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December 22, 2016

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 97, Austin Peay - 62

COACH CREAN: I thought this was a week that our guys just continued to get better and better, and we would see it from Sunday when we got in the film room, we got on the practice court. And they're working at a really good pace. Our practices have been sharp, short but sharp and efficient. They're spending a lot of extra time in the gym.

And one of the things I'm most proud of this team, and it was the same way last year, is they have prepared with a diligence in every game. And it didn't matter if it was Carolina or Kansas, it didn't matter who it was. Obviously they know some teams and know some players better than others. But they have come into every game locked to the key personnel, to the key attributes of that personnel, to the key things they want to do.

Doesn't mean we've always been successful. But really, really proud of their preparation. And very, very importantly we got better this week in the sense of pressure. Our deflections were good, our activity was good. Our break was much better this week.

Obviously when the ball is moving, 50 assists in two games, that's a great sign. And we're never overly -- I'm never overly worried about assists because of the way we drive it and the way we play out of the post and things and the offensive rebounding. But I thought we finished the week in a strong way against a team that we have a lot of respect for. Especially with their ability offensively.

And we wanted to get him in the game by putting him on Robinson there at the very beginning. And our plan was to rotate a couple of guys, Juwan being one. But he went down and he couldn't return in the game. And that didn't help us.

And I thought other guys stepped in and did a good job. So we got better inside of the game. We shot the ball extremely well, obviously. And I think it was just very indicative of how the ball was moving and the way Rob shot it the way James shot it, the way Josh moved it. I thought Thomas was a tremendous facilitator tonight of moving the ball.

And what did OG do? He had a big task defensively. Different guys. But when the ball is moving like that, good things are going to happen. And that's exactly how it was this week.

Q. Talk about how Josh has, his role continues to change, but just how much of a facilitator was he?
COACH CREAN: He continues to expand his game. I think so much of it happens in speed. And he played very fast and quick tonight. And that's really important. He's moving the ball. Sometimes he'll get in the middle of the lane and there's a little too much traffic.

But when he's playing out of the corners, when he's playing in the spin action, when he's driving it on the baseline, when he's driving it off the wings, (indiscernible) off the break and he's delivering it and his head is up, I thought he played -- pace is -- it's speed when you can change speed, change directions, he's doing a much better job of that.

And I've said this before: We're constantly on him and working to build his stride and to get out and play even faster. And he did a really good job of that this week and tonight.

And at the same time you have to guard him because he's going to make 3s as well. He can get to the rim. We've got to continue to build his pull-up game. And he's very comfortable shooting 3s.

Q. The Don't Hop sign. Is that like indicative of --
COACH CREAN: That's just -- that was a -- I don't want to say millennium, because I don't really know what that means. That was a new wave way of trying to get my point across of don't hop defensively. Take steps. So I'm not sure I'll bring it out again. But you remember it when you see that. [Indiscernible].

Q. (Indiscernible).
COACH CREAN: I don't know. It's just a reminder. We still fouled the kid coming down the lane a couple times. But we have a tendency -- Josh has a tendency, sometimes, it's the same thing with the stride, to not really step; he'll hop. And sometimes it happens on offense [indiscernible] and we're constantly looking for that. I know. We're looking for the guys that are hopping. We don't use the rabbit, but it's just a reminder. I thought it was something different. We've used props before. That's all it was.

Q. Talk about Josh's, what have Rob and James been for him, how have those three developed? Even dating back to last year, a strong dynamic between the three of them, maybe even dating last year when Josh had to sit out?
COACH CREAN: I think they get along great. There's no question about that. And then in the gym. I think the synergy is forming.

He doesn't have the luxury of two plus years like Rob and James have together. But it's certainly coming. And it's certainly moving in the right direction. I think as Devonte and Curtis get involved on that, we play so many other guys on the perimeter.

And I think that's really, really important. I mean, when you're trying to get guys to really move and use the whole court, that stuff is really, really important.

If you're just coming down the run and set point, makes this pass, then he cuts, we don't do a lot of that. Sometimes we do. So much is more based off movement. And that's why it's crucial for the development, future development.

Q. De'Ron's passing, is it something you recruited him for, is that something he's always had?
COACH CREAN: Especially from the high post. We haven't really utilized him from up there. Yeah, he can always pass off the high post. He's got great feet.

It's a matter of him continuing to understand. We're very demanding of him, building his athleticism on the court. And as you can see with his pick-and-roll coverage with the quick feet, quick hands, he's got great eyes. He's got very good vision, so he can see. Just sometimes he plays too straight up and we've got to continue to work through that.

But as he gets understanding, as he gets even -- gets in the speed condition -- he's in good condition, but getting into the speed where he can really, really drive the ball off that into hand-offs and things like that, it will be even more. I think in due time he's going to become very good at passing off the dribble.

Cody didn't have that until his sophomore year. Not like he had it his sophomore year.

Thomas is part of the development process. But as far as him being able to see out of the post, the elbow of the high post, he's very good there.

Q. Juwan, was that more of a precautionary?
COACH CREAN: No, he definitely hurt his ankle tonight. He wasn't able to go back in. So I'll get an update here a little bit later.

Q. Talk about Robert's maturity.
COACH CREAN: No question, he works extremely hard. And he's phenomenal. He shot it in the walk-through. We don't walk through very long anymore at all on game day. But he had been in here -- he had been here earlier in the day.

But even in the walk-through, knocking everything down. I would have been shocked tonight if he didn't shoot well. But what he's doing is he's efficient. He's getting his dribble out.

He's taking what's there, whether it's one or two dribbles on the pull-up. The one pick-and-roll where he missed the one off the pick-and-roll, that was a footwork deal. And I had no problem him taking that shot, but it's a matter of footwork. Sometimes he doesn't always get his left/right down the way it needs to be. But he's doing that more often. He's very, very efficient with his dribbles.

There's not a lot of waste in there, too. Not a lot of herky jerky. He doesn't just play in a straight line, can't move forward as a player, if you're just a straight line dribbler or if you're just somebody that can just change direction. You've got to be able to do both. And I think he's really getting to the point where he can do both. He's getting good shots and he's a product of very good ball movement.

Q. As far as Newkirk development, nuances, things like that. Is that part of it, as far as assists go?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, that's all part of it. Absolutely. I'm not looking at anything that I say, wow, we did it; we've reached these -- the numbers are great. But the one good thing about these guys is they go into that film room and win or lose they know that it's going to be -- there are going to be things we can take out of it. And Josh really, over the last three weeks or so, has -- a lot of it has been centered on him.

It's centered on everybody. It's not like we single it out. But there's so much more in the sense of I don't want to say speeding up his process but making sure that the expectations and what he's capable of doing right now are there and holding him to that.

But at the same time I sent him a message today that said just simply just attack and play the way you know how to play.

Sometimes he overthinks it. And the other day, if I would have had him do it, he took the practice film upstairs to watch some of the new things and look at other things to make sure he knew where everybody was supposed to be.

You know what, that's great. You want that. But you also want him to just go out there and play on instinct too. And that's what we need.

He was so upset with himself the other night on the turnover in the middle of the lane in the game on Monday. It's like: Relax. You know? It's okay. We don't look them over. But don't beat yourself up. He's just got to play with the game mentality and we'll figure the rest of it out, as well as when he's playing fast.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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