Crean on the Big Ten call

We just got back from Evanston about an hour ago. I wanted to get some of Tom Crean’s words from the Big Ten call this morning on the blog, and I decided it might be best if I just post all of it.

I’ll post a disclaimer here. When someone’s speaking off the cuff, he don’t always speak in perfect syntax, etc., so there are places where what he said made a lot more sense when he was saying it than it does in print.

I’m posting it as a Q&A. The questions aren’t quoted exactly, mostly because there were some overly long questions on my part. They’re shortened to get to the point. The interview follows.

Q: Coach, if you’d like to give an opening statement?

A: “I think right now where we’re at, we’re watching the film. We worked late into the night. I love this in the sense of trying to figure out how we can get better, whether it’s the film work, the coaches, being together with the players. Just putting everybody in the same tight little box is when it comes to how are we going to improve. That’s the key for us right now.  The key is not for us to look at the record. The key is not for us to look down the road. The key is for us to stay absolutely in the present and make the corrections that we can make. A lot of that is going to come from practice and a lot of it is going to come from guys doing some soul-searching and saying ‘Hey, we can play better, I can play better. I can move the ball btter, I can defend better. It’s our job to help get them convinced of that.  That’s where we’re at today. I’m looking forward to the day. I’m looking forward to the week.

Q: This question kind of goes counter to what you just said, but did you expect the program to be further along than it is now?

A: “I don’t know many coaches that think like that that I have any conversations with and it’s hard to do that even when you know what you’re getting into. Certainly, we didn’t. It’s just a matter of trying to build it up. I think when you’re trying to build something great, especially something that was great, you’ve gotta understand you’re going to be in a fight for that. You’re gonna have troubled times, you’re gonna have blind spots that you’ve gotta work through. You’re gonna have adverse conditions. The only way you get through that is to be strong. The only way to get through that is to be surrounded by strong people. The ones that aren’t, you’ve got to make them stronger. That’s exactly where I’m at with it, I have no doubt that we will. I wish there was a timeline, but there’s not. So instead of looking at a timeline, instead of looking at a point where I wish we were here or I wish we were there,  we better stay in a daily process. I know that doesn’t make for very good copy in an article. That’s the only way it could be. No one is sitting in here in a mode of acceptance or everything’s OK. There’s gotta be a sense of urgency. There has been. There will be, and it will continue to be. Even after we’re winning in this program at a very high level, this sense of urgency will go nowhere but up. And I think that’s the way you can build a great program.”

Q: You mentioned blind spots. What were some of those and is right now one of them?

A: I don’t know, where we’re at right now is we’ve gotta play better inside of 40 minutes, which means not only our better players but we’ve gotta get more consistency. It’s like depth, you don’t have depth if you don’t have consistency. Right now we’re not consistent. Especially on the defensive end. Yesterday we shot in the mid-40s. I think we had 18 assists. We’re getting baskets, but again, we’re giving up too many baskets. We’re not getting enough easy baskets, and I would think by now we’d have a better understanding of the layups we gotta get, the offensive rebound putbacks we gotta get, to be able to create off turnovers. Those are the things that we need to do a much better job. Blind spots are always going to come up. It’s all how you deal with them when they come up and it’s all how you move forward.  You try to be in a situation where as much as possible the blindspots don’t hit you because you saw them coming. That’s what we have to focus on is trying to correct what we can correct.

Q: You talked about watching the film earlier. What did you see from that? What have you learned since the game?

A: The bottom line with us right now is we’ve got to be more of a team in both senses of the game offensively and defensively, but especially on the defensive end.  We’ve gotta get back to being a next pass team, but again yesterday, we moved the ball but we didn’t move it with force.  We did it in the second half better. We didn’t move the ball in the sense of really creating the contact and the next pass that it had to be. We’ve gotta be a gang rebounding team. We’ve gotta get back to being a three stops in a row, seven times a game team. When you have that, your team defense is going to be better. You’re going to be locked in to guarding the ball better. We’re making mistakes that can be corrected if we understand that we’ve got people behind us communicating better with us.. If we’ve got people on the side. We got so caught up in personnel yesterday that we got away from where our tam defense had to be. I think that’s pretty obvious when I watch this. We can run more. We can get out and get out on that break even more. We can get the ball inside and inside out even more. Our screening improved yesterday to the best that it had been in the Big Ten at this point, but it could even get better form that. Those are the things that we see more than anything else. But you can’t win in this league if you’re going to give up open shots, and you also can’t win in this league if you don’t make open shots.

Q: You mentioned having to get more from the players. Do you think they are getting the message and understand what you want them to do?

A: “I don’t think we’re playing consistently yet. In this stretch of games right now. Of course it’s going to fall back on me with that. I totally get that part of it. It’s not like we’re not doing these things in practice. It’s not like I would go back and change many of these game plans for how we want to attack. I’m not totally sure where you’re coming from on the question, but that’s I how I view it in the sense that we have guys that want to win. We have guys that have very good attitudes, we’re just not carrying it out on the court in the course of 40 minutes.”


  1. All you posters that watched the game last night are going to have negative comments, but when I examined our backcourt during stretches of the game and it was Rivers and Jones on the perimeter, we have to all understand that though they are great kids, they are not upper echelon big ten guards. Hulls is limited in size and defensive ability, Creek is hurt and Oladipo is a freshman. I keep telling everyone Crean is doing a good job, be patient. He has solidified the team academically, taken back the state in recruiting, and changed the expectations of the program. Now,if we are not near the top of the big ten by 2013, we should examine coach Crean carefully. But for now, accept the losses to teams that are better than us, agonize over the losses to teams that are worse, and expect improvement in the future. The future is ours my friends.

  2. The juniors have been with Crean 3 years now. When should we expect improvement? It’s past time for them to improve. Mentioning Hulls, well guess who recruited him? Crean. Elston resorting to tripping guys, Cwat refuses to play down low, Capo well, he’s Capo. Who recruited these guys? Crean. Vic O has promise and does make freshman mistakes,but who recruited him? Crean. Rivers is like 30 yrs old by now and should be teaching the young guys, but he doesn’t care. I’m sick of hearing wait till Zeller gets here. Wait till Yogi gets here. Well guess what,adding 1 guy next year without improvement by the current players will mean nothing. Crean should have this team much farther along then he does and he alone should shoulder the blame. He flat out can not coach. Otherwise Jones wouldn’t still making bonehead plays, Pritch would be doing more and we’d be winning more. 3 years into this project and no improvement. Yippee we beat high school teams in pre-conference. Crean is paid way too much to be 9-8 at this point. Major disappointment.

  3. IU voice- It is nice to know that you are happy with a 9-8 record with our biggest win being against Wright State. I post on here because I am trying to defend the many IU fans who have reasonable expectations. I am not defending fans who think we should be ranked in the top 10 or who think we should fire Crean; but there are many many fans who believe with this current group(who aren’t as bad as everyone makes them out to be) we should be able to play better than we have been. Even if we lose, we could be playing a lot better. Instead there are a lot of disappointing signs that lead to more questions than answers. Blindly saying “wait until we get future pros” is like openly admitting….our coach can’t coach, but once we get stars we’ll be alright.

  4. We are NOT going to compete in the B10 (or tournament teams)with the current players we have. We are not big enough or strong enough. The game is too physical. Look at the other teams we have played. Most have three or four 6′-7″ to 6′-9″ athletes who can defend and hit the boards. Our current big guys would only be practice players at most other schools on our schedule. Our guards are undersized too. We have the players we have and those are who Coach could get to come to IU under the circumstances and we have to live with it.
    I think IUvoice said it pretty well. We have a good nucleus (Hulls, Watford, Elston, Oladipo, Sheehey and Creek) and with the addition of a few bigs in the next 2 or 3 years it should get us where we need to be to compete. The in-depth recruiting efforts will provide continuity to keep us in the upper echelon of the B10.
    Remember, Crean not only inherited a team devoid of players, he also had to rebuild a completely destroyed recruiting base in the state and surrounding areas.
    If you don’t like where we are then feel free to root for someone else. The negativity is getting old.
    Some folks on here should become Kentucky fans. You would fit right in with the whiny-asses on their boards.

  5. Who? using your argument- how have Yale, Rhode Island, Harvard, Southern Illinois, Missouri State, Iowa, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Maine, and Michigan all beaten teams that IU went 0-5 against? Is this current team not capable of beating Rhode Island? Milwaukee? your argument is flawed….IU is good enough to compete with those teams. We don’t need to wait until we have Zeller, Yogi, Hanner to play with and look competitive against PS, Northern Iowa, etc.

  6. I don’t know how it is somekind of mystery to people whether this guy can coach or not. just listen to his press conferences, he doesn’t analyze basketball games like a coach who really knows the game. all he talks about are different buzzwords or cliches like: “we need more energy, intensity, purpose, etc”, “we need to be more of a team”, “we just don’t have the toughness yet, we just got out-toughed”, or “we just haven’t learned how to win.” He never says anything insightful about the game itself. I wish he would just say, “we couldn’t defend backdoor cuts, so we lost.” “We didn’t box out, or we didn’t create open shots with my offense, that needs to change.” Because it doesn’t matter how much energy, toughness, intensity, purpose, poise, etc you have, if you havent been taught how to play fundamental basketball, you will never win at the college level.

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