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January 26, 2019

Tom Crean

Athens, Georgia

Georgia - 98, Texas - 88

TOM CREAN: First off, let me comment on Coaches Versus Cancer. I think it's unbelievable the way that organization has bonded people on this week. We chose to wear the tennis shoes with the sweats and things like that rather than a suit, but everything that -- I've done that for years, but it means so much. Anything you can add in your articles, in your stories that add to that, it's like anything else when you're helping somebody, you probably never meet the people that you help, but they've got families, too. Please, please -- I know Coach Fox is a huge proponent of it and certainly all coaches are, and some really get behind it in a huge way, but the awareness level when you take a week like this for people to really dive in not only at the games but into the passion that people have for helping cure cancer, I think it's a huge thing.

As far as the game, extremely proud of the way these guys have responded from the other night, and we've shown flashes. We've had lulls. Getting to that consistency which we talk about it seems like every time we have a game or a press briefing, and the bottom line is they're getting better, and as I try to tell them, I don't have any time for anybody to lose confidence when we lose a game or when we're in tough practices because I have my confidence, and as long as I've got mine, there's really no reason for anybody not to have theirs.

Now, the bottom line is it's going to be demanding. There's going to be high expectations. We're going to work at a really high level. We're going to expect a lot out of you. But the bottom line is that's where you get your confidence from.

There was no reason for these guys to come into this game today against a great Texas team like they are and not believe that they couldn't be confident enough to play the right way, and we did. We did not play great, there's no doubt about that. There's some unbelievably good statistics on this page, and there's some that aren't so good. But the bottom line is we've just got to continue to focus on improvement, which is the mental part of it with the mindset, knowing that when we're moving without the ball, when we're cutting, when we're playing with five people consistently, the ball is not stopping, our offense can get a lot better.

If we can get a five-man connection going better and better on the defensive end, that's going to help us that much more.

But the rebounding was huge today, the break. I'm really, really proud of the way that they played. And again, with Texas, I know we're playing a really, really good team. Shaka Smart is an outstanding coach, has been for a long period of time. Darrin Horn, who's one of the main guys on his staff, is like a brother to me. So there's the emotional tug of going against people that you have very strong relationships with and also really have a lot of respect for, like I said with Shaka.

We're proud of the win. We're going to avenge the -- one of my first texts back there was from Kirby, as well. He didn't say anything about, hey, thanks for avenging Texas. That's not what he meant, right, but we got that win. But I am really, really proud of the way that we responded from the last couple of days.

The last couple of days wasn't easy, especially when you lose guys with injuries, and for these guys to come out here today and play the way they did and keep coming, keep going was a lot. The only thing better -- and then I'll take questions. The only thing better than our togetherness today was the way the crowd carried us through, and there was no doubt about it. I know I'm playing cheerleader at times, but there is no doubt about it, the crowd -- when the game could have gone either way and that crowd stepped up into that late in the game, that is monstrous. It's one thing to sell it out. It's a whole other thing for everybody to be in here just driving the passion of the game, and that's exactly -- and we had some special recruits here today. And so when they get a chance to see that and feel that, that is helping build our future like people can't believe.

Q. I was curious about what went into you guys giving Tyree Crump (indiscernible), and also him coming out like it did, how did that --
TOM CREAN: Oh, I think there's a couple things. First of all, Tyree works every day. I've said this all along, there's not a starting lineup that I'm married to. Joanie just walked out; that's who I'm married to.

The bottom line is we've got to do what the team needs. Now, one of the reasons was because if we start Teshaun and Turtle in the game, in a 40-minute game with no Jordan, okay, all of a sudden because Tyree is not playing the point as much, we want him off the ball. We had to look at it that way. But it was just a feeling of wanting to make some changes in there, and not only did Tyree play well, but I thought Teshaun responded extremely well, and that's -- I think sometimes as coaches we use that phrase, well, we got better today. Well, that can be hard. You want to improve all the meanwhile, while you're playing, when you're winning. But today our mindset, we did get better today. We won the game but we got better today because mindsets and maturities took a good step today, and that's really important for us, and we've got to build on it.

Q. You talked about avenging the football --
TOM CREAN: I was just having fun with that. But I felt bad when they lost that game.

Q. How important was it for your team to get a positive result for you guys?
TOM CREAN: Oh, huge. Against a good team like this? Absolutely. And in a showcase? I knew the SEC-Big 12 challenge was a big deal, but after being at ESPN for a year, I was in the studio a year ago, and like it's not just the day that is such a big deal, it's the buildup of it. It puts the Big 12, it puts the SEC in prime focus really for a week, right, and I think there's the day of the games, but for a week. So to come out and represent that way and get this against that type of team, coming off where our confidence hasn't been as high and being fatigued and things like that, it's a huge deal, huge deal, and what it does is it helps resonate with them that if they're doing it right, all right, and if they're bearing down and they're moving without that ball, we're going to get better.

What we've got to continue to have them understand is what we can do if we can eliminate some of those turnovers and it would get three stops in a row more. But it was big, and a big part of it, we didn't play as great defensively. We had 35 deflections. The last three games have been in the 20s. We're not beating anybody like that. So those are the kind of things that make a difference for us. Proud of what they did, so it was a huge win for us. Great for their confidence.

Q. We were talking about it yesterday, and you kind of were saying what you want your offense to (indiscernible) now that you've put together this win, you've got more of this than what --
TOM CREAN: Sure. Yeah, you start -- it's like -- I know I've said this before, I don't know if I said it yesterday, but the hardest thing for any player coming into college to really understand is -- on the offensive end is moving without the ball and true spacing because if you move without the ball and there's true spacing, you're going to learn how to give it up, you're going to learn how to get it back because you've got to help people understand; it's not just about your scoring. It's not just about what you're shooting, okay. You've got to -- it's about what we do as a team. We had five guys in double figures. In all honesty, moving in that direction, I don't know if it's going to be like that every night, right, but moving in that direction is a huge thing because for us to win, we've got to help out, and we kept showing them clips from the Florida game about when everybody was moving, everybody was scoring.

Same thing with LSU the other night, one of the tapes that we showed today was 18 to 20 clips of us really moving the basketball, just keep getting it engrained. But it's them doing it. So we've just got to keep harping on that, and if somebody is not moving as well without it or is starting to over-dribble, it's going to start to stand out more, which then we have to sub because they're answering their own questions right now about how to get better.

When they're moving like that, that's a strong sense of what we want it to be, what it's going to look like in the future. But some of these guys don't have a future when they're seniors in the program. So we want them to get it all right now and understand it.

It's starting to come, and we're going to have to do it every night.

Q. You mentioned some numbers on the stats are good and some that are not good. Talk about what you're doing trying to address ball handling and how you overcame those struggles today.
TOM CREAN: Well, there's a couple errors where we're really struggling. We're not as strong with the ball, all right. I went back through all of our live ball turnovers, not the dead ball turnovers but the live ball turnovers since the Auburn game, right. We're not strong enough with the ball. We try to make passes in too tight a windows, right, and we can't -- we're not Matt Ryan or Peyton Manning, we're not trying to make those passes. We've got to make the simple play. It's not football where you've got to throw in that tight window, and we try to do that sometimes because we're going to be unselfish. There's some like that. Then there's definitely some dribbling.

So we're trying to get our offense to where there's less and less dribbling, more cutting, and if that means we eliminate some pick-and-rolls and things like that a little bit, that's fine. What we want to get them to understand is the simpler they make the game with the movement, the less turnovers we're going to have, and I'll go back and look through these, we'll show them what we've got to show them, and we'll keep continuing to harp on that. But there were some really good things, and really what you want to team to understand is if they cut those turnovers back, with the way they're playing offensively tonight and the way they played offensively on Wednesday night, it could be even much better, right, and it's -- I mean, we shot 67 percent and 71 percent and 79 from the line. I mean, that's -- I'm not sure I've ever coached a team in any -- 19 years that's ever shot that well from all three spots on the floor.

But like I said, the confidence, when we go 1 for 20 at Tennessee or we're making threes, I'm not -- we need more. We need more. But we need more the proper way, which means the spacing and the open looks.

Q. The past couple of games, especially against Kentucky and Florida, you guys have struggled in the second half. What made the difference today?
TOM CREAN: It was just today, right? If I had a great answer, we wouldn't have struggles in those places. I think the bottom line becomes the togetherness they've got to continue to play with. And again, we're moving better than we were in those games. What did you say, Kentucky and who?

Q. Florida.
TOM CREAN: We came out well in the second half against Florida, right? We didn't come out as well in the first half -- the second half against Kentucky. What it all means is we're not consistent enough. That's what we've got to continue to get better at. Does this mean there's a rival with the offense? No, not by any stretch. Got to go on the road to Arkansas. But it does mean there's a template for them to see this is what it's supposed to look like.

And again, in answer to your question, there's been times where we let our lack of offense truly affect our defense, and all of a sudden you're not scoring and you're not getting stops. Now, what they need to get -- I just said this on the radio show, what our team really needs to learn to get now is like when you're moving and cutting like that, we may have some lulls offensively, we may miss some shots, but we're going to get it back. When you're cutting, we're going to score points. Let's bear down and get better on the defensive end rather than being disappointed about what we just didn't get because when they're cutting and moving it makes the game so much greater and easier for them.

Q. You talked about this team's confidence. What did you see from Tyree?
TOM CREAN: Well, I don't know if it's that. I think it's you just want a collective team. They all love Tyree, so in that sense it's good. They want to see him be successful. Tyree can be his own worst enemy sometimes when he predetermines, right? When you're cutting and moving -- like we'll have some set plays, right, but when you're cutting and moving like that, you're not predetermined, you're playing in the flow of the game, and that's exactly what was good for him today. He was pretty much in the flow of the game. When he starts hunting shots, when he starts feeling he's got to make shots, when he starts looking just at the rim rather than the next pass, that becomes a problem, and it's a problem for everybody when you do that, and that's the maturity part that we've got to grow through, and we knew that all along.

There's not one guy that they've played with that is going to go get the bucket from the perimeter, is going to get the bucket in the post, which has been at Georgia the last couple years, so it's got to be all of us. It's got to be all of us. I don't like the 26 turnovers, but man, we had 25 assists, right, so there's some real pluses to what we're doing, and the minuses we've just got to continue to work like crazy to correct.

Q. Following up on Tyree, what type of motivation does he get you see when he gets that consistent?
TOM CREAN: Well, it means something to him. It means something to him big time. He really wants to be good. We don't have anybody -- we have some guys that don't understand how to practice intense the whole time. We don't have anybody that comes in that has bad practice. We'd have already had that addressed by them not being in there, right, but he goes really hard. He puts a lot into it. And one of the things I worry about in games sometimes with him is he's selling it out so hard that he'll really have a harder time getting a second or third wind in a game, and today he didn't. And I think not only was his shots helping his confidence, but the excitement that his teammates had was helping his confidence, and I think that's a good thing.

Now, what I want to be able to say is at any given point in time you name any player whatsoever, and I could say the same thing. They're confident because they're playing better, but they know their teammates are helping them do that, and that's what we've got to get to.

Q. Rayshaun's injury, what was it?
TOM CREAN: He was able to go back in, so they're going over him right now. He hurt his shoulder.

Q. What's your thoughts about the SEC schedule?
TOM CREAN: Well, I just think we continue to build on what we're doing. It's not like we can look and say, oh, wow, we're through the gauntlet. Every night it is in this league. It really is. You know that coming in, even though I hadn't coached in this league, but because of the coaches, because of the way you look at the teams and the way they recruit, it's every night, right, so we've just got to really stay focused. Every game there's not only going to be the scouting report, there's not only going to be, okay, this guy does this does, this guy does that; there's three or four or sometimes five things that we've got to really make sure we're on, and that's what we've got to stay focused on, and at the same time keep getting our individual skills better.

But yesterday we probably spent anywhere from 50 minutes to an hour just working on their skills, all right, shooting, their driving, the post feeding, the cutting off of that, the reading two defenders, beat your man, beat the second man, a lot of three-point shooting. I'm going to stay true to that. So that's the most important thing.

My whole crux, our whole crux of this program is to help you get individually better every day that you're here, and with that comes great and better confidence and energy and all that, and at the same time you're game planning. We're not going to get off track with any of that, and I don't think there's anybody in there that's going to catch their breath and say, wow, we don't have this team or that team. That's not the way this league is. We have a great respect for every one of them, and once they see the films, even if they didn't, they do, once they see the films and what they're capable of.

Q. Can you just talk about the tempo and the way you -- and your attack, I guess?
TOM CREAN: Well, we got a little bit away -- not having Ray in there hurt us in that situation with press because he's so good at inbounding to the catch guy, and if they foul him, then he's shooting a tremendous percentage.

We want to attack the press. There were times today that we did, there were times we got a little tentative with the trap. We went to some places we never want to go. You don't want to go to the corner, right; you do not want to go to the corner because the corner has got four defenders. It's got the baseline, it's got the sideline and it's got the two that are trapping. It's hard to beat anybody 4 on 1, and we had a couple of those situations today. So we've got to keep getting better with that, get the ball to the middle, get it reversed. But we're looking to press attack.

Now, at the end when we're up, we weren't looking to score quick, we're looking to bring it back out. But we want the tempo to be fast. We just don't want it to be reckless, and sometimes it gets there. Sometimes you have to bite your tongue as a coach when you're trying to get them to play faster. You can't bite it to the point where it comes off, but you've got to bite it to a point of, okay, help them through it because they don't have the real confidence yet in their own games to be able to overcome it if we don't really go through it. So that's -- we want to build tempo every day but also understand sometimes we just have to slow it down and get the thing inside.

Q. You mentioned the time, and both the players and Coach Smart did, as well. What's the importance of that in the offense that you envision?
TOM CREAN: What do you think? What does it look like to you?

Q. It looked like it helped perform a better offensive --
TOM CREAN: Exactly, that's the whole thing, getting guys to understand that it's not about the dribble, and it's not about isolation. It is about cutting and moving without the ball. And I wasn't being -- I was just asking for an answer because that's what it is, right. You guys can see it, they can see it. Now we've just got to make sure we keep understanding it. That's what we're doing. That is what we're doing. Guys get hot, we'll find them. But the bottom line is you've got to move without the ball. It's not about you're touching it or you're pulling -- it's not about that. When you're moving without the ball, there's a lot of happy guys when five guys are in double figures out there, and that's what we want to continue to build. Every great team I had, every better-than-average team I had, it was four, sometimes five double-figure scorers, and that's what we want to build to and get more and more consistent with that as we go.

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