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UNIVERSITY OF GEORGIA BASKETBALL MEDIA CONFERENCE

February 9, 2019

Tom Crean

Athens, Georgia

Ole Miss - 80, Georgia - 64

Q. It seemed like at times today you could see some of the players really kind of show frustration, but it wasn't the first time this year --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, I'll chalk it up right there to the lack of mental toughness, and we knew that. We know that. We're working on it every day. When you've lost some games, you're going to either move up with it or it's going to come down. We saw that a little bit too much today. So I have to gauge that.

Every day it's a matter of how we practice and get ready to play, and if I continue to see that type of frustration -- here's what happens. We don't talk. We don't talk on defense. And it doesn't matter if we're man, it doesn't matter if we're zone. We're trying to protect the paint with switching, we're trying to mix defenses some, not as much as we're going to need to, but we don't guard the dribble very well, so we have to do the switching potentially.

But when two guys come together and they don't talk or one guy talks and the other one doesn't respond, those kind of things happen. So the frustration is really self-inflicted, and that's where the lack of mental toughness comes because when you're mentally tougher and you grow in your mental toughness, you don't have the self-inflicted wounds as much as we have right now. And so they played well, they played aggressive.

He's got a great backcourt, and they were obviously pretty good last year, those two, with Tyree and Davis. But that's our No. 1 issue. That's our No. 1 issue, and it's not getting fixed overnight.

But they're kids that work extremely hard, and it's all on me because I'm the one that decided to keep these guys. It's all on me, and I get it, because the last thing I can do with making decisions on keeping guys in the program in the spring is now get overly mad at them because I'm the one that made the decision.

So I live with that every day, and it doesn't mean that they're not great kids, but very few programs when there's a takeover, okay, when you have guys that haven't done it at any point in time really in their career -- those guys, they move on. That's what happens in a job change, and I didn't do that. And so I'm not going to complain, and we've just got to keep doing everything we can do to fix it and make it better.

And that's not a knock on them. It is what it is. And the way we practice is not coming forth in the games. But mental toughness -- that's a big umbrella, mental toughness. A lot of things fall under there, and we're just not there right now. But we've got to continue to build it every possible way.

Q. As a coach, how would you work on improving your players' mental toughness?
TOM CREAN: We just keep practicing. I could give you a litany of things. I could give you 100, I could give you 150, but here's the thing: It's what they absorb. Coaches don't give guys mental toughness, okay. It's -- your strength coach can give them a better form for physical strength. But the mental toughness has got to come through knowing that you have some ability, knowing that you're not getting them -- we had 16 turnovers in the first half. I just said this on the radio: We may very well have to pull this break off, and because we're not -- that's not the way it's going to be at Georgia. I promise you, this is going to be a fast-paced program as we go, but we're just hurting ourselves with turnovers that make no sense.

We want to win games, and so I've got to keep looking at what we can do to get this better now, and there is no one answer on how you handle that. You keep giving it -- but it does start with me, and it does start with my level of energy, my level of confidence, my level of belief, and you've got to try to get that to them every day, and hopefully there's other things that they absorb that will make them better through that.

Q. In the second half, Turner got cut down, but it looked like they were crashing the offensive boards --
TOM CREAN: Yeah, they hurt us on the glass. Mental toughness is hitting your man, too. That's not just physical strength. That's the mental toughness and wherewithal and awareness. I guess maybe as important as mental toughness is, awareness might be the most crucial thing if it's into that, and we've just got to continue to build that. We're not a very aware group, not very aware, and it shows up on our communication, and we've just got to keep -- there's nothing we can do but keep getting it better, and that's -- going to keep coaching this team like they're playing for a championship because that is exactly what we want to be able to do here as we build this program. I am not going to back off or have anybody back off of what we expect out of them, but I'm also not going to -- again, somebody starts getting too frustrated and they can't get out of it, then we need to move on. But if we're giving them a chance as young people that are going through a struggle right now that don't have a lot of success in their background, I have to understand that and keep trying to bring that to them, and then you make decisions as you go along. Yeah, it was turnovers in the first half, it was second-chance points in the second half.

Q. Not to belabor the turnovers, but in the first half you jump out to a nice 18-8 lead, you're playing really smooth on offense and then Teshaun had four straight turnovers. What was happening there? You took him out --
TOM CREAN: I can't -- it's -- I don't even have an answer. We're coming out of time-outs. That's where the lack of awareness comes in. We're coming out of time-outs knowing exactly what we want, and we're just tentative and there's not a post-up, a guy doesn't listen coming out of the time-out. That's stuff that we have to deal with, and it wasn't like it was a new play, all right.

But when you're mentally tough, you get a lead like we had, one of two things are going to happen. You're either going to build on that lead or they're going to make a comeback, right, but only one thing can help it. You've got to stay mentally tough and strong and keep doing when you're doing when you're winning, and you've got to be able to overcome when they make a run like that and not let that beat you up, and that's where some of the body language and the facial expressions came in to me.

And I spent far more time in this game today, far more time in this game trying to keep people up, trying to get them to believe we could still come back. That's why we have the issues that we have.

That's a hard place, because if we had a group that really got that, they'd play more. I'm not going to give you the whole we're-getting-better speech because we are and then we come out here and we don't show it, but those mistakes are -- they're on me. I kept the roster the way it was.

Q. As far as the lack of awareness and the lack of mental toughness, do you think tunnel vision played into some of the turnovers --
TOM CREAN: What's tunnel vision? Define it; what's that mean? Don't ask -- you'd better tell me what it means to you. I'll answer it. I don't understand tunnel vision.

Q. Teshaun's path to the post, the entry pass --
TOM CREAN: Well, it was a set play. It was a set play to get started and get something back off that. Yeah, that's just -- there's a lack of awareness, and somebody could probably tell the freshman, step up, get ready to catch it, not try to set a screen. So yeah, that's all part of it. I don't know about -- I don't coach in terms of mental toughness, so it's very hard for me to look at that. I mean, as far as tunnel vision, I mean. I don't focus on that.

I think we've got guys that are trying to make plays that just aren't there. And our decision making has been a problem all year, but we have to find a way to get easy baskets, because believe it or not, the easy baskets are what the differences have been since the Texas game. We got more than they did. Arkansas got more than we did. Alabama got more than we did, and I'm sure they got more than we did today. You know, it's become a problem, and that's because it's clear drives to the lane, it's beating -- two guys in a switch and one guy doesn't do it, so now the ball is open, right, or not being able to guard the dribble.

So I wish we had a little bit better tunnel vision, in use of your word, on how we guard the ball or as we get our feet out a little bit quicker. But we've just got to keep working. We've got to keep working on it. Every possible thing that we're trying to -- I'm sitting up here talking about the reason we lose, we've got to go every day and try to fix that, and that's what we're going to do at the end of the day.

Q. As you came into your first year, just how cool was it or what did it mean to you as a coach to be able to honor the lettermen?
TOM CREAN: Well, I'm embarrassed right now to be honest with you. But it means a lot. It means a lot. It means an awful lot. We hit that hard with the team yesterday. The worst loss you take is when you've got lettermen and former coaches in the stands. Doesn't matter if it was Marquette, they were honoring a championship team, Indiana and they were honoring a championship team, somebody was back for a weekend. That's the worst.

I apologize to them. I really do. I'm going to say that if I get a chance to see them upstairs. I apologize to them because I want them to walk out of here feeling like they really see growth in progress, and there's times like today it doesn't look that way. We'll win on a letterman day. We'll win a game there, and everything will be better. But having people like that come back and the distances they come and to be with their families, that means an awful lot, and it's that much harder when you don't win.

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