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TOM CREAN TALKS IU BASKETBALL

February 22, 2014
HOOSIER SPORTS 365



BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana men's basketball head coach Tom Creanmet with members of the media via teleconference on Friday morning to preview Saturday's game at Northwestern (8:15 p.m. ET on BTN). Below is a complete transcript of what he had to say.

Indiana head coach Tom Crean Teleconference

On what makes Northwestern a strong defensive team:
"They are shortening the game, that is one thing. There are fewer and fewer possessions and you have to be prepared for how slow they may want the game to be. You have to do everything in your power to play through that. But at the same time, you have to try to get some tempo in the game.

"They have good players. They have older players. They have some guys that have been there and been through the battles and they know how to win. They are getting coached in an excellent way and they have been coached excellent before (head coach Chris Collins) even got there. So they know how to win and he has done a fantastic job of getting them to play the way that he wants them to.

"When you look at their attributes - they have very good physical strength. Their guards are strong and they have the ability to keep the ball on one side of the floor when they want to. They can switch defenses well and they do a lot of switching on defense - they will switch one-through-five at times, which always adds to the intrigue of their defense. They really try to shrink the court, so you have to stay diligent in what you are trying to get accomplished on offense. You can't settle, there were far too many times in our first game here that we settled. We tried to force things that weren't there rather than attacking what was there. What we have to do a much better job of, and some teams have done a better job than others against them, is look for those opportunities."

On the schedule change having a role in practice time moving into next week etc.:
"It definitely has an effect. The week changed for us this past Tuesday after practice. We practiced Tuesday with the uncertainty of whether we were going to play the next night or the night after that or were we going to have to wait until sometime next week to play the game (against Iowa).

"We made our adjustments a little bit on that. We did not practice on Wednesday - I was going to take Wednesday or Thursday off this week anyway because that was going to be our day this week. But with that being known, we took Wednesday off and have structured the practices not only for the Northwestern game but also for the fact that we are going to be playing so many games in a short period of time.

"Bottom line is there is nothing we can do about it. The preparation is what it is. We prepared hard for Iowa and we continued to prepare for Iowa on Tuesday night and then we just have to rekindle that next Wednesday. We have to get ready for Northwestern and then Wisconsin but we also have to get better, and that's what we have been focused on as much as possible. My whole focus, outside of family and some recruiting that I did Wednesday, is how to get this team right and how to get them better. That's what it always is and that's certainly what it is right now."

On what the extra time without a game did for the team:
"I know they were disappointed (to not play Iowa on Tuesday). Certainly there was no way around it on Tuesday night. But when we got done with practice on Tuesday, that's when it hit me that we were really ready to play. There was no doubt with this team. We didn't practice for very long, but there was such an edge with them. They were `game ready'. It is what it is and they understood it the more they thought about it. There was nothing that anybody could do. What could have transpired is unthinkable, if that situation would have happened that night. Thankfully it never did.

"We have just tried to make sure that we are getting an ample amount of rest, but at the same time, we are prepared for games while also making ourselves better. There has probably been a little less preparation time to this point and continuing to make sure that our fundamentals are getting better and we aren't short-circuiting those at all. We are staying with the premise that if we aren't getting better at the fundamentals each day, then it wasn't a good day. It is very easy in practice, when you have so many games coming up, that if you give up something, you give up the fundamentals so you can make sure your preparation is right. And you can't do that all the time, especially with a young team like this. This team has to continue to improve.

"But they have to continue to gain an understanding of what it takes to finish. Six of our eight losses have come down to two possessions or less and a couple of our wins have come down to two possessions or less. A majority of our games have been so close - so we have gotten and others we haven't. We have to continue to learn, grow and understand how to finish but also what hurts us in the crux of the game. What do we need to do to make sure we are better there? All of those things lead to a confidence that's what we are working towards."

On being able to play the game vs. Iowa in Assembly Hall:
"(Moving the site of the game) was something that you had to start putting in your head on Tuesday after the press conference. You had to start to thing about that and what could be next. I think everybody here has been incredible in the way that they have handled it and the way that they have stayed on top of everything that they could possibly look at. Literally, going into the heart of the matter in so many different places to make sure that everything is good and I have been kept abreast. I feel great about it. You want to be able to play at home, but you want everyone that is used to being here to be able to continue to do that. It's a great building and it just had a tough moment. That's all that it really is. So much is put into making this building the national treasure that it is. I know it will continue to be that way. It is what is, in the sense that we will play (Iowa) next week and we will have three games in a row at home. But at the same time, you can't even begin to think about what that means. You have to think about everything that it takes to get ready for this weekend. At the same time, we continue to think about how we pace practice so that we are at a good point next week as well."

On how the team got past the recent losses:
"I think what we did was try to get them fresh again. We tried to get them excited again. The word `devastated' might have been too harsh of a word. I think it took them a lot out of them and I think the Hanner situation took a lot out of them, mentally and emotionally. They are a very close-knit group. Even though there are differences in ages and backgrounds - Hanner is a very well-liked person in that locker room and with this team. He has been down the line with these guys on a lot of different things. We tried to address that as best we can, but that is just human beings being human beings. I don't think there is anyway around that.

"We just tried to make sure that we changed it up and freshened it up, but at the same time, stayed focused on the things that could be controlled while having an incredibly positive energy about what we were doing. Not a loose-ness or flippancy or `lase faire' attitude but a very positive energy with our intensity. And, frankly, I think some players needed to keep understanding that they needed to increase their intensity level. That is something that we have tried to make sure is happening. There is a very good competitiveness in this and it's just a matter of learning what resiliency is all about. We can talk about it and preach it, but it doesn't make a difference. They have to learn it. When you learn it, then you have to apply it and that's what we are trying to get accomplished right now. These guys are trying to learn what it means to be resilient. There is a lot of season left. They can't focus on what didn't happen or what is going to happen, because nobody knows. You can't change anything from the past games, all we can do is learn from those because there are so many learning situations in there, especially when it comes to how to play with confidence when things aren't going well. When one or two people can not only change the momentum but the leadership and fill that void when things go wrong. At the same time, with the exception of Saturday, be able to close out close games, and be able to execute in a way that allows them to do that. That is the biggest thing.

"They knew that they didn't play well on Saturday. They knew that their transition defense let them down. They knew that our team let them down. And everyone is in the process of trying to move forward from that, no question. And we have."

On Hanner Mosquera-Perea's situation:
"There are two things - I'm not going to get into his suspension. But in terms of his discipline, that is going on daily. That bottom line is to get him to a place where he understands what he has here; where he understands the commitment level, not only physically but mentally, that goes into this. And for him to take that next step as a player, that commitment level, passion and seriousness about this - along with his school work, which he has done very good with - is the most important thing to his future and to his present.

"But it is also extremely important for his future and his career. It has been ongoing daily, even to the point where he has an uncle in the United States that flew up here to make sure that we were all unified on what we wanted for him. And how we were all unified in how we were going to get it, and I really appreciated that on behalf of Hanner's family. Obviously, he doesn't see them and we don't see them, but they are there. They are just like all of us - they love their son, grandson, nephew, brother - just like we do. We need to help him get to a place where he understands what he is capable of. It's not so much about what you could have lost, but what you are capable of when you make the right decisions. It's the old Lou Holtz saying `Discipline is not something you do to someone, it is something you do for someone' and I think that is living proof right now. He is doing all of the basketball things that we do, but he is also doing some extra things. We structure his days around that and stay within the rules and timeframes that we have. We are maximizing all of that out. He is making progress and it's not anything where we will be able to see the progress immediately, but I have no doubt that we are working towards a long term progress for him.

"When I say long term - the suspension and the discipline are two different things. That's how I break that up."


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