By KEVIN HARRIS
Prior to his speech at the Jeffersonville Rotary Club Service Above Self Dinner on Tuesday night at Kye’s, The Evening News was granted an exclusive five-minute interview with Indiana University head men’s basketball coach Tom Crean.
The following is our five minutes with the head Hoosier:
QUESTION: Your team is currently 9-10 overall and 3-4 in the Big Ten Conference. Did you expect those kinds of records from this team at this point in the season?
CREAN: “I never do numerical goals, publicly or privately — I never have. I don’t even sneak into a dark room, flick the flashlight on, look at the schedule and try to pick the record. I think so much about constant improvement. I think the bottom line with this team is we’ve got a couple of games that we win and then you look at it and say, ‘how did we win it?’ And then we’ve had a couple of games that we’ve lost and you ask, ‘how did that happen?’ I think that’s just part of building your program and that’s the kind of stuff we’ve got to keep in perspective.”
Q: In your past few press conferences, you have mentioned about your team needing to get tougher. You have a tough eight-game stretch coming up, which includes Michigan State, Purdue, Wisconsin and Ohio State. How much will that stretch test your team’s mental toughness?
CREAN: “I don’t think any question that it will. You can’t really test anything unless it’s really being pressured and pushed to the nth degree, and I think that’s what we’ll get right now. But our guys are confident in the sense of getting better. They practice very hard. I think the good thing about them is that they want to be good and they recognized when they’re not (good). We haven’t been in a situation where we have had enough success yet as a program for them to have a lot of great confidence. But every time when you get something done like in games against Michigan and Minnesota or even going back to Pittsburgh, that helps them down the line.”
Q: It has been about a month since Maurice Creek suffered his knee injury. How has his recovery been going thus far?
CREAN: “His recovery has been very good. I met with the doctor on Sunday and (Creek) is ahead of schedule. My next question was ‘does that mean we can put him in in March?’ and the doctor said no. But he’s ahead of schedule and making progress and he has a great attitude. He’s finding ways to inflict leadership on this team, which I think is important.”
Q: You have made a lot of appearances down in Southern Indiana since you’ve been the IU coach. What is it about this area that you like and keeps you coming back?
CREAN: “I think this is a big, big part of the Hoosier Nation. I saw the billboard (on Interstate 65) that said, ‘Southern Indiana — Home of the Louisville Cardinals.’ I’m not sure I totally agree with that. They’ve got their fans, just like Kentucky. But the Indiana Hoosier fans don’t take a backseat to anybody in Southern Indiana. I think that’s why I love coming down here.”
Q: Since you come down here a lot, have you and your wife talked about getting a summer home down here to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bloomington?
CREAN: “No, I’ve been to a couple of houses that I would just settle for a guest room. No, I’m just kidding. It’s an easy trip down here.”