Men's Basketball

    Indiana vs. Illinois Postgame Quotes

    Go Hoosiers! Senior guard Rod Wilmont and junior forward D.J. White joined head coach Kelvin Sampson in the postgame press conference following Indiana's 65-61 win over Illinois.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Senior guard Rod Wilmont and junior forward D.J. White joined head coach Kelvin Sampson in the postgame press conference following Indiana's 65-61 win over Illinois.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Feb. 10, 2007

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    Indiana vs. Illinois
    Postgame quotes
    Feb. 10, 2007

    Indiana Head Coach Kelvin Sampson

    Opening statement:
    "It felt like we were fighting uphill today. We had so many opportunities to maybe extend a four-point lead or a five-point lead and Illinois kept answering. You really have to congratulate Illinois though, Bruce (Weber) had his kids really ready to play. They came in here and competed. They kind of knocked us on our heels sometimes. (Rich) McBride is one of those guys where you just can't be on him, you have to be in him. The two areas where I worry about him is in transition, because the floor is a little scattered, and off of offensive rebounds. I thought our kids did a great job of defending in the second half. I think we held them to 34 percent, and that was the key. This is not one of those games that you are going to win with offense. There are certain games in your schedule where that is just the way it is going to be, you have to win the game at the defensive end. We were plus-6 on the boards in the second half. Our defense was outstanding in the second half and we executed well. D.J. (White) only gets nine shots, but I think he had 21 touches. You can't always determine shot attempts by how many times he gets the ball. I was happy with the way we won the game. We have had some games in here this year where the games weren't very close. But this time of the year you find out a lot about your team, I found out a lot about our team today. I was really happy about this win. I would also like to congratulate Illinois, I though their kids played hard and competed."

    On guard rebounding and guard play:
    "I just know to be a good rebounding team, I think there is a misconception that you have to have a great rebounding post. To be a good rebounding team, you better have some good rebounding guards. The thing we emphasized this week in practice was getting to the free throw line more. We needed to stop looking for 3-point shots so early in the shot clock. I don't mind shooting threes, but I think it's so hard this late in the year to be a great 3-point shooting team for three months. Rod (Wilmont) is doing a better job of driving the ball. Armon (Bassett) is doing a better job of driving the ball. A.J. (Ratliff) struggles a little bit because of his left hand. Earl (Calloway) just gets going to fast sometimes. I just thought our shot selection tonight was really good. We were almost shooting 50 percent in the second half. We had some opportunities on the break, we didn't finish very well on the break tonight. It was a hard earned win, Illinois' kids certainly competed, they played hard enough to win, and so did our guys."

    On if Illinois is a NCAA tournament team:
    "Absolutely. If you look back over the years, there is such a misconception about leagues being up and being down. Ohio State and Wisconsin have proven that they are the two best teams in this league through 10 games. I just don't think there is a whole lot of difference between the rest of us. Today was a game where we found a way to win, but Illinois could have won this game today. We are fortunate to win it. There are not 64 teams that are better than Illinois."

    On the development of Armon Bassett:
    "There are times in practice and even in games where Armon is sliding east and west. As his years progress, he is going to really develop into a good player. This is a kid who back in November had 16 at Duke, and he has had other big games this year. It's certainly no surprise that Armon played well. I think when teams double D.J. so hard, we can't just keep throwing the ball back to that side of the floor and keep throwing it in there to him, at some point you have to go make a play. For us, our way of scoring is attacking the basket. I am really proud of the fact that we went to the free throw line more tonight. We have had such a habit of shooting 3s. But Armon is a kid that we looked in the eye and said you have to drive the ball and make plays. He is getting better at that. If you look at his high school and prep school background, Armon is used to making the play for himself. If you noticed he is getting on the baseline today and kicking it out and making plays for others. That will be part of his development."

    On the play of Lance Stemler:
    "I thought Lance was a big reason our defense started coming back. Lance was really good defensively. Over the years you learn not to evaluate kids by whether to ball goes in. If you do, then anybody can figure this game out. Lance is keeping balls alive, he is pressuring the ball well. I thought his defense was really good tonight. He'll start making shots."

    Junior forward D.J. White
    On defending Shaun Pruitt to get the five-second call:
    "I just wanted to pressure him. One thing that coach always talks about is when someone picks the ball up, my other four teammates will deny their man. I just had to do a good job of taking his vision away so he couldn't get a pass off."

    On what was different playing Illinois this time from the last:
    "Our defense was better. When we were in Champaign, we just didn't play our game. We didn't execute on offense, and our defense just wasn't there. The first half we started out slow, but the second half we came together as a team with good point guard leadership from Earl and Armon, and Rod hit some big shots."

    Senior guard Roderick Wilmont
    On shutting down Illinois in the final minutes:
    "We just knew we had to get some stops and we were down too. Coach just said we have to lock up and D.J., Earl (Calloway), and myself got the guys together and said we have to get some stops. I think we stopped them three or four times in a row, and that is what we have to do in order to get prepared for the next game."

    On playing at home and feeding off the crowd:
    "The crowd helps me out a lot. I am an emotional player, I play hard and go out there and give everything I have and help my teammates feed off of me. That's been my job, from day one since I arrived here at Indiana. I have to continue to do what I am doing to help my team win."

    Illinois Head Coach Bruce Weber
    On the game:
    "They were a little bit more aggressive here then they were at our place. (Rod) Wilmont created some shots and (Armon) Bassett got in the paint on us. They had good transition, but we had a chance to go against a top 20 team on their home court and we made some progress. I think we are a good team that struggles, obviously with injuries and all the stuff we have gone through, our kids have fought. We need to keep the guys on the court and I told the guys I couldn't be prouder. We can take a week, get a couple days of rest and get some practice to get better. We haven't had a chance to have us all practice, probably since the first week. Then we can look to make a run in the last four games."

    On the final Illini play:
    "We ran a play for Rich (McBride), and Chester (Frazier) didn't get the ball far enough over to him, then he got stuck and threw it to Shaun (Pruitt). Then everybody just stood there and you don't have timeout left, and that's my fault. The whole last stretch was disappointing, but I am really proud of the kids and their progress. We played our butts off and our whole thing was to not back down to them, as they play so well here at home. We kept fighting and fighting and grinding it out. I thought our defense slipped a little bit in the second half. We were trying to trade baskets the first part of the second half and then down the stretch we threw some away. That's the difference maker."

    On the Indiana defense:
    "We ran some plays that countered what they did. We executed, but didn't finish the play and those were the chances. Free throws in the first half and those little layups in the second half that could have made the difference so instead of 61-58, maybe we are up 65-58. We made plays and we just didn't finish them. We didn't win, so we can go back and analyze a lot more plays than they can."

    On the play of Marcus Arnold:
    "I'm just so happy and I couldn't be more thrilled for him. He's kept a great attitude. We have talked about checking your ego every time you go on the floor and whether he plays two or four minutes, I know he wants to play. He always tells me, `I want to contribute,' and I think its great proof that if you have the right attitude and stay positive, great things will happen. He made shots, free throws and played good defense. We always thought we have to have someone special do something out of the ordinary to help us win on the road. He did it and we had a chance to take it."

    On the NCAA Tournament:
    "If you go 9-7, with at least twenty wins and your schedule rating is high, then I think the difference maker might be the Big Ten Tournament. You get to Chicago and it might be us and some others, and you see that it might be the difference maker. We have to use this week to get two wins at home, that would get us to twenty. And then we have two on the round at the end. We have to see if we can finish on a good note with some momentum going into the Big Ten tournament."

    On the team's identity:
    "I think we are staying together as a team and keeping a great attitude. Having some things go right and just playing together to win is the most important thing we can do down the stretch. I am not sure we are there yet, but we have made progress. They have figured it out and now need to finish it."




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