Nov. 1, 2007
Indiana Men's Basketball Coach Kelvin Sampson will face one of his former assistants, Bobby Champagne who is now the head coach of North Alabama in an exhibition game on Sunday. The game will be televised by the Big Ten Network.
"We've had 19 or 20 practices, but I think we are getting to the point where we need to play a game, especially our freshmen. Those guys are doing the same things every day and they need to play a game to find out exactly how this stuff works. When you play against each other every day, there is a tendency to create some bad habits. The biggest question or concern for our team is `how are we going to manage the four spot.' Answers for that won't come until we start playing games. The guy that has really improved in many different areas since we started practice is Eli Holman. He is starting to do some things, instead of thinking about things, going slow and making sure he is doing them right. Eli is so raw, he just isn't a finished product. But, boy he is going to be good. He has such a high ceiling. Jordan Crawford has such a high ceiling. They are freshman playing in one of the toughest leagues in America and they are going to get beat up at times, but that's where D.J. (White) and Armon (Bassett) come in. It's not fair to call Eric (Gordon) a freshman, he's just a good player. He gets lost a little bit away from the ball, but that will come with experience. His talent can get him out of a lot of problems."
On the addition of Dan Dakich
"He will work with our post. Dan will bring a lot to us with his experience, he was a head coach for ten years and I think he is really good."
Besides A.J. Ratliff, who is your best on-the-ball defender?
Do you think this is going to be more transitional and a higher scoring team than you had last year?
"Eric Gordon, Armon Bassett. Armon has evolved more into that roll from last season. They embrace something like that and begin to see `that's who I am.' Armon has really matured, too, became more consistent. Last year he had some great games, but some bad games too. He is going to be more consistent this year.
"Yeah, on the whole. But there are some teams in our league that are possession-oriented teams. At times we were last year, we were a possession team a lot of times. There were certain teams last year that we didn't want to get in track meet with. I just didn't think we could beat them that way, so we played possession by possession. When we play teams that want to run, we will run with them because I think this team can play that way and win."
"Right now in terms of execution, our defense is ahead of our offense. But in terms of scoring, we have a lot of guys who can make a basket. We have more guys on this team that can score than we had on last year's team."
Commenting on Lance Stemler
"He is embracing being a captain on this team. Lance is a `do the little things' guy, he's a role player and I think he understands that."
How important is the next 11 days before the start of the regular season?
"Really important. I think our biggest improvement will come between Nov. 5th through Nov. 9th. Those days will be very important for this team. One of my former assistants is actually the coach for North Alabama. He will bring a good team in here. Our kids will be hungry to play."
"D.J. (White) and Eric (Gordon) are obviously going to play heavy minutes. You would hope that D.J. doesn't have to play in the high 30s though. DeAndre (Thomas) and Eli (Holman) give us more depth. Jordan Crawford is going to play a lot too."
Is Mike White going to have a tougher time getting on the court this season?
"Probably. I think back to two or three games last year when down the stretch, Mike helped us win those basketball games. Mike is such a great kid. That's the great thing about these jobs, you get to coach kids like Mike White. If you ask Mike about that, he would probably say `whatever coach thinks.' He just wants to help the team win."
"Stemler is going to be in there early because of his experience and he has the ability to stretch the defense around D.J. Eli, I would never redshirt a kid like him, he needs to play. We are losing D.J. after this year, so every minute Eli can get for us is like interest."
What's your gut telling you about this team?
"I like our team. As long as we keep getting better on defense, I think our team is going to be good. We are going to throw some freshmen out there that are going to make mistakes, but Armon and D.J. have played in the Big Ten. Lance has played in the Big Ten, Mike has played in the Big Ten and so has A.J. Those guys are with our young kids. It's a really good freshman class."
"As long as we stay healthy, this team will continue to progress. D.J. and Armon, those two guys, we need them to play good every night. And Eric can score."