By Chris Korman
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December 1, 2006
After coaching D.J. White for five games, Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson has figured out what the big power forwardâ€™s game is lacking.
It is not touch around the net. Or proper footwork in the lane. Or better rebounding instincts.
â€œYou know what D.J. needs to do?â€ Sampson said Thursday at a press conference before practice. â€œHe needs to get a swagger, man. You gotta bust open them bar doors, walk in and say, â€˜Who wants a piece of me?â€™ You know what that is? Thatâ€™s an attitude.â€
White, the 6-foot-9 preseason All-Big Ten selection, was not made available to the media Thursday and could not respond to his coachâ€™s thoughts. No players were available for comment.
Sampsonâ€™s challenge to White comes after the Hoosiersâ€™ 54-51 loss at Duke. White had just seven points and six rebounds in the game, but was instrumental in slowing down the Blue Devils. He held their star forward, Carmel grad Josh McRoberts, to seven points.
White leads Indiana in scoring (12.6 per game) and rebounding (7.2). He missed most of last season with two separate foot injuries and has been described as being â€œrustyâ€ by Sampson this season.
But now it appears as though a grace period has passed, and Sampson wants his star to be more assertive on the court.
â€œYou gotta be the biggest, baddest dude in the joint,â€ Sampson said. â€œSomebody wants to mess with me? â€˜Câ€™mon letsâ€™ go outside, letâ€™s see what you got.â€™ Thatâ€™s what he needs. He needs to get a little nastier. He needs to get meaner.â€
When asked if such an attitude could be taught, Sampson replied, â€œWeâ€™ll find out, hoss.â€
Sampson praised the other White, junior college transfer Mike, for his effort against Duke. Mike White had eight rebounds, three on offense and five on defense, against Duke. He did so playing against McRoberts (6-10) and Brian Zoubeck (7-1). White is listed at 6-6 by Indiana but Sampson called him â€œsix four and a half or six five.â€
Mike White also went to the free throw line seven times, but hit only two of those shots.
He played 25 minutes â€” his previous high this season was 10 â€” because of Lance Stemlerâ€™s injury and Ben Allenâ€™s foul trouble.
â€œDonâ€™t expect Mike to be what heâ€™s not,â€ said Sampson, who reminded the media that White was a late singing. â€œMike did an unbelievable job.â€
Sampson said he thought Allen played with more confidence on Tuesday.
â€œI saw a difference,â€ Sampson said. â€œHis body language was different. You can tell a lot about a guy by how aggressive he is.â€
Allen grabbed six rebounds in 16 minutes before fouling out. Sampson believes Allen was merely unlucky Tuesday and will not be a chronic fouler.
Allen made just one bucket, but it came on an impressive push through the lane.
â€œItâ€™s hard to fault Ben for his effort the other night,â€ Sampson said. â€œI think when we get consistency in our guards, Ben will play better.â€
Stemler still out
Lance Stemler, who suffered a concussion after being inadvertently kicked in the head during Sundayâ€™s practice, has still not been cleared by doctors.
Stemler, also a junior college transfer, is now second on the team in scoring with 12.3 points per game. Heâ€™s shooting .500 (12-24) from 3-point range.