Video/Transcript: Tom Cream Previews Missouri

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Video/Transcript: Tom Cream Previews Missouri

On his thoughts about Kobe Bryant’s passing/what Bryant meant to others…

“I feel for everybody on that plane— parents, and children. [I feel for] everyone who has to deal with that. I can’t imagine. The first thing that comes to mind is that, in this world, we have no security— no eternal security— without God. We never know what is going to happen the moment you walk out your door, the moment you leave. We have to pray over our children and help our children learn to pray, doing everything we can possibly do to stay centered in God because that’s so incredibly important. It is [important] every day, but then every once in a while, the importance is really magnified. As far as Kobe Bryant, I didn’t know him but have unreal respect [for him]. I’ve had some regrets in basketball, and one of them is I never got to see him practice or do his own workout. It was something I always wanted to do, and I have friends who are friends of his. Obviously Dwane Wade and I are extremely close, and [Bryant] was a real moving part in Dwane’s life because he looked up to him so much as a high school and as a college basketball player and then obviously in the NBA, because there are so many things he did. At the end of the day, nine people lost their lives, and I can’t imagine what their families are going through. To me, it just ultimately comes back to how we must stay completely secure with our relationship with God.”

On how the news of Bryant’s death affected/was taken by the players…

“We were all at practice together yesterday when it happened. In fact, I found out from [the players]. We were doing something a little bit different in practice— we did two groups. All of a sudden, the second group came in and it was that [Bryant had died]. Then, one of our players had to deal with his own friendship tragedy, so I went straight into that. It’s something that affected all of us, and it’s something I’m certain we will talk about.”

On what has to happen for Georgia to get back on track and win against Missouri…

“We’ve got to rebound the ball. We’ve got to deal with [Missouri’s] physicality because they’re a very physical, aggressive basketball team…We’ve got to defend their guards and definitely have to be able to continue to run our offense because of that physicality and the way they help and recover. We’ve got to go the cut-and-play— there’s no way around it. Defensively we’ve got to take real responsibility for our men—  whether we’re switching into something or guarding the post straight-up with a post or with a switch— we’ve got to do a better job of taking care of our job defensively. So, it’s not only the help we have to have. It’s taking care and doing the job that we’ve got to do.”

Tom Crean
Tom Crean talks about the upcoming game with Mizzou

On the mental state of the team…

“Very good. We did something different yesterday, and the energy was high. It’s a long season, and I think we’ve come in with our thing being about improvement— How do we get better? What do we have to do next? We stay focused on that, and I think that’s really important. In all honesty, if you’re mental state isn’t good, it’s going to be really hard to play. Toughness is what it has to be, and a big part of that is mental toughness. You have to be able to have that, develop that, nurture that. It becomes a huge part of it. I think somebody in the wrong frame of mind would really stand out, and that’s not really what we have. That’s certainly not how we can win, so I’m looking at it from the [standpoint] of who is going to help make us better, who’s going to improve, and who’s going to be committed to that improvement.”

On how characteristic it was to miss the number of layups as Georgia did against Ole Miss…

“That was not good. We’re not finishing really well, and that’s something we wanted to work on yesterday. We’re not finishing through contact or strong enough through contact. We’re dropping our eyes [and] our head when we go through. It’s a physical league, and it’s an extremely aggressive league and an extremely well-coached league. It’s one that just continues to get better and better, and we’ve got to be able to deal with it.”

On how he gets the game plan through to his players…

“We have to continue and I think especially more in the first half, we have to control the offense. We just can’t deviate. We have too many guys right now that predetermine a play and they don’t let that pay happen. We have to get that movement; we have to move without the ball. We have to be better in those areas, that’s going to be really important for us.”

On what needs to be improved defensively…

“Well, the biggest thing I’ve said is more responsibility to guys. Whether we have to shrink the bench, whatever we have to do. I don’t want to do that. What I want is a group of guys that are committed to getting better all the time and how important that is to absolutely lock-in and defend, rebound, hit, be physical, switch, talk, use your hands. They’re very fundamental and they’re things that we do every day and the things that need to carry over into the games. There have been times where we’ve been very good at that and others where we’re very lax and we talk about winning the first dribble. You’ve got to get the ball when that ball starts to drop. That’s even harder to get in when the communication issues are one thing but the staying down in a stance, continuing to guard that dribble the first time is important, even more so and then really being aggressive when the shot goes up and we’ve got to get loose balls. At the end of the day, we’ve got to get some loose balls. We’ve got to get some guys that will put their body on the ground, be quick, react quicker, and that’s part of it. You want to make this your career and it doesn’t stay your career very long if you’re not aggressive if you’re not tough, you’re not physical if you don’t have a mindset for winning. That’s what it is. It’s all different when you get to college now. You have to be able to do those things consistently.”

On Sahvir Wheeler and if he is 100 percent…

“I hope so. He got to push the ball better. We have to get out and go. We have to get him flying up the court and doing a better job with that, there’s no doubt about that and when he does, he’s really good, and that’s what we have to have. Push it, throw it ahead, get it back, attack, get his confidence back making layups. Continue if it’s not there keeping the ball alive, don’t try to force a shot, keep it alive, keep it moving and hopefully his confidence will come back to him.”

On how his absence and limitation changes the offense…

“There’s no question about that. We have to have a movement offense. We have to continue to move. We have to continue to play at a high and fast level.”

On if he sees the same intensity in the team when on the road as at home…

“I don’t know if it’s intensity as much as it is in urgency. So, I think we need to continue to look for what that urgency is and how we create it. When you have a young group and you have a group of guys that haven’t had a tremendous amount of success as older guys, they don’t walk into the room with great confidence. They don’t walk in and go ‘been there, done that.’ There’s not a lot of that. You have to be able to figure out ways that you can create that and I think that’s one thing as a staff, we’re looking at it all the time. It’s a daily puzzle, it really is. Coaching is a daily puzzle as it is, but it’s really a daily puzzle when you really don’t start from where you’ve left off the next day when it comes to the mindset of young guys. Especially when you go on the road. What we have to establish on the road is that we’re not going to go and shoot jump shots. We did too much of that at Kentucky. We have to establish that we’re going to cut, we’re going to move. We’re going to be aggressive.”

On if he checks in with Anthony Edwards to see how he is handling the spotlight…

“I talk to everybody at different times very organically. Absolutely.”

On if he likes Jordan Harris coming off the bench…

“I like Jordan playing so that becomes…certainly, to answer your question, I’m not sure what that means just yet. I thought he did a good job the other night. What I want is a consistent Jordan. When he’s consistent like he was the other night… he hasn’t been consistent yet. We’re working towards that and his mind and heart are in the right place to make it happen, but that’s really important for us. He’s a really valuable guy for us right now especially when he’s defending and when he’s rebounding the ball.”

On if their heads are down after the outcome of the Ole Miss game…

“It’s January 27th. I’m not coaching heads down. Heads down they go inside or we give them another role that they can have in practice. That’s not what this is about. I don’t want to be distracted. My job is to make sure that we’re getting ready every day. If you get enough guys to understand it’s about competition and it’s about fight. It’s not about well I hope when they come in they feel better and hope they’re too upset. No. We have to go, we have to get better. That’s what this is all about and you have to grow and nurture them and that’s what this is really all about.”

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Greg is closing in on 11 years writing about and photographing UGA sports. While often wrong and/or out of focus, it has been a long, strange trip full of fun and new friends.