Dec. 13, 2007
BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -
Indiana men's basketball coach Kelvin Sampson met with members of the media today to discuss the upcoming game against Western Carolina.
"I think the stat that I like the most, and this is something we have really made a conscious effort to do, is our free throw attempts. It is something this team has gotten better at. We have gotten teams to the 1-and-1 early in the second half, early in the first half. Last game, Jordan (Crawford) went to the free throw line 10 times. Jamarcus (Ellis) went five but really I think one of his misses was a 1-and-1. That is part of what we are trying to do. We shoot 22-for-47, we shoot nine threes and we get to the free throw line 32 times (against Kentucky). That is a big part of what we emphasize in practice.
"I thought we rebounded the ball well. I think we are getting better in every area. This week has been a little hodgepodge because of exams. We have four guys that have a 7 o'clock final tonight. We had a bunch of guys earlier this morning writing papers. So the emphasis this week has obviously been exams. But we have had two good practices. We did not practice on Monday but did practice on Tuesday and Wednesday. We will practice today. Hopefully we can get at least an hour and 45 minutes in and get ready to play on Saturday."
On the status of Eric Gordon:
"Eric has been good in practice this week. I fully expect him to play."
"He had not done anything to break a sweat since Monday night (vs. Tennessee State). I don't think he went full court Tuesday; yesterday he went full court pretty good. It is just a matter of time. There were no broken bones. It was more discomfort and a really, really deep contusion. I think the more muscular you are, the more those hurt you."
On the overall team effort in practice this week:
On the status of Eli Holman:
"Jordan, Jamarcus, all our guys, everybody has been practicing well. It will be interesting to see how we practice today and tomorrow because we have not worked on Western Carolina at all. But we will today. Coach Meyer has the scouting report. We will go over that today and break them down and see if we can't play better Saturday."
"I can tell you that he hurt his wrist. I don't know (how bad the injury is). I know he went to get it x-rayed and it was not broken. But there may be some ligament damage in there. It is in a brace. We went early yesterday, I think it was 12:30, and it was toward the end. I worked him out individually before practice started for about 45 minutes, just he and I. And he had a really good practice. I didn't see the play. I know that after practice Tim (Garl) took him to the hospital and then Tim text me after to say it is not broken but thought he had some ligament damage. We just have to wait and see how serious it is."
On the suspension of Armon Bassett:
"Game to game. We'll see. He had got some work to do. He won't play Saturday and we will just have to wait to see about the following Saturday."
On whether or not A.J. Ratliff will play on Saturday:
"Depends on if he gets his classes in. He has a lot of stuff that has to be in. The academic part of it, through the NCAA and forces that be up on campus with the registrar and get all his grades recorded, we just have to wait on that. You know, I talked to our academic people a long time this morning. I would be the wrong guy to try and explain that."
On what the team hopes to get out of the next three games:
"Starting next week I want to get a lot of work done for us. Last week Eric did not practice at all. Practices last week were a little hodgepodge for who was there. The team got better. Our team absolutely got better through practice. That was the first time we had a chance to work on us. I thought we were better in a lot of areas. We only had two guards, but that's the way it is. I know that at some point this year we are going to have all five back. Talking about the ones that aren't going to be in there, I am really not interested in that. I know that for sure Eric, Jordan and Jamarcus, I know those three will start Saturday. And those three guys are getting better.
"Jordan, you can tell he had a little swagger this week from his performance on Saturday. Jamarcus' game is expanding. He is getting better in a lot of different areas. E.J. was really good yesterday. He was a little bit winded, but I like the fact that he got winded because he was practicing so hard. He was really getting after it, offensively and defensively. Lance Stemler is showing his versatility. Brandon McGee, DeAndre (Thomas) were good. D.J. White, Mike White...I just like our team right now. We have really good chemistry. I think our kids had a great semester in the classroom so far. I like our team right now. I like where we are; I like our work ethic. I think everything is progressing good."
On what the team needs to work on:
"Everything. We are not going to concentrate on one thing at all. I think we can get better in every area: offensive execution, defensive. I think you have to have more chemistry on defense than you do on offense. When you look at us offensively we lead the Big Ten in almost every category. Most important stat to me is something our kids are working on in practice and that is getting to the foul line; driving the ball. We spread `em and drive `em. That is what this team is really good at."
"It is going to be really hard to tell fully about this team until we get everybody back.
On the play of Mike White:
"I don't think Tone really got comfortable until he just was left out there. I think the best game he played, the first game he played where he looked comfortable to me was Georgia Tech. And had we had all five guards for that game, he might not have done that because he would have been in and out more. Knowing that he is not coming out really helped him."
On the importance of new guys getting playing time:
"The toughest thing about having new guys is chemistry. That is always a tough thing, is building chemistry. It is not magical. There are some teams in the country that have no chemistry right now for whatever reason. I have had teams that had great kids, I mean high-level character kids and didn't have great chemistry for whatever reason. But this team has really, really good chemistry and I think it is because they are all pretty smart players. They know how to play. Jamarcus has a high basketball IQ, so does Jordan. I think it has really helped D.J. We have made an emphasis, obviously, in the last for or five games since Xavier that D.J. is going to get the ball. And these kids all understand it and look how much he is getting it. They can't get it to him enough. Our movement is better, post passing is better, rebounding is better, getting it to the free throw line, making the extra pass. You know, we are not going to have gaudy assist statistics because of the dribble. Jordan drives to the basket and no one rotates to him, don't pass it son, shoot it. Take it to the rim and get fouled. You aren't going to get fouled shooting threes. You get fouled driving to the ball to the basket, so our team is understanding that. We've made 10 more free throws than our opponents have attempted. That tells you why we are pleased with our offense."
"Just watching the tape of yesterday's practice. Yesterday was our 44th practice. And if you watched our defensive edit from yesterday's practice and compare it to our fifth practice or our 10th practice, it is night and day. Same guys, but the chemistry is better. That is why I just don't ever overreact to anything in November or December. As long as we keep working hard and kids work. It doesn't come because you are older or because we practiced more days. That doesn't guarantee success. As long as they have the right attitude about work and they are getting better at it. Look at our defense Saturday. That was after 40-some practices. You can't fast-forward that. I think we will be better a month from today. When we get to mid-January I think our team will be a lot better then than it is now. But that is just experience. You get better at this as you go."
On facing Western Carolina:
"They love to shoot the three ball. Larry Hunter is their coach, for years and years he was the coach at Ohio University. Great guy, great coach. The team is going to come here disciplined. Outstanding point guard. It is a tough match-up for us. A team like Xavier and a team like Western Carolina, those teams concern me because they have perimeter 4 guys. They don't have two post guys. They have a guy who plays exactly like E.J. or A.J. or Jordan. Their 4 man plays a guard. D.J. and `Dre can play against two post guys. But now which one of them goes and guards A.J. Ratliff or Jordan Crawford? We have trouble guarding that. That is why we have to get better in our zone. We have got to get better in a lot of areas. There will be teams in our league that play like Western with four guards and one post. And we are going to try and have to match up with them. Every game is a challenge. But with our team and with the injuries and people missing games and getting all our kids into practice, it has been hit-or-miss this week. I have no idea how we will play Saturday."