RAW VIDEO: Crean plans hoops -- and history -- for Indiana in Ph - WDRB 41 Louisville News

RAW VIDEO: Crean plans hoops -- and history -- for Indiana in Philadelphia

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Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean talked to WDRB sports director Tom Lane in Philadelphia Wednesday night. Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean talked to WDRB sports director Tom Lane in Philadelphia Wednesday night.

PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (WDRB) – If you are a basketball person in Philadelphia, there is one place you must visit: The Paelstra, a basketball facility as storied as any in the game.

Indiana basketball coach Tom Crean is a wall-to-wall basketball person. His team is in Philadelphia, booked for a Friday night game against North Carolina in the East Regional semifinals of the NCAA Tournament.

On Thursday morning, before the Hoosiers move to the Wells Fargo Center for their mid-afternoon public practice, Crean will take them to The Paelstra for their final serious private preparation for the talented Tar Heels.

Crean will include talk about history at the place called “The Cathedral of College Basketball,” an 89-year-old facility that has hosted more NCAA Tournaments than any arena. It’s the kind of move a coach like Rick Majerus used to do with his guys.

“You have to see the Paelstra when you’re in Philadelphia, right?” Crean said.

That’s the way Crean does it with his guys, who had several hours of free time in historic Philadelphia before they assembled for a meeting at the team hotel Wednesday at 10 p.m.

Robert Johnson, James Blackmon Jr. and Troy Williams walked several blocks to sample the town’s legendary cheese-steaks. Illinois-Chicago coach Steve McClain, a former IU assistant, flew to Philadelphia to support his former players.

IU earned its game against the Tar Heels by upsetting Kentucky, 73-67, last Saturday in Des Moines, Iowa. Crean said he believes that his team has invested in the challenge of playing the top-seeded Tar Heels, who are favored by 5 ½ points.

“They knew Kentucky was a great game and a great challenge and then you turn right back around after that game and play an equally big challenge in North Carolina,” Crean said.

“Our guys, playing in the Big Ten and the way they responded all year, our guys are well versed in getting ready to play each game. I don’t think anything has intimidated this group at all this year because hey’ve been focused on getting better and they've connected at such a good place. To me, they've done an excellent job of locking into each and every game and I haven't seen anything different on this whatsoever.

“The ultimate is understanding that you’ve got to get back on defense and that you’ve got to block out at the end of that and that you’ve got to take care of the ball. That’s the mental toughness and concentration that you have to have … the ability to play through adversity in the game and play tough.”

Several IU players – Johnson (high ankle sprain); Collin Hartman (sore right forearm); Juwan Morgan (separated left shoulder) – are dealing with injuries.

Hartman and Morgan are expected to play against UNC. Johnson re-injured the ankle against UK after missing 3 ½ weeks. He is likely to be a game-time decision.

“They’re all here, so we’ll see,” Crean said. “It’s just one of those things. We've got to wait and see a little bit. Juwan has practiced so he's getting better. Collin's trying to get better.

"Rob is still in an real iffy situation I keep using that word. If he's better, he'll play. If not, it's going to be tough.”

By coincidence, Friday will also be Crean’s 50th birthday. No special celebration is planned.

“I’m just glad I’m working,” Crean said. “By the time the game starts (9:57 p.m.), it’ll be the day after my birthday by the time the game ends.”

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