March 22, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Head coach Kelvin Sampson sat down with the media on Thursday, March 22, to discuss his thoughts on the end of the season.
On the NCAA Tournament:
"The Memphis game will be a tough game, two good teams. With Texas A&M, San Antonio is a good site because they will have 18,000 Aggie fans there making it a tough game for Memphis. The most talented team left is Kansas and the other teams will have to play really good to beat Kansas. For Ohio State, Conley and Oden are monsters, but the team will have to make 3s because that is a big part of their game. Conley is the perfect point guard for them. North Carolina is good enough and Kansas is good enough. All four of the number one seeds are the best teams this season and they are just loaded with talent. UCLA will be hard to beat out west, also Southern Illinois. But really if you are still playing, you are good."
On the team:
"Right now we are catching up academically. The team will come in individually and lift. We have been in academic meetings with the counselors all week and I will meet with all of the kids to make sure they are good with their classes. I always adhere to the theory that summer school should only be for graduation purposes, not to keep kids eligible. Graduation is our goal for all of our kids. Our returning kids will all be in summer school for the first session and then most of them will be here second session, along with the incoming freshmen."
On the season:
"This team did the best they could. You go in every year thinking just be as good as we can be and it was hard for me to have an expectation for them when I never saw any of them play before."
On what the team will be working on:
"Strength training will be a huge point of emphasis, especially for the young kids. We do a lot of explosive work and a little bit of everything. With the rule set up for time allowed, we have to shut down everything the week before finals, so we have a three-week window to practice."
On A.J. Ratliff:
"In addition to his wrist injury, he really hurt his thumb so I looked at his turnovers and it is hard to get upset with his play because he was playing with only one hand. With rebounds, I know he would have had more with two hands available. A.J. showed a lot of courage and the same with Lance (Stemler). Lance is a kid that has a really bad ankle and it affected his shot."
On the starting lineup combinations:
"When you are coaching a team you don't worry about opinions of the team, you care about the team. There was nobody on this team, but maybe D.J. (White ) and Earl (Calloway), that could start from day one. Earl had to earn it and Rod (Wilmont), we knew could help us. I wanted to see how they handled it. In conference play we knew Rod, Earl and D.J. were our rocks, but the other positions were open. A.J.'s injury helped
Armon (Bassett) get in there and then Armon's play helped him stay there. It seems as though we always had somebody hurt. We battled injuries. You take the good and the bad. The thing that I take from this season, when I look back at the past six months is how good these kids were to work with and for people that don't understand that, they aren't coaching. Mike Davis deserves a lot of credit for bringing these kids together."
On expectations for the incoming recruiting class:
"Jamarcus Ellis is a great player and people just haven't seen him. There are a lot of reasons why the focus will be on Eric (Gordon) as he is from Indiana and an outstanding player. When people get to know Jamarcus, Brandon McGee, Eli (Holman) and Jordan (Crawford) they will see their excitement about coming to Indiana. All of these kids will have the opportunity to help us on some level."
On D.J. White and the NBA:
"He should explore it and you have to encourage him. I have talked to D.J.'s parents and I think it would be an injustice to not find out where his value stands. Sometime in April they will do a mock draft. D.J. could be a first rounder or a high pick. If that's what D.J. wants to do, then I will support him 100 percent."
On next season:
"This year's team was a perimeter team and we shot 3s. Transitions baskets get you to the rim and Jordan Crawford will get you there. Jamarcus Ellis is not a 3-point shooter, but it doesn't mean that he can't make one, but his game is attacking you off the dribble. Jordan attacks the rim and both of those guys are great passers to create shots. Attacking the gaps, drawing defenses and finding open people. Eric Gordon is a great passer and an outstanding defender. The guys are long. Eli will develop and become a great player. Our program will be about developing players."