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November 26, 2014

Tom Crean

COACH CREAN:¬† First thing, with our recruiting, now that we have the guys in, or have the letters in, we're excited about these two because they really epitomize the versatility, the multidimensionability, the two‑way player mindset that you want to have, and they bring size.¬† They bring size.¬† They bring length.¬† They bring a tenaciousness.¬† And most importantly, they bring a high level of improvement mindset.¬† A high level of improvement mindset ability that they're already showing that we think will even be more so here.
With Juwan, Juwan has done nothing but get better.¬† He's one of those young men that's a year round winner, which is what we don't want to get away from.¬† He wins in the summer.¬† He wins in the winter.¬† Well‑coached in both areas.¬† And one of the great tributes to his improvement was him being named the most improved player in the EYBL.¬† For those of you that follow that with any eyes whatsoever, you know how tough of an environment that is.¬† That gets measured from spring through the summer, and there's a lot of really good players that participate in that.¬† So for him to get that on that circuit was a big deal.
And what I like about him is that he's going to do whatever you ask him to do to win the game on both ends of the floor.¬† I think he's going to be very versatile in the way that he can defend different people.¬† I think he's going to be able to get out and guard on the perimeter.¬† He's a very good post defender, very good at defender ball screens, and I think he's got a‑‑ I think he's got that leadership ability that you want defensively to help hold his teammates accountable, and he'll have to grow into that in college, but I think he's shown that already.
Offensively, he can not only score at the rim.¬† He can not only run the court, but he can stretch the defense, and I think he'll become a consistent three‑point shooter over time.¬† But I also like that, as a bigger player, he can really drive the ball, and we were able to see that improvement level in him.¬† And I think, as he gains strength and confidence in his ball handling, he's going to get better and better.
But he's an outstanding young man, great family.  I mean, absolutely great family.  And just when you're around him, you enjoy it.  He's got a very infectious personality.
O.G. Anunoby, or O.G., as everybody refers to him, is a guy that, as the story goes, we went to Atlanta during an early tournament, and we were watching other players, and we were watching a couple other guys on his team, Team Thad, this summer, and I was just enthralled with his ability defensively, especially on the ball and the press, the ground that he covered.
And the crazy thing is the original program that we bought, he wasn't in it, and he wasn't listed.  So we didn't know if we were watching a junior, a senior.  I just knew that I was watching a guy that had tremendous length, covered a lot of ground, ran the court extremely hard, and played with a really great spirit.
We later found out, after the game obviously, who he was, followed him some more that weekend, and got on the phone with him.  And when he was done, realized that he had connections to Bloomington.  He had been to Bloomington.  Got to know about his background, got to know about his family.  Got to know about having a brother in the NFL, and just really, really started the process in a big way.
But I was‑‑ we were into him before we even knew his name, and I think that's rare because you buy these books and there's so much information there, and all of a sudden, there's one where his name's not in it.
To us, when we started to watch film, then we started to see his versatility, and he was a very good three‑point shooter as a junior.¬† One of the open gyms that I went to when we were still recruiting him, he was ridiculous in the pick and pop.¬† He probably made seven or eight threes just in the open gym that I was at, upsetting screens, stepping back, spotting up.¬† So he's really one of those players that he's just going to get better and better and better.
I like the way he was coached in the summertime by the Team Thad people, and I don't know his coaches real well, but I like what I've seen on film, and we're looking forward to following him this year.  He brings tremendous length.  He's very unassuming in the sense that I don't think he has any idea how good he's going to be.  I would say that about both of them.  I would say both of them are going to really, really get better, which is exactly what we've tried to build this program on.
This class, to me, reminds me, with two in it right now, of the class that we had with Victor and Will early on.  Nobody really knew a lot about them, but we felt really strong about both of them.  Now they're going to have to come in this gym and spend 365 days a year in it, just like Will and Victor did, to gain that kind of ability here at Indiana.  But that's the kind of upside we're talking about.
O.G. is going to be‑‑ he can cover ground on the glass.¬† He can cover ground defensively.¬† I think he's‑‑ I think, like both of them, they're going to have to get better at guarding quickness and speed at the collegiate game, which most do, but we try to spend time at that.¬† Obviously, after the other night, we've got to spend even more time at that.¬† But I think that they'll be able to become what we want them to be on both ends of the court with a ton of upside.
Again, O.G., tremendously well raised.¬† Father is a teacher at a university.¬† Love his family.¬† And I mean, that's what we want.¬† You want to recruit year round winners.¬† You want to recruit people that have family values.¬† And then you start to look at the athletic upside, the competitive upside, the intelligence upside, the character/work ethic upside, and if you can answer‑‑ if you can answer yes to those, then you feel pretty good about it, and we feel really good about that.
But we've got to stay really, really true to making sure we're bringing in young people that fit what we're trying to do in all areas, on and off the court, and at the same time can come in here and help us win a lot of games and be leaders on and off the floor.  They're both outstanding students.  So we feel really good about that.  We feel great about it.
And I love their size, and I think both of them could potentially even get bigger.¬† I think O.G. is bigger since we even started recruiting him.¬† Started recruiting him in the summer.¬† But you cannot teach that length.¬† Length is such a very important part of anything you're trying to do offensively or defensively, and every little bit matters.¬† I mean, right now on our team, we're blocking out better, but we're not getting as many 50‑50 balls.¬† Well, length and tenacity have something to do with that.¬† Those guys will certainly help in many, many areas.
Any questions on the recruiting?

Q.  What's the wingspan of the signees?
COACH CREAN:  Yeah, I don't have it off the top of my head what it is, but his wing span is extremely long.  I could get that for you later.  In fact, you could probably have somebody get that for you.

Q.  With Juwan, when you talk about him making an impact early, how much do you anticipate them impacting their positions?
COACH CREAN:  Again, they're forwards.  They're going to be able to do a lot of different things.  I think a lot of it will come down to what kind of summers they have and the strength of that.  That will be important.  They're both pretty natural rebounders.  They cover a lot of ground.  So important for bigger players is that they have short space quickness.  And I think O.G., when he continues to build his awareness of what he's capable of, I think you'll see even more there.
Juwan is pretty‑‑ Juwan sees a lot of different things.¬† He's done a pretty good job of help side defense, things of that nature.¬† So all those things play into it.¬† So I would anticipate both of them coming in here when that time comes and challenging to play.¬† No question about it.

Q.  Do you more of a mindset of looking for guys with defensive potential?
COACH CREAN:¬† I think we always do.¬† I think we always want to have the defensive potential.¬† Last year certainly, there was such a need for the shooting, right?¬† But at the same time, Rob Johnson‑‑ and, again, we're not coming off a great game by any stretch with the freshmen, but James Blackmon has made tremendous strides defensively.¬† Robert Johnson came in here being a very good defender.¬† Max wants to be a good defender.¬† They realize‑‑ it just takes a bit, once they get in here, that if you want to be successful, you've got to play both ends of the floor at an extremely high level.
And the other thing that's huge‑‑ we're going to talk about this when we're talking about our team‑‑ is young players, especially ones that have scored a lot of points‑‑ and this is where Victor and Will were different.¬† They are not used to having to get their energy and get their aggressiveness from the defensive side of the court because scoring is so easy for them and shooting is so easy for them.¬† When you get to this level, if you're going to keep making steps as a player at this level and want a chance to play above and beyond, the quicker you learn that your energy on the offensive end will come from your defensive abilities and your ability to get stops, be a team defender, make plays, get deflections, get steals, all those different things, that your energy just derives from that because it makes everybody else on your team so energetic.
When guys learn that‑‑ and we're in the process of that.¬† I think our film showed the other night that we weren't there as much, but there were certain times in that game, especially later in the first half, our break was incredible because our defensive energy was so strong.¬† And, again, it's a work in progress right now, but younger players learn that.
So in answer to your question, I think they come with that, but, again, we're not looking‑‑ we're not trying to recruit role players that just play one end of the court or situational players that just do one or two things on that end of the court.¬† We're looking for guys that can be well rounded, complete players.¬† And because of their size and length, we knew going into this class getting length was going to be really, really important for us.¬† Does that make sense?

Q.  Juwan won the most improved player.  I think it was pretty clear from Sacramento on that there was improvement.  Were there a couple things maybe that stuck out more as far as the way he defended?  What things that you saw that really got better?  Or what you saw in him?
COACH CREAN:  They won big games.  They won the games against the teams that might have had more name guys, higher ranked guys, more notoriety, big men.  I think he rose to that occasion.  So I can't give you one specific occasion because there were numerous occasions.  I think that's the biggest thing.
Again, ratings are nice.  Those things are cool, but they don't win you any games when you get out into the mix.  I'm not sure what Eastern Washington guys were ranked, but those three of them were really, really good the other night.  And the bottom line is it's like we say all the time, it doesn't matter where you're ranked because, in the last 13 years, only 27 percent of the consensus top 100 have played an NBA game.
So, again, they're fun.  They're fun to talk about.  They're fun to digest.  I think it's a lot more about what the upside is and what they're capable of when they get there.  Sometimes you hit.  Sometimes you miss.  Sometimes you hit and miss on guys that are highly ranked.  But you try to do your best at looking at all the different traits where there's upside.  And if there's upside, there's a chance for them to get a lot better in all those areas.  I think that's the case with those two.

Q.¬† When you look at the over‑signing, does that play into Indiana's Student‑Athlete Bill of Rights?
COACH CREAN:¬† Sure, absolutely.¬† Yeah, we don't make many decisions here without‑‑ we don't make many decisions here without going through all of that.¬† So you always have to be prepared for what could happen down the road.¬† Those things work themselves out.¬† It's a level of play where people are going to.¬† Before you got on beat, even last year we had that, where guys leave.¬† That's all part of it.¬† But, absolutely, we go through those things.
Anything else?¬† Any follow‑up to that?

Q.¬† I guess how far into that discussion do you talk about it?¬† How does the over‑signing affect recruiting?
COACH CREAN:¬† There's always a lot of moving parts.¬† Recruiting is a 365‑day exercise, and there's a lot of moving parts.¬† And there's always going to be that, and there's always going to be different situations that play out.¬† If you look at the history of it, they seem to play out.¬† If you go back through the times, they seem to play out pretty well.

Q.  Do you seen more hurdles in recruiting from the Bill of Rights?
COACH CREAN:¬† No, none whatsoever.¬† I don't see any hurdles whatsoever.¬† I think the student‑athletes here are in a really good position, and I think there's a lot of things that go in.¬† It's a two‑way street.¬† The Bill of Rights is one thing, but there's a two‑way street into what student‑athletes have to fulfill as well.¬† That's part of the whole moving part.¬† It's not a static situation.¬† It's constantly moving.
There's nothing in the Bill of Rights that stops a player from deciding to go pro.  There's nothing in the Bill of Rights that stops a player from deciding that he wants to go somewhere else.  So there's always going to be moving parts.  So the number one thing you have to do as a coach in your sport is you have to continue to not only work in the present day, but you have work for the future constantly, and you have to be able to project.  That's all part of it.
There's a lot of that stuff that goes into every decision that we make.¬† It's just not always anything that we look at and bring about and talk about in a public manner, but it's all stuff that you definitely‑‑ you equate in your decision‑making process.

Q.  Where do you want to see the team improve from the last game?
COACH CREAN:¬† Everywhere.¬† Everywhere.¬† I think the bottom line, when you're looking at upside, you're looking at everywhere.¬† There's really no‑‑ I don't know many players that don't have to get better in every area of the game.¬† We're shooting the ball at 46, 48 percent.¬† We made 49 threes in five games, and I can pick about 18, 19, 20 shots that, if we'd have shot the ball correctly and had the proper footwork or the proper follow through, we'd have made more of those.¬† We didn't make our 49th three of the year last year until the tenth game.¬† Right now we've already got 49 threes, and we shoot the ball at a high rate, and I watch the film, and we break it down with players.¬† When we work on our practices, there's constant room for shooting the ball better.
So I think in any player's situation, you constantly want to be moving it forward so that they understand that they've got to keep chasing perfection.  You know, perfection is hard to get, I'm sure.  I've never met anybody that is truly perfect, but the bottom line is you want to keep chasing it.  I think, in any player's case, they want to try to get better every day at everything, and then that's what builds the hunger for winning.  I think, when you get satisfied in any area of your game, you lose a little bit of hunger for what it's all about.  And I think with those players they'll just get better and better with those types of things if they have the work ethic that we think they do.
O.G.'s wingspan is almost 7'2", and his height is 6'7".¬† And Juwan has got a wing span of 6'11", and his height is 6'7‑1/2".
Basketball‑wise, we're off today.¬† We're going to take a couple of days off this week.¬† Yesterday was a practice that was good to have because we had five games in 11 days, and as much as we try to fundamentally improve in those practices, it's very hard when you're having that kind of‑‑ those amount of games to go to the duration and go to the length of the intensity level inside of that duration that you want to get.
Yesterday was very, very good for us to break that down, whether it was two‑on‑two, whether it was countless sessions of four‑on‑four, with competitive parts, getting three stops in a row for your team there.
Everything you do is about getting better in every aspect.  Are we getting better shooting the ball, moving without the ball?  Are we getting better with the rebounding?  Are we getting better with defensive coverages?  Are we getting at guarding the ball?  Are we getting better with our help?  We spent a lot of time on that, a lot of time.  A lot of time on our interior defense.  A lot of time on our guarding the ball.
I think the biggest thing that our players will take from the other night is that‑‑ especially our young ones.¬† I'm not sure that they truly understood the speed of the game.¬† I don't want to say that it surprised them, but I think the surprise is, when you're really good and when you're young, you win a lot of games or you have a lot of success, the other team goes away.¬† At this level, they don't go away.¬† They do not go away.
This team had such an ability to play downhill that I think we learned a lot about that.¬† I think, with the exception of Yogi‑‑ and he doesn't do it all the time, but when Yogi's truly in a downhill game, he's very hard to guard.¬† Well, they had some different guys that were in a downhill game, and as much as we think we are, we learned a lot about it, that we're not as much.¬† We've got to continue to get better with that.
We did not handle the intensity of their drives as well.¬† Our switching was sporadic.¬† And the biggest thing that we wanted to do was keep them out of the paint, but at the same time, not have to over‑help on threes.¬† Until late, we did a good job on the three.¬† We did not do a great job of keeping them out of the paint.
And then when the game was in the balance, we had some of those mistakes.  We didn't block out a couple times.  Late in the game, when No.10 made a three at the top, where we were never supposed to leave.  We had the ball in our control, and Nick ended up helping on the dribble, and we had the dribble under control, and we gave up a three at the top of the key.
One of the big reasons we led the league in three‑point defense was because we didn't over‑help last year.¬† When the ball was covered, we moved.¬† It took us a while to learn that.¬† I think it's important for all of us as coaches to keep that in perspective, that it takes a while for that to get done because this team had tremendous ability to drive the ball to create threes.¬† Unfortunately, we gave them too many angles to get to the rim to finish shots.
The bottom line, 55, we never matched his intensity, and we never matched his intensity and the spirit of toughness that he played with the entire night.  We knew that as coaches going into the game.  We tried to get that across on film.  But until they see it and deal with it, I mean, it's very rare that you have a player that plays that position that facilitates the offense all the different ways that he can facilitate.
But they're a very good team.  They're one of those teams that all of a sudden it's the second week of the tournament in March, and everybody's talking about them, and they're everybody's favorite team to follow because they're exciting to watch.  They could be that type of team.
And the bottom line is you don't want to lose, but you want to learn a lot from it.  You want to learn from winning, and you'd better make sure that, when you lose, you learn a lot from that too.  That's what we're trying to get across as much as anything else.
Big key points for us right now.¬† We've got to get‑‑ we've got to score more points in the paint, and at the same time, we've got to take away more scoring opportunities in the paint for the other team because we're just letting the ball get in there too much at too many different times, and I think it's going to be crucial that we do a much better job with that.
Defensively in transition, we've got to keep getting back to find people, but the bottom line is we've just got to improve our ability to guard the ball, to keep it out of the paint, at the same time, not become a team that over‑helps and gives up threes because in this league then you will not win.
Offensively, we can play faster, especially getting the ball out of the basket.  When we just run and get behind the defense, like Troy did, you saw the benefits of that.  We get out and run the wings.  When the ball is moving the way that it's capable of, it's important.  But, again, looking at our youth of our team, especially with James and Rob, the learning lesson there is your defensive energy and being so locked in and engaged to what you have to do defensively, that's what creates your offense.
I thought the SMU game and the Lamar game, James' defense when he came out‑‑ and, again, nobody was playing what I would characterize as bad defense.¬† We weren't as good.¬† We gave up angles.¬† We weren't as ready for that ball coming at us.¬† Our switches, like I mentioned, weren't as good.¬† We weren't as aware at times, especially when we went zone late.
But the bottom line is we weren't as aggressive on offense as we needed to be either.¬† Rob having four turnovers, and three or four of those passes were one‑handed passes.¬† That's not fundamental basketball.¬† James wasn't as aggressive as he needs to be, looking for the shot, looking for the drives, things of that nature.
Yogi‑‑ the game was giving us middle drive.¬† They were giving us the rim.¬† You can look back and say we were giving them the rim, but not on purpose.¬† They were giving us the rim, and Yogi did a tremendous job of taking advantage of that, and Troy did a tremendous job of getting behind in penetration.¬† Every time we had downhill action going, we got something good.¬† The problem was we weren't downhill enough, and they were downhill a lot, and we didn't stop it.¬† Downhill isn't just driving the ball and covering a little bit of ground.¬† Downhill is driving it like a bull rush, and that ball is out in front, and you're just daring somebody to stop you, and we didn't do as good a job with that.
Bottom line, when a team's giving up 12 threes, or a team is scoring 12 threes a game, you've got to be very conscious of that.¬† Unfortunately, it wasn't that we didn't over‑help, we just didn't guard the initial thrust of driving the way that we needed to guard it as well.¬† But we got better yesterday, I have no doubt about that.
Today we'll be off the court, but we'll do some road trip, team bonding type of stuff.¬† Tomorrow we'll be back at it.¬† Friday night we'll play against a very hungry, hard driving, tough playing team that has two guys averaging 16, another guy 12, well‑coached with Wes Miller, and outstanding staff.¬† Mike Roberts is on that staff, who played here, had a very good career.¬† You've got Duane Simpkins Jr., who played at Maryland, outstanding young coach.¬† Jackie Manuel played at Carolina, played a little in the NBA.¬† He's on that staff.¬† I got four former head coaches on my staff, but we don't want to play four‑on‑four or five‑on‑five against that staff on court.
We're excited for that game and excited for a big crowd, and then get ready for next week.

Q.  Stopping defensive penetration, what's the bigger issue here, communication or technique?
COACH CREAN:  It's technique as much.  We had a couple of miscommunications.  We had some rules that really, if you follow them, they're very simple, but they're hard to do.  They're simple.  We knew exactly what we were supposed to switch, but you have to stay with it because a team like that is going to continue to turn the ball, turn the ball, turn the ball.  If that means one guy's guarding it the whole time on that switch, well, that's what it means.
And we didn't want to‑‑ we decided to diversify a little bit because we thought we had a better angle at guarding it or I could get through it.¬† That's not what you do when you have a game plan like that.¬† I think they've got to learn that game plans are built for a reason.
Tim Buckley averages probably, on a scout like that, he's probably putting in 17, 18‑hour days, as is Steve when he's doing his games and Chuck when he's doing his games, and we're all spending time on that game and all doing our stuff.¬† But those game plans are built for a reason.¬† When a guy goes right or a guy shoots this or a guy gets there, it's built for a reason.¬† We don't expect the players obviously to spend that kind of time in the film room.¬† We do expect that kind of concentration and focus and listening, and it wasn't there so much the other night.¬† That's something they've got to continue to learn.
It wasn't there because they didn't want it to be there.¬† It was there because the fatigue of the game and the speed of the game brings some slippage that can hurt you at times inside of it.¬† So it's not‑‑ a little bit of it's technique when it's player driven, he drives right, he drives left type of thing, but very much on a penetration team, it's about taking away the elbows, especially with the dribble drive the way that they play it, and they do an excellent job with it.
And what makes it a problem is they've got five‑‑ outside of their starting lineup, which they went to, they had five players on the floor at any given time that could play behind the line and play at the rim, and that's why they're a good team.¬† That's why you've got to stay true to your game plan that much more.

Q.¬† What's the last team ‑‑ you had some that struggled defensively in five or six games in November, but come February, they were much, much better?
COACH CREAN:¬† Oh, absolutely.¬† I look back at the last three years of five‑game stats, I forgot that we beat Long Island by one in the second game of the year a year ago.¬† We've had close games.¬† It takes a while for young teams to figure out that it does not matter who they're playing.
Again, I don't think‑‑ I think our players saw film early on of their three‑point shooting that we had everybody's attention.¬† So there was‑‑ there's no over‑look, look‑throughs, none of that.¬† There's none of that.¬† We work against that constantly.¬† You can't make up the kind of threes they were making.¬† You don't have to make a highlight tape.¬† You just put their possessions on.¬† But it takes a while for guys to understand, no, this is for real, and they're coming constantly.
It was like a year ago when we played Long Island.¬† That's the best assist guy in the country.¬† We've got to guard him at a high level and not over‑help because he's going to find people for layups and dunks and threes.¬† And so, again, it's really, really learning to take those strengths.¬† They work into that.¬† We spend a lot of time on preparation, but we spend a lot more time on concepts.
We've got to continue to get that down.¬† We've got to continue‑‑ we see the improvement.¬† I gave an example.¬† The defensive block outs are improving, grabbing the 50‑50's.¬† Grabbing the two‑hand rebounds.¬† Think about it.¬† They don't have anybody on the foul line.¬† They miss the free‑throw.¬† We have two guys going for the ball.¬† They both grab at it with one hand.¬† Neither one gets it.¬† It goes out of bounds, their possession.¬† We give up a three.
Sometimes it's just‑‑ it's not like anybody's saying, hey, let's go grab it with one hand.¬† The slippage comes in.¬† You think it's a little easier than it is.¬† You've got to understand that, really, it's a hard driving game constantly when you're playing against good teams and teams that want to be great too.¬† I have no doubt we'll get better.¬† I have no doubt about it.
And five and 11, you can look at it one of two ways.  Was it too much at this point in time for a young team?  Probably.  Am I glad we did it?  Absolutely.  Because they had to work through the number one thing that we're going to have to have, as any team has to have, to sustain, to have any type of sustainability.  We didn't have it last year.  We had it the two previous years.  It's a consistent level of mental toughness.  Now how you define it, you kind of know it when you see it.  You've got to keep going through all these different things that make you better there.  That's why we'll continue to get better.

Q.  Did you think about playing Emmitt or Jeremiah in that game, considering where Hanner was last year? 
COACH CREAN:  Not Jeremiah in that game.  The game was too fast.  Emmitt, absolutely.  This is where the four games probably caught up in this because the speed of the game was really, really hard for the guys that had been playing a lot of minutes.  And it wasn't anything that Emmitt's not doing as I've said to him, and we were counting on Emmitt.  But that game was going so fast for a guy that didn't have real game experience like that.
Now, if he'd have played the last couple of games considerable minutes or hadn't missed the four games, that's a whole other story, but that game was moving so fast that‑‑ and, again, playing small was not the wrong way to do it.¬† Our mistakes came more out of switches and lack of communication‑‑ or some lack of communication, but just letting the ball get by us.¬† But Emmitt will be very good for us.¬† We definitely need to get him in the rotation.
The game was moving much too fast, and it was much more‑‑ too much‑‑ very much perimeter oriented for Jeremiah in that game.¬† Again, he's making strides.¬† He was in here early that morning working with us.¬† He was in here that afternoon not only for a walk‑through but for extra work.¬† He's going to get better and better too.¬† But when it's game time, you've got to go with the guys that you think are going to give you the best chance to win.¬† Hopefully, both of them will as we move on, and it's definitely time that Emmitt's got to get this experience now because we're going to need him.¬† Like I said, perfect world, he's in there, but it's not a perfect world, or he wouldn't have missed four games.

Q.¬† Regarding Hanner Mosquera‑Pera, you talked about for a lot of different reasons, first two seasons, he wasn't able to get a lot of court time with fouls, inconsistency, and some injuries.¬† What's the balance for him, I guess, between letting him play through mistakes and when you need to get him off the floor to show him something, coach improve something, or maybe even just make a suggestion?
COACH CREAN:¬† Sure, that's a very good question, and I can give you a real long answer because there's a lot of things that go into it‑‑ not that I ever give long answers.¬† I know that mine are usually really short.¬† Don't laugh.¬† I won't do these anymore.¬† I'll just give you the ‑‑ he wanted to go with the quotes.¬† I said, no, we need to all be together.¬† I wanted to do it tomorrow morning, but then Shady talked me out of that.

Q.  I'd have to answer to my wife for that.
COACH CREAN:  You'd have to answer to your wife.  Answer to your editor.

Q.  My editor's on vacation.
COACH CREAN:  Here's the bottom line with your question.  When he's really playing hard, like down in front of the ball, hands are up, not indecisive on is he going to try to get in position?  Is he going to try to leave his feet?  There's a level of engagement that Hanner has when he's really, really moving and not overthinking, and then there's a little bit less than that when he's unsure, and he's got to go through that.  So does he need court time to do that?  Absolutely.
But there were times when the game was moving really fast inside of that the other night for him.  And especially in the switching.  We didn't start out the game on a full 55, which is everybody switches, but we wanted to get to that.  But he didn't do a great job of plugging up that basket on penetration early on in the game and wasn't aggressive, I didn't think, as he needed to be.  We didn't ask a lot of him.
What's his career minutes compared to what he's played already?  Has he passed it?  Yeah.  Not making excuses, just part of it.  The five games in 11 days probably caught him a little bit too.
But I thought he came back in the second half.¬† Again, for him, that level of engagement and awareness is so huge that he just stayed‑‑ can't get quiet.¬† Can't get quiet in the game.¬† It's not about doing this or doing that.¬† It's coming out and absolutely playing hard, and hard means getting down, thinking about making plays, being aggressive, getting on the glass, blocking shots, but most importantly, being a presence.
And sometimes he forgets that he's got a 7'6" wingspan, and sometimes he forgets to get down in that stance the way that he needs to.¬† I think, when he does that, he's really, really hard to deal with.¬† But he's going to ‑‑ no, he's hard to deal with when he gets down in that stance and he's playing with that length, but we've got to get him more and more consistent.
But the number one thing for him has been his consistency and improvement.  For him.  Comparing him to where Cody would be or comparing him to where Noah would be, that wouldn't be fair to anybody.  But having him continue to get to the level of consistency that he needs to be at, we're well on our way to it, and he came back yesterday and was outstanding, as was Emmitt.
We've got to get more.¬† We've got to be‑‑ the lane defense starts with your ball pressure, starts with your ability to contain the dribble.¬† It really does.¬† So our post defense wasn't as much of a problem the other night as our ball pressure and our lack of ability to keep the ball out of the paint.¬† And that's what we want to continue to work on.
Now, we've had a couple issues with it, but that was what it was more than anything else the other night.
Happy Thanksgiving.

FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports

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