Indiana Daily Student

Notebook: Crean excited to add Bryant’s game, personality

Head coach Tom Crean calls out a play to his players during IU's game against Ohio State on Sunday at Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.
Head coach Tom Crean calls out a play to his players during IU's game against Ohio State on Sunday at Value City Arena at the Jerome Schottenstein Center.

IU might be oversigned by one player to its 2015 class, but that hasn’t stopped Crean and his coaching staff from hitting the recruiting trails.

Crean spoke briefly about the current state of recruiting and the necessity of having backup plans.

With junior guard Yogi Ferrell set to announce his decision about whether or not he will return Saturday and freshman James Blackmon Jr. not making a firm decision about his future just yet, Crean doesn’t want to be burned by a sudden ?departure.

For that reason, Crean didn’t dismiss the notion IU might still be in the running to add a fourth member to its current three-man class.

“If somebody leaves, you congratulate them, you help them in every way that you can, and you’d better have a plan B and plan C ready to go,” Crean said.

Crean has still been exploring options at the guard position, while Scout.com has reported IU is in 5-star big man Thon Maker’s final four schools.

Crean can’t comment directly on particular players, but in an era of player transfers, IU doesn’t want to be left with an extra space to fill late.

“There’s always change,” Crean said. “You never really stop recruiting. You better not stop, and we’re certainly not going to.”

IU confirms Bryant signing

Before meeting with the media Tuesday, IU Coach Tom Crean spent time in Assembly Hall with former Hoosier Victor Oladipo.

Crean has long applauded Oladipo’s welcoming qualities and charm.

He said Oladipo’s personality is infectious. He treats people with respect. He makes the people he’s around happier and generally lifts the morale of his peers.

Incoming 5-star center Thomas Bryant is similar to Oladipo in that way, Crean said. It was those same personality traits that attracted Crean to Bryant in the first place.

Bryant committed to IU on April 4. On Wednesday, Crean confirmed the signing.

Bryant’s personality — that Crean likes so much — is coming to Bloomington. And so is his McDonald’s All-American talent.

“We need the presence of an inside player, that’s obvious,” Crean said. “But he’s so much more than that, and I think that’s what has been exciting since we started recruiting him, and then picking it up like we did in the fall, and continuing to recruit him throughout the year. There’s some tremendous qualities about him.”

Crean said he was able to see Bryant’s personality even in highlight tapes.

He liked the way Bryant would cheer when his teammates were having success, much like Oladipo would do at IU.

Crean said he believes Bryant will be the type of player that makes his teammates better just by being in the locker room.

“He gets as excited when his teammates make a play — whether it’s one of the better players or not — as he does when he does. And that’s when you see you’ve got a great teammate.”

Intangibles aside, Crean said Bryant still needs to improve on a variety of things from footwork to playing out of traps or creating more space for himself.

He appeared confident that Bryant’s already strong work ethic would help him improve on those things right away.

“For as good as he is and for as much notoriety as he’s gotten, what I like about his attitude is he comes out like he’s trying to make the team every time,” he said.

After playing small throughout all of last season, the additions of Bryant and forwards O.G. Anunoby and Juwan Morgan will change the way IU plays next season.

The Hoosiers on campus have already begun preparing for the increase in inside presence. They’ve already been doing drills with the incoming forwards in mind. Crean said the incoming class will allow IU to mix up its defenses more.

Last year, Crean was hesitant to press because he said IU was averaging just one block every 24 possessions. His players couldn’t afford to use their speed to pester opposing guards at the risk of being beaten at the rim.

With size on the way, that could change. Players like Bryant will allow for IU to press more and look a bit more like the IU defense that gave Northwestern fits in the opening round of the Big Ten Tournament.

Bryant is by no means going to be the definite reason for the improvement. But between his on-court game and his personality, Crean certainly has reason to believe he will help.

“Bottom line with Thomas, he comes in with an ability right of the bat because he’s a winner, because he’s got an attitude of improvement, and he’s got an attitude of winning, and he’s got that infectious personality and energy that you want in people, and I think he’s going to migrate to these guys right away,” Crean said.

“That’s rare in a young player, but that’s exactly what we feel like we’re getting right now.”

Davis still not near full-go

Sophomore forward Devin Davis is still being kept out of contact drills almost six months after being hospitalized after he was struck by a vehicle driven by freshman forward Emmitt Holt.

Crean said he’s still hopeful Davis will return to the team, but there won’t be more concrete answers until this summer or fall. Before Davis’s injury, he was apparently in contention to be a starter.

“It’s very easy to say he could’ve been a starter last year,” Crean said.

IU to play Creighton Nov. 19

The Big Ten and Big East officially announced the matchups for the inaugural Gavitt Games, an annual series of eight games to be played between the two conferences.

The Hoosiers will play Creighton on Nov. 19 at Assembly Hall on the Big Ten Network or ESPN.

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