Tom Crean is a radio star

Feel to read on for a longer update. But here’s the abridged version.

  • Verdell Jones, out since taking a heavy hit during the Cornell game, has been cleared to do non-contact work only and is still day-to-day.
  • Crean and assistant Bennie Seltzer went recruiting on Sunday. They headed to Baltimore, where 2009 Hoosier-to-be Maurice Creek had a tough game. But they were also watching other players, who of course Crean can’t mention. Roshown McLeod, another assistant, went to New Jersey to see some kids play there.
  • Another 2009 signee, Bawa Muniru is still growing and is now a legitimate 7-0. He’ll be a presence defensively and as a rebounder early in his career, Crean thinks, and will eventually develop a scoring touch.
  • Despite his early excellence, Tom Pritchard still doesn’t quite play with the edge Crean would like to see.
  • Crean will move practices to the morning next semester. He likes it that way, because it gives him the nights to go out recruiting without sacrificing his time with the team.

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Toby from Avon says it’s an honor to have Tom Crean as the coach of the Hoosiers.

Now to the tough question: “What do you do to help these guys with turnovers,” he asks.

Crean says it’s just a matter of getting the kids’ attention. So, they now run the stairs at Assembly Hall if they turn the ball over.

But most of the problem now is that kids are trying to do too much. Throwing a ball over the defense when a pass isn’t there. That sort of thing.

A lot of it is technique, too: taking the extra dribble, cutting harder, etc.

Time for one more. From Jim in Indy.

Jim wants to know if there’s a record kept of good high school players at IU who aren’t on the team. There isn’t, really. Crean just found most of these players in various ways: heard about them, they called, other players mentioned them as being worthy.

Crean’s quick scout of TCU: “Very efficient, extremely quick.”

And: “It’s a game that deserves to be on national television.”

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More phone calls. Matt’s be holding for a bit.

“What are you putting in the water down there to get them to play this well, this early?” he asks.

“What we’re trying to do more than anything is to respond to their competitive instincts,” Crean says.

He says that he and the coaches are coaching to not allow any losing mentalities to enter the program. That means being tougher than they probably should be, given the situation.

“We try to have very, very competitive practices,” he says.

Jeff in Bloomington is commending the university for hiring Tom Crean.

Jeff also wants to know about Bawa Muniru.

“The one thing is that he’ll become the biggest player on our team,” Crean says. Bawa is still growing, according to Crean.

Early on, Bawa will be a presence on defense and in rebounding. But eventually he will score points because he has a great mindset, Crean says.

Bobby from Bloomington wants to know if Tom Pritchard will get the ball more this game. Also, he’s wants IU to beat Kentucky.

Crean points out that Pritchard is first or second in the conference in getting to the free throw line. So he must be getting the ball.

Crean is still using the “mean stick” on Pritchard to get him to play a little bit more physical.

Verdell Jones update: he’s cleared to do some non-contact work. He did drills and shooting, but he’s still day-by-day.

“We miss him,” Crean says. “We miss his ball-handling, we miss his vision.”

The key with Jones, Crean says, is to get him “entrenched” in the gam early by playing him not at the point. Then, once Jones is in the flow, he can move over to run the team a bit. Interesting take, and one that I would agree with (not that my opinion is worth a hill of beans.)

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To the phones.

Pete from Wabash. Start it off.

Pete’s got terrible service on his cell phone. What he wants to know is whether IU’s games will go back on regular cable. They won’t, of course. There’s too much TV money out there.

In fact, the game against TCU was added because ESPN offered IU the chance to be on and Crean jumped at it.

Jason from Evansville is up next.

He wants to make sure that Crean knows IU-Kentucky is a big rivalry. Crean does. Every time he’s played Kentucky, it’s been big.

It’s Kentucky. (I said that. He didn’t. But you get my meaning.)

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Tom Crean had an off day Sunday.

So, he went to Baltimore to see a tournament. He went recruiting. He and Benny Seltzer saw Maurice Creek (and probably a few other players he can’t talk about). Roshown McLeod went to New Jersey.

Don just clarified with the crowd that Crean and Co. are no longer under any limitations. The crowd goes wild.

“It’s important for me to not only be visible but to be able to evaluate,” Crean says.

An audience member wants to know who the “best students” of basketball are on this team. Crean says he can’t differentiate. He tries to find different ways to teach the same things, since all kids learn in their own ways.

Crean is now talking about the wall his freshmen will inevitably hit. So he’s being careful.

Turns out some Major League Baseball scouts were here to meet with one or both of the baseball players on his team today, so they missed practice. Interesting.

Looks like Crean is going to have early practices next semester. That’s better because then he can use the afternoon for recruiting. He doesn’t want to have to leave early to be able to get to a high school gym somewhere.

The players are working hard regardless of when practice is scheduled. When Crean left, many kids were still in the gym tonight.

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There’s a woman here named Mickey Bennett who will turn 103 later this month. Crean says she doesn’t look a day over 49.

Bennett apparently played high school basketball. She must have been a true pioneer.

Now, a little about Gonzaga:

“Well they have so many different ways to beat you,” Crean says. “To me, they epitomize a team.”

But he was proud of the effort after watching the film. “We put up some resistance.”

Most of IU’s turnovers, he says, were self-inflicted, though. So work there will continue.

Gonzaga was just too versatile.

“They can post their guards and their bigs can shoot 3s,” Crean says. “Someday, I hope we’ll be like that.”

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Crean on Wake Forest:

“It was the first true road game. There was no preparation that we could give them. They just had to go through that.”

Crean says his team could never steal the momentum, even though it had some chances due to turnovers. He’s not sure his kids really, truly believed they could win. But that was a lesson they needed to learn — that games in a hostile place are winnable — and apparently did, judging by the Gonzaga game.

“It’s all part of the process,” Crean says. “When you’re coaching the game you’re not coaching with perspective.”

By that, he means that you’re just coaching to win. You’re coaching as if it’s all even. That’s the only way to build it up to a point where it is, again, all even.

Crean wants his team to play with better “velocity.” That applies to passing and movement. And transition defense is still a work in progress, as his team still is learning to defend the three key things: the rim, the free throw line and the ball.

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Don’s recapping the week. You’ll recall that IU lost to Wake Forest and Gonzaga, both top 15 teams.

Against the Demon Deacons, the Hoosiers faltered late. Against the Bulldogs, they fought til the end.

Tom Crean is looking through game notes and stats as Don gives the opening.

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Another decent crowd here tonight. I’d put it at 45 people.  Don Fischer should be opening the show any second.

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He’ll conduct his radio show from Coaches Bar and Grill in downtown Bloomington starting at about 7 p.m.

I’ll update you as well as I can.

4 comments

  1. kyle,

    Kipp Schutz, an outfielder from Evansville, is officially on the team and was the the first player off the bench against Wake Forest last week.

    Eric Arnett, a pitcher, has been working out with the team and has dressed for several games but is not officially on the roster yet.

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