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Crean talks depth, playing time

IU head basketball coach Tom Crean isn't worried about balancing minutes between players such as senior forward Christian Watford this season. He is more worried about how players play regardless of who sees the court.

Even with the Hoosiers’ recent loss in the frontcourt, IU head basketball coach Tom Crean and IU boast one of the deepest teams in the conference. At Big Ten Media Day on Thursday, Crean shared his thoughts on the amount of capable players on his roster and what playing time could possibly look like.

Though Crean talked about specific players from time to time, he kept returning to one point, in terms of minutes played.

“It’s all about the quality of play, not the quantity of minutes,” Crean said.

IU returns all its starters from a team that made the Sweet 16 last season, and with the addition of four capable freshmen. Multiple players on the team have said the addition of youngsters such as freshmen Yogi Ferrell and Jeremy Hollowell has made practices much more competitive.

Crean pointed out that with Ferrell specifically, his passing ability and willingness to share the ball have made him popular in practice, but it is his adept shooting that could help him earn a starting spot at point guard.

“We’re not in a position where we can have a point guard who can play who can’t make shots,” Crean said. “And he can make shots.”

Helping those freshmen adjust and make the transition to being integral parts of the team is Crean’s trio of seniors. He spoke highly of forwards Christian Watford, Derek Elston and guard Jordan Hulls.

“I think my three seniors have done a fantastic job of that,” Crean said of helping the freshmen integrate. “They really help make adjustments, they help teach them. They’ve been very good.”

When asked about Hulls, Crean spoke of how much a successful season would mean to the Bloomington native who endured seasons of 10-21 and 12-20.

Crean also added, however, that Hulls has been at the forefront of taking command of the team.

“Really your team, your leadership is only as good as your first leader,” Crean said. “If somebody doesn’t have a work ethic or somebody doesn’t have a good attitude, it’s going to hurt your team at some point. We don’t have that. That’s why it’s competitive.”

The practices have been competitive already, which would lead one to assume that the fight for playing time will be equally fierce. Crean fought off questions about how much he expects playing time to be an issue.

Once again, Crean, who has been involved in Division I coaching since 1989, returned to a line he has probably said dozens of times in his coaching career.

“Our guys, as long as they understand that the quality of play is what matters, not the quantity of those minutes, they’ll be fine,” Crean repeated. “The person who gets too caught up in quantity and loses sight of the quality, that person will have a hard time playing.”

A surplus of talent is welcome at IU after a number of lean years to start Crean’s tenure as head coach in Bloomington, he said.

“Believe me, we’ve gone through enough times where there were a lot of minutes being played and it wasn’t always at the highest of levels,” Crean said. “That’s what hopefully we can get through now.”

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