Aug. 26, 2007
Bloomington, Indiana -
Seniors D.J. White and Lance Stemler met with the media as the Hoosiers prepare to visit the Bahamas to play four games in three days over the Labor Day Weekend.
"The Bahamas trip will be good for this team. It will give us a chance to get an early start on the year. We have some newcomers that will be a big part of this team this year. It's an early start for them to get to know Coach Sampson and the style of how we're going to play, I think it's going to be good overall for the team and the coaching staff."
"The Bahamas trip will give us more of a chance to jell a little bit as a team and get to know our new teammates' strengths and weaknesses and just how to play and let them adapt to the way Coach Sampson is going to coach."
On his ankle
"It's good. I'm just working on my flexibility, strength and getting my confidence back. It feels really good right now. I'm going full at it."
On his Pan Am experience beyond basketball
"It was different. Off the court when you're in another country, they love Americans and they would try to trade different things with us like the U.S.A. shirts and different things we had. On the court, they pulled against us, as expected. All of the fans from different countries, it didn't matter how late we played, I remember the first game we played was at 10:30 and the last game it was packed with different fans from different countries there pulling against us. That was an experience in itself."
On not getting too exhausted or worn out after playing in the Pan Am games and in the preseason games in the Bahamas
On his health last season
"After the Pan Am games, I went home for a week and a half and just laid on the couch, so I'm pretty rested. I'm ready to go. Once I came back from Alabama, I came in and started to work and lift. I think it's good for us to get in shape and work on our bodies so it's good to have this experience and learn the offense."
"Ever since Xavier kicked me in the head in practice, it all kind of went down hill from there. But no, I've just battled through some injuries. I am as close to 100% as I've been, so I'm really looking forward to this year, staying healthy and working through the year."
On when he began to feel at 100%
"I think after the Fourth of July, they let me start doing some one-on-one, two-on-two work. Then about mid- to late July, I got on the court and really played open gym with the guys for the first time. Then really after that, I was at full go."
On regaining confidence after surgery
"I think I made big strides with it. At first, I was worrying about where I was stepping and if I was going to step on a foot. Now, it's kind of in the back of my head. I don't really think about it too much, but it's still there a little bit."
On not getting any free time in the Bahamas
"It's definitely a business trip. We just get time to play with each other and get used to our teammates and get some work done. Maybe they'll give us a little free time at the end of the trip, but we just have to get our work done first."
On what they need to do as captains
"Lead by example. We have a lot of young guys, so we just have to do the right things on the court and do what Coach Sampson asks. I think these guys want to learn enough that they'll follow our guidance, so I think that will be big for Lance and I to lead by example."
On giving the newcomers advice on playing for Coach Sampson
"Just play hard every possession. That's the main thing Coach is about. He doesn't care if you miss shots, as long as you're playing hard, you're rebounding. Just play hard and give all of the effort that you can."
On what player will surprise people
"I think Jordan Craword will surprise a lot of people the most. He's not talked about in his class as much. He comes in everyday working hard. He's really athletic. I think he's going to be a surprise."
"I agree with DJ. I would say Jordan. He kind of flew under the radar coming in and he surprised me. He's good, fun to watch and to play with."
On the hype around the program
"I try to stay away from reading it, but you can't help but hear it. It's good that our team is recognized like that, but at the end of the day that's just on paper. Just like my sophomore year, on paper we were supposed to be really good, but that didn't turn out the way we wanted it to. We just have to work. It's good to have the hype, but we have to go to work."
"As much as you try to ignore it and not listen to it, it's there and everybody sees it. Right now, it's giving us more motivation in our workouts to live up to that. We know we have talent, so we just come in everyday working hard because we know there's good things ahead if we do."
On getting newcomers acclimated to college life
"More than anything, it's the schedules. Before you get here, you're not used to leaving your apartment at 6 a.m. on Monday's and not getting back until 8 or 9 o'clock at night after study hall. I think more than anything, it's just knowing where they are going to be at all times and being there on time, and then the rest will come. They'll get used to it."
On talking about the schedules with the newcomers
"They're very curious, just like any newcomer, about how things are and how can you balance your schedule between basketball, school work and a social life. It's all about time management. They ask questions about that."
On the Bahamas and getting early practices
"I think it's pretty important. It gives us a chance to learn each other's games more in a structured type setting. Even though we play open gym together, it's still open gym. There are no coaches there and it's not really how we play when Coach Sampson is there. This will give us a chance for them to learn how to play in Coach Sampson's system and learn about each other in that system. It will be a good experience."
On getting help in the frontcourt
"Eli (Holman) is super long and athletic and can block shots. DeAndre (Thomas) is a great finisher under the rim, so just having that extra inside scoring and defense is going to help us out. It's just going to give us more depth up front. I think that's the main thing. When D.J. would come out of the game, we had more trouble scoring around the basket last year. DeAndre will help a lot with that. As well as Eli, who will also help defensively because he's a great shot blocker."
On being a captain and getting to stay at one school for two seasons
"It means a lot to me. College has been a journey for me. This is the first time that I've been in a college for two years in a row, so just having that stability means a lot and being the oldest guy on the team and being able to help out the freshmen knowing that they will look to you for advice is just a dream come true. It's been a great ride."
On working in the weight room with the ankle injury
"I spent a lot of time there. Three weeks or so after my surgery, they let me start lifting so I would sit down and just do upper body stuff. I just did my upper body for a long time and then I really worked on my legs a lot as soon as I could to help balance it out. Coach Watkinson has probably seen a little too much of me, but it's been good.
On the difference getting to workout has made
"I think it's made a big difference just around the basket and rebounding. It's not getting pushed out, so it's going to help me battle."