Jan. 15, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson met with the media on Monday, Jan. 15 to discuss the upcoming game against Iowa on Tuesday, Jan. 16 and the Hoosiers win over Penn State on Jan. 13.
"I think their strengths are that they have two great wings in Tyler Smith and (Adam) Haluska. I coached against Haluska at Iowa State, so I remember him. He's a good player and he has really improved too. He's bigger, stronger and plays with a great swagger. The things that impresses you is that everybody knows he's a prolific 3-point shooter, but he's been to the foul line 95 times. It tells me he is well-rounded. He plays like a senior. Tyler Smith is a tough matchup. He's built like (Geary) Claxton from Penn State. He does a lot of damage on the post, and he can score. Their point guards, (Mike) Henderson is a tough kid, good defender, runs his team well. The other kid, Justin Johnson, is a good 3-point shooter. Their post guys are long and athletic. (Cyrus) Tate really played great against Michigan State, and (Kurt) Looby leads them in shot blocks. They are a good, solid team."
On early foul trouble against Penn State:
"We are getting more hard-nosed. I thought the key to the game Saturday was our defense the second half. You take away the last two minutes of the game, I think we were up seven or eight, D.J. (White) has to learn that just because you have four fouls, you can still play defense, just don't foul them. I thought our defense the second half was outstanding. I thought our defense the first 15 minutes was nonexistent. We still have a long way to go."
On Lance Stemler:
"He needs to get tougher. I don't worry about Lance. Lance is a pretty smart kid. He didn't play well the other day. He's had some other games he hasn't played so well in, but he bounced back, and he will bounce back. He will be fine."
On Stemler's early foul trouble:
"I think his fouls come from not being aggressive enough. When he's aggressive, he doesn't pick up those fouls. Think about the Kentucky game. I think he had nine rebounds in that game. I don't know if he was in foul trouble, but I remember him playing his butt off. I don't judge how you play on whether you make shots or not. I judge you on how you play on whether or not you are competing and losing yourself and how hard you are playing, flying around and getting your hands on loose balls or getting deflections. He wasn't doing that the other day."
On A.J. Ratliff's play against Penn State:
"We practiced this morning. I just refuse to let one of these kids relax or take a step back. We've got six or seven weeks left in this regular season. Why would you not play hard? Why would you play any other way? It's a privilege to be able to play college or high school basketball. Your time is going to go fast here. I don't know why you would not play as hard as you possibly can. That's the message I have been trying to send to this team from day one. That team is going to play hard and it's up to you weather you want to. That's why I don't worry about Lance, somebody else will play hard. Lance will play tomorrow night. If he doesn't (play hard), I will put Mike White or Xavier (Keeling) or Ben (Allen) in there. They have to be accountable. I'm not going to sit there and walk them through all their problems. We practice everyday, and we practice hard. We have a game plan. I am no different than any other coach. I don't have any original ideas. I've never seen another college team practice in my life. I am assuming most college coaches emphasize the same things, holding kids accountable for effort. Don't be afraid of a mistake. You are going to make mistakes. There are mistakes of omission and there are mistakes of commission. If you are going to make a mistake, make your mistake going 100 miles-per-hour. Rod (Wilmont) threw up a couple of vomit shots the other day. I doubt we had anybody else on this team that would even think about shooting some of his shots, but what are you going to say to Rod? I thought he did a good job defending Claxton and their half-court sets. He had 12 rebounds and was busting his tail. We had 18 offensive rebounds. What's the worst thing that's going to happen if Rod shoots? They might go in. The worst thing that's going to happen is he is going to miss it. Sometimes, I would rather have Rod shoot it than pass it. You can't rebound a turnover."
On Indiana head women's basketball coach Felisha Legette-Jack:
"I think her enthusiasm is contagious. She is real. What you see is what you get. I think she is doing an incredible job. They don't have very much depth, but her girls play hard. I've watched them play a couple of times. They compete. As she goes along here, she's going to create her own brand. Her girls are tough. She has such a positive outlook. I wish I could be as positive as her."
On what kept Joey Shaw out of the Penn State game:
"Defensive effort. I thought he was pretty good. There are some young kids that base their existence on whether they are making shots. You can't do that. You have to play hard. You aren't going to play perfect. You can do everything right and the other team is still going to score. You don't pitch shutouts in basketball. It's like baseball. If somebody throws you a fastball and you hit it right on the nose for 380 and the guy will jump over the fence and snare it in. In basketball, if you get beat on the back cut, you better flip your head and sprint back and recover, get a deflection. Don't give up on it. If it was in transition, don't transition inside the 3-point line, transition outside the 3-point line and know where the shooters are. Whatever we talk about in our scouting report, pay attention, follow it, but more importantly, give great effort. I don't think Earl (Calloway) played very good the first half, but I thought is effort was good. But then again, he got caught up in a day where Rod had a little Kobe (Bryant) in him. If a kid plays, I don't ever worry about it or get caught up in it. It has no effect on the following day or game. It means nothing to me. We met this morning before we worked out. I pointed certain things out. He knows why he didn't play, and he will be better next game."
On playing tough:
"We have a long way to go in terms of being hard nosed. I thought we were hard nosed the last 25 minutes maybe. We always have guys that play hard. This isn't tennis or golf. The team has got to play hard. When two or three guys aren't competing, it hurts the team. I could tell the first five minutes, Penn State was off for an entire week. It was just like our game against Michigan State. Their offense countered everything we do defensively. My problem was our defensive rotations. I've heard the term `schemes' used more in the last five years. We have no schemes. We play defense. We defend the block a certain way, ball screens a certain way. They were just quicker to the ball than we were. Their defense was better than our offense and that was their energy level. They were playing at home, and that's going to happen. I didn't go into half time thinking `woe is us.' You have to get back to playing the way you play, and Penn State knocked us back, but if it was a boxing match, it wouldn't have been a TKO. They never knocked us out, but they stunned us a few times. We kept coming back. They never put us away. I thought a lot of that was who was on the floor. I took them out and put the right guys in there. If guys aren't playing hard, I'm not going to call timeout, pat them on the butt and tell them they can do better. I've got somebody else who can go play...This team has a lot of weaknesses, but the key to having weaknesses is finding ways to cover them up, and we have done a pretty good job at that."
On preparing for Illinois and Connecticut:
"We can't (look past Connecticut for Illinois). Our kids feed off of the things you emphasize. Connecticut is an important game. It's on the schedule. It's like the Big Ten Tournament. A lot of people think those games aren't important. Those games are important because it's your next game. It's the most important game of the year when we play Connecticut. That's how I feel about it. We have to go try to win it. If you are going to keep score, might as well. (The game) was on the schedule before I got here. This is the fifth time in the last six years that I have played Connecticut. We played them for four straight years at Oklahoma."
On the positive response the community has had to him:
"It matters. Consider the alternative. What's new to a lot of people here is how my teams have played for 20-some years. We played the same way at Washington State. We played the same way at Montana Tech and Oklahoma and Indiana. That's the way our teams play...If you had a reunion with all my players, the practices are all the same. I know but one way to practice and prepare. Things that are important in winning games are what you remember. Practice doesn't change. At this time of year, it's so much more mental than physical. I'm not going to get them in any better shape. We have rules you have to abide by, rebounds, turnovers, things like that. We hold them accountable. The next day, we may run sprints for this or that. It's like putting the bubble on the rim and working on rebounding. We work on offensive rebounding in October and November and it paid off Saturday. Rod's threes didn't win that game - those 18 offensive rebounds helped us win that game. When that ball is shot, go get it. Penn Shot is plus-8 and are one of the better rebounding teams in the league. They are a tough matchup. They are going to win a lot of games cause they aren't an easy matchup. But, I never hear that. I am sure our fans are proud of our kids effort."