Crean talks 2K Classic

Didn’t have a chance to get on the 2K Classic conference call today as it was the same time as the Indiana football press conference, but IU put together a transcript of Tom Crean’s words in his 10 minutes on a conference call. That follows.

On his thoughts on this year’s team:

“First off I would like to start by saying that to be a part of anything that’s involving the Gazelle Group is a honor. Starting from my time back at Marquette all the way to this year, we start every tournament with an anticipation and an enthusiasm level that is high because we know we are going to be a part of a first-class event and we are going to be playing excellent teams, and we know it’s going to be at a big-time venue. Our team is excited for this tournament.

We have played four games at home and so far we’ve had a couple big wins and one nail-bitter that came down to a missed shot at the buzzer in the first round of this tournament. I think our guys are really excited to play this week. We are getting better. We can see results week by week and it’s showing game by game. This is going to be a whole different deal for us this week, however, because not only are some guys going on the road for the first time, but because we are going on the road with so many guys that have never been anywhere in college basketball other than Assembly Hall. We are bringing in 11 freshmen and sophomores and we need to look at that excitement and energy level and make sure that it doesn’t override the fact that we have to come in with great intelligence and discipline. We have to try and build an identity from the very beginning of the games.”

On the expectations for Noah Vonleh:

“We see everyday how determined he is to get better. He has a great humility and humbleness because he knows that he has to get a lot better. He wants to keep learning. He has been well coached coming into college and his mother, who is one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met, instilled that into how Noah works. I don’t think any of us are surprised on how he’s preformed so far. We know he has high capabilities and an excellent motor.

There’s a lot of room for improvement with him. I think his numbers are really impressive, but I think his improvement rate is even more impressive. I think he’s getting more comfortable every day and a lot of that is because he works so hard and he’s learning how to prepare for the games just as he’s learning how to prepare for practice.”On Vonleh’s game and practice preparation (follow up):

“For an 18 year old who should be a senior in high school, he’s got an uncommon work ethic and an uncommon maturity. He’s a young guy, but at the same time he’s got such a desire to improve. He’s watching film more intently and he’s trying to take away things by watching players he looks up to. At the same time, he’s already played in games where we’ve switched every position and he’s had to guard point guards. Whenever you are throwing a lot of things at a person like that, they have to stay locked-in, and his concentration skills are only going to grow. He continues to gain confidence by the way he’s shooting, by the way he’s working on his moves, and by the way he’s working on his positioning. In practice he’s really, really locked-in to becoming a better defender and becoming more of a range rebounder- a guy that can get out of his area and rebound balls- that’s the next big step for him.”

On what he can learn about his young team by watching them play on such a big stage for the first time:

“How quick they adjust is a big thing. How quickly they can adjust and realize that it’s just basketball. They have to be locked-in to all the details of the offense and defense and the time-out situations. They have to keep their focus. I think a game environment like that just helps build a stronger focus. They can not get caught up in all the trappings of the hype and all those things that go into it, and they have to realize that you can only control what you can control, which is being in the correct stance and getting up and down the court, talking on both offense and defense, being aggressive, and moving without the ball. ”

On how important the more experienced players will be in this tournament:

“I don’t know if you can rely on them to teach the younger players. The older guys, especially Yogi (Ferrell) and Will (Sheehey), are doing a great job of building their leadership off the court and I think there will be some value to that when we get to New York, but everyone just has to settle in. It doesn’t matter how many games we won on the road last year. Those things help, but when you go through it as a team for the first time it is different for everybody. The young guys will have to get comfortable in their leadership roles when they’re on the road as well.

You have to give your players the tools they need and try to provide them with the confidence to prepare well. You can’t force it. You just have to let it happen. I think the most important thing for our older guys is how they talk to the young players off the court to keep guys locked-in to what we are there to do.”

On whether or not adding more teams to the Big Ten Conference changes recruiting for Indiana:

“I think it does, but I think it’s already happened, if that makes any sense. For us, we already were recruiting out East. We looked East the first year that I became coach at Indiana and when you look at our team, with the way we are recruiting in the Eastern Seaboard, there is no question that it enhances our efforts when we get to play out there. This isn’t just because Maryland and Rutgers are joining the conference, but because we have so many alums outside of Indiana. Other than the state of Indiana itself, the second largest alumni base for IU is the New York metropolitan area and the DC area is high up there as well. With us having that large base brings a lot of fan support. We love being in big-time events like this. We love the national television exposure and we love playing against great opponents. At Indiana you want to make sure that you have the best players with values that fit your program, and it can be with players who come from smaller towns in Indiana, or it can even be a player from another country. You recruit where you find players you want, but there is no question that being able to recruit in the East is great for us. Next year will be our third year in a row going to New York to play and I think that’s really important for us.”



  1. Sooooo…. Watching this UCLA game… Alford looks so out of place. So uncomfortable.

    I actually think he could succeed there, but none of it feels right. I think that “UCLA” held major appeal… And I think “Alford” would do after flashier names (not necessarily better) didn’t pan out.

    Sometime in the last 40 years LA became Hollywood, and UCLA changed from substance to image… Not what Alford witnessed as a youth…. Totally opposite of Steve Alford… He’s got that “Indiana it”…

    His whole persona he gave off, both during the game and during taped interviews, seemed so efforted… It was brutal to watch…. I felt so sorry for him. He’s way to good for all this.

  2. I’m still suffering some mental anguish from the severe eyeball twisting and dizziness experienced caused by the switch to miniature fonts in the 2nd paragraph of the Vonieh segment. I’m preparing to sue Scoop.

    Why is so much made of being a “young team?” Doesn’t UK have a young team…Didn’t they have a “young team” two years ago when the won it all? Weren’t the Fab Five a young team? And don’t many high level Division one teams across the landscape of today’s college basketball inevitably face the same challenges in adjusting to varying cycles of youth mixed into key positions because of guys getting lured to the NBA long before a true college maturation?

    I understand we’re younger than most teams..But we also don’t have the monkey on the back that comes with very high exceptions a #1 preseason ranking and a premier center making the cover of every sports publication.

    These young guns can have fun..They can play free and loose individually within the discipline to play together. They can surprise like a tiger nestling deep in the tall grass of media attention going everywhere but on them. There are advantages to being young and feeling you have something to prove while not getting any real respect in the polls.

    You also remove the burden of a coach feeling a sense of loyalty to play senior players over blossoming talent that could provide the team with more energy. There are no more “chosen one’s” we must wince and wonder to why so many minutes on the floor. No pressure for Crean to appease a player that went through the hard times and thus the obligation to keep on a podium as their last real days at high level basketball conclude.

    Yes, we are young…But we are not handcuffed by lofty assumptions by those that have varied motivations for placing rankings monkeys on backs with little investigation the telling variables. And our coach is not handcuffed by the hard loyalty decisions that come with his first recruits that followed him to Indiana.

    The excuses are over. The Zeller party is over. The going home parties for your first NBA phenoms from IU is over. The chasing of ex-Sampson assistants is too distant to matter(though too distant last year as well).

    You have your team without the old burdens. Rejoice in your freedom and that fact you have a wonderful group of hungry young players, none the sole focus hoarding the headlines, anxious to prove they all belong. All the ingredients to build a team with brotherhood and chemistry like no other…A beautiful thing to be immortal, fearless, enterprising, full of spunk, naive in optimism, and young.

  3. Geoff, I get what you are suggesting, I think. He is/can be a basketball fit there but not a cultural fit. In my mind it is a stretch for him to be living there and it has nothing to do with 8 lbs. of air.

  4. Ok, and if not heaping expectations on them because they are young ultimately takes pressure off them and allows them to play better, shouldn’t we keep the “young” talk going… Whether we privately have higher expectations for them or not?

  5. HC – yep… And I felt like every time I saw him I could sense him him feeling watched and judged… I never got that sense at NM…

  6. No. Because its purpose is too excuses bad coaching. They should naturally have no pressure outside of fighting for time on the floor.

    In all my memories I never remember Bob Knight piling up low expectations and excuses for poor execution because a prized recruit or a big share his team was young.

    Cody Zeller was also young and had a world of far greater expectations on his shoulders than anyone on this current squad will ever know.

    Landon Turner faced the expectations of a life without basketball. Pressures to play a game? It’s all rather relative when all of life is so fragile. Play the game…Play with dignity a uniform that actually still stands for something. And have fun without over-analyzing the stage of the diaper you’re wearing.

  7. Good Lord..Give Alford a chance. He’ll get his surfer boy mojo soon enough. Maybe it’s much like Tom Crean…Maybe he needs some hugs and validation from the closest thing to Wooden…Maybe he needs a nice big kiss on the lips from Walton? If you truly want to see awkward then simply revisit a photo of Knight’s expression when Crean was chasing him down in Brooklyn last year. Yikes..Now that was awkward to the uncomfortable nth degree.

    Don’t worry…They’ll hate on Alford until they start seeing the genius of Knight passing on in the same fashion it drifted down to North Carolina and made Duke relevant.

  8. I’m not saying anyone is hating on Alford… I’m saying he looks uncomfortable on the sideline, which is unfortunate. I think he can be good, and I think he can be accepted, but I wonder if he’ll actually be happy.

    You perceive it to excuse bad coaching, but you made a great case In post #2 for why it could be to alleviate pressure. “They should naturally have no pressure…” That’s pretty unrealistic Harvard. They are a highly touted recruiting class at a traditional basketball school with an enormous fan base, and following a team that was #1 most of last season. They’re constantly being compared to guys like Zeke, Dipo, and Zeller. You don’t think they feel pressure?

  9. Geoff, the problem Alford is facing is that a lot of people are hating on him, especially the So Cal media. They have pounded hell out of him about the way he handled the situation with his Iowa BB player that was accused of sexual assault 11 or 12 years ago. Make no mistake, the media did not like Alford being hired at UCLA and they are gunning for him.

    Also, did you notice the crowd at the game? I should say the lack of a crowd. The seats were two-thirds empty! That would never have happened at IU or UNM, regardless of who they were playing. Alford played High School games that had far more fans in attendance than he had last night.

    I think Alford made a huge mistake in accepting the UCLA job. I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think he’s going to last long in So Cal. It’s not the BB program it used to be, not even close. The academic standards are high, the facilities are not up to par with top college programs, the culture has shifted, you have two NBA teams in town, USC’s new coach has a former bikini model for a wife, and the So Cal media never passes up a chance to paint Alford as a hick with a defective moral compass. No wonder Alford looks uncomfortable.

    Alford better win big and win often, or the media and the alums will ride him out of LA. And given the growing prowess of Arizona’s program, that’s going to be increasingly difficult.

  10. Of course they have some pressure, but why make much deal out of the obvious that they’re young? Maybe it’s just pointless to analyze. Tom Crean has so much spin to cover every angle to remove pressure from himself that he’s likely not certain himself why he’s spinning certain factors the obvious.

    I’m just tired of hearing the obvious. There young…There developing…It’s a process…We were decimated…They have to bring that energy and focus every night…It’s a recognition thing…They have to get better spacing…They have to wash behind their ears..They eat food…They drink water…They have come to practice…I’d like them to wear clean socks.

    There’s a point when it begins to all boil down to shutting the hell up and letting your coaching and their playing speak the volumes.

    Maybe much of the heavy concentration and heavy lifting of every facet their every naive and young hair on their body is that it deflects looking inward and examining deeply into what the guy always blowing in the wind has to do to separate himself from the rest the average coaches across the landscape. Turning a 100 diamonds slightly cut in the rough into a couple NBA stars is blown way out of proportion..(I’m getting ahead of myself seeing how there’s an assumption there that Dipo will be a future star). It certainly removes pressure when fans buy into it as a measure of coaching acumen.

    Decimation speeches, chasing villains, surrounding yourself in holiness, micro examination the obvious facets a team to sell to the green locals….? Constant feeding our ears with the “why” I deserve 20 million dollars over seven years. It’s all part of the game..I get it. But after watching Syracuse bitch-slap us only a few days after the struggles and barely escaping against a James Madison team…? I’m sorta on deaf mode to it all. I’d rather just listen to the players and have duct tape placed on Crean’s cake hole.

    Seems like the podium is where it’s at anymore. Everybody’s got to be at a podium and weaving their blankets of spin constantly for the press. Even the football coach has the nerve to take to a podium after his team is humiliated. Podiums are unfair. They validate where they should not. Reporters sitting in the crowd like monkeys getting thrown single circular O’s fruit loops to their gaping mouths to print the obvious.

    Just look at the length of these transcripts…Much like the gazillion letters in a gazillion Harvard posts on Scoop. It doesn’t make for a winner. Most the winning thoughts and designs remain with nothing-to-prove calm air in quiet corners that never find microphones, and spin, and smirks, and podiums. Whether young or old, winners don’t tend to share their dinners….nor their recipes…nor their advantages.

    It’s the quiet successful man you must follow. He knows something.

  11. Yikes..(please forgive..excessively fatigued today)

    2nd paragraph: [They’re] young..[They’re] developing…

  12. This is definitely Yogi’s team. This team is taking on the feel of his Park Tudor teams and we all know how dominant they were.

  13. Ok. He’s back with his usual. I would bet that Coach Crean would be very happy to go through this season without any press conferences. It has to get tiring for him to not say anything before and after 30 games.

  14. I definitely agree with your ‘not say anything’ claims. Exhausting? Hardly. 5-Hour Energy would a sedative for Crean’s hyperactivity level. He’s the Miley Cyrus of college hoops. Sells it with the tongue rather than exhibits anything of classy talent minus repulsiveness.

  15. To get anything useful from the pre and post interviews I would suggest the use of a lie detector. How much fun would that be for Dustin.? (attach to the coach – not Dustin)

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