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November 1, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Hope College - 65, Indiana - 98

COACH CREAN: First and foremost, I thought the game with Hope would be very good because it's an outstanding program.

And when I got my start in Division III at Alma College at the age of 20, Hope was then and still is one of the premiere programs in Division III. What was ironic and cool tonight at the same time is Glenn Van Wieren was in the building with their athletic director. And as I told my team, at the Division III level he's on par with the Bob Knight and Roy Williams and Mike Krzyzewski and Jim Boeheim when it comes to wins and what he did. And Greg Mitchell was a part of his teams.

So, they were always the program that everyone was measured by back in the MIAA, where my roots are, and they lived up to every bit of what I thought they would be and they were even better, because they lost some guys too.

We knew they moved very well without the ball. We knew they did a great job of cutting off the post. They have a tremendous game plan, the way they wanted to go down inside and they moved on the air time of the pass into their post doubles. At times it was three guys down there guarding the post. That was great for us to see and have to make the adjustments on.

Everything we could have wanted in this game was there. They made us play extremely hard.

Our mistakes came out -- the things that we haven't spent very much time on came out. The things that we've got to get better at were clear.

Some of our strengths came out. But the bottom line after a month of practice to play against a team that well-coached, that good in this environment was really great for us.

So we played extremely hard. We played a lot of different lineups. I wouldn't read anything into any of the lineups. It could change again on Saturday. To me it's about having as many multi-dimensional, versatile guys that can play numerous positionings for us, and try to build ourselves to get a team that can bring fatigue to the game.

And we've not -- we didn't put a zone offense in until yesterday. We've done nothing outside of man-to-man defense at this point. And we've got a long way to go and a lot of learning.

But the most important thing is we're playing hard. We moved the ball. We got guys back that get that confidence of playing that first game that have not played either since before Carolina or in the case of James, right after Christmas. And it was great to see that.

So a lot of things for us to improve upon. I thought we improved in the game. And we went against a very well-coached team. It was very cool to play against Ron Blackledge's grandson and Todd Blackledge's son. We knew he was a good player, and he was even better than I thought after watching him on film after being with him in the game tonight.

That was a cool sidelight for this building tonight to have the Blackledges in it.

Q. Question on the ball movement.
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I'll go to the film on that. I thought the ball moved well. We still have -- our spacing is not there yet. I think that's one of the things -- our spacing was a little bit of a product of some of our turnovers. And, again, we'll grade the transition defense.

I thought the effort was good. Where we made mistakes, we've really gotta learn, which is harder for these guys with the way that we want to guard 3-point shooters and guard their penetration. We're not an overhelp team.

A lot of times guys come in, they see that ball being driven or somebody's getting beat. We've gotta do a better job on the ball. But we've gotta do a better job of early help on the ball, so we get back to our shooters, because we're going to see some really good shooters. And we wanted to treat No. 11 like that today. We wanted to treat No. 11 like that's a guy we're not coming off of.

It's easier said than done. Takes us a little time to get to that point. So that's part of it. And they did a good job in the corners tonight. We got our corner game going more in the second half, especially when I made our 6'11" sophomore become the 3-man tonight. The corner was filled every time.

But, again, we'll get better with that. Our transition D will get better. I thought our running game was pretty solid even though our spacing on the break left a little to be desired. We didn't get it inside as quick as we could have. But we didn't run a real -- we don't have a big package right now of offensive arsenal things to go to.

We just haven't done it yet. But I thought the ball moved at a pretty good rate.

Q. Talk about the defensive intensity.
COACH CREAN: I don't know if I would call it the intensity. The intent was good. I don't think -- that's a group that's not played together very much. Juwan just got back. Literally he hasn't been back a week yet when it comes to live basketball. By far the most he did was tonight.

And we had him guard the point guard. So it's a little different. I want this team to learn how to get -- the old saying of get comfortable in the uncomfortable.

Well, it's also how you deal with change. How you deal with sudden change. Like that's a football term, right? But it's also a basketball term for us, with not just how you react to a turnover but how do you react to different teammates that you haven't spent much time with on the court yet.

So intensity definitely picked up as we got more comfortable with that. But I thought our intent was very good from the beginning which is what you want.

Q. Question about OG's shooting.
COACH CREAN: I could never measure -- I never look at it as a schedule. Sometimes we'll get some comparison points to where guys in the past were.

So, okay, we've got him on this track or we've got him on that track. I'll sometimes do that. OG spends as much time in the gym as anybody we've had here at his age. And if that continues to keep up, I mean extra time. If that continues to keep up, he will be -- he will be in a really good place.

We've had recruits come in in the past and, like, maybe it's we're going to go at noon or we're going to go at 12:30. Or I'll come out and I'll say, this is why -- this is why this is a great place if you love to do this.

And say, okay, wait these two or three guys are already out on the court working with the GMs or working with the managers and it's 10:30.

And we're not even going till noon. And they're not being asked. And they're not being told to. And they're not being coached other than the guys rebounding the ball for them.

So that's why we have a player development program the way that it is. That's why we have the -- the players always create the structure. The coaches create the structure but the players create the culture. And when you've got that kind of work ethic, and OG has it and others have it as well, I think he's going to continue to get better shooting the ball and he's gotta get better in a lot of things but he works very hard at those things. And shooting is certainly a big part of it.

Q. Talk about Juwan's rebounding.
COACH CREAN: He hasn't shown any since he's been back out there, which is good, because we weren't putting him out until he was without question healed. So if something ever happens again, knock on wood, it's not going to be because he didn't heal properly. He's fully healed and fully cleared.

And I think we could have put him out there a month ago and we wouldn't have noticed the difference in him. And that's just how he is.

And look how many times he came back from it last year. I'm not sure how many guys would have done that. Really, in the sense of like getting cleared and then coming back out there and doing all the extra rehab.

And Tim deserves a lot of credit for that. He was given a new name by Grant Gelon. He called him Dr. Tim. So now I refer to him as Dr. Tim.

I already thought he was, but now Grant thinks he is, too, so that's good enough for me. So Dr. Tim has done a great job with him, as have Dr. Rink, Dr. Ahlfeld did the surgery.

But these guys, every one of the guys that have come back from the injury, you can't push them past being timid. You can't push them into feeling they're comfortable. Only they can do that. And we leave them alone on that. They've got to feel that.

And they've done a really good job of that. So he plays -- he needs his time. He needs to continue to have that versatility for us. He's going to be a guy that, especially with Collin out, that's just going to play numerous roles for us.

Zach McRoberts has got to work his way into that. And as I told Zach, I'll tell you when I don't think you're good enough or you can't play. So until you hear it from me just go out there and treat yourself like you've been here a long time, and he'll get that as well.

I didn't think any of them played like they've been injured at all. It was good.

Q. Question on Devonte.
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I think so. He'll continue to get better, too. He's learning the nuances of it. And really working a lot with his footwork. He's so quick and sometimes he's too quick with the ball. So he has to -- where he doesn't get his feet down the way they have to be.

But the reasons we offered him when we did is because not only of his talent. You could see his talent before we offered. It was his precision. It was his execution.

It was not only his 3-point shot-making, it was the way he delivered the ball. It was the way he got up and defended people. It was the velocity that he put on the ball and his passes, the force that he played defense with.

And I think we're seeing that. And as he gets more and more confident -- we're asking a lot of him, because every one of the freshmen, and De'Ron will get there even though De'Ron -- he's got great feet. We're playing him like he's a hockey player right now. It's very short shifts for him.

And we're both on the same page with that. We just talked about it again because De'Ron is going to be a very good player, but he's got -- he's got to get healthy. He's got to work his way into the condition.

He's a product of not being here this summer and then having some setbacks in the fall, with some injury things.

So Devonte and Curtis are guys that are going to continue to get better and better inside of that. And Grant just needs to get the defense down and get his confidence down and he'll get better and better. Devonte and Curtis can be very interchangeable for us and we'd like to get it to the point where they understand exactly how to make everybody else better like our team is learning how to make them better.

Q. Talk about what James learned in his time off.
COACH CREAN: I think it's ongoing. I think we've been very hard on the juniors, I have been for reasons of leadership. And not just playing, but the responsibility that they have to take for everybody else. All three of them are quiet by nature. James as well.

And all three of them are coming back from major surgeries. And this was the first time -- we forget about Josh. He hadn't played -- not only hadn't played in a year, but a year ago he was barely walking when he was here.

So the microfracture surgery is a very tough surgery to come back from. So we're asking a lot of the juniors. We know they've overcome some things.

And James is the epitome of a guy that has so much more to give and we're going to hold him to a high expectation level of it.

But I thought he moved the ball. I thought he talked better tonight. I thought he moved without the ball. I thought he was ready to shoot. Put him in the post. There are different things we can do.

And the more they get comfortable back in their own skin of playing the game, after the time that they've missed, the more they'll get comfortable with their teammates.

But with our schedule, we're trying to push that a little bit faster. We don't have three or four games before we get into a big game/big name team situation. We start right away.

But I thought he did a good job tonight as well. I'll see what the film says, but I thought he did a really good job.

Q. Talk about James' leadership.
COACH CREAN: It needs to be forced. It needed to be forced out of Yogi as well. It really did. Yogi's leadership went to a whole other level when we got into the Big Ten season.

What Yogi had was a presence, was a durability and people had a real comfort level playing with him because it was like it was safe to play with Yogi because Yogi was so good, Yogi could do so many different things.

So there's different forms of leadership. But verbal, demanding, make the game easier for everybody else, that takes time for guys. It's very unnatural for most people.

So you're trying to get -- you've got to speed that process up. It's like player development. You speed the process up for them.

Now you slow it down if it becomes too much. But a lot of times guys don't understand the abilities that they have. And it's your job as a coach and the coaching staff to pull that out of them.

So they'll get there. They'll get there. We want them to be comfortable. But we also want them to make the game easier for their teammates. And a lot of times it's not only the nonverbal presence, it's the verbal presence that's got to be there. And it makes it easier for them.

Q. Talk about the game on Saturday.
COACH CREAN: Well, it really -- the date worked for us as much as anything else. And he's a very good coach. It's a very good program. And they'll play extremely hard. And we're not used to doing things with way team two years in a row.

But we have a lot of respect for him. And again the date worked for us because we wanted to play that date knowing when we were leaving for Hawaii.

And our guys will be ready. I'm sure they will be too. But our guys will be ready. They're a tremendous screening, cutting, move-without-the-ball team. They put a lot of pressure on you with their cuts. We'll have to defend that at a high level. And there will be a little more -- we may have to guard the half court a little bit longer at times.

So that will be part of it, too. It will be a next great step for these guys.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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