Big Ten media day thoughts

The Big Ten coaches and players converged in Chicago last night, and met with the media this morning.

I’m not sure how useful these events are nowadays. It’s good to have the chance to talk to people from around the conference, and you can usually count on Tom Izzo and Bo Ryan to be pretty funny.

As far as garnering a whole lot of insight . . . well, we tried.

I mostly hung by Tom Crean, as I wanted to hear what reporters from other towns would ask him. And how he would answer.

I’ll gather my thoughts on that in a bit. For now, you can listen.

Tom Crean addresses a lot of stuff at Big Ten basketball media day.

A run down of the more interesting things I heard today:

  • I’m sure Tom Crean gets tired of trying to describe what went wrong last year. But he is good at finding ways: “We couldn’t make plays when the plays didn’t get us a shot.”
  • Crean won’t set any numerical goal for the team. Never has. Never will. But he knows what he’s not expecting. “To think we’re on par with the other teams in the league would not be realistic. It doesn’t make any sense.” What Crean hopes is that this year’s team will not have a ceiling; it will continue improving and find ways to win the close games last year’s team lost.
  • Regarding recruiting, Crean said that Indiana is focused on owning Indiana. Yes, that includes the northern part of the state. IU coaches hit the high schools there heavily last winter, hoping especially to change the culture among the younger players who are not accustomed to kids form nearby heading all the way down to Bloomington.
  • Crean recruits program. He wants a kid who comes from a winning high school. Or a championship AAU team.
  • Yes, Tijan Jobe is fighting for a spot in the rotation. Crean said the 7-footer from Africa has improved his footwork and mindset and has developed into one of the best communicators on defense. Extra works has set Jobe apart.
  • Indiana over-scheduled, Crean said. “The Pitt game was a stretch,” he said. But that game, to be played as part of the Jimmy V Classic at Madison Square Garden, is important for three reasons: it supports a great cause, gets the players to a historic venue and keeps Indiana in the national conversation. Crean wants to make sure the Hoosiers play “in front of Dick Vitale” and don’t become a “regional program.”
  • Among the six freshman, Bawa Muniru (who still hasn’t been cleared) has the furthest to go. That’s not surprising. What is, a bit, is that Crean believes the big man’s year at Mt. Zion last season was “a wash.” Still, he expects Bawa to make an impact this year if he continues improving.
  • Verdell Jones and Jordan Hulls have been the steadiest players in practice so far.
  • Crean reiterated his desire to run on offense and play high-pressure defense. To do so, he’ll consider using a rotation of 10 or more players. But he never goes into a year with a set number of how many he wants to play. That’s based purely on player performance.
  • Youth isn’t terrible when it has experience to balance it out, Crean said. But there’s another side to it: Indiana’s young players have a chance to “step out of a box that they normally wouldn’t be able to step out of,” at an early stage in their careers.
  • Crean is still experimenting with lineups, but enjoys having versatility. He expects Jones, Hulls, Jeremiah Rivers, Derek Elston, Bobby Capobianco and Tom Pritchard all to fit into different roles throughout the year. The one position he’s trying to figure out is the “four.” A prototypical forward for Crean has always done something, well, not prototypical. He wants a guy who hits the 3, or has above average creativity.
  • Crean was excited to hear that Steve Downing would return for the Hall of Fame Induction next week. He’s got a framed picture that depicts each Indiana All-American in his office, and he wants to get a signature from each. He still needs Downings.
  • Though he has never coached a one-and-done, Crean thinks the rule needs to be changed. He believes a player should either allowed to jump straight to the NBA or forced to play two years of college basketball.

5 comments

  1. got my season tickets in the mail today, best day of my semester so far… love what you guys do here korman but i’m ready to see something instead of having to just read about it. lets go hoosiers!

  2. It’s been hush-hush, but now the secret’s out…Just learned of Crean’s costume for Haunted Hall of Hoops…

    Tom Crean + Bobby Knight = ???

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