“This league is going to constantly be a battle and that’s what we need to continue to understand,” Tom Crean – Georgia vs. Ole Miss Pregame Presser – Friday, January 24, 2020

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“This league is going to constantly be a battle and that’s what we need to continue to understand,” Tom Crean – Georgia vs. Ole Miss Pregame Presser – Friday, January 24, 2020

Tom Crean - Georgia vs. Ole Miss Pregame Presser - Friday, January 24, 2020
Tom Crean – Georgia vs. Ole Miss Pregame Presser – Friday, January 24, 2020

UGA men’s basketball head coach Tom Crean fields questions on Friday afternoon on the Hoop Dogs upcoming home game versus Ole Miss. Coach Crean gives an update on the team including an injury update on freshman Sahvir Wheeler, Toumani Camara’s and Anthony Edwards‘ development, and much more. A transcript of the presser is located below the video.

Opening Statement:

“We’re definitely excited to be back home after a two-game run on the road. No question about that, looking forward to a great crowd here Saturday night, haven’t had a whole lot of those. So we’re excited about that, we have a great amount of respect for Ole Miss. It’s a hard league when you look at them and some of the close games that they’ve had it just hits you how tough this league is, because they’re outstanding.”

“Breein Tyree is as good as any guard in the league, he’s the leading scorer in the league. Blake Hinson continues to improve, Devontae Shuler, he’s building around a few new guys but he’s gotten in there to go with those guys.”

“This league is going to constantly be a battle and that’s what we need to continue to understand. It’s just starting. We’re five games in, going into game six tomorrow and the season seems long because you practice all year long now and we have the non-conference and things like that. It’s very early in the season and we’ve got to continue to understand that and make sure we continue to get better and understand how much is in front of us.”

On Toumani Camara and his development:

“He’s got to pick it up and he knows that. He’s capable and when you have that kind of talent, that’s important. Picking it up in a good way because he’s already doing a lot of good things but we need him to be an even bigger force on defense, he’s the kind of guy that… when we signed him and we lost Nic (Claxton), we said we’re not going to replace Nic, but a guy like Toumani and a guy like Ray (Hammonds) could morph into doing more things defensively.”

“Now, they don’t have Nic’s size, shot-blocking and things like that but to be able to guard on the perimeter more and that’s one of the things we’ve been able to do, we’ve been able to switch more because of Toumani, because of Ray. They can bring even more and when you have a guy like Toumani and his upside of talent it’s okay to want more from him as a coach, even though he’s doing a good job.”

“We definitely need more from him in the rebounding area, more from him defensively, especially in the communication. He moves so well without the ball that we need to continue to have that and when people decide that they’re going to guard him or not guard him it can’t change how he plays. We have to continue to keep him in movement which helps keep our team in movement.”

On how close Sahvir Wheeler is to being 100-percent:

“I don’t know… that’s a good question. We got to keep an eye on it, we kept an eye on it yesterday, we were off Wednesday. We certainly kept an eye on it Sunday and Monday. I’m not sure. He’s not acting like it hurts him, but at the same time there’s no way he’s all the way back.”

On what he needs from the freshmen the remainder of the season:

“I just think they need to continue to understand the urgency of these games. It’s so much about how you defend, how you rebound, how you get back and forth, the communication. I’m reading articles today all across the country and people talking about the lack of communication in their teams. It’s a prevalent problem. One of the coaches said the other day it’s January 22 and there’s still communication issues.”

“We have nine freshmen trying to figure this out and the bottom line is that urgency. That level of urgency, there’s experience now, we’ve got to understand when you come to these games there are certain things that we have to be absolutely airtight on. So, I think it’s that, I think it’s continue to build confidence, not lose confidence. Understand it’s a very long season, they’re in a development program and it’s just a matter of playing with more consistency and in some cases the words I would use is tightening things up. You want them to play loose and confident but tighten their passing, foot working, communication, block outs, those types of things. You just work on it daily. There’s no magic wand, no secret weapon, you just work on it every day.”

On the NCAA Tournament and if it has crossed his mind:

“We just focus on the day. We really do. Right now we’re focused on how we get ready for Ole Miss. I had the number one team in the country and wasn’t talking about the NCAA Tournament, back at Indiana. What you do is you focus. We’re in late January here. We focus on the team and what we have to do and be absolutely wrapped up in that.”

On if he was happier with Rayshaun Hammonds’ performance after the Kentucky game:

“Ray is capable. When you have leadership on the team, you have to be able to challenge them. That’s part of it. That’s part of being a leader. It’s being able to be challenged and take that challenge and so many guys come in and it seems like criticism or an all-out assault and it’s not. It’s to get them better. Ray has been through it. We expect a lot out of Ray and Ray expects a lot out of Ray.”

“You have to have somebody to drive that and keep that honest when it’s not where t needs to be. I want Ray to be successful long after he leaves Georgia. I promise you. I want him to be very successful. As with all of them, case and point with Ray. That just becomes part of it. I love Ray. Just because a guy gets challenged or you’re unhappy with him, that means you love him even more, because what you’re trying to do is make sure that they’re getting the most out of what they have, even when they think they are or they don’t think they have more to give. You keep trying to get more and that’s the bottom line.”

On how he assesses where this team is at compared to others in the SEC:

“I don’t. I assess it day by day. There are things we have to do to be better every day and no question it’s the rebounding and to answer your question specifically, I would say the rebounding has to continue to improve, our ability to guard the dribble has to continue to improve, we have to continue to improve our transitional defense. We’ve got to run better. We have to make sure that we are moving the ball. Make sure we’re moving the ball at a high rate and then just be confident that shots are going to get knocked down. We have not shot the ball great. Against Tennessee we shot it pretty well, at Memphis we shot it pretty well, but we have not shot it great. We’ll shoot it but we just have to continue to work on it. We spend a lot of time on that and the most important thing you can have for a time is understand the level of confidence they have to have when they do shoot it.”

On if playing in your own gym helps a younger team with nerves:

“No. I think it always does no matter what age of your team. There’s always that level of comfort, familiarity in front of your own fans and those types of things. Sometimes with young teams or older teams, it can provide a distraction. With the road, it sometimes doesn’t bring a distraction, it brings a whole other level of distraction because you’re dealing with the opponent. I think the bottom line for us is we’re learning to deal about mental toughness every day and it’s like the question how do you cultivate it, you cultivate it every day. Whatever situation comes up organically, whatever situation you can create, however you play in practice, the competition level, whatever you’re trying to do, your competition level in practice, you’re trying to create that so that they understand home or on the road that’s how you win.”

On how Anthony Edward’s development has met his expectations compared to others:

“Well, I haven’t coached guys with that talent level at that age. I’ve coached guys that have had a lot of talent, but they didn’t initially have it at the age that he has at 18. So, I didn’t have expectations. I came in knowing we’re going to have to develop him every day, help him grow every day. I have to go through things to get there. Just keep building his game and until you get around somebody you can recruit him for four years or four days it doesn’t make a difference. It’s all different when you get them and how they process, how they learn, what do they have to get better at, how they apply it, how you build confidence, how you tweak them, how you challenge them is all a part of the daily process. We’re just right in the midst of that and I’m enjoying it.”

On how much they practice in the practice gym compared to inside Stegman:

“In the practice gym more when we’re going on the road. Some of it is schedule based on who has the gym. I don’t mind when we’re int here when we’re on the road but we went in Stegman yesterday and we’re going in today. As we’re getting closer to home games, we’re going to be in that gym. If I have a choice, we’re going to be in Stegman all the time, because that’s where we play, but at the same time because of the six baskets we have inside of the practice facility, that serves a purpose too, but we’re going to be in Stegman as much as we can.”

On if he sees a different personality from Anthony Edwards when at home:

“I never really think about it, I just want him to play with enthusiasm. Play with energy. I thought he did a great job the other night getting off to a slow start shooting the ball to come back in that Kentucky game. He never lost focus. I’m more interested in that than the rest of it.”

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The University of Georgia 1991-1994. Lanier Tech 2009-2012. Writer and graphic artist covering UGA athletics, college football, and recruiting. Peach cobbler fears me!