TOM CREAN TALKS ABOUT LOSS TO SYRACUSE
December 4, 2013HOOSIER SPORTS 365
We were a team that was as different in one half as they were in the other today. In the first half after getting down 10-0 we started to play the game the way we had practiced and the way we prepared. We wanted to get the ball inside. We had their frontline in foul trouble and we were getting to the foul line. We weren't shooting it great, we were shooting it okay, but we were right where we needed to be. We were getting back in transition. We wanted to continue to build on what we were doing in the first half and we couldn't have been any more opposite. Three of our first four shots I believe were three's. We got away from what was working. We let them get momentum.
Frankly, the halftime locker room for a team that had come on the road with the fifth ranked team in the country and was going toe-to-toe with them…I read it right there. I don't know if it's the inexperience…I don't know if it's the anxiety…I don't know if we had too many guys that didn't believe we could win the game…I don't know if we had some guys that were shocked that we were in the game…but that was as poor of a second half performance spirit wise, game plan wise and stick-to-itiveness that I've been a part of in a long time. I'm disappointed…it's my responsibility without question. It wasn't like we went to a new offense. If anything we added something to get the ball inside. We felt that was our way to attack this team…to cut, to move, to move bodies, to move the ball, to get the ball into the paint. The only statistic we lived up to was the 16 turnovers…we hit our average there.
But we got 13 shots in the second half. I believe we got two offensive rebounds. They are an excellent team because they never got away from what they were doing. They deserve the win, but I sure would like to have seen if we actually were going to compete and try to fight aggressively in the second half, but we'll never know.
You said you saw in the locker room…what exactly did you see?
Quiet…we were too quiet…we were too quiet…our leadership took a step back tonight…our leadership took a step back. I don't know if it's the inexperience of the team…I don't know if it's the fact that we've got a senior like Will (Sheehey) that's in a different role right now…but there is no excuse for it…there is no excuse for it. We were…we were…I've been in a lot of locker rooms that maybe didn't have a chance to win but they didn't know it. I've been in some locker rooms that they could win the game and they just had to play excellent to do it. I haven't been around too many very good locker rooms that were quiet, and that one was far too quiet to me, and we played that way.
After the 10-0 start what did you like?
Well we did what we came to do. We got the ball on the side…we had movement…we got reversals. We're not going to win right now…we'll get better shooting the ball, I don't think there is any doubt about that, our teams always do…a year ago at this time Victor Oladipo was shooting like 29 percent from three and ended up shooting 44 percent on the year…we're going to get better…but there are different ways to win.
Frankly, last year we didn't throw it inside against this team like we should've. We knew that was one of the ways that you have to combat what we don't have…we're not going to kill them with threes…we don't have a Trevor Cooney right now…that's not how we win…he's excellent…but we should've played a lot better. We got the ball inside, we got back in transition, we limited them to one shot for the most part. The statistics couldn't have been a lot more even at halftime.
But I don't want to take anything away from them either…they got after us…I just wish we would have come out in the second half and tried to play this thing like we actually have a chance to win this. That's going to be something that we're all going to have to…we move on and we get ready for the next game, but you get an opportunity like this to go on the road and play a great team like that in this environment, you want the experience of it, you want the understanding of what it means to go on the road as it prepares you for your league, but you don't get this opportunity again. These guys aren't going to get this opportunity again, and we'll never find out where we could've been. There is no measuring stick for us in this game other than the fact that we came out and we were not…we did not have the proper spirit to compete with Syracuse in the second half.
It would've been so different if we had been down 15, 10, 8, something like that at halftime but we weren't. The first three or four possessions…I rarely ever say that as a coach…I'm not a big believer in the first five minutes, but this one was…this was one of those games. The first few possessions were going to be absolutely crucial in this game in the second half…and they were…and it totally went the other way. But I'm disgusted with the lack of leadership and unbelievably disappointed in the lack of fight in the second half.
And to say this about Austin (Etherington)…Austin was the most shocked guy…as I said to Coach (Jim) Boeheim afterwards…there is no way Austin Etherington meant to hit Trevor Cooney like that. He made a play on the ball, the referees never saw…I never saw the left hand…they said it and I'm not going to argue with it…but as I said to Jim, he's not that kind of player…he never would've done that on purpose…and that's not the kind of fight I'm talking about. We were right in this game and we didn't stick with what was working.
Coach, what was the biggest difference between the opponent you played tonight and the opponent you played in March?
Well, it was two different teams…same program…two different teams. They're different and we're different.
What wasn't working or what wasn't taking as you tried to get out of the funk in the second half?
We tried to shoot too many jump shots. You watched it right? I mean we tried to shoot too many jump shots. The ball was going in the paint…Noah Vonleh went 13-for-16 from the foul line. And again, the youth part of this is this…this is where we have this talent but everybody is trying to get comfortable and understand what they can do. Well, when you don't demand the ball in practice, when you don't talk the way you need to talk in practice, when you're not as aggressive as you need to be in practice, it's going to come out and it's going to come out in tough situations.
We're making improvements…we will make improvements…but for eight games in I would've really liked to been able to have this team have a measuring stick of what it means to play against a top five national championship contender and really have a view of where we are. The view we have tonight I don't like very much, and I hope it's not very accurate.
They are that good though. Syracuse is legit. They are a great program, great coach, and they just…they understand what they're doing and they know what their role is and they know who is shooting it, they know who is driving it, they know who is setting it up, they know who is rebounding it, they do a great job with that.
What stands out the most to you about the turnovers and what led to them?
Live ball…you can't give Syracuse live ball turnovers…you just can't. We just lost our way a little bit in the sense of the attack and being aggressive…forcing the ball inside is not really that hard…I mean I'm not out there playing, you're not out there playing…every time we wanted to get it inside we got something good. But I have no…there's no 'Well, we tried to do this, we tried to do that'…everything we wanted to do we were doing and we were getting something from it. Even when we weren't making buckets we were getting great looks and we were getting chances to rebound the ball. I wish Devin (Davis) wouldn't have hurt his ankle. I don't know if he was the same when we brought him back out in the second half.
But that was one of the poorest displays of fight and communication that I've ever seen. But I say that and I know they'll come back and work and get better. We've got a long season and this is what it's like coaching youth, but we're certainly not going to accept it. We've got to move on and get ready for the next game. So in about an hour-and-a-half after watching this film we'll be on to North Florida. Hopefully these guys will have a taste in their mouths that they want to get rid of quickly.