Dec. 6, 2007
Press conference video (part 1) | Press conference video (part 2)
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Indiana men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson and players Jordan Crawford and D.J. White met with members of the media today to discuss the upcoming game against Kentucky.
Head Coach Kelvin Sampson
On if Eric Gordon will play vs. Kentucky/overall health of team:
"He is better. I expect him to play. Tuesday was a day off, so no one practiced. Yesterday he did a lot of shooting. We have a lot of other guys banged up. Armon (Bassett), D.J. (White). It is the wear-and-tear of seven games in 15 days. It is the week before finals. Sometimes we forget about that. We had four guys who had to leave practice early to go take finals so yesterday we had to work around a lot of things. There is a lot going on with us."
On the upcoming stretch with three games in three weeks:
"We get to work on us. With so many games it is hard to remember them. I have to go back and look at the tape. We have played so many games in such a short period of time we just haven't had a lot of time to work on Indiana."
On status of freshman guard Jordan Crawford
"He is doing real good. He will be ready to go Saturday. I think he was playing really well. There is always a silver lining in everything. The silver lining in this is Jamarcus (Ellis) has gotten his footing and is starting to play good. Jordan might have been our second-best player during that stretch when he was in there. It will take him awhile to get his footing back. He is a freshman, but we have this game and three other games before we get to conference season.
"It is not like we have a lot of options. We played the last three games with three guards. We didn't have a first guard off the bench. Brandon McGee
is not a guard; neither is Lance Stemler
. Now we finally have another guard, so Jordan will be our first guard off the bench. Then again, he is our only guard that can come off the bench."
On the difference between facing a Billy Gillespie-coached team vs. a Tubby Smith-coached team:
"I played Billy at (Texas)A&M. Our teams have played each other. Both are excellent coaches. Very similar in a lot of ways when you get down to the foundation of what both try to get their teams to do. Both are excellent coaches and excellent guys."
On learning from what other teams have done against Kentucky:
"We can't do what North Carolina does. They played 10 or 11 guys and there isn't much drop-off in those 10 or 11 guys so that doesn't help us much at all. You look and see. We look more at Kentucky than at what the other teams do. I can relate to what Billy has been going through early. You have a new team and new guys adjusting to him, trying to figure out what it is they are good at. It is just teaching. I think he approaches November like most coaches in that you are just trying to get your team better. You could tell in the North Carolina game that they are getting a lot better.
"But we have to approach this game for us, to our strengths and weaknesses. Our strengths aren't like North Carolina's."
On Kentucky's personnel:
"They have (Patrick) Patterson, Joe Crawford and (Ramel) Bradley. Those are three high-level players. You know that they are going to win a lot of games this year and their team is going to come together here pretty soon. They are good enough to win their league. The more games you play, the better you will get. They have too many talented kids; it is just an adjustment. There is no question this Kentucky team is going to be really good. Billy is an excellent coach. I saw what he did at A&M up close and personal for two years. Guys that win wherever they have been will continue to win."
On Kentucky's Joe Crawford:
"He can just go and get his own shot and they do a good job of using him. He is just hard to stop. He is shooting close to 50 percent on 86 shot attempts and has been to the free throw line a lot. He is a big-time player. This is a kid that is going to have a chance to play basketball for a long time. Joe will present problems for every team that has to face him."
On Kentucky's Patrick Patterson
"He is a monster. Billy has always run this high-low stuff and they are really good at it. He is really good at hipping you up the lane and sealing you. They throw it over the top; he is bouncy. He is a terrific, terrific talent. And I like his motor. Big kids with motors like Patrick Patterson are unique."
On the play of sophomore guard Armon Bassett:
"Armon has improved almost in every area. The place I am most proud of him, though, is in the classroom. As coaches we take a hands-on approach to our kids academically. We are proud of the way he has approached the classroom. His grades across the board are a lot better. That tells me is maturing off the court and I think that is reflected on the court too."
On the play of senior forward Mike White
"I just know he has impacted our identity. Every team is going to have valleys, especially at this time of year. Watching that Xavier game, you could tell we needed a little more toughness in our frontcourt. I don't think it is a coincidence that D.J. is playing much better with Mike in there too. Mike has really inspired D.J. in a lot of ways.
"I don't think Mike really played at the end of that trip (to the Bahamas in September) because of his ankle. That ankle really bothered him in September and October and we were thinking about redshirting him. But as soon as we got to our first tough game, you are always trying to tweak your team. Our team will get tweaked a lot over the next two-and-a-half months. But what I felt like our team really needed right now was what Mike could give us. Mike was the one kid who could impact us the most this year. He has a quiet toughness about him and he is an extremely mature kid. What you see is what you get. He works hard, goes to class, he is a model citizen off the court. Mike White is why, as you get older in this profession, you enjoy coaching. I wish I could have a guy like Mike every year."
On the inspiration for D.J. White's improved play:
"D.J. was going to come around eventually and get more comfortable playing with these new guys. D.J. gets double- and triple-teamed a lot, especially those first few games. But we are getting better at getting the ball to D.J. But that is just normal progression, nothing that we are doing different. We are just getting better at it because we are practicing and playing more games."
On the team being more motivated to play Kentucky:
"I think all rivalry games are like that. Indiana-Kentucky is a lot like Notre Dame-Southern California in football. These are both great programs with rich traditions and I think that is what drives college basketball. These are games that fans of both schools circle early on their calendars. I know the players look forward to it. We had a really good game last year in Lexington and I anticipate having another really good game here in Bloomington. I think kids at this level take pride in their performances. And as a coach you want every game to be a big game for them."
On the evolution of the offense:
"I think we need to keep working on it, keep tweaking it. I think we need to keep working on every aspect of our game. I don't think there is one thing we are doing right now that can't be improved."
On why freshman guard Eric Gordon has performed so well this season:
"I think the reason he is playing so good is because he is so good. I am going to take zero credit for that. He really is a mature young man and works really hard. He is a very quiet kid and doesn't say a whole lot. I think he loves playing here and he loves his teammates and coaches. You can tell it every day when you are around him. I think he is real comfortable and that means a lot to a kid like him.
"If you asked Eric that question I think he would give credit to his teammates. I think they enjoy playing with him. He has a lot of freedom because kids like him should have a lot of freedom. There shouldn't be a lot of structure on a kid like him. Every game he has played I think he has gotten smarter on when to attack and when not to attack. He is getting better in all phases. He won't be 100 percent on Saturday, for sure. He may not be 100 percent, but Eric is a tough kid. We don't expect any of our kids to play with injuries. If a kid is injured you don't play him, but every kid has a pain tolerance. Most kids play with some kind of pain all the time."
On what it is about Eric Gordon that has him ready to compete at this level as a freshman:
"I think it is his body. There are a lot of kids that kind of grow into their talent as they get bigger and stronger. I think about Kevin Garnett when he came out. I don't think people realized how good he was until he got bigger and stronger. Eric is a man right now with his body. Physically, he doesn't back down from anybody. He is a kid that loves challenges. He has extremely high self-esteem in a good way. He is very modest but when he is on the court he has great composure, great poise and doesn't get rattled. He plays like a kid much older."
Freshman guard Jordan Crawford
On playing against his brother, Joe, a senior at Kentucky:
"We never talked about playing against each other at this level, but since I signed here we have talked about the game once I saw it on the schedule. At this level, I never thought this would happen."
"We talked on the phone every day about it this week. It's getting closer
to the game now though, so I am trying not to talk to him anymore."
"There is going to be a little bit of trash talking, but I am trying not to
make this an individual battle, because this is way bigger than that.
Kentucky versus Indiana, period, it's a big game."
"The last level we played on the same team is probably recreation play back
in middle school. If we went to play a pick-up game and we are on the same
team, we would get mad at each other for making little mistakes."
"In ninth or tenth grade I was like five-eight. Then my junior year I got
to six-two and really started getting athletic. My above-the-rim ability
began to come. My first dunk was my senior year of high school. He was
probably surprised, he didn't see me play much last year at Hargrave."
"We have similarities, we both like going to the hole a lot. He is physical and uses that to bump guards off of him. I have to use my speed to get around guards. We both can shoot, but I think he likes the three more than me."
Senior Forward D.J. White
On being from the South and playing Kentucky:
"Growing up in Alabama, Kentucky wasn't really a rivalry. I know how big it is here. Of course, it is a rivalry to me now because I'm a Hoosier, so I'm looking forward to this game. In my two years playing, I haven't won against Kentucky, so it will be nice going out winning against Kentucky in my senior year."
On whether beating Kentucky is more important than beating Purdue:
"They're both big games. I know a lot of people, depending on where you are in Indiana, they think Kentucky is bigger, or some people think Purdue. I think they're both big rivalries for us."
On Patrick Patterson:
"He is athletic, a very good player. He is averaging around 16 points, so that is going to be a good matchup. We'll just try to be physical with him, and we'll see what happens from there."
On coming off of a career high in points:
"I just play. Whatever comes to me, I just take what the defense gives. I'm not going to try to force anything, try to do that again. I just play, and whatever comes, play within the team like I always do."
On his confidence level right now:
"As a player coming off of a good game, you always feel good, but at the same time, that game is behind me. We have another game Saturday, so I just try to forget about that and keep playing well and do the things I need to do for this team, rebound, defend, block shots and try to get the win."
On Jordan Crawford playing against his brother:
"I know he is very excited to be back playing after missing three games and secondly playing against his brother. We joke with him in the locker room calling it the Crawford Bowl. Just messing with him, but I think he is very excited to play against his brother and especially being back."
On whether Kentucky will be different under new coach Billy Gillespie:
"We haven't watched too much film on them yet, but just from watching them on tv, I think they try to get up and down a little bit more. That is really all I can say on that until we watch more film on them."
On his final exams:
"I think I have two finals. One Wednesday night and one Friday, and then I'll be done basically until next semester. Next semester I have a pretty easy load since I'll be graduating in the Spring. I'm kind of ready to get that over, so I can just cruise next semester."
On playing Kentucky at home as opposed to a neutral site:
"I think I like it better on campus, especially home court. Fans are excited. I think it is going to be a white out. That is what they are planning to do. Everybody has been talking about this game all year, and it is here. We are very excited, and we know the fans are excited, so I would say I would rather have it here on campus."
On the importance of veteran players in the Kentucky game:
"To a certain extent, Kentucky vs. Indiana, we already know how big this game is for us and people in Indiana, how they think about this game. I don't think you have to get hyped up to play this game. It is already a big game in itself."
On Eric Gordon's injury:
"Everybody has nicks and bruises. I'm playing right now with a couple jammed fingers. It is fine. He knows what he has to do. He has been playing basketball for a while, so I'm sure he has had injuries before. As far as his back, I think he is fine. Just some ice and he'll be okay."
On how Mike White has affected his play:
"With Mike back, it has been a help to us and a help to me, especially on the defensive end. At times I was guarding the four-man, now I'm back under the goal where I'm kind of comfortable, where I can rebound better, I can block shots, I can be a presence on the defensive end. I think we enjoy playing with each other."
On what the team has done well this year:
"I think we're a very unselfish team. We play well together, and it is getting better and better every game. We struggled at the beginning on the defensive end, but we're still not where we want to be. I think we're getting better every game, helping each other out and things like that. It is still early, and we have a long ways to go. That is what I think so far that we have done a good job at."