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February 1, 2017

Tom Crean

Bloomington, Indiana

Indiana - 110, Penn State - 102

COACH CREAN: That was unique, wasn't it? It was. They played well. And every team made mistakes. But every team made big plays. It had a lot of everything. Not a little of everything, a lot of everything.

The proudest thing I am with these guys is how they never gave in. And there were numerous times that we could have won it. There were times that Penn State could have won it. There were times when we all could have lost it.

And it really came down to a battle of wills. And I hope Pat is proud of his guys. I mean, this is not one of those films that we're all going to look at and say it was a masterpiece, but when you look at the way our group and you put it all in context with everything that they've been dealing with and with the people that are out, and the roles that they're being thrust into, and then on top of that have a game like this tonight, you know, with everything that it had, we've got to get better.

There's no doubt about that. The film will show that. And the next day we get ourselves ready to improve and get ready for Wisconsin. But it will be harder for me to be much prouder of them. I don't know if I could be in the sense of how they battled through and did not give in.

And when you're trying to build toughness and you're trying to identity and you've had your ups and downs and you've had your adversities and to have those guys play that way, to play those kind of minutes, to make those kind of plays, it was fantastic. It really was. And the crowd was tremendous. The crowd gave us lifts throughout the entire evening and stayed with us when we made mistakes. What I'm most proud of is the huddles, those guys, there was only a couple of moments where had to interject and make sure they knew we were okay.

But for the most part they were taken care of one another. We had some real growth tonight. And I've coached a long time. I hope I coach a while longer. But I will remember this one for the rest of my life, because watching them, from my vantage of going through what we go through and what we have been dealing with, and watching these guys that we're trying to get to become more responsible for one another, lead through adversity, lead through the tough times and to see that happen, hopefully we'll build on it, but that's a pretty carry and I think they will too.

I haven't studied the stat sheets. I won't be able to help you with analytics and things like that. I'm not really going to be very good with it.

Q. Thomas's 44 minutes, 13 in the first half alone. How important was it to get him going quickly? Felt like he had confidence.
COACH CREAN: Thomas has responded very well in the sense when James has gone down. I don't think we can put in context how much it affected that group, especially those sophomores, when OG went down.

And it's very easy to -- the basketball part is a very, very minor part of their lives when it comes to a 24-hour day, with the amount of time that they spend together.

And what Thomas is doing is he's understanding that. He's gaining confidence, because he's seen himself in more of a leadership role, as is Rob. The guy that deserves so much credit for -- Chuck did a fantastic job with this scout and Rob did a fantastic job of making sure that I was aligned the right way during the game, but Tim Buckley, The Shot Doctor, has been hard at work with a couple of guys, and he deserves a lot of credit for helping build the confidence in some of these guys that were in a bit of a funk with their shooting or a little bit of a slump with their shooting.

So Thomas, he works very hard every day, but right now he's just -- he's even more purposeful than what he's been. And exactly what you would want. It's a tough role for a 19-year-old to step into. He's a very good player, but to have to step into that leadership role at that age and have that responsibility on his shoulders, not only to play well but to have his teammates play well, that's a big thing. So I'm very proud of him for that.

Q. Can you talk about The Shot Doctor.
COACH CREAN: That's what some of you call him. I think he's one of the great coaches, maybe the players call him that. I don't know he's one of the great coaches I've ever had the pleasure to work with.

Q. Whatever he's doing, when he did it with Josh Newkirk, obviously been struggling the last few games but tonight he was lights out.
COACH CREAN: Josh's stuff was very correctible. It was just a matter of getting in the gym and isolating some of that. He wasn't getting good lift on his shot. He wasn't -- he has a tendency to hop into certain things. Hence the bunny picture back a month ago, right?

He hops at times rather than step and explode into it. And it's just a little bit of refining that, and he wasn't getting the arc on his shot. And I mean those shots at Northwestern, I mean, they're right there, they're right at the line. There's not enough of a trajectory on the arc because he was kind of flat with it.

And that's what he's worked on getting better. And he made a couple. And he made such a great read. I don't know what was, it was the end of the second overtime when we called timeout with six seconds and we had to be prepared for man or zone.

And so we made a couple of diversions to a set. And he made a great read. I mean, he made a great read on that layup. So I don't know if he makes those shots that he has that confidence at the end like that. It's amazing what happens. But he came out and set the tone defensively, then he makes a couple of shots and the basket looks a lot bigger to him, and he did a great job with that.

It was very -- there were just some technique things that had to be fixed. But Tim not only works with the technique, Tim does a great job of -- he really connects with those guys, and he helps build confidence. And we've got a staff of guys that do that. He does a great job of that.

Q. Talk about the guys who played extended minutes, Robert and --
COACH CREAN: 45 for Green and two turnovers, I did see that stat. That was pretty impressive. Only two turnovers, that's pretty impressive.

Q. What did you think of those guys being able to play so many more minutes than normal and making plays and getting it done?
COACH CREAN: A test of wills. Great strength and conditioning program. A great trainer. Great doctors. And because everybody plays a hand in this some something like that. When you've got to go above and beyond anything you've done, doesn't just happen that night. It's because of the work that -- I'd say the same with Penn State. I don't see any Penn State writers in here, but I'd say the same thing with them.

I mean, they battled, too. They got some older guys. They got some young guys, they battled too. But Lionel Anderson, those guys, they deserve a lot of credit because we concentrate throughout the year on building athleticism and those type of things, too.

But Dr. Tim, as Grant Gelon calls him, Dr. Tim Garl, he's done a fantastic job. Those guys deserve so much credit. The players deserve the credit tonight, staff and the trainers and the strength coaches that continue to help build confidence in them and continue to help try to get them healthy and work with them like that, it's a product of that, too. So I'm proud to be associated with all these guys like that. You can tell I don't have a lot of -- I'm not real tactful right now what our numbers are. I'll study that later.

Q. The game-tying shot from Josh Newkirk, was that exactly how you wanted that?
COACH CREAN: I just covered that. We put -- we had a set. We had to be prepared for man or zone. So we wanted to get a screen on the side. And we run an action where we duck in. What we did we just moved Rob, instead of starting Rob someplace we cut him out so we'd have a chance if they helped on the coast to get a 3, it would be open for a 3. We're going to take the best shot or punch it in inside and Josh came off the screen and made a great read that those guys weren't open and got to the basket.

So he was part of the -- we cleared Zach off to the side so there should be nobody on the backside. And usually Zach would be in the corner looking to cheat in, in that play, but we lifted him. And that opened up the lane for Josh to make a read and he made a fantastic read. But that's all him.

It was an option, but it was an option that he found.

Q. (Off Microphone)?
COACH CREAN: No. I didn't think there was any doubt that counted. Was it close? Whatever. (Laughter).

Q. Not in terms of winning and losing, the team bonding, coming in here after a game like this, with all the ups and downs and adversity, can it have any carry-over effect?
COACH CREAN: Absolutely. I was think of there, my second year at Marquette, Denny's last year, Coach Crum, I should call him that, a Hall of Famer, triple overtime game. You were there, right? That's always lived with me. I've lived with that.

Like we didn't win that game, it was a battle of wills that night. It was senior night for Brian Wardle and those guys, and those are the things that really stay with you. So like this game was going on at the end, I was thinking of that, to be honest with you. And it's like just looking back at those guys, continuing to fight through it, no question they get better from that. No question.

Because I don't think anybody's going to walk out of there and feel, is going to have a big head because we played so great. We did have 70 deflections. We've got to find it in 40 minutes. But we did have 66 points in the paint. Those were some good things there. We did a lot of good things. But we've got to get better and being able to battle through something like that helps them understand they can do it again if need be.

Q. Question about mental confidence.
COACH CREAN: He had to withstand that guy that was standing up in the deck, the Penn State guy that was screaming every time we took a free throw. Made himself so well known, I was hoping I could wave to him after the game, but I didn't look up. Kind of lost my mind. That was pretty impressive.

Got a guy screaming at the apex of the shot. De'Ron is a good free throw maker. If you look at the stats, over the last few games, last couple of weeks he's really done a much better job. Spends a lot of time at it. And those were huge, right?

But Devonte misses those shots, as hard as it was for everybody to swallow, he comes back out, makes big plays. When you get stuff like -- and it could have been Curtis Jones tonight. Right? It could have been Freddie, but it was Devonte and it was Zach and De'Ron and those guys did it, and that's something they can carry with it. And I had very little doubt that De'Ron would step up there and knock those down.

Q. In the final overtime period Josh knocks down that 3 and then Devonte steals, deflects the inbound, gets another layup?
COACH CREAN: I only saw the tail end of him making the basket. We were trying to get the team down the court when he hit the 3. I did not see it until I see it on film. It was huge. By the crowd's reaction and our bench reaction, monumental play inside a game that had a lot of big moments.

Q. What do you do for the practice schedule the next day after a game like this that's so demanding, handful of guys with 40 minutes?
COACH CREAN: We'll go about 6:30 or seven. No, I'm just joking. (Laughter).

We play Sunday. So like we've got to take a day off. And I'm not sure what that will be yet. We'll figure that out. We don't overpractice right now anyways. And so just becomes a matter -- we'll get with the trainer and the doctors and if we decided to go tomorrow, it would probably be tomorrow night. But it's very unlikely that we will.

I could have gone either way: Practice Thursday, take Friday off, go Saturday or take tomorrow off and go Friday and Saturday and play Sunday. So we have flexibility. I'll get an update from the trainer and things like that. We won't be going at 6:30.

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