Crean: Hoosiers have to stick to fundamentals

According to Tom Crean, Indiana has no chance on Saturday if it tries to out-Kentucky Kentucky.

If the Hoosiers try to outrun the No. 1 Wildcats or out jump them or drive right at them and try to shoot over them, they have no chance.

But they do if they play smart, he said, and stick to their style of play.

“The key is that we stay true to the game which is fundamentals, discipline, execution, energy, all of those kind of things and not get out of character,” Crean said. “That’s what you worry about the most in any type of situation that’s relatively new for a group like it is for this one. But it’s gonna be different for them too. It’s their first true road game as well. It’s going to a matter of the team that makes the fewest mistakes.”

Crean said he wants the Hoosiers to be on the attack, but not overly so. They can’t drive into the teeth of a defense, he said, that is incredibly averaging almost 11 blocks per game.

“You have to attack very smart,” Crean said. “There are certain things that go into that, but to think that it’s gonna be conventional basketball and we’re just going to go up and shoot it over top of this team, that’s not realistic. Hopefully our guys are astute enough to understand that. They have to be, because we don’t want to be in a situation where we’re just allowing them to play volleyball with the basketball, whether it’s on the backboards or whether it’s with blocked shots. That’s again where fundamentals, execution, next pass, all of those things, kickouts, dropoffs, every one of those things is crucial. This is not a game where you can ever think you’re gonna take hero shots and it’s gonna work out for you. You gotta make the next pass. If you do that — and our team is fairly cerebral, there’s some instinctive guys, and they’ve been moving the ball very well. … The margin for error when you’re playing a team with this kidn of athleticism and length, it’s really tight, so you’ve gotta make sure you’re doing the right things.”

That includes boxing out extremely well on the glass. That has at times been a weak spot for the Hoosiers, and it has not been for Kentucky at all. The Wildcats outrebound their opponents by an average margin of 43.5 to 36.0.

“They’re really long and athletic,” junior guard Jordan Hulls said. “They can jump. We can’t really jump with them. We just have to box out. Be fundamental about it.”

The Hoosiers had almost a whole week to prepare for this game, going back to Sunday’s game against Stetson. That allowed them more time to prepare. Even though Kentucky also had a week between games, the Wildcats were holding final exams and the Hoosiers don’t have theirs until next week.

Crean, though, said it felt like too much time.

“I don’t like it personally,” Crean said. “As the week goes on, you just get that much more edgy as a coach. The key is that you really better make sure that you’re practices, you don’t want to overdo it, you don’t want to spend so much time that they’re not excited about the game. … We want to be really, really prepared, but at the same time, we want the energy to be really high and for them to be excited. The long week, I’ve never liked it. I like the short turnarounds.”

Crean said he’s tried to learn from his father-in-law and brothers-in-law — Jack, John and Jim Harbaugh — how to handle a full week of practice between games. He said he’s tried not to overly focus on the game itself.

“It’s fundamental driven,” Crean said. “… You’re doing things you know you’re going to need down the road. It could be as early as next week. it could be two weeks from now. You’ve gotta make sure that when you have a long week, you’re not just locking into the game that you’re playing, you’re locking into your team getting better, and hopefully that’s helping you for the game.”

The long week also gives the Hoosiers a longer period than usual to be sucked into the hype of this game, and unlike football players, that’s not something they’re used to, but Crean said he thinks they’ll be able to handle it well.

He said he was impressed by the dedication showed by the fans who put together Camp Crean, but said that because of the weather, he was glad the camp was shutdown.

“I think the school made the right decision,” Crean said. “When I went out there yesterday afternoon and it was cold and I’m only out there for a few minutes, I’m starting to think, ‘Now these guys are gonna be out there a long time.’ And I didn’t feel good about that. … I just appreciate the way that they came out. I think that was a great message how the school athletic department is handling this. When those kids got there early, letting them have the ability to get into that game. The next thing I think is, OK, if it’s gonna be 7:15 there in the morning, let’s make sure that there’s enough for them to do that people are out there paying attention to them that they can get some space heaters out there, and I’m even hoping maybe that we put not a tent. Certainly I understand that people can’t stay in a tent, but where there’s something that shields the wind. You think about where this happens at Duke, well we don’t have Duke weather, it’s a little different. You want to make sure that these kids, these young people, that you really appreciate their passion, but you want them to be safe.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 1

AUDIO: Tom Crean Part 2

AUDIO: Jordan Hulls and Cody Zeller


  1. But if they do if they play smart, he said, and stick to their style of play.

    Typical Crean speak. I love it. I hope Kentucky is trying to parse that sentence hoping to find out our secrets…

  2. Still it’s such a good sentence I hope he tweets it. More people need to read that sentence. I hope he says something like that to Calipari before the game, something like what he said to Korman when he handed him the award… Tom Crean is the best, man!

  3. Contrary to Coach’s theory of how we’ll win the game, I’m kinda hoping we play all stupid. As in ‘stoopid, crazy, off-the-hook’ stupid. Careful and smart sounds too much like ‘scared.’

  4. That sentence wasn’t a quote. It was Dustin. I think it should have read ‘But they do if they play smart, he said …’

    I think we just have to throw it into Cody every time down until Davis picks up 2 fouls in the first half, and that evens things up. He’s the difference. Get him on the bench and it’s pretty even. Then at the start of the second half, do the same thing until he picks up more fouls. Either he’ll be on the bench or they’ll have to change their defense. But of course I’m not a coach.

  5. Davis is a shot blocking machine. Don’t assume Cody will eat up everybody he comes across. We just need to do what we do. Whoever needs to step up and take the shot, will. Whoever needs to make the stop, will. That’s who this team is. That’s why they are outperforming our expectations. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. Careful and smart sounds like Duke. If we try to ‘outathlete’ Kentucky we’ll lose.

  6. Eric, you’re right about Davis being the difference. Unfortunately, Terrance Jones and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are also the difference. We really don’t have anyone who matches up with either of them. Which is why Crean is preaching fundamentals, discipline and execution. We don’t match up with them athletically, but if our guys keep their heads about them, we can overmatch them with fundamentals, discipline and execution. If the refs don’t play favorites with the #1 team, I think we’ve got a great chance of winning this game.

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