The Transition From Players to Team
Oct. 12, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - In the last 13 games of the 2005-06 season, Indiana's Earl Calloway recorded a 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio (40 assists, 20 turnovers). The 6-3 senior nearly recorded a triple-double against Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA Tournament (13 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds). Calloway carried this momentum through the summer, enjoying a productive off-season conditioning program. In the process, he has firmly established himself as a team leader.
"After last year's stretch and over the summer, I know he can run this team," junior guard A.J. Ratliff said. "He's Coach (Kelvin Sampson)'s second voice on the court. Everything that Coach says, Earl is repeating."
Sampson has often said that there are three people who cannot afford to have a bad practice. The head coach, the best player (D.J. White) and the point guard (Calloway). Sampson and White may get a majority of the Hoosier headlines, but senior guard Rod Wilmont believes that Calloway will get his due this winter.
"Earl is probably one of the better point guards in the country," Wilmont said. "He pushes the tempo. A.J. (Ratliff) and I will get a lot of shots, a lot of opportunities. The way he penetrates through the hole and kicks it out to the corners. I like playing with him a lot."
Particularly in the last half of the Big Ten season, Calloway's success earned the respect of teammates and opponents. More importantly, it gave Calloway the confidence he needed heading into his final collegiate campaign.
"I just needed the opportunity," Calloway said. "I'm going to make mistakes, but I learned to play through the mistakes."
Calloway, Wilmont and Ratliff give IU a veteran perimeter presence. The team may tip off the 2006-07 season with Hoosier Hysteria on Oct. 13, but the backcourt trio already points to significant progress in conditioning.
"I'm more vocal because I have increased my confidence, and Coach has instilled that in me," Ratliff said. "I picked up some bad habits, and Coach Sampson came back and ignited that back up and put some fire under me and got me going."
To borrow a Sampson phrase, "players are made from April to October, and teams are made from October to March."
"We're tough, but we're not quite as tough as he (Sampson) would like us to be," Wilmont said. "The things that we have done for conditioning, you have to be tough. Coach has just kept drilling that in our heads, that this is what it's going to take to win on the road. It's going to help us in the long run."
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