Nov. 14, 2007
Indiana men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and players D.J. White and Armon Bassett met with members of the media today to discuss this week's Chicago Invitational Challenge.
IU Coach Kelvin Sampson
On the break between the first and second game:
"We have four days to practice after the mandatory day off. The thing is when you play over a weekend, like a Sunday-Tuesday, you are practicing for sure the day before and the day of. So for us, we played Monday and Tuesday was our mandatory day off and then we will go Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.
"I don't like the Sunday-Tuesday turnaround, but scheduling is not about what you like. You don't schedule for convenience, you schedule for necessity. I wish all of our games were Wednesday-Saturday. To me, that would be the perfect schedule. We would play Wednesday, practice Thursday and Friday then play on Saturday and take Sunday off and come back with practice on Monday and Tuesday. That to me is a perfect world. But television dictates some of our games and they also dictate what time some of them start but we are in a TV world. This is a whole new world with college basketball, whether it is when games are played or what time they are played, how many you can play. It is just a different world and you have to adjust.
On what he knows about Longwood:
"Not a whole lot right now. I have been focusing mostly on us since the game on Monday. We spent a lot of yesterday watching a lot of tape and then we spent today doing individual stuff with our kids. We brought them in an watched some film and today will be a heavy film day. We edit things and there is enough to last the first half and then there is enough to make us feel good the second half. But that is what this time of year is about. I don't overreact to anything anymore. Even if you lose a game early in the year, coaches just don't overreact because it is early in the year and it's a long year. We play 30-some games, this isn't football where if you lose a game you are eliminated from X-amount of bowl games. I don't focus on that anymore, maybe early in my career I did, but now my focus is figuring out what our strengths are and what our weaknesses are and keep working on those things.
On whether he likes the exempt events with two home games and two neutral games:
"I like the four games; they still count the same. I like the idea of four games versus three, especially with our team. We have so many new guys. Somebody asked me about or defense last year and this year and I said that we are a lot better defensively at this time this year than we were last year. After about 15 games, last year's team got a lot better. We have one game under our belt right now. But the second half the other night made me believe we are going to be a good defensive team; it's just not going to happen on Nov. 12. But I don't think that anybody would be able to say that.
"The Preseason NIT, the way it was set up last year. When Indiana signed up for the NIT, and we played in these at Oklahoma, we had a good chance to host two games and then go to New York to play two games. All of a sudden, when they started playing them all on a neutral court that is not the same deal. I'd much rather play in this tournament (Chicago Invitational Challenge) than that. Any exempt tournament that we are playing two games at home and two games on a neutral court is a good deal, if you are playing two at home."
On strengths and weaknesses of this team:
"The same thing, the defense. I thought we were great on defense in the second half. In the first half, I thought we needed to work on it. We got to the free throw line 31 times against Chattanooga. Everything in basketball, on Nov. 12, you need to work on. We have four more months and a long way to go."
On D.J. status afer his fall:
"He did not have a concussion, but he was a little woozy. Lance (Stemler) had a concussion last year. D.J. is nowhere in that catgory. He just banged his head and got five stitches. He's fine and he will practice today. I talked to (athletic trainer) Tim (Garl) today and I think everybody is fine today. They may not be looking forward to today, but everybody is going to practice today.
"At this time of year, after you have had 28 or 29 practices, we are not as monotonous. Everyday we do rebounding drills and defensive transition drills and everyday you should work on defense; all those things are important. We haven't worked on our 1-3-1 half-court trap and we haven't worked against it. Chattanooga played it against us the other night and we put Jamarcus in the middle and told him to look opposite and it looked like it worked pretty good. They played some 2-3 zone against us and I thought we were much better attacking the zone than we were against Pembroke. We moved the ball a lot better and got good looks. We have played three games, counting the exhibition games, and have shot almost sixty percent in every game, so there is not a whole lot to complain about with the offense. Offense is about making shots, that's the bottom line. So making shots is a pretty good offense. Our team is not going to look like a lot of teams that make ten passes and back door cuts, that's not our team. Our team is the way we are playing and that's what fits with this team. Every team is different. I've had teams that looked like an offensive execution machine, but those teams had to play like that to win. This team doesn't have to play like that."
On the play where he fell:
"I tried to catch myself, but I guess I missed that opportunity. I think I hit my shoulder first and then my head hit the ground. The only thing I remember after that is being in the locker room talking to Tim [Garl]. Then Armon told me I had `Tweety Birds' going around my head. It hurt but I'm fine. I remember [giving the thumbs up], but I think I was more clear once I sat down in the locker room."
On whether he will have a scar:
"It'll probably mess up my beautiful face. I've had stitches here on my eyebrow - it happens, it's part of it."
Comparing it to his injury suffered against St. Joseph's two years ago:
"It was a serious fall, but I don't think it's in the area of breaking a foot. It did run through my mind and scare me a bit, but I'm fine now."
On how the new players helped carry the team against UT-Chattanooga:
"We felt good. In the first half, we had trouble on the defensive end. I felt good about the guys, what they did - Jordan [Crawford], E.J. [Gordon], `Dre [Thomas] came in the second half and provided a spark for us on the defensive end, [Jamarcus Ellis] had nine rebounds. Collectively, they did a good job. We have a lot of things we all need to work on, especially on the defensive end. It was a good start, a little scary at the beginning, but a good start."
On Coach Sampson's halftime talk:
"He talked to us and told us we need to pick our intensity up. He got on me and told me I needed to pick it up also. That's what a coach does, and as players what we do is respond. I think we did a good job of responding the first couple possessions of the second half, we got stops that led to easy, fast-break points, and that got us going."
On whether he was surprised about being double teamed:
"Not really. Coach Sampson prepared us going into the week that he thought they would double team me. He told me he really doesn't think teams will play me 1-on-1 even though we've got good talent around us, so I'm trying to be prepared - different teams double different ways. This past game, they doubled with a guard and in the exhibition games, they doubled with a big guy, so I just have to be ready for different double teams and different defensive strategies."
On what it's like being out there with DeAndre Thomas:
"It's a big difference. It frees me up, it frees the guards up. Teams can't just focus on one post player, they have to focus on the other one because he's good around the basket. So it does a lot for our offense."
On whether Thomas' quickness surprised him:
"It doesn't surprise me. I see him every day at practice. It might surprise a lot of other people, but it doesn't surprise us. I think [his stamina] is getting better. He knows that's something he has to work on to help the team if he wants to play longer and help us out. He's working on it every day, coming in early."
On having more teammates that are playmakers:
"I love it. I don't have to do a lot of work when I get the ball. It's just one move and get my shot up. We've got a lot of penetrators, Jordan, Eric, they get to the hole and people have to respect them. It's good for us."
On what he remembers from signing his NLI:
"Just relief. I basically knew where I was going for a while, but it was just a relief to get that out in the open and concentrate on my senior year of high school."
On getting ready for less familiar schools:
"This year, it's not hard. All the top 25 teams that have been knocked off this year, we don't want to be one of those teams to get knocked off. You have to take every game as a big game. Coach Sampson reminds us of it all the time."
On what was wrong in the first half:
"We're young. We really haven't played much together. Last year we struggled at the beginning on defense, but I think we were a little bit better last year at this time. It just takes time. A bunch of new guys, learning a new system, understanding how Coach Sampson wants us to play defense, which is different than what they're used to. It's going to take a while for guards to get on the same page with switching and with the bigs to switch and not help so early if the guards get beat. I'm assuming that's what we're going to do today at practice, so hopefully it's a big change before Sunday's game."
Sophomore guard Armon Bassett
On what he remembers from signing his NLI:
"It was at Hargrave, a military school, so I was looking forward to actually seeing some girls, because we didn't have any girls at the school. I was just happy to be playing for Indiana, my home state. After I signed I noticed my life changed a lot - the attention I was getting as far as newspapers and publications talking about playing for IU and being from Indiana. I was just looking forward to playing."
On what the team needs to do before Longwood:
"Defense. I didn't think we played that badly defensively. I just think those last 12 seconds - somebody being a second late on a rotation on a block out. I just think we need to work on closing the shot clock out. I thought we were playing pretty good defense the first 24 seconds or so."
On getting ready for less familiar schools:
"I don't think [it's harder] because I know myself and a lot of the players on the team don't want to feel that feeling when you lose to someone you're not supposed to."
On getting used to being the point guard:
"There's probably a couple more steps to take, as far as being the one to set the tone on defense and how everyone's going to look at me and how I practice. Sometimes I just want to be a part of the crowd, but Coach Sampson wanted me to be there. I'd be the first to tell you it's a process for me, but I'm making an effort at it.
"A lot of people think I just score, live to score. I've been playing point guard my whole life and I had to score on my team, but I was still averaging six or seven assists. So, looking to distribute more this year hasn't been a big thing to me and Coach hasn't shunned me from not scoring, he just wants me to initiate the offense and after that we just see what happens. So far, I don't have to force anything and I think I've been shooting well because my first shot has been a good shot every game - I haven't been forcing anything and I can just get a good shot and it helps me get into the game plan with all the great players we have."
On how Eric Gordon's shooting is going to help the team:
"He's shooting from about 25 or 26 feet, so that's just going to make defenses have to pick us up even farther out and just open up more penetration. I think our guards are just taking what defenses are giving them. We've got talented guards - I think our guards can do everything - shoot, score, pass, rebound, defend - all of us can do that, so I think we're just going to take what the defense is giving us."
On how the talent of the backcourt helps the team:
"It's a big, big difference. They have to figure out who they're going to stop. I think we've got a lot of weapons, so I think it'll be hard for teams to stop all of our players who can do the things they do."
On working with Eric Gordon:
"I think Eric and I have good chemistry. I think all my assists were to him last game. It's just knowing where each other are going to be on the court."
On D.J. White's fall:
"I was watching the game yesterday and I couldn't even watch that. I've never taken a fall like that - he landed on his eye. I'm just glad he's alright."
On the disappointment when he creates a play and someone doesn't finish:
"Any guard gets mad because they want those assists, but people aren't perfect and are going to miss. You just try to put yourself in their shoes. Somebody's made a good pass to me, and I haven't finished every time, but you'd like someone to finish every time. I think you just have to pat them on the butt and encourage them. That's what I've learned to do. I try to encourage my teammates because it helps them more than trying to get on them or get mad at them for missing a shot of missing an assignment."