Nov. 29, 2007
Press conference video
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson met with members of the media today to discuss Tuesday's win over Georgia Tech and the upcoming game against Southern Illinois.
On playing the team's first road game of the season:
"I think your road success has a lot to do with who you play on the road. Outside of Wisconsin and Ohio State, I think everyone on the road was about the same in our league. We went 2-6 in the league. I think Michigan State was 1-7, Purdue and Illinois, I think we were all about the same on the road last year. I think it is tough to beat Indiana at home. It is tough to go into an opposing team's gym, if they're a really good team I think it is tough to beat them unless you have a really veteran team. North Carolina played Ohio State last night. North Carolina didn't have a single new player on their team. Every kid they played is a veteran. I think that is the key to being a really good road team is having a veteran team. In the past, the teams that I've been around that have been really good road teams were really veteran. Juniors and seniors with a lot of experience. It will be interesting to see how this team plays on the road."
On playing a tough defensive team in Southern Illinois:
"I think for them it is just a physical confidence. Chris (Lowery) has been in that program for a while, and their niche is their defense. (Bryan) Mullins and (Randal) Falker, (Tony) Boyle, (Matt) Shaw, all those guys played last year, and they have a clear understanding of how they want to play, and they're good at it. I think that their two biggest strengths are their physical toughness and their mental toughness. They're good at that. They really developed that into their program over the years."
On Eric Gordon's play in comparison to other freshmen he has coached:
On Gordon's turnovers against Georgia Tech;
"I've never had a freshman as good as Eric. I'm not sure if I've ever had a senior as good as he is either. He is just a prolific scorer. Eric has got to get a lot better in a lot of other areas. His scoring right now is what he is known for, but transition defense, help defense, being more vocal, communicating more. There is not one area of the game defensively that he can't get better in. Those are the areas we're going to continually develop and push our team in along with Eric. I want him to communicate in transition. Like the other night in transition defense, if two guys are guarding one in transition it is usually a communication problem, and those things can be corrected."
"He was just getting in a hurry more than anything, really, especially the ones in the first half to D.J. (White). You watch tape with him on those and you sit down and you watch his speed. He still has to play at different speeds going to the rim and get it under control a little more. I don't think learning his teammates has anything to do with those, he is just a little out of control."
On Lance Stemler's performance against Georgia Tech:
"I loved his body language, his confidence. Nobody has worked harder at shooting than Lance. There was a time last year when his shot wasn't falling, and I thought it affected his play. Now, when his shot is not falling, I don't think it affects his play. I think he plays hard-nosed and tough and scrappy, and that is good to see. The other night he played like a senior. I'm proud of D.J. (White) and Lance. You could tell that with Mike (White) the other night. Freshmen can't sit out like he did and come in and play like that. That is where we've been behind the 8-ball a little bit with our experience. Mike played the other night like a senior. I thought Lance and D.J. did as well. They played like veterans."
On playing a road game:
"These games are invaluable. Southern Illinois is 80-3 at home since 2001. You look at the teams that have beat them, and not a lot of ranked teams ever go in there. There is a reason why. For us, I think it is another valuable teaching tool for our kids in the month of December. It is a good game for us to play. There are a lot of things we can draw out of this game. We come back and we have five or six home games before we start conference, but you know I would not want to go through non-conference play without playing a true road game. If you are going to play a road game, last year we played at Connecticut, at Duke, and at Kentucky, and I thought we played well in all three of those games. We won at Connecticut, which is a great road win for us. I thought we played well at Duke the second half and had a chance to win the game. We played well at Kentucky and had a chance to win the game. These teams are really good at home, and I don't think we are any different. A team like a North Carolina or UCLA with a lot of veteran players, those are the teams that go on the road and just put a knot on your head. For us, it will be a learning experience for our team."
On having such a young team:
"I think as the year goes on, we'll get better and better and better. Last year's team, sometimes the record doesn't indicate how well you played on the road. Those eight road losses we had last year, I think we either tied or had the lead in the second half of all of those games. I thought we played well on the road last year. It was just not quite good enough to win the game, but good enough to compete in it, and we want to get to that point with this team this year."
On who will play point guard with Jordan Crawford out for two games:
"(Gordon) would be our backup point. That really affected us the other night, obviously. I thought it really affected us coming out of halftime. I think every one of our guards played every minute of the first half, and then at halftime I thought we were heavy-legged coming out the second half. It has been a while since we've had a day off. Yesterday was our first day off since before the Wilmington game. With Jordan being out, I think that really affected our play at times. I think we got up 10 in the second half. You would like to be able to rest someone in that stretch or have someone in a position to be fresh, but we just have to go with what we have. That is why it was a great win for us the other night. In every area it was a great win."
On transition defense against Georgia Tech:
"They could sprint. When you think about it EJ (Eric Gordon), Jamarcus (Ellis) and Armon (Bassett) couldn't come out of the game. I didn't realize that the first time any of them came out of the game was the 7-minute mark in the first half. If you can keep them fresh, they're going to be a lot better in every area, but that is not the case right now. We don't have that luxury. That is why it is a long season. We're going to get through this stretch right here with only three guards, and try to figure out what we're going to do around those three guys."
On player rotations:
"The thing with (DeAndre Thomas) was just with their speed, how fast they could run up and down the court. I'm not going to rotate the post as much as the guards. Jordan (Crawford) is definitely in the rotation. Jordan is part of our four guards. We have four good guards. The other night we only had three. We don't have four post guys at the same level. D.J., as long as he gets proper rest, and I would say Deandre or Eli (Holman), one of the two. If we played the other one, it would be five. If you are playing five posts, it means you've either got foul trouble or you have an injury."
On the Big Ten Conference's performance in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge:
"I don't think that is a conference issue as much as the matchups. I think the teams that won were the ones that should have won. I think Duke would have hard time winning at Wisconsin. I think Maryland would have a hard time winning at Illinois. Georgia Tech had a hard time winning at Indiana. North Carolina and Ohio State, that matchup, if Conley and Oden were back, would be a different story. I don't think you can generalize records. Just like looking at a 3-8 road record and saying we were a bad road team. We weren't a bad road team, we were a pretty good road team, just not quite good enough to win. I think we have a great league this year. I think it is a lot more balanced than you would think. It is certainly not a top-heavy league. It is a balanced league. I don't think there is much difference in the teams in our league this year. The league should be judged at the end of the year, not based on some TV tournament in November."
On the new free-throw rule involving where rebounding players can line up:
"I think that is a good rule because you had legalized shoving them under the rim if you are the next block under. If you're on the block closest to the basket, it is tough to block them out there without turning around and shoving them because of leverage. When the other team shoots a free throw the team that has the benefit should be the defensive team that is blocking out. If the guy blocking out is under the rim, if the ball hits the rim and comes out at all you have taken him out of the play. That is why that rule has come into effect. It is something that we've talked about for a lot of years, and it is finally put in this year. I think it is a good rule."
On the carrying violations called in the Georgia Tech game:
"I just remember last year with the fouls. Whatever the emphasis coming out of the summer, you can tell what they emphasize. Then it usually levels out and goes back to the way it is called. I think the best officials see advantage/disadvantage. If the kid is not gaining an advantage, going from one direction and creates an advantage to beat his opponent, I don't think it is something. Some kids palm the ball bringing the ball up the court if you want to get into the technical definition of the rule. If you put your hand under the ball and then put it over, that is the way some kids brought it up the court since they were little kids with no one guarding them. I think if the kid is going from left to right or northwest or northeast, trying to change directions, it should be called. It is a point of emphasis this year and the referees are doing what they're directed.
"We had it called more the other night than four times. It was just possessions that we could have scored. We had to play really good the other night to win the game because of no depth at our positions. Georgia Tech is a hard team to play with only three guards, with no substitutes. That is a hard team to guard. There are a lot of teams that you play against where you say well three guards with the TV timeouts and they are playing a half court game, but the way Georgia Tech played that game, they were baseline to baseline and we were sprinting from one end to the other. I would've hated to have to have played yesterday with those three kids. They were worn out when that game was over, and they're in good shape."
On what they are going to work on in practice:
"We've got to get ready for Southern Illinois. We broke down the Georgia Tech tape yesterday, made our notes and we'll go over our film. I thought offensively against Georgia Tech we were really good. We did what we try to do. A big part of our team's success is our ability to get to the rim with the dribble. That is what this team does well. We try to get to the free-throw line 25 times. If a team packs in a zone, I doubt we will. We'll just shoot more threes. We are not shooting as many threes because we are driving it. We had 38 free throws the other night. Two free throws is the same as an assist. If EJ (Gordon) is driving the ball and they're not helping off of Armon (Bassett) and everyone is staying at home, I don't want him to pass. I want him to get to the rim and get fouled. The same with Jamarcus (Ellis). I thought Jamarcus the other night really attacked the rim aggressively. If somebody runs at them and takes away their penetration, they'll pass it, and if that guy makes the shot, that will be an assist. A lot of people because of the way Armon has been shooting, they're not helping off of him. They are staying at home on Armon. When Jamarcus drives it they are staying at home on Armon and they're staying at home on EJ, so when he drives it he has to go in strong. He can't drive to pass he has to drive to score. Our ability to get to free-throw line the other night was important. That was the way I felt we could beat Georgia Tech. I didn't feel like they'd guard us as well off the dribble as they guarded screens."
On Southern Illinois' offensive game:
"They're bigger this year. Last year they played the three guards and they played the (Matt) Shaw kid, who I love. I just love that kids toughness and mentality. They're playing him more at the three. They're bigger. Their most valuable player without a doubt is (Bryan) Mullins. You look at their team. Mullins is a three-year starter. Falker is a veteran starter. (Tony) Boyle played a lot last year. You know they are all juniors and seniors. They've got some freshmen that come off of the bench. Boyle is a junior, Shaw is a senior, Falker is a senior, Mullins is a junior. They've got a great system. You watch their game against Mississippi State, they just wore them down with their toughness. The game against Southern Cal was their third game in three days. I wouldn't worry about that score too much. I doubt they are. That is just a November game. Those things happen in November."