Nov. 22, 2006
Head coach Kelvin Sampson sat down to talk with the media on Wednesday, Nov. 22, about his preparations for the upcoming game against Duke. He was joined by juniors D.J. White and Lance Stemler.
Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
On playing on the road:
I think before you can be a good road team you have to have a foundation of how it is you want to play. That's the thing that we're still searching for, is something that we can say "This is who we are. Every game this is what we're going to be." There have been flashes that we're pretty good at different things, but there hasn't been one common thread in any of the games we play. We have some guys who can make 3's. D.J. is playing better and better. There's not an area that I can say is our strength right now. That's kind of where we are after four games, we don't have a strength. Duke has a lot of newer guys in their program, but so do we. We're both looking for our strength. That's why early in the season so many teams are inconsistent, but that will come with time.
On what the team focused on in practice this week:
Execution on offense, guarding the ball better, and sustaining our concentration for longer periods of time. In the Indiana State game and the Chicago State game, when we were focused, we were pretty good. It only takes one guy to let up. There has to be a personal accountability for that. Playing the game the right way when you're on the court, not looking at the score, whether you're up 20 or up 30, is finishing the game the right way. I see areas of improvements, but like the Chicago State game, I felt there were areas we improved in when we were up. You finish the game up and allow some layups that shouldn't have been. It gives you something to really concentrate on on the tape. A game like playing Duke, I remember a couple of years ago we played Duke in Madison Square Garden. Playing teams like Duke brings the best out in teams. They know that. I watched Marquette play them last night, I watched Air Force Academy play them. You have to be really careful when you play Duke not to get caught up in who they are and what they've been. You have to play the game. We've got to go play basketball. But I think it's going to be a great experience for us, certainly a great opportunity. We've got to come back and play Charlotte, Western Illinois, Western Michigan and Southern Illinois. It's just part of preseason for us. I've never been involved in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. I've watched it. It's an opportunity game for our kids.
On Indiana's offense:
If you look at our games, we've scored about 90 points in three of them. But if you look at way we're scoring our points, we've been really good out of timeouts and dead balls. I think the flow from end to end to end in the flow of the game is an area that we can get a lot better in. Familiarity, recognizing. Our point guard play has to be more confident. We can't worry about turning the ball over. You can tell there's not a lot of comfortability yet. If you think about the two exhibition games, we didn't have to. We forced 50 turnovers or so, and scored layups, and getting open 3's. In the Butler game, they forced us to play half court. We weren't ready to be a really good half court team then. Especially the way we've been playing. If our strength was on the outside, I think you'd have a chance to be really good early. If your strength is on the inside, it requires more execution. You've got to get the ball reversed. You look at Marquette last night, they executed well. But their game plan was to spread you and attack you. That's not the way we play. Ours requires precision. But that's a personnel thing, not a coaching decision. It's easy to walk down court, pass the ball to the wing and throw it to D.J. (White). If that was the way it was, we'd do that every time. They guard that. So how do we get that reversed, get him at an angle? Then when he gets that, they're going to double team him.
On what he wants to see from Earl Calloway at point guard:
Confidence. Play the game. Don't over think. It's a simple game. Learn to play at different speeds. If it's a slow game, you've got to play slow. It's a lot easier to slow someone down than it is speed up. It's not hard to slow down if that's your goal. There's a reason why certain teams always score in 60s. It's not easy to score 90 if you want to; other teams can slow you down. Keep the ball on offense longer. Be patient. They'll slow you down. When they do, that's when you have to think the game a little bit. We've got to get better at thinking the game.
On Ben Allen and Mike White:
Ben is trying to figure out a role. That's going to happen with new coaches. New coaches come in, and there are some guys who benefit right away, and then there are some guys caught in transition. Ben and Mike are like that. Part of their problem is that we want Ben to have a happy medium. You can tell with Ben doesn't have a lot of confidence right now, but that's something we're working with him on this week. This morning, I thought Ben was the best he's looked. We're letting them play. I think kids need freedom. Discipline is important, but they've got to play. I've never told Lance (Stemler) to shoot. Never told him not to either. He's got a good shot, and he's got to shoot the ball. There's nothing that we do right now I'd say is great, but there's nothing that I don't think isn't going to get better either.
On preparing the team for Cameron Indoor Stadium:
I don't know how you prepare for that. It's like coming in here. There's a reason why Indiana's home record is what it is. Great programs' home courts are supposed to be tough to win on. We've all seen hundreds of games at Duke. How many times have you seen the home team lose? That's why they have a great program. It's why it's a great opportunity. We want to go into this game and play good. We want our team to play good. I want our teams to play confident and enjoy the moment. It's a great opportunity. There's nothing to be afraid of. What's the worst thing that can happen? This will help us as we prepare. I know how tough road league games are. My teams have played at Purdue, we've played at Michigan State. There are a lot of tough places to play in this league. This is a great time to be playing good for us. Coming off the schedule we've played, we'll go see if we can't get better.
On Lance Stemler:
I think Lance has a quiet toughness about him. No fear. I like guys who are not afraid to fail. Failure is always part of the equation when you keep score and are playing a competitive sport. The kids that succeed at the highest level aren't afraid of it. Failure is ok. It's not final, it's temporary. There are some people who can't handle temporary failure. I like tough guys. They're going to fail. If you play a bunch of games, if you take a bunch of shots, if you guard a bunch of people, you're going to have nights where it doesn't work. Guys who can bounce back from those things, I call winners. Lance Stemler's a winner.
On his plans for Thanksgiving:
About eight players are coming over for Thanksgiving. I've done that for 24 years, unless we were in Alaska or Maui or somewhere. At home, we always have the house open to players. Normally Karen throws a bunch of pillows on the floor, and they eat and sleep. We'll give them leftovers, and they go home and eat again. Normally we practice on Thanksgiving if we're in town. Because of this break we have, we'll go twice today, take off tomorrow, and go twice Friday. We'll just work on us. Saturday and Sunday we'll start preparing for Duke.
Junior forward D.J. White
On the toughest place he's ever played:
Illinois is probably the toughest place I've played in. The crowd. It was when Illinois was No. 1 in the country. The students are right there on the court.
On the ankle injury he suffered against Chicago State:
No problems, I came back to play in the rest of the game. The pop to my mouth hurt more. I didn't have to have stitches or anything.
On playing Duke:
I missed the game last year. We lost the game, but going to Durham is going to be a great challenge. You've just got to play. It's just like another road game. I know everyone talks about how big this game is, how tough it is playing Duke. We've got to go in focused just like we're playing here, and put the crowd behind us and go with the game plan.
On the loss to Butler:
We lost the game that we felt we should have won, and Coach felt we should have won. New York would have been a great opportunity for us early in the season. Get a couple of extra games against NCAA caliber teams. It would have helped us out a lot more for the Big Ten season and the rest of the non-conference games.
On Duke forward and Indiana native Josh McRoberts:
This will be my first time going against him. I've seen him on TV. He was at NIKE camp this summer but didn't participate because of his back, so this is my first time going against him. From seeing him, he's a good talent. Last night he displayed his athletic ability and his passing ability. He's something you have to watch out for.
Junior forward Lance Stemler
On the changes from playing in junior college to Indiana:
It's been a great experience so far, playing in front of crowds gets you energized. There were games last year where we had 20 people in stands. Going to Duke, I've never really been in situation like this. Playing with the opposing crowd going against you, that gives you a little motivation to play hard, too. It's been a good experience. We have the opportunity to come out and play against the top teams in America. The exposure is one of the reasons why I came here.