Dec. 7, 2006
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson sat down to talk with the media on Thursday, Dec. 7, about his preparations for the upcoming game against rival Kentucky on Saturday, Dec. 9, and the team's performance against Western Illinois on Dec. 6. Senior guard Roderick Wilmont joined Sampson at the weekly press conference.
Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson
On Tubby Smith:
"He is a genuine person. He's a great guy. I think one of the reasons we are good friends is because we came up in this profession similarly. I knew him when he was a high school coach in North Carolina. I know where he played college ball. I've been to High Point many times. I know his styles. I think the only time we coached against each other was my first year at Oklahoma and he was at Tulsa. I did my student teaching at a junior high school called Upchurch Junior High School, and Tubby was the high school coach there. He would come over to the junior high. I saw him play in college, but I never played against him ... We have spoken at the same clinic together. Dean Smith was the coach at North Carolina, and he had a lot of influence on guys from that state. I've known Tubby for 30 years. His wife, Donna, and my wife, Karen, are really good friends. Our families have always been good friends and have even vacationed together over the years. In the summers, Nike takes their coaches on a trip in August every summer. We've played a lot of golf together. Tubby is a good golfer. I don't think we have ever been in the same regional. I've been to the tournament 12 times, once at Washington State and 11 at Oklahoma. It's funny that way. I know we have been paired with North Carolina a lot and never got to meet. I've never been to Rupp Arena. I've been to their old arena before to watch Kellen at their camp. It was in July, and I was on the road recruiting and stopped by to watch him. I've never seen Rupp."
On the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry:
"I think about the tradition ... At Oklahoma, we had great tradition games with Texas every year even before we were in the same conference. When I got to Oklahoma, we weren't in the same conference. Texas and Oklahoma, before we became conference opponents, was a big matchup. I think a lot of it was driven by the football. That carried over. Going from Washington State to Oklahoma, I quickly learned how important the Texas-Oklahoma game was. You like coaching in those games, you like playing in those games. That is what makes this profession unique, but when you look up, you know you have 20 or 22 games left to play, so you learn to keep it in perspective. Duke-North Carolina, Purdue-Indiana, USC-UCLA, Kentucky-Indiana, it's up there with all of the traditional rivalries. If you are a fan of college basketball, you pay attention to those things.
The thing about this game is that those three guys who didn't play in the second half, have to prove they can play on the road. I don't get ahead of myself. I've been coaching long enough to not get too excited when things are going good, but you don't get down either. We have a long way to go after the Butler game. This isn't a VCR. You can't push fast-forward. It's a process. You can't get better in a day or a week, it's a process. I see a lot of teams that are 7-0, 6-0. We could be undefeated right now if we had a certain schedule. Of the games we have played, we had a chance to win every game. We are 5-2, but we could easily be 7-0, but I don't think we were good enough and that's why you play a season. If I stay here 10 years, it's not going to be the last time we lose a game in November and wont be the last time we lose a game in December, but I am going to react to all of them the same. Don't live your life in reverse and you can't worry about the things you can't control. You do something about something you can control. Look at your next two games. We play Kentucky in Lexington and come home to play Southern Illinois. Those are tough games. For us, we have to practice everyday. We have to simplify things, look at ways to get better and keep our kids competing. We were struggling on offense early in the year, but I could see that we were going to get better. You get the feeling that when we get to December, we will be showing improvement and going to be a lot better. When we get into January, you are going to say `look where we are.' You prepare for your games and take your mistakes and try to correct them and try to get kids consistent. I'm not smart enough to have any original ideas, but you do the same thing every year and look back and figure out what works and do it. You have to keep kids healthy and in the right frame of mind and have great will. It's not about skill, it's about will. These kids are still learning in that area. They are learning how to compete. I think in the first seven minutes last night, I thought we played hard, but we weren't competing. Not on defense. You call those timeouts and it's not like someone hands you a magical clipboard with all the answers. You have to get them to compete harder. That will help you in a lot of different areas."
On relying on the 3-pointer:
"Rod Wilmont is a lot better at shooting threes than driving. What's he suppose to do, keep it on the floor and drive it? That's not what he does. If Lance Stemler isn't shooting threes, then I don't know what he can do to help us. Rod Wilmont shoots threes. A.J. Ratliff shoots threes. If you aren't a great ball handler, then you have to be good at something. This team is better at shooting threes than a lot of things. If we aren't shooting threes, then we are struggling. We aren't great at different areas. We aren't a complete team. Look at the threes we shot last night. Most of them were off penetration. We are throwing the ball inside. We have to be careful shooting threes when they become a last resort and if they are poor shots. I don't know how many we shot, but I don't think we had many bad ones. Teams are double- and triple-teaming D.J. (White), then somebody is open. Armon (Bassett) and Lance (Stemler) better not pass up an open three because they might not have a better shot that possession. It's about the selection of the shot. We are a lot better at shooting threes than driving the ball to the basket.
When evaluating these kids in December, I tried not to watch a lot of tape. I watched some of the games, but I was looking at them for a different reason. I tried to have an open mind with them. I didn't want to stereotype them based on how they played last season. I didn't want to do that. I didn't think that would be fair. When I watched them work out in their individual workouts in September, I watched them for the first time. I had never seen Rod Wilmont play a game until the first exhibition game this season. We realized that Rod is a lot better at making a jump shot than creating a jump shot. I would like to see us at the free-throw line more times. I think future Indiana teams may do that. But this team, if you look at this team's strengths and weaknesses, these kids shoot the three better than they do anything else.
Earlier in the year, there was such a concentration on getting the ball into D.J. The thing I got from that is that we were playing on our heels. Trying to get the ball into D.J. made us tentative. We can't play that way. We don't have complete enough players. These kids are a lot better when they are attacking. If Rod Wilmont has to hold the ball and pass it, we are going to average a lot of turnovers. He is a better shooter than he is a passer."
On only committing three turnovers against Western Illinois:
"We (Oklahoma) led the Big 12 in turnover margin a lot of years. A lot of years, we averaged 11 or 12. A lot of games we had single-digit turnovers, and that's what I'm used to seeing. We won a lot of games because we played defense and took care of the ball. The number three is abnormally low...If you commit 18 turnovers, you aren't giving yourself a chance to win. Think about the Butler game. We had 20 turnovers and at the two-minute mark, we had a chance to win. Eighteen turnovers against Duke and at the two-minute mark, we still had a chance to win. Our defensive rebounding has to be the salt and pepper shakers, but taking care of the ball has to be there every night. You have to find ways to get your team to take care of the ball."
On why Kentucky's zone is so effective:
"You look at how hard their kids play it and how athletic they are. Morris in the middle. It's hard to penetrate and get to the middle because of Morris in the middle. They are athletic. Tubby gets them to compete hard in that zone. Their zone is a lot more aggressive than most man-to-man defenses."
Senior guard Roderick Wilmont
On the Indiana-Kentucky rivalry:
"Like I said last night, it's a huge game for both teams. Last year, we played one of our best games against them. They will remember that game and come out hard. We have to be ready and play hard. They will have a lot of energy. I think the first four minutes of the game will be the most important minutes of that game."
On playing Kentucky in Lexington:
"The game has always been half and half. This is the first year the game will be played at Rupp. It's a road game, and we have to play up to our potential. Like coach says, we need guys like Earl (Calloway) and Armon (Bassett) to penetrate the gap. We need to find the open shots and be ready and focused."
On the team's defense:
"We as a team and the coaches have emphasized defense and holding teams to 25 to 30 percent. If a team gets hot, the coaches will call timeout and get into us. We need to play our type of defense. At the half, we talked about playing two halves. Knowing that if you get beat, coach is going to crew you out is a big thing, but it's a pride thing as well. Yu have to keep your man in front and play hard. We can't make silly fouls either."