BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Tom Creandiscussed Thursday's game at Nebraska and different topics surrounding the game on a teleconference this morning. Below is a full transcript of what Crean had to say:
On Yogi's shooting and next steps: "I just think to stay on the path he's on. I don't think there is any question about that. I think to continue to absolutely be engaged in every aspect of the game and the way he's talking to his players, to his teammates, during practice, during the games, the way he's letting the game come to him, the poise that he's playing with, the ability to read situations. I don't think there is any question about that. If I had to pick a statistic, then I would go with rebounding, defensive rebounding. Every time he gets a defensive rebound, we're in a great spot because it eliminates another step on the break. And to continue to stay with what's working. The biggest growth has to continue to be if something is not going as well, to continue to play well through it. That's what he has done over the past couple games for sure."
On problem's Nebraska presents: "Well, they present a ton of problems because of how athletic they are. They shoot the ball extremely well. They are tremendous at getting to the basket and they are very unconventional when it comes to the biggest player on the court who is also one of the very best three-point shooters on the court. It's going to spread our defense, but at the same time, that's why we work on switching; that's why we put our big men as forwards in situations they have to guard the guards. In practice you don't form moments like this. But they have tremendous talent. I don't think there is any question about that. (Nebraska) is getting better and they play with great intensity and they have great confidence at home - there is no doubt about that. And you can see the crowd support on film. You can see it, you can hear it and I think they are responding very well to it.
"I think Tim (Miles) is an excellent coach and a great tough-minded coach, in the sense that they are going to be very diligent and tough on both ends of the floor. They've got decent depth too. Actually, I thought their best game they've played was the game this past Sunday,when they were playing without the young man that has been since dismissed from the team. To me, I think they are going to get better and better, and I think they cause a lot of issues for us."
On focusing on the opponent and not their record: "Well, I think with a young team it does help. Older teams usually know how this league is. But with a young group of guys, we do have to make sure they know that, because they don't have a great familiarity with Nebraska yet. That's where the video comes in; that's where getting isolated in the trip, and just getting into `bunker' mentality as soon as possible. You know after practice today, it's crucial to that.
"But I think they're growing and every game they realize just how tough it is to win in this league. We're really locking in on some personnel in this game as well some team things, which will hopefully create a little more focus. We've got to go in having a great mindset of not having a lack of communication or miscommunication, especially when you get on the road. It's so imperative that everybody is responsible for each other's play on the court and that's where the communication and the echoes and all those things come in.
"So it doesn't matter who you are playing in this league, you're going to be in a battle every night. Bottom line is there is nobody you can point to in this league who hasn't won games. So to me, and especially those that haven't won until the very last seconds, everything that we're gaining, hopefully helps us get into that and I am sure Nebraska feels the same way."
On Austin Etherington playing better on both ends: "On both accounts, not surprised. It's fun watching his confidence grow. But I think what happened, I've used this analogy before, so I'll use it again. When things aren't going your way, you can either get sad or get determined and I thought he continued to practice and prepare and persevere throughout when he didn't get a lot of time and when he was playing sparingly. He just continued to battle in practice. He didn't like it, but he battled. You don't ever want anyone to like that they're not playing in the way they would like to play, or the amount they would like to play, because then they are not as competitive. But you can't be sad about it. You can't get down. You have to continue to be ready.
"I think the fact that he has worked so hard and when his name was called, and he was prepared all week after the Michigan State game to go in, and be ready the next game especially going into Penn State and the bottom line was it's working. And because he's doing the little things that matter, and a lot of big things, the blockouts, the getting to the boards, the running the court, the moving without the basketball, making simple plays.
"And to answer your second question, absolutely. He's a very great shot fake guy. He's a guy that can move the ball; he's gotten so much better. I think the one thing that has really improved with him in the last couple weeks in playing is how well he has moved without the ball and how much he has improved as a rebounder. Because that's something that was frankly keeping him off the court - was his lack of rebounding, lack of blocking out, and keeping people off the glass. And that's what he is doing such a great job of now. So if he's open and that ball is swung and it's an inside-out type of situation, knock it down. And I think he'll continue to gain confidence. Absolutely."
On Will Sheehey's defensive skills: "He's been important since his sophomore year. That's when we really knew he could be a guy that you could really call upon to do a lot of different things defensively and guard a lot of different people. I think that's one of the greatest things about his abilities - he has a mindset, a tenacity, and he enjoys defense. He's very smart, and he's a fighter. And a fighter is a guy who will put his body on somebody, he'll front the post, he'll deny a catch and I think that's a big thing for him defensively. He's continuing to have the right spacing of guarding people off the dribble and making sure his footwork is right when he's really going after someone and not giving up that first dribble that allows people to create separation and get to the basket.
"But you can do a lot of different things with him. I always look at him as a back line. He is tremendous in the back line of a press or of the zone. He sees it and he talks. You can put him on anybody at any given time. There are very few players, let alone in this league, but in the country, that you can put him on anybody at any given time. Whether it's a point guard, or whether it's the five man. It doesn't make a difference. But for the most part, you ask him to do something defensively, he can do it."
On the moment he knew Sheehey could be "that guy": "I think that it was more like Victor, and their work ethic established them when they came in and their willingness to do what they needed to win. We were growing as a team when he showed up and I think Will has always been well-taught and well-schooled on defense. He has tenacity about him. If you have tenacity and you really want to be good, there are very few great players, and maybe something changes once they get to another level, but there are very few guys that are considered great players that don't have the desire to be really good defensively.
"Dwayne Wade was defensive player of the year going back to Marquette in Conference USA. He really guarded the other teams' best player and even the second-best player. Because he was so good off the ball, he was so good getting deflections, he was so good in the passing lanes, and coming off the ball and blocking shots was the best thing for us. It was the absolute best thing for our team and it helped take us to the Final Four.
"So part of coaching is what makes your team better with this person on both sides of the floor. They have to have the willingness to do that. And Will has always shown the willingness to do that. And it's continued to grow. He wants to win and that's the bottom line, and he's one of those players that he wants to do well, but he wants to win and that really stands out when we're preparing. It stands out during games, and it stands out after the game with the results."
On change in Nebraska over the past few games: "I think they have been growing to this all year long. The veterans, with some transfers, and some new players, you can just see the chemistry developing in their team. They are doing a very good job defensively. What they have is, it's hard to find a guy to come on the court that can't score. And they shoot the ball well and they get to the rim. Tim does a very good job of putting guys in spots. This player might be in isolation, this person may come off a screen, this person may be in a drive-and-kick, this person may come off a pick-and-roll and he knows how to get these guys shots. I think they have very good players and they are just getting used to, probably I would imagine, playing together constantly. I mean (Terran) Petteway is the leading scorer. He takes 17 shots a game right now in the conference and he is a wrecking crew when it comes to having the ball in his hands, because he can find people. But he can get to the rim and shoot threes, and then your spacing is what has made them unique. But the ball moves really well for them right now. I think that's a really point attributed to them."
On Indiana's similarity to Nebraska in spacing and moving: "They've got some guys that have been there, done that and now they are just getting used to each other. Shields played a lot of minutes last year, Gallegos played a lot of minutes last year. I think their point guard is really good. Maybe, I haven't really thought about it like that, but they have a lot of talent and they play real hard and they're well-coached. And when you've got that for them, and now they have that belief of being at home and beating good teams, then that makes them that much more dangerous."
On Nebraska playing so well at home: "I don't have a great feel on the difference. They are averaging 73 points per game at home and I think in a nutshell, they play very fast at home. I'm not sure what his mindset is, I'm not sure what Tim's mindset is for the road. You have to have different things for the road, there is no question about that. There are offenses even that we would feel that would be more conducive setting a tempo or setting a pace or slowing things down, you know maybe on the road versus what you might do at home.
"They play extremely fast at home and they have the ability to slow it down. They get out on the break. I think what has happened there is the teams that have been there shot it quick, taken bad shots, taken corner shots, things of that nature, and Nebraska capitalizes on that. Because with the 73 points they're scoring at home, in the Big Ten they are very good on the fast break and their defensive rebounding at a high rate.
"I don't have a great answer to that, but I think they are good and I've watched their road games as well and there are very few that haven't come down and been a big thing. The Michigan game - that easily could have gone their way at the end of the game. They could have had another big win. They're like everyone else in the Big Ten. They're really, really good and there is a little something special when you're at home. This will be our first time in the new building - two years ago, we were in the old building, so I have seen pictures and I've seen it on television. Everybody is excited about it and we'll see tomorrow."