Hoosiers Ready For Exhibition Opener
Oct. 31, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. The Indiana Hoosiers open exhibition play against North Dakota on Sunday, Nov. 5, at 1 p.m. at Branch McCracken Court at Assembly Hall. Coach Kelvin Sampson believes that after three weeks of practice, his team is ready for its first test.
"The improvement and teaching level always increases after the first game," Sampson said. "You get to a certain point in practice where you just level out and need to play in a game. At some point, practice becomes counterproductive, because you're emphasizing the same thing every day."
Sampson said that a major part of his transition to Bloomington has been helping his players learn the intricacies of his basketball program.
"It has been interesting. You go to practice realizing that none of the kids have spent even one full season in your system," Sampson said. "The great thing about having veterans who played for you is that it is just like having assistant coaches. The older guys can help the new guys learn the ropes."
But in a sense, this adjustment is why Sampson came to IU.
"I love to coach," Sampson said. "We have to go slow and be patient with this bunch. It's a long season, and we'll progress as we go."
"Leadership is key," Sampson said. "D.J., Rod and Earl have to set a tone for this team. The thing I especially like about Earl is that he handles adversity well. Most coaches try to create some sort of adversity for their players. If I put him on the free throw line for making a mistake (in practice), he does not come back and pout or hang his head. I really like his attitude."
In this sense, Calloway is meeting his coach's standard by setting a good example.
"These kids of great," Sampson said. "At the end of the day, I want these kids to be attentive and give great effort. I've been pleased with the kids in every single one of these areas."
Sampson is also encouraged by White's work ethic.
"D.J. is a huge part of what we do on both ends of the floor, and he is very cognizant of that," Sampson said. "This is his third year in college, but he has only played one year (due to foot injuries). He is a gifted offensive player, but there are so many other areas where D.J. could be so much better. For example, when he was a freshman, D.J. averaged 28 minutes a game but barely five rebounds per game. That is what we're emphasizing to D.J., not just scoring."
Indeed, White will be the focal point of every opponent's scouting report.
"It's a lot easier for a guard to dominate the college game instead of a big man because of double teams," Sampson said. "A good big man catches the ball on the block, and you double them. That creates a 4-on-3 match up on the other side of the floor. We want to force double teams, and if they don't double him, we want him to score. He is starting to realize that."
Sampson has been going non-stop since his arrival at Indiana on March 29. In addition to the day-to-day coaching duties, he has made numerous public appearances throughout the state. He quickly gained a strong appreciation for and shares the passion that alumni, students and fans have for Indiana University.
"When we were introduced at Midnight Madness, (more than 14,000 fans gave him a standing ovation and chanted his name) that was a little overwhelming," Sampson said. "At IU it has been different, but in some ways it would be different anywhere. We're all creatures of habit. There are so many other emotions. For example, I coached my son, Kellen, at Oklahoma, the last three years. But at the end of the day, my responsibility is to the kids I am coaching. To think about any other thing personally would take away from why I coach."
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