|Browse by Sport
|Find us on
INDIANA UNIVERSITY BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE
January 21, 2017
Indiana - 82, Michigan State - 75
COACH CREAN: Obviously very, very proud of the spirit and tenacity that all these guys have played with. It goes without saying, it's been a long week. It's been an eventful week inside of our walls and then certainly the win Wednesday night.
We knew had the potential to help them and I think it did, but I think more importantly Wednesday gave them an idea of the spirit and tenacity that they have to have and the urgency they have to play with.
And they just continued on with that. And I thought they played with great urgency today, through most of the game. And it starts with the level of energy that the crowd helped bring them. And this was always an outstanding crowd. That goes without saying.
But sometimes it's just a little bit different when they know that the players really needed them. And that's not -- I don't say that lightly, they did. They did. And they're ready to go. There's no doubt about it. They were ready to play. But I know the crowd brought tremendous spirit and energy to them which helped them continue to do it throughout the game.
But I thought our guys, especially James, did a great job of playing in the context of the game. They moved without the ball. They moved the ball extremely well. They cut hard. They cut randomly. They came off the sets.
We reversed the ball. We got out on the break. And most importantly we didn't give them a lot of live-ball turnovers, obviously, which is crucial, because they're so fast.
And not only did we not give them very many live-ball turnovers, we didn't give them very many fastbreak points. Which is key. As far as some other individual performances, when you lose somebody like OG and Juwan, who is not there, but especially OG, the way he's been playing, you're not going to make up, I said this before but I'll say it again, you're not going to make up, obviously, for the athleticism and the body and the length and different things, but you've got to make up for some of the presence and some of the activity.
And the fact, today, I mean, the last time OG played in this building he had 18 deflections. I don't care who you're playing, 18 deflections is a big number. He did that last week. Today Zach McRoberts gets 16, Thomas Bryant gets 12. Those are the things to me as a coach that are huge, huge values, because the points we're going to figure that out. The rebounds we have to figure that out. We've got to figure out how we're going to continue to rebound the ball at a good rate.
They're a great rebounding team, obviously. We've got to get better at that. You take OG out. You take Juwan out. It's a different story for us. We've got to improve there. But to have that kind of activity with 51 deflections and to have that kind of hustle and then the ball movement, which so many guys were beneficiaries of, but especially James, Robert, Thomas -- and I thought our guys, X and O-wise, did a really good job of continuing to move not only without the ball but off the wings where Michigan State is so good in help when they can sit at those elbows. It's one of the key staples of his defense.
They did a very good job with that. Defensively we battled. We had numerous guys like Robert, Zach, Thomas was on Miles. We definitely thought we might have Thomas on Miles even more today.
But, again, like I said yesterday, you go into this game and you just gotta figure it out. We don't know exactly how we're going to play. But I thought our guys in the context of the game did a really good job of that. And Michigan State for the most part had to earn their baskets. And it was a hard-fought game by two teams that are playing extremely hard and energetic, and we were fortunate to continue to play that way throughout the 40 minutes and made timely plays.
Devonte's basket late was really important for a guy that's playing late minutes now in a situation like that that might not have been doing that earlier.
So no question we have to get better. We will. Their attitudes are great. Hopefully we'll get Juwan back soon. And just keep moving. So go ahead.
Q. 23 turnovers, that's a big number. Can you talk about that?
COACH CREAN: That was huge. No question. Because we want to create more turnovers. There's no doubt. And they're not easy to turn over. But that's important stuff.
And we had a lot of different guys that were involved in that. So we have to -- we have to have everybody locked in to that. We have to have everybody locked into their coverage and to reading what's going on.
And we can't lose focus. And we're playing a lot of young guys. And now more and more they're going to be in there together. So to be able to do that -- and playing guys in crucial positions that maybe aren't used to it, I thought that was even extra special for us.
Q. Obviously been a tough week but attitude was good and Devonte, too. Did you feel like you had an added sense of urgency or maybe edge is a word you use, not just like James and Robert, but guys down the bench that knew they may need to step into big roles?
COACH CREAN: Grant Gelon was ready to go in today. I was ready to play him. And there's no question about that. So that's really important. We've been getting better.
I think, what, we won four or five. We're getting better. There's no doubt about that. And we have a lot room to get better. I'm not saying we have anything covered just yet. And we've got to keep learning how to play without OG as we move down the road here.
But absolutely. I mean, they just have to have confidence. And we're spending a lot of time on trying to get them to understand the game and in the practices and in the meetings so they can play very proactive in the game. And I thought we did that.
Q. Speaking of Zach, when you think of where he was last year --
COACH CREAN: I don't know where he was last year. I don't even know where he lived. He didn't buy tickets.
Q. The progress and improvement he's made to now, starting against Michigan State (indiscernible)?
COACH CREAN: I'll go back to what I usually go back to with my go-to, I put him in the Hope College game starting lineup the first game of the year so he would figure out that he was meaningful to us. And I wanted everyone else to know the same thing. It wasn't a token start. It was a -- and I wouldn't call it a non-start, but it was one of those situations where you're going to be good, and from the point that Collin Hartman went down, Zach obviously came to my mind as quick as anybody and somebody that could fulfill those type of things.
And moving without the ball, playing with hustle, his shooting is getting better. There's no question about that. He works extremely hard. I mean he serves his teammates. He's one of those guys that he wants to make them better and sometimes he's got to be reminded that he's pretty good too. But he's very, very valuable to them. I was sold when I watched him get better this summer, when I watched the work that he put into his body to gain the weight that he did after he tried out.
And we're really, really happy to have him. And he's a valuable guy to every one of them and certainly to us.
Q. Did you say he didn't even have tickets to the game?
COACH CREAN: Ask him, I don't think he had tickets. I don't think he bought tickets, no.
Q. James and Rob on Miles and James in particular in the second half seemed like had a lot of really good possessions on him. You talked about his defense leading to his offense --
COACH CREAN: Very good. He tried to post up Curtis one time and Curtis defended that. I wasn't sure we were going to have Curtis today, if you can believe it or not. And he was not out there very much this morning. Doesn't look very good right now but he fought through it. And so that was almost like, I mean, I couldn't even have drawn it up today like that if we had not had him.
But I thought they all did a good job. And I thought Rob and Josh and James certainly set the tempo in the attack points of the defense knowing that they're going to guard those type of people like -- we fully expected to start Rob, because I thought about starting De'Ron, but with no Juwan, now all of a sudden bigs, you don't have anybody else coming off the bench.
So to put Rob on him, it was Tim Buckley's idea, very good idea. We were fully ready to have Thomas be in there. But when you're guarding somebody like him and there's other guys that like that where you maybe don't have that natural matchup, we do have that natural matchup. They're just not healthy, so we can't put those guys on them.
You've got to make sure that your help is really good. And I thought everybody was really, really locked in to what Ward was doing on the post and what Bridges was doing on the perimeter. They made a couple of shots early when we didn't get our hands up. I thought we did a good job starting off the pass on the cuts.
Michigan State, year in, year out, their offensive execution is so good because, A, they never get bored running their sets. B, they've got talented players. But C, and probably most important, they never miss a screen. I mean, they don't miss their screens. There's no whiffs. They might slip a screen. They might not set a screen because it's part of the play. But when they're there to screen, they screen.
So like you've got to be able to navigate that countless times throughout the game. And I thought our guys were really locked into that. It's easier said than done to keep doing that possession after possession, because it can hurt at times, because it's a physical game. If you miss it, you're going to run into some pretty strong bodies. And they did a really good job of that, and those three really set the tone there.
Q. Can you just talk about the start James got off, his first six shots, four of them were from three?
COACH CREAN: Flow of the game. He was ready to shoot. His teammates did a great job getting him open. He did a great job getting himself open with setups. His lift was very good.
You know, there's only one shot I told him in the first half, the shot he took in the deep corner, great shot, but he didn't follow through. You know, that was the only one that didn't look like a James Blackmon shot.
But, again, it started because the defense. I mean, they all have big assignments in this league. And certainly he did.
And he did a really good job. And he knows -- he's got a memory of two years ago, how they came after him and picked on him on the defensive end, made it hard for him to get the ball. He's aware of that.
I think that probably helps. But he's getting better. And it's a great example of what happens. He's coming off this surgery, obviously, and he's getting stronger. He's getting more athletic. We have to really manage -- it's not just the guys that are injured. It's the guys that have been through these surgeries that we really have to manage now.
I've been through a lot here. I've never been through anything quite like that. You've got to really, really manage that and keep a close eye on them every day, because there's no textbook way, when you've got so many people coming off them. But he's doing a great job of keeping his energy, getting more athletic, playing with more explosion, and as for what he's doing on the defensive end.
Q. When you're down three guys at this time of the year, do you think things different? Do you have a session where you sit and talk about it, how you proceed from this point?
COACH CREAN: Yeah, it's emphatic. Yeah, I mean, I think so. I think you do. But it's not like it's -- you don't really want to make it the battle cry. The players' battle cry are what they figure out. It's not what I create. It's not what coaches create.
It's what -- the "us against the world" or those type of things that coaches are always trying to get, that comes when they believe that.
But the facts are the facts. We're without these guys and this is what we have to do to make ourselves better, this is what we have to do to win the game, and we've got to do it with an even more urgency, with more urgency. And I think that's where their maturity level rises.
And there's no question, I mean, we have to do that. And for the guys that are in that locker room for a while, they're kind of used to it. Rob Johnson is kind of used to this now. And he's been a part of that, where he's gone down.
So you just keep -- you just gotta keep the focus really strong the best way that you can, and every day is different. And like I said before, there's not a textbook for it. And it's what they absorb and what they really take from it.
Q. Looked like assistant Buckley was holding about three different signs throughout the course of the game. Can you talk about the inspiration behind that, what impact that has had?
COACH CREAN: I think we have some signs that are just defensive reminders, especially for the second half. That's just something that we do. And I think it was Rob Johnson. It was Tim Buckley [indiscernible].
Q. How close was Juwan to being able to go today and is it just still kind of basically a see where --
COACH CREAN: Closer than he was yesterday. We did a little bit yesterday and he's just not ready yet. But I would say he's getting closer.
Q. Defensively, first half, is that the best that you guys have played all year?
COACH CREAN: I don't know. We've had some big wins. I don't know. I'll have to go back and watch the film. So we played well, but I don't know about best.
I mean, considering where we're at, without a couple of guys that make us a really good defensive team, I would say, in answer to your question, yes. But I don't know.
We knew we had to play well, put it that way. We knew that they're as fast a team as we've faced and with as many different players. And they're clicking. They really are. And they're good. They're really good.
And they're going to get even better, because he's got young guys getting better, just like some of his older guys are. I know we've got to continue to play defense like this if we want to keep improving.
THE MODERATOR: Thank you.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports