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December 10, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Houston Baptist - 61, Indiana - 103

Q. Talk about the ball efficiency.
TOM CREAN: I think a big focus this week was to -- little less dribbling, a little quicker decision making and just get the ball out, get the ball out in front of us.

But with our footwork, not over-penetrate. And a couple of our mistakes, they were definitely correctable. But that's -- we want to become a more efficient team on both ends of the floor. And the turnovers, as hard as we work, defensively, and as good as movement as we get offensively, there's no real sense in giving it back too much. When you play fast there's going to be some, I get that.

But I thought we understood this week that we needed to become more efficient. And we'll do the same here again next week and hope we continue to improve.

Q. What would you say has been the big difference between the Juwan we have seen the last three games, maybe, on both ends of the court?
TOM CREAN: Well, I see him like that constantly. I don't know if I would say there's a big difference. He missed a lot of time, right? And I think it takes guys -- we're still a product of that. The togetherness, especially offensively, is where it really loses a little bit. It takes time. James and Rob have been together a lot and they do a pretty good job together, just in the randomness of the game. And they still missed a lot of time. So, like I can see where like that's improving and those guys have played together for two plus years, right?

With everybody else, and especially the case like Juwan, it just takes time to get that rhythm, it takes time to get that timing. Synergy is a good term, I guess. But I mean, just that -- it's not chemistry, because they get along fine, they move the ball well. It's just that really like getting a real feel for each other one the court.

He's very aggressive right now. And, again, I think he's been playing real well from the beginning. I just see him getting more comfortable and more athletic with his movements because he's getting that much more comfortable in playing long stretches in full-court, intense, physical basketball.

Q. The second half you turned over the huddle to James. I know that's something you talked about yesterday.
TOM CREAN: I did that last week, though. And it's not anything new.

Q. Why James?
TOM CREAN: Just because I chose to. Because it's not anything I put a lot of thought into. It is just kind of what I think at that point. I changed the matchup right before the game, too. It's just something. It's good. The biggest thing for these guys right now is just to have, you take that ownership and responsibility for each other inside of the game. And it takes time to build it. I think I said it like this, you're just looking for those opportunities where you can find a way to do it, and if it presents itself, in a situation like that in the game, then, like today, I'll take advantage of it. It's not anything I over think, I really don't. I don't go in with a set plan on that, I would be a lot smarter if I did, but I don't, I just kind of read the situation.

Q. What's the key for how your guys defend the three?
TOM CREAN: We're not over helping. I think when we ever help -- and in its simplest terms, and it's a lot harder to do that and it sounds, because you want to help on the ball in penetration. But we spend a lot of time not trying to overreact to the basketball. Especially when guys are in the corners. I thought today, because of the screens that they ran, they ran a lot of singles, double staggers, double stagger in with double stagger, we had to be really good and then there were certain lineups that they would present where we were switching or where we weren't switching. And I thought our guys did a pretty solid job of that. So, that's the biggest thing is, don't overreact to the ball. Does that mean we may give up a few drives to the baskets here and there? Probably. But we would rather do that than give guys open look shots, especially in the league that we're in and with the competition that we face. I thought our three-point defense today was really good because, again, number 3 was shooting 50 percent coming into the game. Number 23 was shooting 57 percent coming into the game. One went 1-8 and one went 0-1, right? 23? Yeah. 0-1. So I thought that was really good.

Q. It's kind of a bigger picture question, but how do you feel Josh has come in terms of regaining the comfort with these guys on the floor and where does he still need to improve?
TOM CREAN: He's got to improve in all areas, really. The big thing this week was his explosiveness with the ball. His steps. His stride. Playing with great speed. There's no question, when I watch the film of our turnovers and things like that, I'm not, I'm overreacting in -- I don't think I'm overreacting, because we have to get them fixed -- there's certain parts that we just have to get better at, but there's some that's just going to take some time for that togetherness that I'm talking about on the court, because of the fact that it's his first year and he hadn't been in that situation before and because guys are getting used to playing with each other. That's why I always feel like we're going to continue to improve. So, he's got as much improvement to makes an anybody else, but I would tell you that James Blackmon, Thomas Bryant, O.G., Juwan, Rob, they're in the same boat. If we're going to keep getting better and better, they have all got to get better and better. So, he's improving, there's no doubt, but I think he's got a lot of room to improve. And that's a good thing, it's certainly not a bad thing.

Q. How valuable is it to have a consistent scorer like James for your offense?
TOM CREAN: I think it's valuable to have a consistent scoring team. I think that's the most important thing. So, I'm certainly not going to single out one guy. Especially when we have numerous guys in double figures. The biggest thing for James is, like today, with the tough first half, is, don't get down and focus on why you're missing, focus on what you need to do defensively and continue to rebound the ball and moving the ball to other people. And I think in the second half he played with a much better energy. What did he end up with? 18? So he had, he made one field goal in the first half, is that right?

Q. He made three.
TOM CREAN: In the first half. Okay. So it was better in the second half, because I thought his focus defensively and his talk in the huddle and things like that were good for him. So that's the most important thing.

Q. What level of effectiveness do you anticipate from O.G.?
TOM CREAN: Come on, I can't predict that. That's seven days away. I mean, the bottom line is that he's starting to do more, but he's not feeling it yet. So he was cleared today, but the bottom line is just the comfort level. So I can't predict tomorrow, let alone what it's going to be like next week.

Q. (No microphone.)
TOM CREAN: Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Our communication is really good on what do you feel? And I don't think he would have felt comfortable enough to play today, no matter what the opponent was, but he's getting closer to it. So, but again, it's being cleared and then you want him to feel really good about where he's at and that's what we just have to work through and take some time to get there.

Q. How is Zach able to have such a notable impact on the floor without really shooting the ball?
TOM CREAN: Moves the ball. Moves the ball, rebounds, hustle plays like you saw today. Constantly in movement. That ball's not in his hands very long. Certainly we need him to continue -- he can really shoot the ball and he just hasn't, he's such a willing moving, such a willing passer, such a ball mover -- and there will be some nights where he just knocks down shots. He does it in practice. And he's really improved his shooting here, I think. He's improved so many aspects. But he's very, very valuable, that's why his plus/minus is so high, because he makes hustle plays and he makes the game easier for everybody else. That's the best answer I can give you.

Q. Talk about Freddie's improvement.
TOM CREAN: Very good week. He had a very good week. He improved this week. He strung good days together. Good week for us to focus on that. I think last week probably hurt -- I think the last couple weeks probably hurt him about as much as anybody else, because we didn't get that full throttle practice time. And everybody gets coached every day, but then there's certain days, like this week, where we could really pinpoint a couple things to help him. And he works very hard, I was very happy for him. He earned it. And, hopefully, he'll continue to say on that path. But his is so much about playing with that energy, not getting down on himself, making the game simple. And I think when you see his body, you see his athleticism, you see what in the sense that he could become an outstanding defender, excellent at cutting, posting, he can become a much better shooter, because he works very hard at it, we spend a lot of time with that. He's getting better with the buy-in. I love the week that he had. I thought he's exactly what you want, you want to have a really good week and then culminate it with a good game.

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