Crean impressed by Brickman, LIU-Brooklyn’s spacing

When Tom Crean combed through the film of Indiana’s season-opening win over Chicago State on Friday, he saw a number of occasions when the Hoosiers made mistakes on either side of the floor, but got away with them because they still had enough length and athleticism to make a play.

As encouraging as it is that the Hoosiers are capable of doing that, Crean knows he has to get it through to them that they won’t always be able to do that and they need to be more on the ball against more talented teams.

“We can have all of this length and athleticism and the ability to cover ground and the ability to make up for mistakes,” Crean said. “That can be our edge. But our strength is gotta be the discipline of the defense. The discipline of not reaching, not gambling, not going for a play that’s not there. Not being late on a rotation. Not switching out and having our hands down. Not challenging a shot the right way. The discipline of all of those details really are what make a great defense. That’s what we’e trying to get them to understand. … You’re not going to make up against good teams by thinking you’re just going to outrun them or be longer than them and get back and stop layups and open 3’s. You’ve got to get back and actually be in position and be down to play defense.” 

And even though the Hoosiers are still a long way from playing teams at their athletic caliber, he expects that Tuesday’s 6 p.m. game against Long Island-Brooklyn at Assembly Hall will give them an idea that the margin of error is shorter than they realize.

The Blackbirds will be at a major size disadvantage against the Hoosiers with just two available players at 6-foot-7 or taller thanks to another injury to star forward Julian Boyd, who tore his ACL early last season and then tore it again in July. They also had a significant amount of roster turnover this offseason, losing four of their five starters, including Northeast Conference Player of the Year.

Still there are players on this squad who have been a part of three straight Northeast Conference Tournament champions. That includes senior point guard Jason Brickman, who led the nation in assists last season with 8.5 per game. He had 13 points and 14 assists in LIU-Brooklyn’s season opener, a 87-80 win over St. Peter’s.

“He’s always looking for his teammates,” Crean said. “Plays with his head up. Obviously well-coached. Fundamentally sound, naturally gifted in the sense that he can make plays, he can shoot the ball, but he finds people. Definitely, I would put him in the category of one of the best guards that we would have seen in the last couple of years in being able to use all of the different aspects of the ball screen. That’s going to put a lot of pressure on us tomorrow.”

Crean compared Brickman to Ohio State’s Aaron Craft.

“Brickman is like Craft in that he sets the pace for his team,” Crean said. “What you can’t let him do is set the pace for both teams. When we’ve had our success against Ohio State, we set our pace. When Ohio State’s had their success against us, Aaron’s set the pace for both teams. That’s why he’s one of the great college basketball players, maybe of all time. Because it’s one thing to do it for your team. It’s another thing where you can control the pace of the other. That’s not only a mindset, that’s a discipline. That’s an understanding of knowing where everybody’s at. Brinkman’s got a lot of that. So I think they go at the pace he wants him to go there. … Maybe another example would be a junior Steve Nash so to speak, because there’s so much ball screen from so many different areas, he keeps his dribble alive. That’s what you’re getting ready for. I can’t wait to see how we defend it. We know what we want to do.”

Crean said he’s also impressed by LIU-Brooklyn’s spacing. The Blackbirds hit 11 3-pointers on Saturday, with guard Gerrell Martin hitting six and finishing with 24 points. They were fourth in the nation last year in scoring with 78.7 points per game, and even though they lost much of their talent, they scored 87 in their opener.

“They have midseason form spacing right now,” Crean said. “You can tell that some of them have done it and been a part of it.”

AUDIO: Tom Crean

AUDIO: Noah Vonleh

3 comments

  1. Still there are players on this squad who have been a part of [there] straight Northeast Conference Tournament champions.

    Dustin- I tihnk taht might be a typo. You probably meant to type ‘three’ straight…

    When did Crean offer these comments…? The opening three paragraphs(emphasis on defensive discipline) sounds just like my post from a little over an hour ago.

  2. Lance Stephenson could give these kids some pointers! He finally understands both sides of this game and it made him a much more valuable player. Take them up to the Pacer facility and have a discussion!

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