March 11, 2008
Interim Head Coach Dan Dakich
On the 9 p.m. start for Friday's game:
"We've played a lot of 9 o'clock games with the Big Ten Network so I don't
think that is anything different for our team. The next game, I guess I will worry about that if it happens. We are trying to concentrate on just this first one. It is what it is. We have to play it the way it shakes out and hopefully we have the opportunity to do so. My guess is, if we are fortunate enough to have a next game, guys will be ready to play."
On having to prepare for two teams(Minnesota and Northwestern) that have
such different styles of play:
"I think every game to prepare for is a challenge. We have really good
assistant coaches here and we have scouted both teams, obviously. We just
played them both within the last three weeks. You'll know Thursday night but we will be prepared either way by Wednesday."
On the status of Jamarcus Ellis:
"We'll just see where he is at in the next couple of days.
On what the team will focus on in practice:
"We just need to focus on getting better. I think we probably played our two best defensive games of the year the last two games. We held Minnesota to 55 (points) and Penn State to 57 in regulation after giving up a ton of points in the first five minutes. I thought we settled down and played good
defense, so that has gotten better. But we've got to quit turning the ball
over. Seventeen turnovers against a zone is not what it should be,
particularly this time of year. So, the focus is on getting better. I've
said this all along since I've taken over here."
On what to expect from Minnesota/Northwestern:
On D.J. White's focus throughout the season:
"Both of the teams are similar in the standpoint of when they played us they played a zone. If you play Minnesota there is going to be a man-to-man
element in there that you have to prepare for. But regardless, the way the
defense is set up, even with two different styles, the defensive things that have been stressed here since August remain the same."
"He has been a pro. A pro shows up every day to do his work. A pro
understands the value of winning. A pro understands the recognition that
comes to everybody when you win. But he also understands his obligation to
the team and I don't think D.J. has ever wavered from that. D.J. has been a
guy, since I have known him, has been an enthusiastic worker. He brings a
life, he brings an energyÂÂ? this morning we are doing post guys cutting into the middle of the zone and shooting, a simple five-minute drill. But he got the whole big-guy group going just with his energy and his talk. And that's the way he has been all year. D.J. has done the things I think necessary, on the court, off the court, leadership, energy, daily work, to get the awards that he should get. And I am really proud of him for it."
On Eric Gordon playing with his wrist wrapped:
"I think any time you are playing with a restriction, it hinders you. But
one of the amazing things about Eric, there are a number of them, but one of them is that I have never heard him complain about it. I have never heard him use it as an excuse. When you are going through, doing what he is doing,there is a lot of pressure on Eric. There are so many expectations on him from the time he committed to Indiana. And he has lived up to every one of them. He's lived up to every one of them with a brace on his wrist. That is pretty good. And it hasn't slowed him down in terms of how he plays, meaning he has still gone about things, you know getting knocked down. He is fearless going to the rim although he has had a restriction on his wrist. I think a lot of people, a lot of players, may have used that as a excuse. all I have seen him do is come in and work out harder and shoot more. It is kind of a testament to how he was raised and how he is."
On Eric Gordon's reaction to the expectations, compared to former IU
great Damon Bailey:
"I think they are very similar. That is a great point, having been here for
both of them. I don't know that I've seen anyone come in with the
expectations that could match what Damon came in with. Eric has. Both of them are very similar kids, quiet kids, fun to be around kids, no maintenance guys. Just did their work. Weren't real vocal other than when they were with their teammates. That is a great point. Both of them have performed at a level of which they were expected to perform. Which, particularly now as opposed to when Damon came in there is a lot more scrutiny because of the internet, different radio talk shows, college basketball's focus on young players. Now, if you were great in high school and you go to Indiana, UCLA, North Carolina, Kansas, somewhere like that, you are expected to be great right away. And you are still 18 years old."
On the Big Ten having a number of talented freshmen this year:
"We talked about it on the radio show last night. We talked about how maybe
the league right now doesn't have as many pros as back in 1992, 1993,
whatever it was. But you look at the guys that are freshmen, some of them
highly regarded and some of them well regarded, but they have played so
well. And who knows how many of those guys, just off the first-team
all-league team, are going to leave college. I don't know, it is kind of
hard to predict. My guess is a number of them will stay and the Big Ten will get back to having a number of pros in it. Which it may already, given the freshman class."
On the reason for the increase in turnovers as of late:
"I think the other night, you look at how the game was going in the second
half, it was almost like we got to running offense and guys got tired. And
people think if you are tired, well why would you turn the ball over? Well,
tired isn't physical, tired becomes mental. And you lose, I don't know about focus, but you lose a sense of what you are doing sometimes. You lose the sharpness. And the situation we were in, playing guys as many minutes as we did give our situation, I am not sure that didn't play into it. Regardless of the issues, 17 turnovers playing 40 minutes of zone just isn't something you should ever do."
On the effort of the team heading into the Big Ten Tournament:
"I am going to tell you what I saw (against Penn State). I saw our best
defensive effort of the year. I watch the film for what it is and I saw more effort out of our guys on the defensive end than I have seen all year. Now,maybe their body language getting from the timeout to the benchÂÂ?I'll say when we are not playing well but I don't think there is any issue with
anybody's mental state. I thought it was better than it has been all year,
to tell you the truth. Guys were out contesting passing lanes, guys were
sprinting at shooters , guys were not allowing themselves to get screened.
We had a great practice today. We took yesterday off and every guy came in
and worked out after the banquet last night."
On how the team is playing now vs. a month ago:
"I think we played two really good games at home against Michigan State and
Purdue. I think we played two really good games, for whatever reasons.
Factor in the environment with Michigan State, Purdue comes in here for a
nationally televised gameÂÂ?I think those are probably by far our two best
games of the year. I just watched our offense against Purdue and I didn't
even realize, looking back on it, that it was a two-point game with eight
minutes to go. It is not like this team has been blowing people out the
entire year. What this team has been able to do is find a way to win games,
particularly games on the road."
Senior Forward D.J. White
On being named Big Ten Player of the Year:
"It means a lot being named player of the year. I couldn't have done it
without my teammates. Eric (Gordon), obviously could have won the award
also. My teammates put me in a good position this year to do what I did.
They took a lot of pressure off me, not getting double and triple-teamed. I
really take a lot of pride in that award. I am the first Indiana player to
get it since Jared Jeffries, to get it in my senior year after going through all I have been through means a lot."
On the mental state of the team:
"I think we understand that we are two losses away from our season being
over. I think the Penn State game we did a lot of things we shouldn't have,
a lot of turnovers and plays here and there that caused us to lose. But it
is better to lose at the end of the season than to lose in the weeks coming
up. I think we have that out of our system. We had a workout this morning
and everyone worked hard. Guys understand what is at stake this time of
On added urgency knowing his Indiana career is coming to an end:
"I was just thinking back a couple of days ago, I was telling the guys I
haven't won a game in the Big Ten Tournament since I have been here. We won
one my sophomore year but I wasn't playing so I haven't been part of a win.
So , of course, I want to keep playing. It is my last go-around, so
obviously want to keep winning. That drive and desire is there."
On how he has changed over the course of four years:
"One thing that has changed about me, personally, is maturity. Coming on
campus, being away from home I wasn't used to that. I just grew up in a lot
of areas. I had to take care of my body, learn how to work out, class
scheduling, all those things. It is just a matter of growing up."
Freshman Guard Eric Gordon:
On playing in his first postseason tournament:
"Every game is like a do-or-die type game. We understand that we don't want
to lose and it is time to get really focused and pay attention to the game
plan for each game."
On meeting the expectations placed on him this season:
"I think I have. The only thing is maybe just my shooting for the past five
or six games, that is the only thing that has been bad just a little bit.
You can usually recover that.
Sophomore guard Armon Bassett:
On being named the team's defensive player of the year:
"I do feel like I am the best defensive player on the team but I don't feel
like I showed it in the game sometimes. I understand why it is a surprise to a lot of people, but when I am geared in I know and my teammates know I am a pretty good defensive player. It is a compliment of how highly my teammates and my coaches thought of me, because my teammates voted for the awards. I would like to say thank you to them."
On the team being worn down at the end of the year:
"I think guys are going to use this week to try and rejuvenate a little bit. We probably do have some tired legs out there, but that is no excuse to lose to Penn State, though. We are going to take these four days and try to get better and we think we can win the Big Ten championship, still. Through all the ups and down we have been through we still think we should be one of the favorites to be playing on Sunday and win that thing."