Well, not really. Most of what he had to say at Big Ten media day was stuff even casual Indiana fans already know: D.J. White is a good leader, Eric Gordon can score the basketball and the newest round of NCAA violations and ensuing sanctions are in no way a distraction for the current team.
Other brief notes of interest:
- Sampson refused to discuss the absence of assistant basketball coach Rob Senderoff from Friday’s open practice. “No, I’m not answering none of those questions,” he said. “I am not even getting into any of that stuff. We’re dealing with stuff, and I’m going to coach my team.” Reporters tried to press him and he continued to refuse to talk about it. Senderoff was apparently the coach who made most of the impermissible calls and also the one who connected Sampson into the 3-way calls that violated his previous sanctions.
- The Dali Lama’s visit this week meant that the basketball team couldn’t use Assembly Hall on Saturday. It practiced for almost three hours at Bloomington North instead. Sampson didn’t really know who the Dalai Lama is — a religious leader for Tibetan Buddhists — and said that His Holiness wasn’t invited to speak to the team. Presumably, this indicates that Eric Gordon already has found inner-peace.
- Sampson is still waiting to see where Jamarcus Ellis, the JUCO player of the year last season, fits with this team. He predicted that Ellis will lead the team in assists but also indicated he wouldn’t mind seeing the 6-5 junior guard take open jumpers when he has them. “His first instinct when someone attacks and creates for him is to attack and re-create for somebody else,” Sampson said. “We’re working on getting him to be more comfortable taking the open shots.”
- Brandon McGee, the freshman out of Chicago, has been working as a guard — Indiana is thin there with one of two returning players, A.J. Ratliff, ineligible first semester â€” and will continue to do so through practice. At 6-7, 220 pounds, McGee doesn’t have a natural position, Sampson said. He compared him to Eduardo Najera, the former Oklahoma player who now plays in the NBA. “He’s just a good player,” Sampson said.
- There does seem to be a battle for playing time opposite D.J. White. The other senior captain, Lance Stemler (who was in attendance and spoke to Doug, who will have updates posted shortly) is the presumed starter but, as Sampson said , he’s “6-8 and slow.” Mike White, the other returning post player is “6-3 and a half and short” (he’s listed as 6-6). DeAndre Thomas, the other JUCO transfer from Chipola, has lost 50 pounds but still will be most effective in three to four minute bursts of playing time. “Keeping him fresh will be the big thing,” Sampson said. Finally, Eli Holman, a 6-9 center from Richmond, Calif., is still raw.
- This week in practice will be treated as a game week, since it sort of is. The Hoosiers play their first of two exhibition games a week from today when North Alabama comes to Assembly Hall. Sampson expects his team to experience its most growth the two or three practices following that game. “We can work a lot with the new kids,” Sampson said. “But the best teacher will be the games and what you learn from them.”