Men's Basketball

    Monday Press Conference-- Dan Dakich Talks About Arkansas

    Go Hoosiers! Dan Dakich
    Go Hoosiers!
    Dan Dakich
    Go Hoosiers!

    March 17, 2008

    Interim Head Coach Dan Dakich
    On Arkansas:
    "I've seen (on film) a really good team. I think Arkansas is a team like Michigan State in the way they get the ball down the floor, the way their wings run, the way their bigs run, the way the point guard pushes it. So I think there is a similarity there. I don't know that anybody in the Big Ten has the size across the board that Arkansas has. And you combine that with them being a veteran team, you've got a good team.

    "One of my very good friends, Dan Hipsher, coached there last year and I remember as we were going through the spring, he was telling me they left a really good basketball team at Arkansas. So, I haven't really followed them but as I watched last night on through the night, remembering the guys and talking to him a little bit today, it is guys who are seniors; it's guys who have experience and are playing really well. It is a tough match for anybody. But it is our match and we have to play well to do well."

    On the qualities of a John Pelphry-coached team:
    "I think they get the ball down the floor. Last year's team at South Alabama had really good guard play; had guys like a Patrick Beverley or like (Gary) Ervin, that had specific roles and filled them well. They have big guys who run. They play, primarily, man-to-man. They played zone last year as well. (They have) really good athletes. They use their athletic ability. It is an SEC team as opposed to a Sun Belt team, so there is a difference in physical ability there. They press you with a couple of different looks in the press that you have to handle. It looks to me like you have to be able to guard their transition. You've got to be able to handle their press, and they are very competitive guys, as seniors are. They got down 19, I think it was, against Georgia and you could see their intensity pick up.

    "Sometimes when you see as much film as I do and you watch as many games over the course of a basketball season you see teams that die when they get down. That is not this team. This team gets going when it gets down. Saw it against Tennessee; saw it against Georgia last night. You are sitting there and hoping that they get undisciplined, but that is not the case. The fought harder. Which they (South Alabama) did at our (Bowling Green) place last year. We had them down, maybe four, with 20 seconds to go they busted down and drilled a three and actually took a one-point lead."



    On similarities between Arkansas and Xavier:

    "I am sure there are, but I haven't really looked at Xavier since that game. That wasn't a very good game; it is one of those games you don't want to watch again. The thing about Xavier was the ball was really dominated by Drew Lavender and that is not the case here. They (Arkansas) distribute the ball; Beverley's involved, Earvin's involved. But athletically, certainly similar."

    On Arkansas' Steven Hill:
    "Hill is an interior defender so my guess is that will be D.J. (that he guards). What I saw was two things: 1. He is very good at what he does. Throughout the course of the games we watched last night, which was Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi and two more, you saw him being very good at what he does. But you also saw them understanding as a team that when he is in the game their defense feels better to them. You can see that maybe there is more pressure, maybe then know they have a guy who can block shots inside. That is their psychology, I don't pretend to know it right here, right now. But that is what it seems like to me.

    "My guess is between Hill and (Darian) Townes and (Michael) Washington and (Vincent) Hunter, they have guys on the front line. It is a tough task for our front line because then you combine that with (Charles) Thomas who played phenomenal against Tennessee. It is a tough task. But I hope that we are a tough task."

    On slowing down Arkansas:
    "I think that you have to slow them. Michigan State showed us that. For an example in our improvement in that area, but when you take the Minnesota game here and the Minnesota game there, when we were there I think we gave up 18 fast-break points. We gave up two here. So that has been a real point of emphasis. Now I don't think other than in the first 10 minutes Minnesota got any fast-break points against us the other day. I don't think Penn State got very many. But, having said that, this is a different level of athletic ability. They talk about SEC athletes in football; you hear about it all the time; the speed of Florida, Alabama, Tennessee, that kind of thing. Well, it is the same thing in basketball. There is a speed factor that we have to be ready for. It can't knock you back and then try to recover. You have to be ready for it and not let that be a determining factor in the outcome of the game. For us, it will be turnovers. We can't turn it over. For us it will be rebounding; we've got to rebound the ball better and can't get outrebounded like we did (against Minnesota). If you are not blocking out, if you are not getting five guys involved on the defensive backboard, then they will beat you with that."

    On determining who plays:
    "I do it based on how you play. I thought Lance (Stemler) through the course of the year has been the guy who coaches feel comfortable with. If you are going to run offense, Lance knows where to go and what to do. Kyle (Taber) didn't play, then suddenly when he got his chance he played. I thought he was really good at Penn State and so I thought he deserved a chance to play.

    Then, in the first half (vs. Minnesota) DeAndre (Thomas) was really good. So I thought he deserved a chance to play. So it's more who we think can help us win this particular game and, quite frankly, it is a spot that is incredibly important in this game. It's a spot where that position, once it got productive in the Minnesota game in the tournament, helped us turn the game around. You have to have that because if you look at good teams, every good team has a four-man that is doing something. You have to get something out of that spot and in that spot I am simply going to play the guys that play best. So this week in practice, whoever we start will be a function of who played the best in today, tomorrow , Wednesday, Thursday practice sessions."

    On the reluctance to play DeAndre Thomas and D.J. White at the same time:
    "Here is when that (playing together) has happened. That has been totally up to DeAndre. DeAndre's three best games of the year, Kentucky, Michigan State and Minnesota, were simply a matter of DeAndre deciding he was going to get in the gym extra, he was going to be serious about playing. You don't have those three games by coincidence. Unfortunately, that has not always been the case. He's learning at this level there is a preparation factor here that has really helped him as he has gone about understanding that. I didn't even say anything to him last week about getting in here extra and doing things because I didn't have to. Nobody said anything to him, he just did it. Every single time he has done that, where he has done it seriously and he has taken the initiative, he's been really good. So I don't really have any reluctance to play anybody, but they have to play well. If you are not playing hard, if you are not playing well, then you aren't playing, period."

    On the need to improve rebounding:
    "There is no doubt. This is something that has been fought all season long and it is a function of a lot of things. It is a function of habit. I don't know that Minnesota scores 10 points in the second half on just offense; shooting the ball, running a set. I don't think they did. The points they got came from what you call `finish the possession.' Our guards were running out as opposed to staying in and picking up a loose ball, or picking up a ball off the backboard. And probably they got 10 points when the ball hit the floor on our defensive end. And in theory, the guy that shoots the ball is out of the rebound equation. So now you should always have a five-against-four rebounding advantage on the defensive backboard if everybody stays in to rebound. We spent 30 minutes on it yesterday showing every play they got when guys were running out. We showed the difference when guys stayed in.; you stayed in, you got rebounds and you made plays. You ran out, you didn't.

    "It is definitely a concern but I think it is one that can be handled. We have long, athletic guys, other than A.B. (Armon Bassett) playing between Eric (Gordon) and Jordan (Crawford). I think Jordan has really improved his rebounding. But they have to be involved in it."

    On facing the press:
    "Presses do two things: with a 35-second clock when you play Northwestern they bother you; they want you to use 23, 25 seconds before you initiate your offense. Other presses are trying to take it from you. But in both instances I think, given our personnel, it probably fits better for us to attack. Now, you've got to know score; you've got to know situation; you've got to know all those things. You can always back off, but it is hard to get harder. It is easier to back off of things in kids' mindsets than it is to say `okay, we're going to go from soft to hard as opposed from hard to soft'. So that is the mentality. Ours kids have been pretty good with that. Ohio State tried to press us in here and there and we went through it. But these guys (Arkansas) will continue to press; they won't slow down on us. It's their thing."

    On the importance of getting off to a good start:
    "The thing that we talk about with this is that if you come out to guard, shots go in. If you come out worrying about offense, you don't guard. It goes back to the hard-to-soft (play) as opposed to soft-to-hard. It shocked me when I was reading the post-season guide and I went through our halftime scores for every game. You would think that our team here, given the number of home games in the nonconference season, would have been up on these teams 20 points at halftime. But really, the nine-point lead we had I think it was here against Ohio State, and the 10-point lead at Minnesota were about the only two times in the conference season that we've had any kind of more than two possession lead. And maybe there have only been a few times (overall) that we had a more than two possession lead. That has been an issue the entire year. As an interim coach, there is a huge difference in how I would approach the whole pregame thing. But when you are 20-some games into it you are kind of set in how you do it. Given the team has had success, you are a little reluctant to change something."

    On similarities between Sonny Weems and other players Indiana has faced:
    "We talked about that. Weems is an interesting kid because I had no idea what happened in the Tennessee game. I hadn't watched it. I knew (Steven) Hill had hit the game-winning shot. I knew that. So as you are watching the game and you are starting to watch Arkansas, you are saying 'gosh, the game is 15-minutes in and is in the 90s and Weems has 30 right now.' Well, I looked at Jeff Meyer and said at some point, Weems is going to be involved here. And sure enough, bam. Now, who that compares to, I really haven't been able to come up with somebody. Truthfully, he is a little like Eric (Gordon). He is like Eric in that he is really aggressive with it. He'll shoot multiple shots in. He's not just a jump shooter, he'll take the ball to the basket. He hasn't shot as many free throws as Eric has but the capability is there. He is a kid that can get electric hot. He is a kid that looks like when he gets it going, he is pretty tough to stop.

    "The thing about this game is that it is a different game. We were watching the game last night against Tennessee and with about four minutes to go it is the same score as the Michigan-Wisconsin final (score). Four minutes to go in the first half. You are like `if this is a Big Ten game, this game is over. People are getting on the bus and doing the postgame show.' It was something like 48-37, and that is with four minutes to go in the first half. I think the final in the Michigan-Wisconsin game was 51-36. It is going to be a game that is different than what we've played for the past two months. It will be interesting; it could be good or it could be bad."

    On the ease today of prepping for a team in such a short time as opposed to the past:
    "In terms of the league season, the Big Ten Network helped immeasurably with that. I mean, you have every game on TV. Last night, by whatever time I was done talking to the team I had Arkansas' last four games and three other options to watch sitting in my office. Even recently, it used to be you had to call up services that provided you with film. But now because of conference tournaments all being on TV, if a team makes a final you are getting three or four of them right now. It is a lot easier."

    D.J. White

    On thinking about playing in the SEC after being raised in Alabama:
    "I did give some thought to it, particularly because Alabama is 20 minutes away from my home. But I just thought this situation was best for me so I decided not to stay close to home or go to an SEC school."

    On what figured into the decision to go to Indiana:
    "Playing time. I wanted to play right away and I came in (to Indiana) and started my first year. And then just being comfortable with the people up here, I had been up here a couple times before, so those were probably the main factors."

    On the Arkansas front line depth:
    "They are very deep across the front line. I know a couple of the guys. Steven Hill, he was my roommate this summer at a camp we attended. I know Charles (Thomas), we have been to a couple camps together, so I'm kind of familiar with them. It's going to be a challenge. They are very big on the front line."

    On regrouping in time for the tournament:
    "We just try to put everything behind us. We are getting ready for practice and go over some film and try to correct things that we need to work on. That's basically all we can do at this time right now."

    On the biggest adjustment from Coach Sampson to Coach Dakich:
    "Just not having Coach Sampson around has been a big adjustment. A lot of guys are used to him being around, but we are through that stage right now. We haven't been playing good ball lately, and we know that. So we just have to figure something out going into the tournament."

    On what the difference has been over the last six games from the start of the season:
    "I think we are starting off games not together, and I don't know what's going on with that. We got ourselves in trouble with that lately, particularly the Minnesota game, so that is something we need to correct going into Friday's game."

    Eric Gordon

    On his familiarity of Arkansas:
    "Well, I did see them play against Georgia. They have very quick guards and play a fast tempo. They have a very well-rounded team."

    On advantages that Indiana might have on Arkansas:
    "They are a team that scores in the 80's or 90's and we are a team that will slow them down, and we should be able to just by our style of play."

    On getting back on track after a difficult finish to the year:
    "Defensively, at times we turn it on and off. And offensively we haven't hit shots. We need to keep our team together and make sure we start off the game the right way, instead of being down 14 or 15 points."

    On the motivation of knowing that one more loss and the season will be over:
    "It makes us really motivated. We know our whole side of the bracket is tough and we just have to rise up to the expectations. Arkansas is a really good team and we just have adjust our gameplan to what we need to do (to win)."

    On what he is feeling leading up to the Tournament:
    "I don't really know what to expect. This is my first time and you basically have to play like it's your last game, point blank. You just have to play hard each game, every minute."


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