Tom Crean Says Both Kentucky and Indiana Have Improved Since Their First Meeting

March 19, 2012 – 11:00 am by Chris Fedor

Kentucky is loaded with McDonald’s All-Americans, they have the best player in college basketball in Anthony Davis, they are the clear favorites to win college basketball’s National Championship, and they have lost just two games all season long. The team that handed the Wildcats their first loss of the season was Indiana. The Hoosiers have had a tremendous year and will have a chance to repeat what they were able to do earlier this season on Thursday in the Sweet 16.

It’s unlikely that the Hoosiers can capture lightning in a bottle twice and beat Kentucky again, this time on a neutral floor, but no matter what happens this week, it was a tremendous season in Indiana and Tom Crean deserves a ton of credit. There were some tough years in Bloomington recently but Crean stuck with his plan, built his program the right way, and has now brought excitement back to Indiana.

Tom Crean joined The Dan Patrick Show to talk about what he is doing in preparation for the Kentucky game, whether he would tell people if he saw a weakness with the Wildcats, if he thinks Indiana has gotten better than Kentucky since the first time the two teams played, if he felt his job was on the line this season, and what it means to have Cody Zeller.

What he is doing in preparation for the Kentucky game

“I’m watching some flow from the Iowa State game. I like to watch it in an offensive/defensive type of thing so I’m watching their offense right now.”

Whether he would tell Dan if he saw a weakness with the Wildcats:

“No I wouldn’t. I haven’t found one, but if I did have one I wouldn’t tell you no. (Host: You’re going to force them to shoot the three aren’t you?) We will do a lot of different things I think in this game. I don’t think you can do any one thing that you’re going to bank on because they are going to figure it out. He’s too good of a coach, they have too good of a team, and he never puts a guy on the court that cant impact the game somehow. Certainly some guys shoot it better than others, but some guys are better at the rim, and they can all penetrate, even Davis. They can all get to the basket. There are a lot of strengths there.”

On which team improved more since the first meeting:

“I don’t have that answer yet. I can probably answer that more in the next couple of days. I’ve watched them all year and I don’t think there’s any question that they are better but I know we are too. As far as quantifying it, that would be hard to say. I know we’re definitely better than when we played them and there’s no question he is too.”

Whether expectations increased when they beat Kentucky earlier this year:

“I’m not sure I would call it expectations and maybe I’m just not into that and thinking about that as much. I think the biggest excitement really kind of set into the T-Shirt sales of the ‘we’re back’ T-Shirts. People were just really, really excited to be relevant in games like that again and have us be in the national landscape like that. We haven’t really bought into anybody’s expectations or lack thereof or we wouldn’t be in this position. They did an informal poll at the beginning of the year with the Big Ten media writers and they had us ninth. We weren’t in anybody’s top 25. These guys have had a great, great mindset since really a year ago when we came back from spring break. We got started again in our individual workouts and the weight training and conditioning and we started it early. It’s been good. The work ethics of everybody in this program, some were really, really strong, some better than others, and some not as good, but everybody has improved immensely and I think that has been carried on through the season.”

If he felt he was on the hot seat this season:

“I would hope not considering they gave me a ten year contract. That can be good and fun speculation for people too. I think the moment you get caught up in that you get distracted from what you’re trying to do. If I didn’t want to be here I could’ve run a couple of different places but the bottom line to me is the vision has been strong, we’ve never gotten away from it, and all the make or break talk and things like that, it all becomes hypotheticals for people and it does not bring any relevancy to this.”

What Cody Zeller means

“Tremendous in every area. Offensively and defensively, his passing is tremendous, he’s gotten stronger, and he makes everybody better when he’s in the game. He does it on both ends and that’s really, really rare for a player as young as him.”

Listen to Tom Crean on the Dan Patrick Show here (Audio begins 22:55 into the podcast)

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