Men's Basketball

    Hoosiers Hold Men's Basketball Media Day

    Go Hoosiers! Kelvin Sampson begins his 25th season as a head coach.
    Go Hoosiers!
    Kelvin Sampson begins his 25th season as a head coach.
    Go Hoosiers!

    Oct. 11, 2007

    Press Conference Video | Photo Gallery

    Note: Coach Kelvin Sampson will join Dave Revsine tonight on the Big Ten Network during the 10 p.m. hour.

    Head Coach Kelvin Sampson

    On the plans for the first practice on Saturday:
    "I think we'll start with our defense. There are certain things that if you don't put the hammer down and develop some pride and get them to buy in during October, then I don't think you can do that in January. I used to say if you had to roll the ball out and do loose ball drills in January and February that's probably not a good thing. Those things have to be done in October."

    "Everything that we do in our practices are built around times and goals. For instance, we do a three-man weave with four passes. We put two minutes on the clock and they have to make 21 layups. We have a diagonal passing drill where we put two minutes on the clock, use four balls, and they have to make 82 layups. The thought there is to get them to not go through the motions but to get them to learn how to compete. It is nice to be able to talk about that, but for them to be able to see it and feel it and reach goals is always good. It's good to see them get better in that area each day. Whatever time they get or how ever many layups they make, the result will be a lot better in a week or two weeks. That is one of the things about the new NCAA rule about the two hours a week. You are able to get some of that stuff in, at least the teaching part. For us, it is nice this year to have kids back. We don't have to talk so much. It's nice to have in practice everyday, A.J. (Ratliff) and Armon (Bassett), Adam (Ahlfeld), Kyle (Taber), Lance (Stemler), Mike (White) and D.J. (White). Those seven guys, we can put them out and say `okay, this is what we are looking for' and have someone demonstrate it. Hopefully, our practices will be a little more productive starting on Saturday. I don't know that we have productive practices for a while because you are talking the entire time."



    On being more comfortable this year after a year of experience:
    "I can honestly say I am never uncomfortable coaching. I think the returning players are more comfortable here. And I feel better because of some of the results and some of the things that we were able to accomplish here last year. Think about the difference in the Indiana State game. I don't know how many of you remember the specifics of that game. You go from that game to the Wisconsin game, and we had the same team. We didn't put in any new players in, but that is the difference in playing hard and competing. When you have to start over every year, it is the same thing. And we are staring over, in some respects, with the turnover in the guard position. It has been well documented that A.J. will not play until our ninth game. Armon Bassett will slide over a spot and play the point position this year. We have other kids that can play that position, Jordan Crawford, Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis. At some point, I think we have a chance to be pretty good. Obviously, in those October practices, they are just going to have to grasp and figure out how it is that we are going to get these things done. The one thing about conditioning is that you put them in some adverse conditions. Whether it is getting up at 5 a.m. three days a week and just seeing how they react to that. We hold them responsible for a lot of little things and we just like to see how they react to that. There are some kids that are a little more mature than others, but mature kids usually handle adversity pretty good."

    On the preseason projections affecting the practices:
    "Probably not. And I mean this in all honesty, I don't know if I am smart enough to change my approach in October. We will do this October what we have done the last 24 October's. October is pretty much the same. The place you learn to adjust is offensively and that is based on who you have and what they can do. Last year, we just had a tough time getting to the foul line. That is not anyone's fault or for lack of effort or adjustability, it's just that we weren't very good at that. We were better at shooting three pointers. If I had to do it all over again, I would probably do the exact same thing and play exactly the same way. I am not sure Earl Calloway had a strength when we got here. His strength as the season progressed became his defense and he became really good at that. He struggled until he found something that he was good at. Before, he was just really fast with the ball. I'm sure there is a 100-meter sprinter on the track team that we could get to be fast with the ball, but that doesn't mean he is a good basketball player.

    "Kids like Brandon McGee, for instance, is trying to figure out where he fits in and what kind of role he is going to play. Some of that falls on him to figure out something he can hang his hat on. Every kid has got to have something they can hang their hat on. Like Earl last year. I don't know if he ever saw himself as a lockdown defender or as a guy who could take the challenge of defending the other team's best player, but he really embraced it. You have to give him credit for finding out what he is good at and could translate that into playing against a really good team. A lot of guys have strengths against guys who aren't very good. But when we are playing against really good teams in our league and out of our conference, what do they do to help us in those games? And that is where these practices come in. You aren't going to find anything out in the nine practices we had before we went to the Bahamas. We will start finding those things out in the next 20-25 practices."

    On the progression of Armon Bassett and how that will influence this year's team:
    "Last year, I'm not sure Armon was a point guard or a two-guard, he was just a good guard. This year we need him to be a good point guard, and that is not going to be easy to do for Armon because he likes to score. If you look at his background, that is where his identity has come from, making baskets. And we want to make sure we allow him that freedom because we need him to score. If you look at it on paper, I would guess that our three leading scorers will be Eric (Gordon), D.J. and Armon, but Armon is our point guard. But I would suspect that, at some point, we are going to see zone defenses. D.J. maybe more so than ever, is going to get doubled in the post, so Armon is a weapon for us because he can score. In transition for example, if one of our bigs gets a defensive rebound and kick it out to Armon, he has to look up the court and pass it ahead instead of dribbling up the court. Little things like that.

    "He is never going to be a point guard in the sense of John Stockton, for example. Point guard is a floating term. Point guards can play a lot of different way so don't stereotype a point guard. Magic Johnson played nothing like John Stockton and Jason Kidd is a little different than Steve Nash. But we are going to have to adjust to Armon and allow him to score too. If you watch the way Steve Nash plays versus John Stockton, they are completely different styles, but yet they played the same position. Don't put a category on Armon and say he doesn't fit that category, because maybe that is the type of point guard he is going to have to be."

    On being in a situation with so many new players but some guys returning:
    "In those situations, it comes down to their maturity. The more mature your team is, the better you are going to be able to handle things earlier in the season. I think we will be better early this season because of D.J., Armon, and Lance. I have been really pleased with Lance up to this point, and he is healthy. Yesterday, he ran a 5:14 mile, for example. But the new guys we have are talented kids. Eric Gordon is a talented kid. And I still think the kid that is going to have an outstanding year for us is Jordan Crawford. Sometimes it is like a big bolt, it just isn't screwed in tight and is a little loose. As soon as you twist it to make it tight, it is real solid and that's how Jordan is right now. It is just experience for him. Eric is talented and I don't expect him to be a freshman at any point. Jamarcus Ellis is very solid, a good passer and maybe a little better shooter than you think, and he has really worked to improve that. I have seen that in the drills that we have been doing.

    "Our guards are going to have to play a lot minutes early because right now we only have four guards, outside of (Brett) Finkelmeier and Adam (Ahlfeld), until A.J. gets eligible. Up front, D.J. will start for sure and the other position you have the possibility of Eli, but we are still waiting to hear about Eli, Lance, DeAndre (Thomas) and Mike (White). D.J. averaged around 28-29 minutes last year. So if you look at the two positions, there are 80 minutes between them and he is going to play almost 30 of them. It's not like you have to have five or six guys there. Florida last year played three post guys, Noah and Horford and Richard. I like our depth at that position. Early on, it might be a committee, D.J. won't be a committee but the other two guys we'll just have to play them as much as we can and see who fits best.

    "I am excited about DeAndre Thomas and the improvement he has made in a lot of different areas. When D.J. was on the floor, he touched the ball a lot. Even if we get it to him and he kicks it out, he still touched it. A lot of times we got open three's because that is the shot you are going to get out of a double in the post, especially if you reverse the ball. There is not a team in America that won't shoot those shots. There was a tendency, when D.J. was not in the game, to not throw the ball inside because we really didn't have anyone to throw it to. But DeAndre gives us another option and we will have to see he and D.J. play together. That is not something that we really looked at during the nine practices and the Bahamas. Starting Saturday, once we get through our base and foundation stuff that is one of the things I want to see."

    On getting the team chemistry on and off the court:
    "Someone asked me about the trip the Bahamas, and I think that might be one of the things you get out of that is the camaraderie. You at least start to build that. Most of the teams whose best players are also their hardest workers; those teams usually have pretty good chemistry. It is when the best player is a knucklehead and is late to practice or not getting his work done in the classroom. Kids look at that and want to know that the guy up front leading the stretching is our captain and a hard worker. You can elect captains but you can't elect leaders.

    "Last year at this time, I'm not sure we had a leader, but this year we do. I think we have two really good leaders. D.J. has been not good, but great, and Lance. Those two senior captains have earned it and earn it everyday. That is something that has to be earned everyday."

    On preparing for A.J. return after eight games:
    "He will be at practice every day. That is a good thing about his situation is that he can practice every day, so that shouldn't be a concern."

    On the guards giving the team versatility:
    "They will, especially in transition. Teams that get the easiest baskets are the teams that score the most points. If you have to get your baskets against a half-court defense, it is hard to score a lot of points. You need to score in transition and get some second and third shots. We will be better at that this year. Jordan, Armon, Eric and Jamarcus are really good open court players because they can pass. If all they could do was score, I don't know that makes you a whole lot better. But the fact that they can score and pass to get other people easier shots, that is what I am excited about. All the good teams that you have seen on TV have that. It was exciting to watch Ohio State last year when Conley would get the ball in his hands, he didn't have to score. He would find people and get them open shots. And usually his pass wasn't the one that led to the shot, it was the extra pass. This team is a much better passing team and they are unselfish, which is as pleasing as anything."

    On Eli Holman:
    "He doesn't miss a thing. He has been cleared for about three weeks to practice. So if he had not been cleared, then it might be more of a factor for him. We get reports from our academic advisor and he was showing how well he was doing in his English class and he had another class that he was getting really good feedback from the instructors. So he's doing good in the classroom. He timed really well in the timed mile the other day, but he still needs to get more explosive and stronger. He is an easy kid to get along with too. He doesn't get in trouble and a pleasure to be around."

    On how well the football team is doing this year:
    "I was just talking to a group at lunch about Bill Lynch and his staff and what the team has done. There is not a coach, student-athlete or staff member in this athletic department that doesn't get goosebumps about what those guys are doing. It is satisfying and exciting because every game starts building up. We know coach Hep's mantra `Play 13' and everybody is excited about that. And I think they are going to do that, but I don't think it is just making a bowl game, I think they have a chance to make it to a pretty good bowl. I see Bill over here in Assembly Hall sometimes and what a great guy. It is just so easy to pull for him and be happy for him and it's good to see."

    On his perspective about what IU basketball is after a year;
    "I enjoy coaching. I don't get caught up in a lot of other stuff. This is a great university and it is so much bigger than the coach. I am a role player here, I coach the team. There was a week this past summer, in August, when we had Isiah Thomas, Landon Turner, Calbert Cheaney, Damon Bailey and George David come in and speak. It is so many people's program and that is the way you look at it. I don't know how long I'll be the coach here, but when I leave, there will be another coach that follows me. The name on the front of the jersey still says Indiana and my job is to coach the team. While you do it, everybody wants to help. This isn't anybody's team, this is everyones team."


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