Feb. 13, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Kelvin Sampson met with the media on Tuesday, Feb. 13, to discuss the win over Illinois and the upcoming game against Purdue.
On Purdue's defense:
"This late in the season, your identity is what it is. I watched clips of their games against Illinois and Michigan State and their defense is solid, really good. Those teams just struggled to score. I don't think I've ever seen a team this late in the conference season be held to 12 points in a half. That's a compliment to Purdue's defense and how hard they played for 20 minutes."
On facing the combination of Carl Landry and David Teague:
"Anytime you play a team that's balanced, you have to be able to score in different areas on the floor. I don't think you can just dominate in one area and expect to compete in any league. If you're going to be good in the league, you have to be good at the foul line, in the paint and on the perimeter, and Purdue's really good in every area."
On what the difference is in Purdue's play as of late:
"Their two seniors, Landry and Teague, have really stepped up. They're goal is to make the NCAA Tournament, and I think those kids realize this is their last chance and they've really turned up the heat. They've been competitive with everybody, the game here was obviously a fluke. When you have one team play uphill and the other plays downhill it can get like that. Sometimes a good team will have a bad night. We were hitting 3s all over the place. I don't think it's any indication of the two teams, and I didn't that night either."
On the team realizing that game was a fluke:
"Just look at Purdue's scores at home. They beat Michigan State 62-38. Our kids are pretty smart, they know this is going to be a dogfight."
On the importance of the team's leaders:
"I think our leaders are why we're 17-6 and 7-3. It's why we've been good, because of outstanding leadership. I think the three captains all do a good job."
On Kyle Kramer:
"He's a tough, hard-nosed kid. He doesn't back down from anything. I think he fits in really good with their defensive philosophy. He's real active and hard-nosed, I really like him."
On Xavier Keeling getting a start:
"I think that if there's a spot that we've kind of struggled with this year, it's our 4-spot. It's been good at times, at other times it's struggled, but that's not different than any other team through the course of the year. If this was science, we wouldn't have a problem, but there's a thing called human error in sports. Kids go up and down. Xavier's had good moments for us - I think back to the Southern Illinois game. He was a major component in us winning that game. He's been a good player, a role player, and I thought that was a good game to reward him for how hard he's practiced. Mike White's had his moments, Lance [Stemler] has certainly had his moments, nothing more, nothing less."
On driving to the basket:
"Last week was an important week for us in terms of working on us. You don't have to be smart to figure out what problems are. The trick isn't how to figure out the problem, it's the solution, figuring out how you make your team better. You're not going to get new players. When we inherited this team, we knew we were going to be thin inside. You may look at Ben [Allen]'s size, but he's much more of a perimeter guy than he is an inside guy. You don't snap your fingers and turn somebody into something they're not. Our whole team is like that this year, we don't have the luxury of having been around each other for two or three years and knowing how to change channels all of a sudden. But I did notice early on that their first reaction was to shoot a 3. That's who they were when we got here. I never saw Rod [Wilmont] take it to the basket. A.J. [Ratliff] didn't take it to the basket. They're 3-point shooters. As we progressed, we did shoot a lot of 3s, but normally they were good 3s. The problem is the balance, getting to the foul line. As the season progressed, I thought the one area we had to work on was getting to the foul line. Finally we got a break. From here to the end of the season is all preparation, you don't have time to make a whole lot of changes. But last week, we just really worked hard at driving it. If you look at our guards, the ones that have really improved are Armon [Bassett], Rod and A.J. A.J. started a little bit in the Wisconsin game, he's limited because he only has a right hand, but I liked what he did in that game. We've been getting better at that, but it's been an adjustment for these kids. But it shows you their attitude and willingness to try. Rod had the one charge call, but I thohught he was really good off the bounce on Saturday. He missed three layups, but he also had a layup in traffic in the first half that I thought was good. If you're going to work on something, I think it's important for kids to see results. But I don't want us to just be that kind of team, we're going to have to make 3s. Wisconsin has a lot of guys that can make baskets inside, Ohio State does, too. But we're not made up like that right now, we have to be good on the perimeter."
On the balance of scoring:
"I didn't think D.J. was going to be a 20-point a night guy, big guys never are. College basketball is a guard's game, it's not a big man's game. The rules aren't set up for big men to be high scorers unless you're like Kevin Durant. If Kevin Durant could only score on the block, he wouldn't be scoring 20 points a game. The best big man in college basketball, bar none, is Greg Oden. Look at his numbers, it's not where he dominates in scoring. All the really good big guys, they hardly ever lead their teams in scoring. Their threat created openings for the other players. Sometimes people don't understand why D.J. doesn't get more shots. He had 23 touches the other day, they doubled him every time he caught it. He's not going to take bad ones. Fortunately, D.J. is smart enough to kick it out. There's other ways for D.J. to get shots. The other day he had four offensive rebounds, running the floor, getting some easy shots in transition. If they played him one-on-one and didn't double him, I'd like for D.J. to get 25 shots a game, but nobody's going to play D.J. heads-up."
On how big a game it is for both teams:
"If you look at our schedule, we're rounding the bend here. We have six games remaining. First of all, it's a rivalry game. To say this is just another game isn't fair to the fans and coaches and players that came before us. This is a big game. It's Purdue. But we want to win the game every bit as badly as they do, I promise you."
On Joey Shaw:
"Joey's strength is on offense. But when you get into games, for instance against Iowa, Joey was in and I was prepared to leave him in, but he got in quick foul trouble. That's been kind of an Achillles' heel for Joey, foul trouble. If you look up and a team's shooting one-and-one at the 13-minute mark of the first half and the second half, that's another thing that was an emphasis. I thought we did a good job of not putting Illinois on the foul line a lot. They went inside a lot, too. But it's a possession game. Rod's been playing good, A.J., Earl, but I would like to get Joey in there more because he's good enough to be in there."