“How do you get the most out of your day?” he said, repeating the question he'd directed to his players a few hours earlier Wednesday.
Translation: Maximize every minute.
And then …
“When you invest in others, it comes back to you more than you can image.”
And then …
“It's not supposed to be easy.”
This was Crean as lecturer, Crean as preacher and teacher in his annual talk with students. He was a man with a theme — are you willing to help others get what they want, too? What can you do to make others better?
He channeled some of the best coaches of this generation — the NBA's Pat Riley, Major League Baseball's Tony La Russa, the NFL's Bill Parcells — and even billionaire businessman Mark Cuban, a former IU student.
Yes, there was basketball as well. Indiana has brought in six freshmen and seven newcomers this season after a national title hunt and if the prospects aren't quite as lofty (the Hoosiers project as the Big Ten's fifth-best team), the expectations certainly are.
“I won't have patience with them,” he said about his players. “I'm not big on patience and perspective. None of us are here to be patient.”
Translation: Crean will be demanding and intense, even if he asks fans not to be.
“This group is young, but it has some fireballs, it has some athleticism, some skill, some length. It has older guys with a chance to be good. It will take time. This is a plea for reality, not patience.”
Crean said sophomore Yogi Ferrell has the chance to be one of the nation's best point guards. He said swingman Will Sheehey has “next-level” potential, freshman forward Noah Vonleh has a “rare work ethic,” freshman forward Devin Davis has been “the biggest surprise since the summer,” freshman center Luke Fischer is “a pure winner,” freshman guard Stanford Robinson is “the best downhill player we have outside of Yogi," and freshman forward Troy Williams has a “rare level of energy.”
Crean added that sophomore swingman Austin Etherington and freshman forward Collin Hartman must make shots, and that no one has scored more points after five practices than sophomore forward Jeremy Hollowell.
Crean mentioned Jonny Marlin, the former IPFW starting point guard who transferred to IU as a walk-on. He had to redshirt last year but is eligible to play.
“He has to understand what we demand of a point guard.”
As far as the team, Indiana might not open the season as “a defensive juggernaut, but it will get there.”
“We're getting the nuts and bolts of defense down.”
Per NCAA rules IU has 42 days to get in 30 practices and Crean wants to maximize all of them. He said Tuesday's practice left him sleepless because of the lack of energy, while Wednesday's workout left him “giddy” because of its high energy level. He said he's “scared” about the team's lack of communication.
“We're going through a painful process and not just from the guys we lost. They weren't afraid to tell people what needed to be done. They competed on a daily basis. They weren't worried about what people thought.
“We have to learn how to lead each other, that it's OK to hurt somebody's feelings every once in a while, that you have to go at each other. You don't build anything that's lasting without adversity.
“I'm looking for guys who are looking to take minutes. You have to earn them. That's the bottom line. They've got to work at it and separate themselves.”
Separation goes public Friday with the annual Hoosier Hysteria. It's set to begin at 7:30 p.m., with Assembly Hall doors opening at 5. Admission is free, but fans are asked to bring a canned good item as a donation for Hoosier Hills Food Bank.
Activities include men's and women's team introductions, skill contests (likely to include dunking and three-point shooting) and a men's scrimmage. The women's team will practice 5:30-6:30.
Last year's Hoosier Hysteria was a sellout (officials turned fans away), a consequence of IU being a preseason No. 1.
The Hoosiers are projected as a top-25 team this season.
Multiple recruits will be on hand, including 6-8 Virginia forward Devin Robinson, who is ranked No. 20 in the Class of 2014. This will be his official visit. He's already visited Notre Dame and Oklahoma State, with Connecticut and Florida still ahead.
Georgia guard Ahmed Hill also will make an official visit. He's ranked No. 69 nationally.
Sophomore Eron Gordon, the younger brother of former IU All-America Eric and current senior guard Evan, also is set to attend.
One recruit who won't attend is heralded Massachusetts forward Goodluck Okonoboh, who is set to announce his college choice tonight. It's among IU, Ohio State and UNLV.
Crean couldn't talk recruiting specifics, but he did talk about what he looks for.
“When we recruit we try to find that passion for Indiana basketball. It's about winning, about giving championship-level work habits and standards.”
Up nextTipoff: Hoosier Hysteria, 7:30 p.m. Friday.
Online: For more on college sports, follow Pete DiPrimio via Twitter at www.twitter.com/pdiprimio