Notes from Tom Crean’s speech

Tom Crean gave his annual free speech to the students on Wednesday night at IU Auditorium. Wrote a story on the general themes of that speech for the paper, and that can be found here. 

But as usual, he also talked player-by-player about the team and also talked about specifics with this squad. (And he also answered a question about the Syracuse game.) Notes, starting with his player-by-player evaluations, follow.

— Will Sheehey – “Will Sheehey has had an up and down offseason because he’s had a couple of different injuries. He’s still coming back from one. He had his first full practice yesterday and he’s still trying to come back from a groin injury and put himself in position. Today was a Will Sheehey level practice. The leadership was strong. He was very active. Will Sheehey is one of the most gifted smartest players I’ve ever been around in my entire life. Will Sheehey is the kind of person that he understands what it takes. He understands how to win. He understands what’s going on on the floor. He’s a tremendous teacher for someone that’s his age, of helping his teammates. My job, because it’s what’s going to be the thing that’s going to carry him over when he makes it to the next level, it’s not just going to be his talent, it’s going to be his intangibles, it’s going to be his leadership. He’s got tremendous energy. He’s got tremendous will. His skills continue to build constantly, he wants to win, he competes, and he’s got intangibles of leadership, and I think my responsibility is and the accountability of the program is to bring that out constantly. And I never get tired of trying to pull that out of him because he’s gifted. He’s really gifted. And he has to continue to understand what that is.” 

— Evan Gordon: “This is an incredible opportunity for him. I don’t ever want to him to look at this as, ‘I got a trip home, I get a chance to spend my senior year in Indiana around my family, I get a chance to get a graduate degree from Indiana.’ All of those things are tremendously important. Tremendously important. But that’s not enough. He has to come in here and take his game to another level. He’s gotta see his game rise on both sides of the court, offensively and defensively and see that leadership rise. He’s gotta get out of whatever comfort zone has been acceptable, because he works hard now, and step above and beyond it. He’s gotta bring a pitbull junkyard dog mentality daily. He’s gotta bring people with him. That’s one of the biggest things that will show, is he gonna have that kind of year? here’s a guy that’s a great young man. he works hard, comes from a great family, spends a lot of time at the game, but he can be more.”

— Austin Etherington: “What we need Austin to do is make jump shots, we need Austin to hold his ground defensively, we need Austin to get out and get on that break and be a guy that can space the court and we need Austin to play with tremendous toughness. If Austin can do those things for us, he’s gonna have a chance to contribute on this team. He’s got a lot of people nipping at his heels.”

— Hanner Mosquera-Perea: “Over the last two weeks he’s shown more improvement, but also yesterday and one day last week, had practices where you didn’t know he was out there. That’s the thing about Hanner right now. The consistency. The consistency. He’s getting better as a competitor, he really cares, he wants to be better, he’s gotta develop the consistency. He won two different scrimmage situations today with big time, big time rebound tip type plays. Those are the kinds of things that we can do. Hanner has got tremendous athleticism.”

— Jeremy Hollowell: “There’s nobody that scored more points in our first five practices than Jeremy Hollowell. But he’s not one of the leading percentage guys. He’s not one of the leading rebounders. He’s not one of the leading deflection guys. We need him to have a consistency that’s constant in our practices. And again, five days of stats is not a big deal. It’s the level of what he’s capable of. That’s what the big deal is. We need Jeremy to continue to put himself in a spot where he’s not quiet, where he understands that it’s going to be counted on, demanded upon that he’s going to be a paramount defensive player for us, that makes a difference for us defensively, that he is a scorer, rebounder ball-handler. he had some plays today with the pick-and-roll that we never would have done with him a year ago. He’s coming down the lane making plays. he’s constantly getting better, but it’s gotta be the intangible part now.”

— Yogi Ferrell: “The No. 1 thing with Yogi is will he be demanding enough of himself and of his teammates to keep taking steps. Yogi has got tremendous gifts. He’s got great speed, his shot is definitely getting better all the time. And he wasn’t a bad shooter last year. Some of it got hidden because of how good a shooting team we were. Remember, the last two years, we led the country in 3-point percentage when it comes to the BCS schools. We need more of that. We need him to do that. But we don’t need anybody to become, ‘That’s all he does is shoot 3’s.’ I’m not saying that’s what Yogi is, but we don’t need that.”

— Peter Jurkin: “He has never been in a situation where he’s been absolutely just been able to lay it out there health wise. He’s getting closer to it. He’s going through a tough thing at home right now with his father who he has not seen in years. He’s so sick, he’s going to be spending some time going back there here fairly soon as soon as everything gets worked out paperwork wise for him. There’s a guy that we’re really hoping can come in, make some shots, block some shots, space the floor. He’s putting weight on. Is it enough to really be a Big Ten-level post-up player? Maybe not. But he can make shots. And that’s what we need from him.”

— Troy Williams (Out with a hand injury): “I’ve noticed every day we don’t have Troy Williams’ energy in there. That’s rare when you miss a freshman like that. Troy Williams has got a rare level of energy. He’s got an athleticism that’s gonna just blow your mind. You won’t get to see it on Friday night unfortunately. He came in today and wanted to have a meeting. … He just wanted to know if he could be a judge in the dunk contest. That to me is a great kid. He won’t be a judge next year, and we won’t need one when he’s jumping up there. His level of athleticism is outstanding, but for him it’s gonna be that consistency. Can he get down and really guard people? Can he take good shots? Can he keep delivering the basketball? Can he keep putting on that strength that is so important because he’s going to have some huge matchups in this league? ”

— Luke Fischer: “Luke Fischer is just a pure winner. Just a pure winner. 84-2 I believe it was in his high school years. He is what we call a year-round winner. To me, those are the things that separate him, because he’s played in a lot of big games at the high school level. He knows what it takes. He knows how to score. He’s not afraid. He comes in there he battles. He got hurt going for a rebound, freak accident. He’ll miss a few more weeks. But there’s a guy who can go over both shoulders, he can go with both hands, he’s developing his jump shot, he can rebound, he’s smart, he’s got toughness, and we’re gonna need him. We’re gonna need him. There’s not going to be any, ‘Let’s compare him to Cody Zeller type things.’ There are certain things that Cody did that we want him to do. There’s also some things that he does that it took a while for Cody to get. We’re not going to do any of the comparison part. We’re just going to let Luke Fischer be the best Luke Fischer that he can be as a freshman.

— Noah Vonleh: “Noah Vonleh has got a rare work ethic. I don’t mean a rare work ethic for someone that’s been 18 for a month. I mean a rare work ethic. It’s rare. He’s just scratching the surface as a player. He’s just scratching the surface as a student. He’s just scratching the surface as a leader. This kid has got some natural leadership in him that is only going to continue to grow and take off. When he learns to be as demanding on others as he is on himself, look out. It’s hard to believe this guy has only been 18 for a month. Loves to be in that gym. He epitomizes right now where we stand as a 365-day-a-year type guy. He’s getting his game stretched much like Cody did when he got here. There’s a lot more discomfort and uncomfort right now for Noah than there is comfort. That’s the way it’s supposed to be. … We’re stretching his game. We run him with the perimeters and guards some days, we run him with the big guys other days. We’re just letting him play. We’re just letting him play, because when he starts to get a comfort level and the confidence catches up with his game … He’s building his ball-handling. He’s building his ability to go left, though that’s gonna take a little bit of time because he’s developing his jump shot. He is a rebounding machine. We had a situation yesterday where we scrimmaged for 25 minutes, he had 15 rebounds. Those are the kind of things to me that are gonna help us win. There’s no doubt about it.

— Stanford Robinson: “Stanford Robinson is a very unique, unorthodox type of player. He can do a lot of different things. He can handle the ball. He is as good of a downhill player as we have right now outside of Yogi when it comes to playing the game and going straight line straight downhill. Now, we’re trying to help him get his fundamentals, we’re trying to help him get his fundamentals, we’re trying to help him get both hands where they need to be. We’re trying to help him get his jump shot as consistently as it needs to be. Understand the techniques and all those things defensively. You’re not gonna see any defensive juggernaut when you see us play Friday night and you may not see it for a while. But let me tell you, it will be there. And guys like Stan Robinson will help make that happen because they win. They compete. He doesn’t have a lot of confidence yet about where it needs to be, but he’s trying to learn.”

— Devin Davis: “Devin is probably been in my mind the most surprising of everyone from the summer to this point. He has got an energy around that basket. He has got a willingness to rebound. He has got a toughness level that he doesn’t even know he has yet. He sometimes fights the conditioning part of it. Sometimes he fights the fatigue part of it. He gets totally offended when I bring that up. I’ve already found that thing that drives him a little bit. But that kid gets to the basket. He gets to the basket, and he can make things happen around that basket. He can finish. He’s got a chance to get on that court right now because of his rebounding and because of his defense.”

— Collin Hartman: “Collin Hartman we need to make shots. We need him to be a ball-mover, a body mover.  A guy that can space and knock down shots. His body is getting stronger, he’s trying to get to the endurance level that he has to have. At this point right now we’re trying to fix certain things in his jump shot so that he’s down low, so that he’s not arching his back. Those are the kinds of things, when that consistency comes from him, he’ll help us. He’ll be able to make shots. He’s a willing shooter, he’s a very good passer. He went at it today in a couple of our rebounding drills that I was a little bit surprised at. Not that I didn’t think he could do it, but I didn’t realize he could do that at this point.”

— On whether or not he’s started working on zone offense already: “We’re making sure right now with the early part of the season, it’s more important that we shoot, that we screen, that we concept, that we understand the spacing, that we understand inside-out, things of that nature, building zone offense. I’m always interested by that question, because there’s not a lot of things I’d change about the zone offense. There’s not a lot of things I would change about where we attacked from. We probably would have shot it more from the foul line. We probably could have screened some of the wings more. There’s always things the woulda, coulda, shouldas. But the bottom line is we tried to attack that thing from the middle and we tried to play out of it. There were times we didn’t make the right decisions and there were times we didn’t get to the foul line. We did not have a great night against them. And I think it’s really, really easy to look at it and just pin it on, ‘Well, we just didn’t do this, or we didn’t do that.’ It’s more than that. We didn’t deal with their length well. We didn’t deal with their length around the bucket well. We didn’t make the decisions constantly. We turned it over too much early in the game. But yet we still, we’re in the game, a couple of things go right. the thing that hurt us the most is we didn’t string enough stops together to take momentum from them. It really becomes, you can be better at everything, you can be better at zone defense, zone offense, whatever it is. Frankly, I am looking forward to (this Syracuse game) personally. It’s a very hard place to play, it’s a very challenging place to play. But we’re looking forward to that game. I don’t know if anyone else is, but I know I am. Because you do want to make sure you go in there and you try to attack some things that after you’ve watched some things that after you’ve watched some film, and they’ll have a different team this year like we will. … It’s never just one part of it. It’s the game. We didn’t play the game well enough that game. We didn’t play offensively or defensively well enough that game. We didn’t make enough shots. And what bothered me, what I’m constantly trying to make sure we’re getting out of when players are young like this, we let our offense or lack thereof dictate too much about how we played in that game.”

— On what this team needs to work on and what Crean needs to work on: “It’s mindset. It’s mindset as much as anything else and understanding that we don’t want to beat ourselves. We can’t let a lack of experience or lack of strength or lack of age or any of those things getting in the way of us using our length, being a great rebounding team, diving on the floor for loose balls, playing with great hustle and desire. I don’t think there’s any question about that. For me, it’s play the best players. I think it’s so easy sometimes, you earn the benefit of the doubt. And I know as a coach, I’m more apt to give the benefit of the doubt to somebody’s that’s older, somebody that’s done it. I’m not sure that’s what you do. I think what you do is you play the best players. It sounds easy, but it’s not. I think what you do is you make sure it’s as competitive as it can possibly be, and you have enough different ways to use different players and to use different lineups and to use enough guys, but sometimes you’ve just gotta go with what’s working and the guys that are bringing the most confidence to the table that night and then figure it out the next day in practice. I know I’ve been guilty too many times of sticking with a situation or with a player that, … it’s just not that night. I think that’s something that I want to correct as a coach.”

— On what he likes and doesn’t like about the team right now: “I think our conditioning is better than you would have imagined it being or I would have imagined it being. That’s a tribute to the way they’re working and a tribute to Je’Ney Jackson and the way he’s working. I think the last two days sum up where we’re at. When we practice the way we did today, we’ve got a chance to be a really good team. When we don’t have the driving forces driving us past fatigue and driving us past mistakes and living in the past and being focused on ourselves and we practice the way we did at times yesterday, it could be a long year. The whole trick is how do we addressed what needs to be addressed daily and stay with it the next day. I would say on the court right now, we have a chance to be a really good running team, we have a chance to be be a really good rebounding team. I would say the things that scare me a little bit right now, we can’t become a turnover team that doesn’t get really good shots. We don’t have the amount of consistent, been-there, done-that type of shooters that we had here the last couple of years. We have to continue to make sure that that ball continues to move. That’s what low-turnovers, a lot of reversals, inside-out, drive and kicks, all of those things, and making sure we stay with that. Sometimes I think we want to stop the ball a little too much. It’s early. But I think we want to stop the ball a little too much. But then I’m scared to death about the communication. The communication on defense right now is something that’s a crisis for us. It’s not a crisis because it’s five days in, but it’s a crisis because if we don’t get it, if we don’t have great communication with this young of a team, they don’t have their experience to fall back on. They’ve got to be together on this on the communication. I always say defense is about exclamation points and offense is about bullet points. You’ve got to be emphatic with ,’Help! Ball! Switch!’ whatever it is. You’ve gotta be emphatic with that. And that’s gonna take us a while. That’s my greatest fear, that that takes us too long. We’ll get it. And like I tell our guys. We’re either going to get it, or we’re gonna be marathon runners, because we’re gonna run until we figure it out.”

— On Calbert Cheaney and the Director of Ops job: “I haven’t done anything on the replacement yet. And when I say I haven’t done anything, I literally haven’t done anything. I haven’t interviewed anybody past the first couple of days when he first left and that didn’t work out with that person I would have liked to have gotten, but didn’t want to leave TV, which I understood. I haven’t done anything. I may, I may not. That’s one of those open-ended. It’s kinda like, the gentleman asked the question, what am I trying to get better at, I’m trying to look at exactly what we need. I’m trying to constantly look and be honest about it, what do we need and what do we need for the long term. That could be filled now or it could be filled in the spring. Calbert brought integrity. Pure and simple. He brought toughness. He was a role model just in the way that he acted, the way that he handled himself, the way that he was as a family man. He had time for the players. His role was limited to a degree and he was watched very carefully because he is Calbert Cheaney, and that role was watched, but he maxed out what he could do within the rules But you can’t legislate the integrity that he has. He’s got it off the charts. And he will be a head coach in the NBA or in college. He had an opportunity to go to the NBA late in the summer. He had the opportunity in St. Louis. He got to the point where he wanted to get on the floor. He wanted to take the next step. He’d had the opportunity the year before here before here before we hired Kenny Johnson. He didn’t want to do it, stayed in the role that he was at. Now he felt like he was ready. I think he’s gonna be fantastic. He can coach at any level as a head coach. It’s just a matter of when.”


  1. By the way Dustin, who is D. Horn mentioned on the live chat? I unable to put face/personality with the name.

  2. Darrin Horn. Former assistant at Marquette under Crean and also former head coach at Western Kentucky and South Carolina. I’m not sure if Crean took a shot at him or not, but it’s possible. It wasn’t immediately evident to me whether or not Horn has a TV gig, but he’s not currently coaching. I would think it’s hard, though, to get a guy who has been a head coach to come back in a director of ops gig, which doesn’t allow coaching or recruiting. But obviously, I would think anyone who has a TV gig was probably a head coach.

  3. So now Blueitt has decommitted from UCLA…. All the people who thought this was a Crean thing can now apologize. The state of Indiana had 4 highly ranked kids. Every single one of them has now decommitted from their first verbal. This is a pattern that clearly has nothing to do with IU or Crean.

  4. Are they all part of the same AAU (or whatever it’s called) team?

    If so, think they are now interested in joining same team?

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