Crean talks Northwestern, Assembly Hall, Perea on teleconference

Tom Crean met with the media this morning via teleconference for pre-game availability for Northwestern. A variety of topics were covered. His thoughts follow.

On Northwestern: “They’re shortening the game. That’s one thing. There are (fewer and fewer) possessions. You have to be prepared for how slow they may want the game to be. You’ve got to do everything in your power to play through that but at the same time get some tempo in the game. Bottom line is they’ve got good players. They’ve got older players. They’ve got some guys that have been there and been through the battles and they know how to win. They’re getting coached in an excellent way and they’ve been coached excellent before Chris even got there. They know how to win and he’s done a fantastic job of getting them to play the way he wants them to play. When you look at the attributes, they have very good physical strength. Their guards are strong. There’s an ability to keep the ball on one side of the floor when they want to. They can switch defenses well. They do a lot of switching. They’ll switch 1-5 at times, which always adds to the intrigue of their defense. Bottom line is they really try to shrink the court. You’ve gotta stay very diligent in what you’re trying to get accomplished on offense. You can’t settle. There were far too many times in our game here that we settled and we tried to force things that weren’t there rather than attacking what was there. What we’ve gotta do a much better job of, which some teams have and others haven’t, is look for those opportunities.” 

On how the rescheduled game will change approach to practice times: “Absolutely it does. What it does is, the week basically changed for us on Tuesday after practice. We practiced on Tuesday with the uncertainty of, were we going to play the next night? Were we going to play the night after that or were we going to have to wait until sometime next week to play the game. We made our adjustments a little bit on that. We did not practice Wednesday and were going to take Wednesday or Thursday off because that would be the day we’d take off this week anyways, but with out being known, we decided to take Wednesday off. We’ve certainly structured the practice not only for the Northwestern game but also for the fact that we’re going to be playing so many games in a short period of time. Bottom line is there’s nothing we can do about it. The preparation is what it is. We prepared hard for Iowa, we continued to prepare for Iowa on Tuesday night. Then you just have to rekindle that next Wednesday. In the meantime, we not only have to get ready for Northwestern and then ready for Wisconsin, we have to get better. That’s what we’ve been focused on as much as possible. My whole focus outside of family and some recruiting which I did Wednesday is how do we get this team right? How do we get them better. That’s what it always is, and that’s certainly what it is right now.”

On what the unplanned week off did for the team: “I know they were disappointed, and certainly there was no way around it on Tuesday night, but when we were done with practice, that’s when it hit me that we were really ready to play. There was no doubt this team. We didn’t practice for very long, but there was such an edge. They were game ready. There’s no doubt about that. It just is what it is. They understood it the more they thought about it. There was nothing anybody could do. What could have transpired was unthinkable if that same situation would have happened that night. Thankfully it never did. Bottom line is we have just tried to continue to make sure we’re getting an ample amount of rest. But at the same time, we’re preparing for games but also making ourselves better. There’s been probably a little less preparation time at this point in continuing to make sure that our fundamentals, that we’re not short-circuiting those at all and stay with the premise that if we’re not getting better fundamentally it wasn’t a good day. So many times it’s very easy in practice when you get into so many games that if you’re going to give up something you’ll usually give up fundamentals to make sure that your preparation is right and you can’t do that all the time. Especially with a young team like this. This team has got to continue to improve. the bottom line is they’ve gotta continue to have an understanding of what it takes to finish. Six of our eight losses (in the Big Ten) have come down to two possessions or less. And a couple of our wins have come down to two possessions. But really, a majority of our games have been so close. Some we’ve gotten, others we haven’t. The bottom line is we’ve just gotta continue to learn and grow and understand how to finish, but also very importantly what hurts us in the crux of the game, in the heart of the game, what we need to do to make sure we’re better there. Fundamentals, understanding, technique, details, all of those things that deal with confidence. That’s what we’ve gotta work towards.”

On being able to continue to play at Assembly Hall the rest of the year: “That was something you had to start putting in your head on Tuesday. After the press conference you had to really start to think about that, what was going to be next and what could happen. I think everybody here has been incredible in the way that they have handled it, the way that they have stayed on top of everything they could possibly look at. Literally going into the heart of the matter in so many different places to make sure everything is good. I’ve been kept abreast and I feel great about it. You want to be able, obviously, to be able to play at home, but the most important thing is you want everybody that’s used to being here to be able to continue to do that. It’s a great building and it just had a tough moment. That’s all that it really is. Because so much is put into making this building be the national treasure that it is. I know that it will continue to be that way. So I think it is what it is in the sense that we’ll play it next week. We know we’ll have three in a row at home. But at the same time, you can’t even begin to think about what that means. You’ve gotta continue to think about everything it takes to get ready for this weekend and at the same time, we’re thinking about how we continue to pace practice so we’re at a good point next week as well.”

On how they shook off last week: “There’s no question we tried to get them fresh again, get them excited again. Devastating might have been too harsh of a word. I think it took a lot out of them. I think the Hanner situation took a lot out of them mentally and emotionally. They’re a very, very close-knit group. Even though there’s differences in ages and differences in backgrounds. They’re around each other. Hanner is very, very well-liked person in that locker room and this team and has been down the line with these guys on a lot of different things. So I think that’s probably, we have to address that as best we can, but that’s human beings being human beings. We tried to make sure we that we changed it up, freshened it up and stayed focused on the things that could be controlled and have an incredibly positive energy about what we’re doing. Not a looseness, not a flippancy, not a laissez-faire attitude, but a very, very positive energy with our intensity. Frankly some players needed to keep understanding they need to increase their intensity level. That’s something we tried to make sure is happening. There’s a very good competitiveness in this. It’s just a matter of them learning what resiliency is all about. We can talk it, preach it, it doesn’t make a difference, they have to learn it. When you learn it, then you have to apply it. That’s what we have to get accomplished right now is these guys are trying to learn what it means to be resilient. There’s a lot of season left. They can’t focus on what didn’t happen, they can’t focus on what’s going to happen. because nobody knows and nobody can change anything from the past games. All we can do is learn from those because there are so many learning situations in there. Especially when it comes to how to continue to play with confidence when things aren’t going well when one or two people not only can change momentum but they can change the leadership and fill that void that’s there when things start to go wrong. But at the same time, with the exception of Saturday, be able to close out close games and be able to execute in a way that allows them to do that. That’s the biggest thing. They knew they didn’t play well on Saturday, they knew their transition defense let them down. They knew that our team spirit let them down. I think everybody’s in the process of trying to move forward from that without question.”

On whether or not he did anything at the beginning of this week that he didn’t do before: “Nothing that I want to talk about, but the bottom line is it’s what’s best for our team at that particular moment.”

On if Mosquera-Perea’s suspension has been defined: “I’m not going to get into his suspension, but as far as his discipline, that is going on daily. The bottom line is to get him to a place where he understands what he has here. When he understands the commitment level not only physically but mentally that goes into this and really to understand that for him to take the next step as a player, that commitment level, that passion level, that seriousness about this along with his school work, which he’s done very good with, is the most important things to his future. It’s certainly the most important things for his present. But it’s also extremely important for his future and his career. It’s been ongoing daily. It will continue to be to the point even where, he has an uncle in the United States that flew up here to make sure we were all unified on what we wanted for him and how we were all unified on how we were going to get it. I really appreciated it on behalf of Hanner’s family, because obviously he doesn’t see them and we don’t see them, but they’re there. They’re just like all of us. They love their son, they love their grandson, they love their nephew, they love their brother as we do. The bottom line is we help him get to a place where he understands what he’s capable where it’s not so much what you could have lost, but what you are capable of when you make the right decisions. That’s the discipline. It’s the old Lou Holtz. Discipline is not something you do to someone, it’s something you do for someone. I think that’s living proof right now. He’s doing all the basketball things that we do, but he’s also doing some extra things. We structure his days around that and staying with the rules that we have and time frames and all of that kind of stuff. We’re maxing all of that out. He’s making progress and it’s not anything that will be seen, where maybe we can see the progress immediately, but I have no doubt that we’re working towards long-term progress for him. When I say long-term, the suspension and the discipline are two different things. That’s kind of how I break that up.”


  1. From ‘Doc Libby’s Crossover’ blog:

    Hanner and the team will recover from this

    Fortunately, Hanner Mosquera-Perea hurt nothing more than his pride that night.

    It in no way reflects his character.

    Hanner, you may be down, but you’re not out. Take the punishment, the criticism, the staring eyes, and the whispers behind your back like a man.

    Learn from it and then move on.

    Let those without fault cast the first stone.

    He(Yogi) has decided to bring his top game each and every day, no matter what. It’s no secret that he has the green light on the court. Like it or not, he will shoot the ball.

    I can only imagine how much the defensive gameplans of other teams revolve around keeping the ball away from Yogi and Noah Vonleh. Because of this, Yogi will also attempt to involve his teammates.

    If you’re a fan, then I pray for you to just be a fan.

    Wow…talk about religious undertones. If anyone needs a lesson about “casting first stones,” it’s her infallible one, Tom Crean.

    From my perspective, there’s been enough excusing of bad character and excusing of bad losses. There were no excuses for anyone in the past, and Hoosier mommies everywhere should not be making any now. Anesthesia should only temporarily impair memory. If I.U.’s coach was an MD of Hoops, there would already be 10 malpractice lawsuits for games that the surgeon fell asleep and left the patient to suffer needlessly. His managing of a games is like a surgeon with steak knife instead of scalpel. His substitution patterns speak of an amputation of a limb during something as simple a bunion surgery. His inbound plays speak of a patient waking up castrated when checked into hospital for a tonsillectomy. Tom Crean thought he was removing gallstones.

    And if I were the anesthesiologist in such an operating room, I’d think there were be some concern that this particular doctor got his M.D. in Hoops by way of inspiration a “Catch Me If You Can” flick.

  2. And if I were the anesthesiologist in such an operating room, I’d think there were would be some concerns….

  3. HfH, HMP (Hanner Mosquera Perea)- Harvard, asbolutely great quote from ‘Doc Libby’ regarding how Hanner should assume his error, accept his own imperfection as a human (as we all do), learn from it and move on stronger…in the tradition of his great family (what a gesture, his uncle flying in) and the country of his birth. Vamos Colombia, todavia!!!!

  4. “Discipline is not something you do to people. It’s something you do for people.” Great line.

    Crean unserstanably has his detractors. We’ve all gone on ad nauseum about in-game adjustments, and rightfully so. What I don’t think is always fair criticism is his game-planning, which I believe to be above average at worst. There aren’t very many games where we weren’t either ahead or right in it at halftime, which speaks well of his pre-game preparation. (Second-half adjustments are another story…) He also seems to have his team’s best interests at heart, and it goes well beyond wins and losses. These things often get lost amid all the ranting about substitutions, turnovers, and late game meltdowns.

    Shifting gears, one thing that’s been bothering me more and more– and it’s always been there, I suppose– is the way Crean speaks in absolutisms. There’s no doubt about that. It’s as if he’s trying to convince himself of what he’s saying. Maybe it’s just an ingrained figure of speech he overuses for emphasis, but each time I hear it now I cringe a little more. (Side note: another pet peave of mine is when people preface their sentences with “to tell you the truth” or “I’ll be honest with you,” as if to imply they aren’t typically forthright with whatever they’re saying. I’m sure it’s almost always harmless qualification, but I find it unnecessary and often counterproductive.)

    Okay. Rant over. Carry on.

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