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INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
November 30, 2016
Indiana - 76, UNC - 67
COACH CREAN: There was a lady out there that has a lot tougher life than any of us. She wanted to meet the team and wanted to meet Coach Williams.
Before I start on the game, it's hard for me to respect, personally, me, to respect somebody more than I respect Coach Williams.
He's always treated me that way. But when you play against their team, you know certain things. You know that they're going to be at an incredibly high level in their transition game. You know that they're not going to beat themselves with turnovers and bad shots. You know that they're going to be incredible on the weak side board, with rebounding the ball, amongst the many other things they do.
And the bottom line is you've got to be able to match every bit of that if you have a chance to beat them. It's not easy to do. And our guys did that tonight. They matched it.
We had a tremendous crowd, obviously, that brought a ton of energy to everyone. But our guys, they are absolutely spent. And I would bet Coach Williams's guys are as well. I mean, our guys, they're in a great frame of mind, but they're absolutely spent. And this is one of those games where they left every bit of it out there.
And that's why I'm so proud of them. We overcame. The injury with James. We had a short bench tonight. We're playing a great team in the fact that we were able to defend the way that we did with the way that they were shooting the ball. They were shooting 55 percent, 52 for 53 percent overall. And to keep that field goal percentage down below 40 was huge. We knew going into the game it was going to be as big as anything.
And especially that five foot area on all sides of the rim and in front of the rim, what we call the alley, because they do such a great job of getting to the weak side. And it was even, which was huge. We knew we couldn't turn the ball over at a high level without them being able to capitalize on it. I think the points off turnovers were three. So those are the statistical things.
But the bottom line is I thought both teams absolutely competed. We're committed to the competing. We're committed to each other, and we were fortunate to get the win inside of 40 minutes. So go ahead.
Q. OG, it seemed like maybe as good of a two-way game he's had this year both offensively and defensively and to tack on to that --
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I haven't even thought about that part of it yet. I'm more concerned about his ankle right now. He did a good job. We were spent tonight.
And I'm going to have to figure that part of it. We didn't overly stretch. We didn't practice on Monday. We knew it was going to be a battle. Plus we play on Friday and Sunday. So our preparation was a lot mental. It was a lot of a walk-through detailed way. It was a lot of film.
There were some mechanical detail type things. We practiced yesterday. We knew energy going into this game would be huge, with him coming off the illness. Even though he played well on Sunday, I didn't think he was anywhere close to healthy. Like I said, I don't think any of us realized how sick he was last week because of the fact that it continued to linger with him.
But I'll save the tape for how I feel about the two-way part. But as far as tenacity and continuing to play, these guys were on second, third, fourth wind early. And I think Carolina's guys might have been, too.
It was an incredible atmosphere in there. And they did a great job with this. The thing I'm proudest maybe with all of them on the court, especially in this environment, is talked. It was the best we communicated on the court. It was the best that we kept each other in the spots.
We had a couple of mistakes defensively, went zone. Couple of guys not in it at certain points. We made some mistakes there.
Bull that's big for OG. When OG is a big part of the communication process on the floor, especially with as loud as it was in here, that's big for us. Those are the things I'm looking at more right now even in the grading of the game.
Q. Where is the ankle?
COACH CREAN: He's getting evaluated in there. He couldn't go back and play. So we'll see.
Q. That's what I wanted to know.
COACH CREAN: Seems like it's high. I haven't gotten an update yet. As far as he's in the training room. So we'll see. We'll see. His spirits are good. So we'll see how that turns out. But he couldn't have gone back in the game, according to Tim.
Q. How does a night like this happen, every night, bring it every night, how does it happen these guys brought what they brought?
COACH CREAN: I think it's learning. I think, again, this is a team with no seniors. And Josh Newkirk is a senior in school but he hasn't played in so long. It's the responsibility that they've got to learn to have for one another. I think if we learned anything valuable from last week, it was that you've got to have an edge every night, because the other team does.
And it's not easy every night. That's why the togetherness and the responsibility for one another in the being able to be demanding with one another becomes really, really important. So we're going to grow in that.
We've had major 15-round fights and with Kansas and Carolina won it, and we had one that we didn't necessarily fight 15 rounds in. We didn't get started on time last week, and still came back and had our chances. We'll go through some of that with this team, because I think the big thing for them personally we've got good players, we've got good people. They've not been in a role where they have to be responsible for being able to play. There were always other people. Yogi was there and Troy became a leader last year and you had Max and Nick and Collin, the way he grew into it. They've got to continue to grow with that and hopefully we'll get more consistent as we go.
Q. How important is a night like this combined with 15 rebounds?
COACH CREAN: That was big. Guard rebounding, I didn't realize that. Our guard rebounds were going to be huge. And I wasn't -- I was very -- I put a lot of thought into whether we were going to start James or not. Not that we weren't going to start him, managed his conditioning. He practiced some yesterday. Other than that he hadn't practiced. Rehabbing, hydro therapy pool and things like that. So I was not worried about his minutes as much as his energy to finish. And I decided, you know, what we're going to ride with the three guards tonight. I said if we don't rebound, we're not winning.
We knew the guard rebounds would be huge in this game. Hadn't seen what the breakdown was with their guards, but they are so physical when that shot goes up, that if you don't match that, if you're not fighting them for that position, okay, you have no chance. Well, that means somebody's gotta come in and get the ball. So the guard rebounds were going to be absolutely a paramount number for us.
Q. A team that scored 93 or more. You held them under 40. What was the key?
COACH CREAN: We were locked into their personnel. We didn't guard the dribble a couple times. When we did a real good job with our post defense plan, we were good. A couple times that we let them get to that left shoulder, get that left foot across the lane. They're quick.
They know what they're doing, right? So it's very, very hard to guard those guys with one person. But if you come off and you're continually doubling and you're rotating, all of a sudden they've got enough drivers and shooters to create problems. So we needed to be really, really good with our post plan.
We did a good job of that. We never wanted them to let them be comfortable. The other big thing is we wanted to make their inside players have to play both ways, up and down the court, play two-way constantly as much as possible.
And we had every intention of running, just like they did. But the key to running was the recognition. If we had the numbers, if we had the advantage, take something with it. But if we didn't, let's get the ball reversed. And we did a lot of different things tonight with having our forwards out even more extended than what they usually are, try to create more space around the basket. So I think that had something to do with it. But we guarded pretty well. I'll be surprised if we didn't guard pretty well and have good shot challenges and things of that nature.
Q. Curious if you had the '81 guys, if they came in and talked to the team?
COACH CREAN: Well, they did. I missed some of it. Landon Turner was talking to them when I came in pregame. But some were in our walk through, we weren't on the court very long today we watched a lot of film and we stretched on game day and we were probably on the court for 30 minutes. But some of them were there before the event.
Every one of them were in the locker room before the game. So the presence of them was there. They met them. And I'm not sure who else talked, but when I walked in, Landon was speaking to him. And he's done it before. But it was big time. And we'll talk even more about it tomorrow. There was so much going on with preparation of the game. But Randy Wittman is standing in there.
And there's so many guys and I haven't seen Isiah yet. I'm not sure if he was in there after or not. But it's just -- and I want them to watch the video. At some point in the halftime. We could hear it. We could hear what halftime sounded like. So we certainly were out there when Kyle Schwarber got his intro. That was kind of cool. It was great all around. It was great to have those players and their presence.
Q. De'Ron played 13 minutes, two blocks, how important was he in terms of guarding the paint?
COACH CREAN: Very, very important. And I think Roy was -- I don't know this -- but it seemed like every time we checked around here came Kennedy Meeks. And this was a great -- I talked about this with De'Ron after the game briefly.
I think this is the difference now. Like they were attacking in the pick-and-roll. That's a high level team. That's why the foot speed, the technique, you know how you guard that pick-and-roll, how you get around in post, all those things are so important.
And we've got to continue to get him, because when he spreads out and posts up, he's -- he covers a lot of ground. He creates a lot of space.
Now we've got to get him to cover a lot of ground. And he's going to get better and better. He's going to get better and better as he plays his way into the conditioning that he's got to have. His attitude is great. And I think we'll have even more upside on our team each day down the road.
Q. Carolina cuts the lead to four late. What does it feel like were the keys for weathering that storm?
COACH CREAN: We made timely baskets. We made some timely plays. We were winded. Right? We were definitely winded. And I wanted to save the timeout because we could -- because we knew it was coming down the stretch. One of the final things we did today was to prepare for how to close the game, because Roy is so good, so good at playing from behind and coming back and keeping the press on and looking for the 2 traps in the back court and getting you right across mid-court.
So we needed to make sure we had enough ammo left for that at the end. I didn't think too much about that because I thought they made a couple of tough shots. We made a couple of tough shots. And, again, I don't have the recollection of -- I think Blackmon hit a big 3, didn't he? That was big.
I didn't get too uptight. Our confidence was good. I was just worried about our wind. I was worried about our fatigue level at that point.
Q. Rob defended a lot of different guys tonight, including Justin Jackson. You talked before about his growth as a defender. But how far has he come?
COACH CREAN: Rob was at another level tonight. He really was. His speed. His defense. He was really locked in. The fact that he had a really good game on Sunday helped him.
He's one guy that I was definitely concerned about overuse, because he's played a lot of minutes already for us. And he looked like he had a week's vacation. He looked great. And he really did. He was moving. He was flying around. And then the one -- Blackmon. He made big shots. He attacked. He got the ball off his body tonight. Sometimes when he struggles the ball's sitting on his hip. We try to continue to work with him constantly on getting the ball off his body, attacking with both feet, both hands. He did better with that.
He's got a lot of pride. And Carolina was a recruiting process, it was one of the final two or three when we signed him. And he's from that area in there. And so I mean both teams, I think -- I sensed a great deal of respect from one another. And it wasn't like anybody went out there and knew we couldn't play anything less than 100 percent.
Q. The fastbreaks for North Carolina, what were the keys there?
COACH CREAN: I think the biggest thing is start of the game. We didn't give them any fastbreak points in the first half. That was huge. And the key was we were going to continue with that.
They're so good with that. And sometimes they're just -- feet are so good. Because Berry can get across the court so well. He was really good the last tournament. I thought he was just the key to why they went -- Brice Johnson, great numbers, and Marcus Paige was on a roll. But I thought Berry took his game to another level in parts of February and certainly in March, into the national championship game. And he's even better now.
And after playing them in March and playing them tonight, they missed some guys, with some different guys, they're really good. I mean, they're really, really good. You can see the experience of them. They're not going to deviate from what they want to do.
And we had to get back and respect that, because not only do you have to stop him in transition, you have to stop it coming down and trailing big, and getting their shots, up. They're so good at offense rebounding. And so good at rebounding that miss, whether it's on the rim or weak side. So we were locked into that and I thought for the most part we had good rim coverage.
Q. Follow up on Berry.
COACH CREAN: I was going to say tonight --
Q. You hold him to eight, three for 13. How important was it for you guys to keep him from getting --
COACH CREAN: He's a great player. He's a great player. We've played against some excellent guards. Mo Evans is really good. And obviously Frank Mason and Devonte' Graham, those guys are good.
And so the key is we didn't want to let him get in a rhythm, whether it was different matchups, whether it was different defenses.
I thought our guys did -- film on this, but I thought our guys were really locked into the two or three key takeaways in this game with him, really with the majority of the players.
But this wasn't -- in a short week like this and with this group, it wouldn't be good for a young team to spend so much time on 30, 35 different things. We had to have a couple of things locked in, which is different for us because usually we want to have an answer for everything.
And sometimes you have an answer for nothing when you try to do that. We really wanted to be locked into key characteristics with their personnel. And I thought we were.
And Jackson's first step was better than I thought it was, and I thought it was the best I'd seen by anybody all year. I haven't seen everybody play. But that first step is absolutely lethal. He got us a couple times with that. So Berry, for his size, does a really good job of getting that foot turned and getting around it. We wanted to make sure we made that hard.
Q. How about did Vitale talk to you guys before the game?
COACH CREAN: No, he was the walk-through. He was up in our office for a little while. And we had a lot of different people that walked through today and so he was around for that and he didn't come in after. But they all knew he was here. But we've got a lot of baseball coaches here right now. NFL, major leagues, country music star back there, David Nellis [phonetic]. It's cool. It's cool to have people around and it's cool when they can meet those people. But this is important -- this is something with Kyle that I reached out to him in July. He was going through that rehab process, and because he was such a great young man here.
He loved baseball obviously, right, and he was around. And it was so easy to talk to. It's so great to watch him have his success. He was going through such a tough time with the rehab. So I just wanted to throw something out to him for the season. And it ended up being this. And he took it and I'm glad that he came. Everybody will remember that ovation.
Q. Everybody thinks they have a home court advantage. You guys have won five straight here in conference. What happens here in the biggest moment?
COACH CREAN: Well, that's a good question. I think the energy is so high. They certainly bring a lot of confidence. But like on a night like tonight, it just never gets quiet. And you worry about that, because there were students sleeping across the street last night. And there were thousands and thousands of them out there this morning. So I'm worried about our energy, I'm worried about their energy. Right? Are they going to have enough energy?
So it's a great place, it's an even better building now with what the Simon Skjodt family has done. There's a lot of pride here. But we have to play well. Right?
We have to defend. We have to put the ball in the basket, those type of things. But there's a great comfort level playing with them. And I think it helps build confidence all the way around. But we have to be able to play in any environment. And we've got to continue to learn that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports