Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Justin Kier, and P.J. Horne Vandy Pregame Interviews

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Video/Transcript: Tom Crean, Justin Kier, and P.J. Horne Vandy Pregame Interviews

On what has been different in practice over the last couple of weeks…

“I don’t think it’s anything that we’re doing differently that we weren’t doing a couple of weeks before. I think it’s all a matter of working on execution every day on both ends of the floor, working on shorter segments, and going into every day knowing that we have to get better at what we do. At the same time, we have to game plan so we have a good balance as best we can. I think that’s the most important thing and really not much has changed.”

On how to get Toumani Camara going and what he was like during his recruitment…

“I think he has to stay hungry. I think when he’s aggressive, when he’s down low in an offensive and a defensive stance, when he’s engaged, he plays at a really high level. I think when he starts worrying about the wrong things, a missed call, a wrong call, those types of things distract him, and we need him to stay on the floor. I think when we saw him play, we saw a guy that had not only tremendous upside athletically but also tremendous upside as a basketball player because he had such a good feel. He was so well coached, and you could see it. He was able to do a lot of things. He was aggressive. He could play with both hands. I think that’s really important. He’s really making a lot of strides, and I think as his aggressiveness continues to be consistent, then the consistency day in and day out will come out for him. That’s so important for him because he can do a lot of things. He has to make sure that he’s active defensively. He has to make sure that he’s active verbally. He has to make sure that he has that quick twitch that he has and continues to do the hard things really well. I think that’s what he’s good at.”

On what changed in practice after the South Carolina game…

“I don’t know if I’ve seen a lot of change. I don’t think the practice structure has changed much. It’s probably just more individuals being locked in for longer periods of time. The practices aren’t very long, so I think that helps them recover well which is very important, obviously. It’s really probably more of a mindset than it is anything else. We tweak and adjust every day to what we do, and we add plays and actions to what we do every game, so really not much is different there. We’re staying as true to the fundamentals of practice on both ends of the court as we possibly can.”

On how important it is to have confidence going forward…

“I think confidence is extremely important and I think it comes because you work hard and you play together and things go right for you. There’s a camaraderie​ that we already have that just builds and becomes even stronger. You have to stay absolutely focused and every day has to be its own masterpiece so to speak like John Wooden would say. You’ve got to do a great job each day of maxing it out and making sure you’re not leaving anything to chance, you’re not leaving any stone unturned and at the same time, you’re not leaving your legs on the practice court. That’s really important and we’re very cognizant of that. So, it’s just a matter of us continuing to understand what that game calls for going into the game, stay true to the game plan, then being able to make the adjustments that we have to make. I think that’s where momentum gets built most of all, who is flexible, who can adjust and who doesn’t get distracted inside the game.”

On what he has seen from Vanderbilt on film, specifically Scotty Pippen Jr….

“He is one of the highest usage guards in the nation right now. He’s playing at an extremely high rate, he’s shooting the ball real well, he’s getting to the rim. He’s drawing fouls and it’s a lot like preparing for Sharife Cooper in the fact that the ball is in his hands a lot. He’s doing a really good job of initiating contact and getting rewarded for it at the foul line, so we have to do a good job of keeping him in front of us. He loves angles. He loves to be able to get by you with angles. Their team can score. Whether it’s Maxwell [Evans], whether it’s Dylan [Disu]. Those guys can really score, they can shoot the ball, they’re shooting a lot of threes, they run a lot of good actions to get those threes, they get on the offensive glass. Jordan Wright, DJ Harvey, those guys create issues. They’re a very good team, they’re coming off their best game of the year, by far their best game and they’ve had a week to rest and prepare. So, we know we’re going to get a really fast, organized and high throttled team in here tomorrow night with Vanderbilt.”

On whether he discusses putting together wins for a post-season run with the team…

“No, not one bit. They’re aware of that. It’s very clear that you have to stay locked in to the next game. You just do. They know those types of things and it doesn’t do any good. It does not help us prepare for a better practice or prepare to win that game any more than that. Do they talk like that? I’m sure they do. I would hope they do. At the end of the day, staying absolutely locked in to the game you’re playing and to the preparation of that is by far the most important thing. Always has been and always will be.”

On whether COVID allowing him or the team to have a consistent schedule bothers him…

“Not really, you just adjust. It might be different if it was a different day, but, on the same day just hours later, that’s not a huge adjustment. There will be adjustments we always have to make. There’s eight games left, just look at the games that are canceled for tomorrow in our league and around the country. You just had to stay flexible and adaptable to everything that happens and make the best of it.”

On if games potentially being moved impacts rhythm…

“It definitely changes our rhythm. It’s hard to keep doing the same thing over and over again with so much going on in this pandemic. So yeah, it is hard to find a rhythm, but we are doing the best we can to stay together and move forward.”

On if there was anything he said to help turn things around the last two games…

“I told them there are more games, to not put your head down and to keep moving forward. We have a lot more to look forward to, you can’t change what happened. We can only focus on what’s in front of us, not what’s behind us. I always try and get to the next thing and do it with full effort.”

On refocusing and how that can help a team…

“It helps out a lot, I feel like our energy changed. We, as a team, believed we were going to win the game. We have the mindset that we are going to win, we always have a chance. As far as what Justin [Kier] said on us being focused and committed, we are always focused and committed, we just have to buy into what we’re doing.”

On if he and his teammates allow themselves to look at the possibilities down the road…

“We are definitely focused on the next game. Something some guys are trying to say is ‘Be 1-0 today.’ Even if it is practice, even if we don’t have a game; you got to be 1-0 today. Make sure you attack today and win today — especially with practice or if we have an off day, not just when we have a game, being 1-0. I don’t think we are worried about our future as much as we are worried about what is going on right now. We all have goals and things like that. Hopefully, we will continue this run that we have been on. We must attack the day, day by day. If you attack it day by day, I feel like you will continue to see better days. We are attacking every single day as hard as we can.”

On how important it is to have momentum in college basketball…

“Throughout the entire NCAA, I feel like any given night if you don’t show up to play you can always get beat. Especially in this conference, this conference is so good. This conference has so many different weapons because each team is so good. There are so many different play styles and things they can mix up. I think that is why winning in the SEC is so tough. You don’t see consistent defenses all the time. You see different defenses for different teams and different players. It is a cool experience and a great challenge. I love seeing that but also that comes with having to be really locked in every single day. That is why I don’t think you can really look ahead too far in the future; you have to look at who is your next opponent just because of how important wins in the SEC are. It is a great conference, one of the best in the country. I feel like you have to be focused on certain things to win in this league and you cannot jump the gun.”

On the uncertainty of the season…

“This year has been different for all of us because there are not as many fans, games have been canceled here and there, times being changed, and stuff like that. I feel like you must be ready for anything and everything. I don’t think you take a step back and hope or guess. Any game could be canceled, moved, or postponed. So, if a game were to postpone or if you are going to play at the original time, you still have to be ready. I think that is something a mature team has to do. For instance, when our first game got canceled, we did not just take the day off. We went in and practiced. We practiced hard and got better. If that were to ever happen again, I feel like we would end up doing that again. Not taking a step back, and take a day off, no. We are going to attack that day just as if we were to have a game.”

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