March 6, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson sat down with the media on Tuesday, March 6 to discuss his team and the Big Ten Tournament. He was joined by players Roderick Wilmont, D.J. White, Earl Calloway, Armon Bassett and A.J. Ratliff.
Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
On D.J. White and Rod Wilmont earning all-conference honors:
"It was well deserved for all three as Earl earned honorable mention as well. D.J. is deserving of second team and it is a great honor for Rod because you have to think about the way he has played in the last couple of weeks. With Earl you see the difference he has made in our team. You could see that in the Purdue, Michigan, Minnesota and even the Northwestern games, we are so much better at the point of attack with a healthy Earl. There is a lot to be said of a senior point guard and a freshman point guard at this time of year."
On preparation for the tournament:
"We have a couple of days to work on Indiana. At this time of year it is not a bad idea to put in some time to work on your game. Whether it's a new out of bounds play or a new way to enter the ball to D.J. or to Rod, we will work today and tomorrow on us. Then we will spend time reviewing Penn State and Illinois, the two teams we could face on Friday. We have played them both twice."
On the Big Ten Tournament:
"Every school in this league has had trouble playing away from home. Nothing is unique in college basketball anymore. If you are lucky enough to survive on Friday night then you are one game away from championship Sunday. This time of year it is mental and whoever we play we have already played them before, and they will be good. If we play well, we are capable of winning Friday. If we play well again we are capable of winning Saturday. Whoever plays us is capable of beating us too. Ohio State is the best team in this tournament and they are a team that should expect to win all three games. Wisconsin is capable of winning all three and everybody after those two have to play really well. If you play well against the rest of the teams you have a chance to win, but so do they because there is not a lot of difference in us."
On the conference tournament and the NCAA Tournament:
"The conference tournament is not an indicator of how a team will do in the tournament. The NCAA Tournament is about a match-up and that's just the way it has always been. I think the tournament is about that more than anything else. In any conference tournament it is just our next game, which makes it important."
On Earl Calloway:
"Earl has accepted that his shoulder is going to hurt him. In the Northwestern game you could tell that his focus was not in running our offense or competing, but he was favoring his shoulder. It was good to get him our there in that game because he went out there and realized that his shoulder didn't get hurt anymore. Not getting hurt in that game and with two off days and then Saturday night, hopefully it will continue to get better. A lot of it is mindset."
Senior guard Rod Wilmont
On the accolades he has received:
"They mean a lot to me knowing how hard I worked and that things have fallen into the right place at the right time. It is really special because the votes came from my teammates and if it weren't for my teammates, I would have never been honored. I really appreciate the honors."
On the Big Ten Tournament:
"We have to get focused. We have a couple days of practice ahead of us and we'll get ready for the winner of the Penn State-Illinois match-up. Coach will have us ready and we will go to Chicago and watch them play. We would love to get more wins under out belt as we head into the NCAA Tournament and we have the opportunity to do something really special. We just need to play our game."
Senior guard Earl Calloway
On the time off due to injury :
"The time off has helped a lot, it's given me energy. It's given me time to get rested and nurse the injury. I really missed being out on the court with my teammates, but I had do what is best for the team and that was to get healthy."
On the role and importance of the point guard to a team:
"Coach stresses it every single day in practice to me and Armon. He emphasizes that the team with the best leader, the guy that controls the game, controls turnovers, and gets the 50-50 ball will be better. I try to take it as serious as possible because the rest of the team does feed off of me and if I am not positive or playing well, that will relay on to the rest of the team. If I can't get it done offensively I try to get it done on defense."
Junior forward D.J. White
On the Big Ten Tournament:
"I'm very excited for the post season. This will be my second Big Ten Tournament with my injury setback last year. I hope to have a different outcome than my freshman year when we were one and done with a loss to Minnesota. I've been very blessed that the season is not over and I'm happy to be on the court with my teammates this year."
On the team:
"Our coaches have done a great job with us since the beginning of the year getting us ready for situations where we will play a lot of games in just a few days. We have a lot of depth and I don't think fatigue will be a factor at all. Our team is tough."
On opposing defenses:
"I have played against length all year and it is something that myself and the team can overcome."
Freshman guard Armon Bassett
On his emotions going into the Big Ten Tournament:
"I'm excited, not nervous because all the nervousness is out of me now. I'm just excited and looking forward to playing against good competition."
On the experience gained this season:
"It has helped me grow a lot, especially in terms of what will be expected of me next year. To have played point guard by myself is great experience for the type of leader I will need to become. The coaching staff and my teammates confidence in me has helped me to improve during the course of the year."
Junior guard A.J. Ratliff
On his play this season:
"The difference in my game from last year is definitely in my attitude. Coach Sampson has done a great job adjusting my attitude about the game and on playing hard. When I started playing hard it increased my level of play on both offense and defense."
On the team:
"Right now our mindset is all about defense. In the game against Penn State we gave up a couple of defensive possessions that we shouldn't have given up and Coach was not happy with our play. Going into the tournament there will be a big emphasis on defense and rebounding. We will get back to the foundation of our game."