You might have expected a few edgy responses from Tom Crean in his radio show Monday night, considering that his Indiana squad is coming off back-to-back losses. And the Indiana coach had a few, but not in response to the questions you’d think.
When asked about his team’s defensive shortcomings and other issues in the losses to Minnesota and Ohio State, his responses stayed mostly along the same lines as they were after the game and on the Big Ten teleconference on Monday morning. He’s tried to make teaching points in film sessions, and has stated plainly that the Hoosiers haven’t been physical enough the past two games.
“We weren’t as physical as we needed to be,” Crean said. “And we didn’t come back and pop (Ohio State) when we needed to. … Bottom line of the week is we missed shots we’ve been making. I don’t think we played with the confidence that good teams gotta have when the shots aren’t going. You can’t rely on the shots. We had a tough week shooting the ball. We didn’t play great defense. We certainly weren’t as aware, alert as we needed to be the other night. Yesterday we didn’t respond to the physicality of the game as well and at the end of the day we didn’t make shots we were making. This team has shot the ball well all year. What we’ve gotta do when those shots aren’t going is we have to be able to overcome that.”
But two seemingly innocuous questions got Crean rolling on tangents that led him to take a couple of broad digs, including one at assistant coaches of opposing staffs he didn’t name.
Crean was first asked about his assistant coaches and what their roles are.
“I think when you get to the game and you get out there at early at Indiana, you don’t see our (assistants) hob-nobbing with national media members and sitting on the sideline and relaxing,” Crean said. “We don’t have a team of guys that are out wearing their Beats headphones as they’re warming up. Our guys are out there working with them. I don’t have a group of guys that are grandstanders, that are looking to get an article done about them. I’ve got a group of guys that are really, really hungry to make the team better. That’s game night.”
He went on to say that the assistants help a lot with the scout, and obviously with recruiting. He then went back on attack mode and said he only had one problem with his staff.
“Our coaches, they’re very tolerant, and sometimes I don’t like that,” Crean said. “They’re tolerant of some of the things we see in recruiting. They’re tolerant of some of the negativity. They’re tolerant of some of the grandstand assistant coaches that run their mouth constantly against us in recruiting and want to talk about development, yet they’re the guys that are cheerleading and hob-nobbing and all of those kinda things. It’s about making your players better, and I don’t think there’s any question whatsoever that our coaches are making our players better. … I’m not good with silver spoon coaches. I’m not good with male models. I’m not good with guys who need to have a lot said and written about ‘em. I’m good with guys that roll up their sleeves and get to work. I think that’s what we’ve got.”
Crean also took the opportunity of a question about his emotions when junior forward Christian Watford hit his buzzer-beater to beat Kentucky to fire back at Kentucky players who said it was a lucky shot.
“It was a hard-earned shot,” Crean said. “Every time I walk by that picture I see Marquis Teague coming from behind and Darius Miller come straight up with him. With our team, it’s like today. When we look at the game, we look at the scoreboard. We didn’t win the game. We look at the scoreboard and it is what it is. Our job is to get into that film room and correct it. When we beat Kentucky, all I would say to everybody there, look at the scoreboard. We beat Kentucky. I know I saw the comments out of Lexington where the players referred to it as a lucky shot and they had a two-point lead, but at the end of the day, you lost the game and we won it. There were times inside of the game at the seven minute when I felt we should be up by more. It was a very good game and it was a great shot. We’re not giving the scoreboard back. We’re not giving the win back. We’re not giving the Ohio State win up here back, and the bottom line is we didn’t earn it yesterday. You just move forward, you keep moving forward and trying to get better.”