Transcript of IU assistant coaches press conference

Indiana’s assistant coaches met with the media on Tuesday the day before the start of the first July evaluation period. Transcripts from that press conference follow.

Opening Statements

Calbert Cheaney: “It’s been an amazing summer. We have all six of our freshmen in and also we have Evan Gordon in. Workouts are going great. The kids are doing very well. They’ve adjusted to the educational part of it. Going to class and managing their time, so it’s been a very productive summer.”

Kenny Johnson: “The culture of the program has been firmly established. That’s the question that you have when you lose four guys that have scored over 1,000 points in the program as well as the leadership of Derek Elston, things they have been able to accomplish. You want to identify how quickly the guys will transition in and understand how hard you have to work in the program and what the culture of work is like in the program. They’ve come in and been very competitive — extremely competitive. Guys stepping up into new leadership roles, and with Yogi and Will going off to compete for the world team, guys who are stepping up into leadership roles had to have an even elevated level of leadership. I think guys have taken to it. The communication is at a high level. Guys are going at it.”

Tim Buckley: “Coming off an outright conference championship for the first time in 20 years in arguably the best league in the country this year, sometimes you have guys that feel entitled that that’s just going to happen for you by coming to Indiana. That hasn’t been the way the new guys have come in at all.  It’s a very vocal group. It’s a high-energy group, it’s a group that really wants to get better. I think some of the guys who are highly credentialed sometimes are acting like walk-ons. They just want to learn, and they’re trying to make the team, and they’ve got that great energy and spirit about them. I think that’s the great legacy, aside from the other things that that group accomplished that’s now leaving, that’s their legacy that they’re leaving behind too is that culture and that work ethic.”

Steve McClain: “What I’d add to what all three have talked about is you see those pictures sitting there of Cody and Vic. Tim’s been here the longest, even what I’ve seen change in the three years, heading into my fourth year, is you have some young guys in this program, and even our oldest guy being Will, but the work ethic and things that made Victor Oladipo walk on that stage and be the No. 2 pick, those young guys all saw it. The returning guys saw it. The guys coming in saw it. They see Victor up there, they see Cody up there, and the challenge of getting guys to come into the gym isn’t a challenge. That’s the expectation. That’s where this group, you just throw in everything they talked about from communication, work ethic, to being in the gym extra. They’ve seen it work. They’ve seen that that is the success of a team. That’s what this group is right now, they’re trying to become a team. That’s what we do in recruiting. We’re building teams. We’re building teams. Individuals gotta get better every day, but we’re building teams. This group is off to a great summer of building a team.

Q: How does this year’s freshman group compare to the others you’ve had as they came in?

Buckley: “From a media perspective, this group is probably more highly-credentialed than any of the other groups. That’s why it’s very important that this group continues to keep that edge that it has to be great because that’s what the other groups had. They had that edge. They had a little bit of notoriety, but guys like Jordan Hulls, it’s not like he was the No. 1 or top 10 recruit in the country coming in. I thought we did a really good job of projecting. I know I received several phone calls when we signed Victor Oladipo and Will Sheehey because of their low ranking. What we kept trying to tell people was, ‘We don’t have anybody who looks like those two guys. You’re going to see that they’re Big Ten-level players, Big Ten-level athletes. We felt like we’d do a good job of developing them with the hours that we get, which are 20 hours a week during the season and now in the summertime, but we also knew that those guys would get in their on their own. That’s the only way to get better. That’s what we have.”

Q: What’s the difference this summer because not everybody’s been here, there have been guys at Team USA and elsewhere?

McClain: “In some ways, it’s been really good because you don’t have Will and Yogi out there so much right now. It’s allowed some young players to go ahead and be vocal. To go ahead and know that’s the expectation. It’s also allowed Jeremy and Hanner, who probably would take a little backseat to Yogi and Will right now to go ahead and step up and be that returning veteran. Even though they’re only sophomores, they’ve had to step up and do that. I think it’s been a good mix to have those guys be away a little bit because they’re off doing something really well and so, I would say it’s been in some ways a positive for our team.”

Buckley: “It helps define different roles. It doesn’t allow them to just lean on those two guys, Will and Yogi. They’ve got to step outside of themselves a little bit, and that’s a great advantage as you go down the road. Right now, nothing’s at stake as far as winning and losing and so it gives them a chance to be in different settings when they can find out exactly who they are or who they can become.”

Q: Player-by-player, what have you seen from the freshmen?

Buckley: “Starting with Noah, obviously, physically, he’s college-ready. He’s very strong, very powerful. He’s very polished around the basket and explosive. He’s going to continue to develop his perimeter game which I think at least in my humble opinion was a great decision on his part to come to school here because that’s what we’ve been able to do. That’s where Cody’s going to excel in the NBA because he was put out on the perimeter at times to drive the ball and shoot the ball. Those are areas where he’s going to continue to develop and grow. His attitude is as good as anyone’s attitude that I’ve ever seen, especially for someone who is as highly credentialed as him, who wants to learn, wants to get better, ‘What more can I do?’

Stan Robinson fits the motor part where he’s going to be in here, he’s going to give you everything that he has on a consistent basis. Sometimes he’ll go too fast, but it’s a lot easier to try to slow guys down than to try to hurry them up. His skill level is going to continue to get better. Right now he’s pretty left-hand dominant, but we’re going to keep chipping away and working on that right hand. I think he’s going to be a very good shooter once the repetition of his shooting exceeds the pressure of the game and the pressure of the practices, that type of thing. He’ll be a quality defender once he learns the schemes and things that we’re trying to do.

Troy Williams, spectacular athlete, but as good a passer as he probably is an athlete, and it’s really neat to watch when he’s playing in 3-on-3 situations or 4-on-4 situations where he finds the open man, he kind of sees things maybe a play ahead. Once he gets his rhythm on his shooting and that, that’s going to continue to improve. When he gets to the point that people don’t know whether to close out on him hard or back off of him, that’s when he’s really going to have the defense at his mercy. All of those guys that I just mentioned along with the other freshmen, they love confrontation at the rim. They’re all willing to compete, go after it, try to block shots, take charges. It’s a very competitive group that way.

Devin Davis is a better basketball player than probably most people think. I think he’s kind of a hybrid, mismatch type guy. More athletic than he looks. He’ll just go up and dunk it and kind of surprise you with that at times. He’s also very good at putting it on the floor. Does a great job of reading defense for a freshman. He also knows where you’ll play him and how you’ll play him, to spin or counter or make another move.

Collin Hartman is a knock-down shooter, and he’s going to continue to expand his game a little bit. The one thing he can’t get away from is making those shots when he’s open and when he’s available to take those.

Luke Fischer has gotten bigger and stronger already. I think he’s already put on seven or eight pounds since he’s been here. He’s a winner, having gone undefeated the past two seasons before he came here. I think he’s going to stretch and grow. He’s probably more likely of any of the big guys that we’ve had recently that will step out and shoot the basketball right now. He’s gotta continue to improve and get better at it. He seems more comfortable at that than some of the other big guys we’ve had at this point.”

Q: What do you think Will Sheehey and Yogi Ferrell will get out of playing for Team USA?

Cheaney: “The experience. The fact that they’ll be able to play with players from around the country. I think that will really help them. I think it will help define their role as leaders a little bit more. But more so the experience of having an opportunity to play with that USA on your chest. Represent your country, go out there and try to win a gold medal. That’s what it’s all about. Without a doubt, it’s also important for the leadership aspect, but the experience is also at the forefront.”

Q: How do you think that raise their confidence?

Cheaney: “Tremendously. Obviously you get to play against players from around the country who are probably the top players on their team. You’re playing against great competition every day. You get to see where you are as a player. At this particular point in the summer and then heading into the fall, and into the season, I think it’s great for both of them.”

McClain: “I think I can add on to that. I got the opportunity to go out and I saw three of the four practices before the cuts were made. To watch our two guys out there with some high-level guys. As a coach, you’re sitting there and you have no say in who’s going to make that team. You can sit there and watch things we do in this program to develop kids and see the difference and more than anything, seeing kids that have played on a team and played with other good players and know they didn’t have to dominate the basketball and know they didn’t have to score to show what they could do. It was fun. You saw them really take the challenge. I saw guys there, and I’m not going to name names, that thought they were too good to play hard, too good to dive on a ball. I saw our guys taking charges, I saw our guys doing little things that help you win. One thing that I know got discussed was Will being the Sixth Man of the Year in this league. Could he go on a very good team and be a good teammate? That played into it, and that’s a positive thing. That is a neat thing that falls into what Calbert’s talking about. There was nothing given. I think that goes back to what Tim said about this program. There is nothing given in this program, so those guys went in there with the idea, nobody’s gonna give me this. I’m going to have to earn it. They really made our program proud by how they acted, how they presented themselves in that environment.”

Q: What has Evan Gordon’s role been this summer, especially with the most experienced players on the team gone?

Johnson: “Evan’s been through it. He’s a veteran of college basketball. I think the No. 1 thing that people might not know about Evan that he’s bringing to the table is his competitive nature. He’s a physical guard. He’s someone who’s very prideful. He comes from a family that works. He’s been putting in the extra work that we all talk about outside of our required hours. That’s what he’s done. he’s blended in seamlessly. He obviously has a little more of an understanding of the tradition of the program coming in than someone else from a different background. He’s able to explain to the freshmen what we do. He’s able to take the sophomores and teach them how to compete. That’s the biggest thing that he’s done for us since he’s been here. He is that perfect veteran leader that you would expect from a senior guard stepping into this program. He’s doing it in a way that he understands nothing is given to him either. it’s an open book. There’s competiton. He’s jumped into that competitive character of this program and he’s leading it.”

Q: Have you seen a boost for the players that are here after the draft?

Cheaney: “Without question. Victor and Cody are an exact blueprint of how to make yourself better as a player. Obviously these coaches up here have done a wonderful job of  the development aspect with players. But to take it a step further, obviously as coach Buckley said before, you only get two hours a week during the summer and 20 hours a week during the season. So it’s what you do off the court that matters. A guy like Victor Oladipo who pretty much forged himself as a player skillwise, he already had that athleticism, but he pushed himself to get that skill to develop that skill level, once he did that he was off to the races to being the No. 2 pick in the draft. Purely from the standpoint of how he worked at it to get to that point, I think a lot of these guys out here and these freshmen, they see it and they want to be in that position as well.

 

(Dustin’s Note: More will be added throughout the night.)

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