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December 2, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 83, SIU Edwardsville - 60

COACH CREAN: One of the main questions you get whenever a good player is out is how do you make up for it.

And there's never really any answer. The bottom line is no one is ever really going to come in and just move in and get the points for that player. It's got to come from a lot of different areas.

But that was proven differently tonight. Because as I said, with Juwan, losing OG in this game, Juwan rebounded for two tonight.

And that was one of the most -- that was a tremendous hustle moment. Because everybody left it all out there on Wednesday night. And he was as spent as any of them and was banged up. We've got numerous of guys that are banged up after a game like this.

But he came out and brought it. And I was worried about our start, one way or the other it could have gone either way. We did something yesterday that I've never done in 18 years as a coach. Never had some sort of live the day before a game. Certainly that is different. But when you play a game, have a day off, game the next day, really the majority of the team didn't do anything live. They didn't put anything -- we watched a lot of film.

Some guys said that we wanted to get shots up and movement for them and things of that nature. But the bulk of the main guys playing didn't do anything and we didn't do it today. Because I was certainly concerned about our energy.

But we had a slow start with our movement. We were getting good shots, other than maybe one, and then we picked it up. And then that energy and that second wind came, because this is -- they want to play basketball the rest of their lives, this is what you've got to get used to.

Monday with a Wednesday, especially with the emotion of that, to turn around and play with the level of effort and grit and edge that they played with tonight was fantastic.

They knew my respect level for this team. They don't know Jon Harris like I know him. They understood I have a lot of respect for him, just like I have for them, because he was on my first three teams at Marquette. And he was on a staff of mine that went to the Final Four and been involved in his coaching life ever since. Just proud of him, completely proud of what he's doing with that team.

And we have a lot of respect for them. And the one that some of you will remember is I likened that team to an Eastern Washington from a couple of years ago where they came in here, they executed, played with great edge and they made shots and they played fast and we ended up losing that game.

We didn't want anything like that to happen. Our guys really responded today. And a lot of good basketball in a lot of ways. And especially a night when some of your better shooters aren't having great great shooting nights.

But we played a very good hustle game, 23 free throws in a row, J.D., 19 in a row, something like that. Which was very good for us. Guard rebounds. We didn't have any points that we gave up in the first half. So there were some really good things.

And we'll spend a little bit of time on this and get ready to turn around and play on Sunday.

Q. You talked earlier about De'Ron's conditioning. Is he getting closer?
COACH CREAN: I think you're seeing it. I'm sure it's getting better. We've had him on a hockey shift schedule longer tonight. And it just worked out that way.

And he's got to keep -- we've got to keep pushing it. Again, we weren't sure he was going to play today, based on the other night.

So OG's was the most obvious. But there were a lot of guys -- I mean, I've coached a lot of games as an assistant and as head coach, and I've not been part of many that had that level of intensity, effort, energy, toughness and talent, all at the same time. And that's what the respect for Carolina, too. That's why it was such an incredible game.

But De'Ron did a good job of, especially after not doing anything yesterday except for walking through, and very little today. But he did an excellent job with what the game was giving him. I'm going to make a couple of adjustments for him to make it a little more conducive to where his skill level is right now, especially on the offensive side.

But he played well. And I think it will continue to grow as he gets healthy and as he gets into even better shape and he understands how hard he has to play for how long.

And that's a big thing right now for a young guy, especially for a young guy that wasn't here all summer and is coming off the injuries.

Q. Juwan talked about he was thinking too much with his shot. Is this one of the looks you see in practice from him?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, I think he was -- I think when he's on the attack with the ball and I think some of the -- it shows up in his footwork at times, when he's been called for travels, when he hops, because that's not how he practices. That's not what we do.

It's not how he plays. But I think sometimes that happens. But you can go through shifts in that where guys are really becoming complete players. Remember now we started -- he's played point guard for us at different times even as a starter. So we're throwing a lot at him.

But he's capable of it. But he is -- his level of hustle and effort to rebound the ball, to do things defensively. And when you take OG out of the lineup, you take so much athleticism, versatility, you take the shooting, take the rebounding, the defense out.

So that's hard. And I thought our guys tried to do a really good job of making up for that. And Juwan did even more there. But the rebounding and that level of hustle really showed up. And when you focus all the things that don't involve shooting, it's usually pretty indicative you're going to shoot the ball and it's just amazing how that works.

But that's a lot older than all of us, that adage. It's true. When you focus on the things you can control, all of a sudden the ball's moving, and there's an old saying that the ball finds energy.

And it's a good saying. And it makes a lot of sense. And I think he was a part of that tonight. And he was rewarded for it for all that hustle.

Q. You've been saying earlier in the season improve the post play, emphasis on that?
COACH CREAN: There's a lot of emphasis on that. It's just different. It depends on how the post is being played more straight behind. So it's even more indicative that we want to get it in.

We probably made it a little harder than it had to be early in the first half because it was opened on the single side more. And what we've tried to do and what we tried to have a carryover from the other night was get it back when the ball has been reversed, like in a situation where you're in a screen and roll. Roll, get it reversed, get it back, get the guy sealed. That's what we tried to do the other night.

We probably did too much of that where we could have thrown it off the single side, the shake, thrown it right from there and played; and we started to make that adjustment more. We want to feed the post.

We've got tremendous numbers when we go through the paint. And they're great numbers. So we want to make sure that that ball as much as possible is touching the paint. One reason that I wasn't that concerned about our slow start was the ball was going through the paint at the beginning of the game. And as long as that's happening, things are good.

Q. Using a walk-through more for practice moving forward during a busy week, is this something you continue to do during the busy part of the season?
COACH CREAN: We've done that -- I've held guys out at different times. But this is just a different scenario. They spent so much Wednesday night. And it was just a matter of making sure that we were really fresh. And we weren't that fresh.

I mean, it's hard to be that fresh turning around after that game. But we tried to do the best we could. And I give Lionel, Mario, Tim Garl, Dr. Rink, Dr. Aufeldt, Dr. Heddy [phonetic] a ton of credit. They're in there as much as any of the players. We've had players in there a long time.

You get a guy -- we had guys back in here rehabbing at 9:00 Thursday morning that didn't leave until sometime after midnight because of all the stuff they were doing in there. It's hard. That's the thing.

So we just want to keep it managed the best that we can, because it's all about having that energy. But they have to have a certain amount of -- they've got to get that out of their system a little bit. We've got to run. And we didn't yesterday. I knew it was going to affect us one way or the other. That's a long answer to I don't know. I don't know. It's all spur of the moment.

Q. The OG thing, is it a long-term thing?
COACH CREAN: I don't think it's long-term. But he's going to be sick being in that chair. We don't do any boot shooting at least not efficiently, any boot shooting, because it's just -- there's no carry-over to that. We started right away yesterday on his arc, working on his dribbling. And he's doing all the stuff that he's gotta do and he's just gotta heal.

We'll get a little more of an indication tomorrow. But we're certainly not banking on him. I wouldn't rule him out like officially. I can't do that on Sunday. That wouldn't be made until tomorrow or Sunday.

But I'm not banking on him. I'd say that in here. But we'll see. Every ankle responds differently. We've got -- but Tim does a great job. And the players do a great job -- the ones that do -- the ones that do a really great job of making sure they're not only doing what they've gotta do in here but they're not getting carried away outside of here. They're following the procedures, the icing and the foot up and whatever he gives them. Those are the guys that usually come back a little quicker.

Q. James had nine rebounds. What makes him so strong?
COACH CREAN: He's strong. Good point. Strong. I think when he's aware of it. There's been some nights he hasn't. And when he's aware of it -- he was a good rebounder last year. He was rebounding the ball well when he got hurt.

But he is quick. He's got a good vertical. He's got strong legs. And he understands that it's an absolute emphasis. We got better because of playing -- not only did he win the game, not only did we learn things but we got better. We got better inside those practices because here's these emphases that we have: The weak side blockouts have to be better. Guard rebounding has to be better. We've got to be inside where it has to be IG, we have to be inside of that. We don't want to be just free throw lining in, we want to be underneath that with our defensive rebounding.

It becomes -- you get more and the carry-over is good. And they know it's working. And we're subbing if you're not.

So it's at times. But for us he understands it. And he's doing a great job with it.

Q. I'm guessing we're not going to talk to you tomorrow. Can you tell us anything about Sunday?
COACH CREAN: We haven't talked about tomorrow. But I think they're well coached. I know they gave Illinois a tremendous battle. The other night, we were in here late for a lot of reasons, but really, really late watching film of Edwardsville.

I'm sure there will be some of that tonight. And we'll have a better view moving forward. Illinois -- I've seen some of that. I know they went into Illinois and got after them.

So we won't take them lightly. We'll get it all figured out the best we can. What we're not doing, even with Carolina, we're not spending so much time on all the different things that we get away from what the base is.

And I think we're trying to do a good job on personnel. We're trying to do a good job on what their action, really what they want to get from them and really understand, trying to understand what their strengths are.

The next big thing for our defense is going to be to understand who we're closing out to. We're not in overhelp, but we're going to keep seeing people that are going to penetrate and create some help so we make sure we know who we're rotating out to, what those strengths are.

In a short work week like this, or short game planning situation like this, that's harder to get to. Hopefully we can get better guys, get a little more time in between games.


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