we weren't getting a chance to run the break. And the break, these guys are outstanding in the break. So, really, the bottom line was we needed to play faster. We needed to move the ball even better offensively. And if we defended better and got more stops, it was going to make our break that much better, which was going to break open games. And along the way they got a lot of confidence doing it. The drills didn't change. The drills have been the same since the summer. I mean, really, they haven't changed. Now we've added a couple things, but we've also -- these guys have really gotten better athletically. They've gotten better detail-wise, skill-wise. And they've really, really built a connection. And I think that's what's helped our defense as much as anything.

Q. Is there anything extraordinary that O.G. and Jawan have done to maintain their level of play?
COACH CREAN: I think it's confidence. I think their teammates have confidence in them. There's a lot of conversation that goes on in practice, a lot of conversation that goes on in the film room. I'm sure there's a lot of conversation that goes on when they're not around us, right?

Everybody was different. O.G. had to learn sustained intensity, and Jawan had to get healthy. And Thomas had to get healthy. I should have done a much better job -- I said this before, I wish we would've played more zone in Maui, looking back. But Thomas wasn't healthy enough to do what we were trying to do yet. He had injuries to both feet. Look back at it now, you see the difference. He's so much more improved because he's healthier and he's gotten better.

But I think all three of them have a great work ethic. And, I mean, it's not like they're having bad practices. They might have moments in practice. But they don't have bad practices. That's rare for freshmen. They spend a lot of time in the gym. They're close. And because the seniors have accepted them in a good way over a period of time, they feel connected to it.

So there's probably a lot of things that go on. They spend a lot of extra time at it. But they're not tired. I mean, they're a product of what we're trying to do with practices and what we're trying to do with conditioning and those type of things. They feel good with their energy there. But, again, they got success. O.G.'s was a little earlier in the Big Ten season. And Jawan's came after the injury. Those guys had success. And that makes your confidence skyrocket. When your teammates believe in you and you actually believe in yourself because you're getting it done, fatigue doesn't kick in as much.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH CREAN: I thought that was fantastic. I said don't try to get the next 1,000 tonight. But he didn't listen. He went after it.

He played so fast and then matched up with Carter with him, which Carter was going to have to match up with somebody on the perimeter and they chose Troy. We obviously were going to have a hard matchup with Carter, too, on his offensive end. But Troy played like he was shot out of a cannon. He really did. And he did it under control. A couple mistakes here and there, but he plays fast. He was aggressive. The way he started the second half was tremendous going to the basket. Made great reads. The ball was put out front. He's getting better. He works really hard at it. He's constantly getting better. Really proud of the way that he has responded since the Michigan State game. And now we just gotta keep it up. Gotta keep it up. He's done a fantastic job. Not like he's practicing any harder. And he's always practiced hard. But he's playing with real efficiency right now. So I hope we can keep sustaining that.

Q. (Question off microphone).
COACH CREAN: I haven't really thought much about that. I really haven't. We need to get better. Now, along with that, Russ comes in. But we're not tired. We're just a little physically injured, and we've had some sickness the last couple of days. And it's going around. And it hit us.

But these guys have navigated it. And nobody missed a game because of it. And Jawan hopefully will be able to respond like he's been able to respond before. So it's not like you look at it and say we've got to give these guys a couple days off. We just gotta get better and manage it. We've been managing it all year. I do different things in practice with different guys all the time. So we just don't preannounce it. But that's the most important thing. We've got to treat these next couple days, get ready for a couple of games where we have to really, really focus -- we've got a good list. We're ready to do that. We met on that Thursday and Friday while we were preparing for this game. We know what we need to get better at this week and we'll put a lot of attention into that.

Q. Talk about Jawan handling the ball in in the second half.
COACH CREAN: We did have a guard. Jawan, we play at the point in practice about five to eight, maybe ten minutes a day. We've been preparing.

That's when Yogi needed a blow. Did we get him two blows in the second half? They're quick. Always better when we get him two blows. Jawan wasn't handling the ball by accident. That's what we do in practice. Harrison can, Troy can easily do that. Collin can do that. But we've been planning, the last couple of weeks, especially with Rob's injury, we'd have to have more ball handling and do those the lineups.

The other night I didn't realize we had four freshmen on the floor. I don't think that way anymore. Couple of weeks ago I did. Couple of weeks ago I'd be very, very conscious about having three freshmen out there. And we're playing Iowa, four freshmen out there. We're past that. But Jawan, we have a package where Jawan will handle the 1 spot for us in that type of situation.

Q. How is Jawan's shoulder?
COACH CREAN: He's in good spirts, but he's sore. We've been down this road, like I said, before. We'll get an update here in a little bit. But his dad's here. And I know he's excited about that.

And he was in a lot of pain. And it's tough. But he's been enduring this. And it gets back together, and they wouldn't put him out there if he wasn't cleared, obviously. And it just shows not only his physical toughness, but his mental toughness. And it shows that we've got really good trainers that help him get back. We didn't have Jawan much this week. Didn't have him full until yesterday. In that sense, it's good we don't play for a while. But, again, we've been dealing with this. So I'm sure he'll be fine.

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