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December 4, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 83, Southeast Missouri State - 55

Q. Talk about the ability of James on the rebound. Is it mindset or just an attitude?
COACH CREAN: It's got to be all of that, plus repetition. And that's what we have to be successful. And we've had good guard rebounders here. Yogi was a very good guard rebounder. Vic was fantastic. Jordan would go in there and get defensive boards.

Because when you're doing a really good job of being physical and blocking out and being engaged with the forwards and things like that down around the basket, those balls are going to be loose.

And there's no reason whatsoever for us not to have five guys the majority of the time under the foul line ready to rebound. And so Rob's getting better at it.

James is getting better at it and has some natural ability at it. Josh has got to take that up a notch. Curtis had a pretty good week of rebounding the ball. We have to have a team that has that, no matter what.

Q. Right before halftime Thomas had a hustle play, call from the bench, chest bump, what was that about?
COACH CREAN: Just be excited, have energy. He wants to play at a level moving forward where this is an average week. And he wants to do it for a decade-plus. So he was putting too much pressure on himself not having fun. And that's when he's at his best.

Everything is fine and you're hustling. And sometimes we have too much self-inflicted pressure because the frustration kicks in. And they've had a very long week.

And he has been -- I would take, I would say, Juwan and Thomas out in this category. They have been on point and on attack and on a mission since a week ago when it comes to really taking more responsibility for their teammates and setting the tone with their energy every day. So it's hard. It's hard to do that every day. But just needed a reminder that it's okay to have some fun.

Q. De'Ron said Rob is a guy that sets the tempo, sort of controls the tempo and it's important for this team, putting guys in the right spots. How have you seen him grow since he's coming through the first part of this?
COACH CREAN: He's growing and onward. I said that to him when he came out of the game the last week. This is a big week to take the next step. This week and next week are huge weeks for improvement, individually and as a team. At the same we structure this week the way it is because of the academics. It's a very busy week for them academically leading into exams.

So we want to make sure that they have a good amount of time to get their projects done and all the stuff that they have this week. But at the same time when we're here we've got to be really locked into the improvement. And he's making improvements, without a doubt, in all those areas.

Q. Is the chest bump a Crean tradition?
COACH CREAN: It just happened. It was just spontaneous. Let's not make more of it than what it is. It was spontaneous.

Q. I know that defense is always important, but seemed like coming out, in the second half, you guys really locked in on the defensive end. Did you feel that way as well?
COACH CREAN: Defensive energy, when individuals have it, it's amazing how well they play on the offensive end. When you have it as a team, it's hard to lose. We can get a lot better on that. We can get better on the offensive end. We can get a lot better all around.

But defensive energy and rebounding tenacity are the keys. And we had a great start to the game. I mean fantastic start. And then we needed to get our second wind back. And we didn't have that.

We were solid, but we didn't have that energy that you need to go with it. It's never going to be easy, right? And you don't want that -- that defensive energy sets the pace. They came out with that in the second half and I was excited. I didn't like the first turnover. So we made it up and got a little juice from Curtis coming in that way, but they were really -- they were really locked in communicating-wise.

In games like this, one of the things -- I shouldn't say in games like this. In a week like this where you have numerous games, sometimes at the end of the week it's really easy just to go vanilla with the game plan and say, okay, we're just going to do this because we're tired.

I don't believe in that. I think you've got to get something that gets them engaged and talking. So we put a couple things in yesterday and walked through them again this morning that were a little different for us. Excuse me, I don't think it would have been real smart to press the whole game. It wasn't that type of thing.

But a changing of defense that makes them be engaged, makes them more aware and alert and there's no choice but to talk. And we were doing a really good job of that.

We hit a wall. Then in the second half we came back much better with it.

Q. How important is it for De'Ron to show the consistency in back-to-back games?
COACH CREAN: He's getting more and more confident because he's getting in better shape. He's getting more used to it. And I think he's -- it's just -- as long as he can stay healthy and keep the conditioning going the way that he is, keep growing. It really is for him. Because getting to the point where we play the two of them together. We had a situation where we'd call the ball screen for Thomas and then we ran a slip on it and he got De'Ron a layup. When we can start to get to that...we weren't as good with those two at the beginning of the game our numbers were good but our movement wasn't as good.

The next big thing, along with De'Ron being able to play those stretches is to be able to play with Thomas inside of those stretches even better than what they have as we move up the ladder here.

But as long as he stays on the pace he's on and continues to work on his fundamentals the way that he is, and this will be a really good two weeks for him coming up with two games in two weeks, so very good for him to continue to build on that. We're proud of the week that he had.

Q. Question about what do you see from De'Ron to trust him.
COACH CREAN: I think it's the opposite. He's getting more used to it. And Thomas can do things away from the basket.

We didn't move very well in the first half, when we were getting in the bonus. We just didn't have the movement that we need. And we became a little too one-sided in the sense of keeping and trying to get in on one side. We were concerned about their post double. But what it all became ball movement. So that's not there yet. And that's got to continue to grow for us.

The next big step is De'Ron can really pass the ball, even from away from the rim and away from the block area. But I think it's something we know we're going to need. We don't do it a lot in practice just yet. We'll have more time to do it this week. It's going to be a very competitive week.

I told them this is not a -- the first five second five deal at all this next two weeks. We've got to really compete.

There's a lot of room for improvement. I'm not married to a lineup. With that being said, we'll see how it goes. I'm happy with his attitude and improvement. I know how much he wants it. He's smart. And he's just getting used to playing when he didn't have the summer to prepare for it.

Q. Question on defense without OG on the floor.
COACH CREAN: I can't update you, because he's getting better. And we'll just have to see. He's wearing out that chair, you know, with the chair shooting. But he's got the boot on. He's off the crutches. It's a day-by-day thing, I imagine now.

He couldn't have played today. He's definitely making progress. So we'll see with that. I don't have a better answer than that right now.

But, yeah, we've had a really good week defensively. And we've got to continue to build on it. And, I mean, to do what we've done on the week and to do it in a game and knowing there's so much more room for improvement for us, when we watch the film or when we see the game, that's a really encouraging thing.

Q. Question on how to clean up the turnovers.
COACH CREAN: Commit less of them. We do. We have to commit less of them. We have to do a better job with the ball, decision-making. That's the truth.

Q. Question on what stat you look at to measure defensive success: Shooting percentage, what's the number one --
COACH CREAN: The three stops in a row is big. Deflections are up, which is good, but the three stops in a row. And then -- I'm not big on the point differential yet. We will get there. But I haven't focused much on that.

It's the percentages. It's the percentages. And then when we get into the film, it's definitely the shot challenges and the blockouts. And we're trying to spend more and more time making sure we're getting better and better and better at blocking out the weak side of the board. Carolina forces you to be better at that.

We want to make sure we've tried to build on that. And we're digging in the post more. We're getting more connected. But it's not there 1 through 10 yet by any stretch. And I think that's where we've got to continue to really make strides the best that we can. And so we've seen enough in this week to know that it can be there. We've seen enough to know that it's not there.

And now we've got plenty of opportunities to not only do it on the floor but to show them from the film and try to combine it that way.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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