Indiana basketball coach Kelvin Sampson met with the media today to discuss the past season while also offering a glimpse of the future.
Notes of most immediate interest:
– Sampson expects to sign at least one player during the spring signing season. That means he expects at least one scholarship to become open, somehow.
–That spot could be opened by D.J. White jumping to the NBA. Sampson is encouraging D.J. to take a look at where he’d end up in the draft. The NBA general managers hold a mock draft in April, Sampson said, that college players can use to gauge where they might end up. Sampson was asked if he thought White was ready to go and said his opinion didn’t really matter. Players are drafted into the NBA based on potential, not actual preparedness, he said.
–Sampson doesn’t have any feeling about how the point guard position will shake out next season. Going into this year, he had three guys who could play there: Earl Calloway, Armon Bassett and Errek Suhr. Next season, he’ll have three guys capable of playing there: Bassett, Juco transfer Jamarcus Ellis and freshman Jordan Crawford.
–Sampson said that forward Lance Stemler, whose offensive production flat-lined during the second half of the season, struggled with a severely injured ankle. He’ll need surgery soon.
–A.J. Ratliff will undergo an MRI Friday to determine how his injured wrist needs to be dealt with. He, too, could need surgery.
–The Hoosiers won’t be nearly as dependent on the 3-point shot next season, Sampson claimed. Four of the five current new recruits are excellent at attacking the basket. The fifth, center Eli Holman, won’t be a “ready-made player” Sampson said, but could develop enough to be effective.
This has nothing to do with the Hoosiers (that is a great way to start a sentence), but I have to vent about OJ Mayoâ€™s â€œperformance.â€
Iâ€™ve seen more class out of Saturdays. This is a guy who decided to go to USC so he wouldn’t have to live in anyone elses shadow and so he’d be able to market himself before he reaches the NBA. I hate to be graphic, but I just vomited in my mouth.
Okay, back to Hoosier news.
Detailed statistics werenâ€™t available for Chipolaâ€™s first round victory Tuesday night when we went to press. Here are Jamarcus Ellis and DeAndre Thomasâ€™s stat lines from their first game in the NCJAA tournament:
Ellis: 24 points (8-14 shooting and 8-11 from the line), 13 rebounds and six assists.
Thomas: 4 points (2-4 shooting), two rebounds and five fouls.
The most intriguing aspect of Ellisâ€™s stat line is he didnâ€™t attempt a single 3. It will be a nice change of pace to have a guard next year who is a great scorer and doesnâ€™t depend on the trey ball.
After falling into foul trouble early in the first game, Thomas played much better in his second game like he said he would, and Chipola cruised to victory, 78-59.
Ellis followed up his double-double in the first game with 18 points, six rebounds and five assists. Thomas managed to stay on the court for 26 minutes (only three fouls) and had 14 points and nine rebounds.
Iâ€™m working to try and figure out how Thomas will fit in with the Hoosiers next year. Iâ€™ve heard a couple of rumors, but havenâ€™t stumbled upon anything concrete yet. When I talked to Thomas Tuesday night he did say he was enrolled in classes already, and I believe he isnâ€™t a contingency plan like some say he is.
Can I tell you where the scholarship is coming from? No. Do I think Thomas is coming? Yes.
On another note, besides whose scholarship heâ€™ll take, Iâ€™ve also been asked a lot about Thomasâ€™s weight. When I first talked to him, he said he was over 300 but was working hard to shed the extra pounds. I doubt that significance progress will be made until the Chicago native arrives in Bloomington. Once he is here, and under the guidance of IUâ€™s training staff, I wouldnâ€™t be surprised to learn he loses anywhere from 15-30 pounds before Hoosier Hysteria.
On another note as a reminder, Eric Gordon will be playing Saturday night at Conseco Fieldhouse in the IHSAA State Tournament. The 4A game begins after the 3A game â€“ which starts at 6 pm.
I have tickets to the Pacers/Bulls game Sunday afternoon and Iâ€™m hoping Gordon sticks around the Fieldhouse and suits up for the blue and gold. They could use him.
According to Andy Katz, Steve Alford may soon become the coach at New Mexico.
Does this make any sense?
A bigger contract, possibly. A better chance to win consistently in a weaker league, probably. But on the whole?
According to Katz, Alford is looking for a basketball-first school and to escape some of the scrutiny he’s faced at Iowa.
See video of the Hoosiers spring practice here (free):
The esteemed members of the fourth estate (OK, lowly sports reporters) are not invited back to another Indiana spring football practice until next Tuesday, so I’m going to try to give you as much information as I can from yesterday’s practice and interviews. If you have any questions, please leave them as a comment. Here goes:
LINEUPS: No big surprises that I noticed. The first-string offense had Kellen Lewis at quarterback, James Hardy, James Bailey and Nick Polk at receiver, Marcus Thigpen at running back, Nick Sexton at tight end, Rodger Saffold at left tackle, Pete Saxon at left guard, Ben Wyss at center, John Sandberg at right guard and Charlie Emerson at right tackle.
The defense had Jammie Kirlew at left end, Joe Kremer and Greg Brown at tackle and Brian Faires at right end, Will Patterson and Geno Johnson at outside linebacker, Adam McClurg at middle linebacker, Austin Thomas and Brandon Mosley at safety, and Tracy Porter and Leslie Majors at cornerback.
FIRST TIME: Sexton, a Bloomington North grad, said the start of spring football is an exciting time, despite the absence of coach Terry Hoeppner at practice.
“We were so close to getting to a bowl,” Sexton said. “It’s our last chance as seniors. It’s real exciting.
“It’s my chance to come out as a starter for the first time since I’ve been here. I think I’m the probably the strongest I’ve been here.”
OLDER AND STRONGER: Interim coach Bill Lynch said that during a good winter for the Hoosiers in working out, it was young players on the offensive and defensive lines, and at linebacker who stood out to him in the size and maturity they gained. In talking about the individuals who’ve made the most progress, Lynch mentioned defensive linemen Greg Middleton, Emile Bass, Deonte Mack, and Keith and Kevin Burris; and linebackers Will Patterson, Matt Mayberry and Mandela Roberts.
Lynch said star wide receiver James Hardy has also had an excellent winter. Lynch didn’t say it, but Hardy – although immensely talented – hasn’t always been a hard worker in practice.
“That guy has really worked hard this off-season,” Lynch said. “He has a real determined look to him.”
A NEW SCHEME? Lynch said that one of the interesting challenges for the spring will be to find the defensive set that best fits the Hoosiers’ personnel. Last year, Indiana used sets with both three and four linebackers.
OPPONENTS CHANGE, TOO: Kellen Lewis said he expects opponents to try to stop slow his running from the quarterback position by using more Cover 2 on defense. That will take away much of his and Marcus Thigpen’s outside running, Lewis said, and force the Hoosiers to use more of a tradtional running game with their backs.
LESS REPORTING THIS YEAR: IU officials say that the plan to allow less media access for spring practice was hatched before they knew Hoeppner would miss spring practice. In past years, almost all of the spring practices have been open to media. This year, only five of the 15 practices are open to media.
Talk with Edgewood High School’s 6-7 forward Garrett Butcher and coach Jay Brown about the Mustangs perfect run in the regular season.
We’ll talk Hep, we’ll talk Hoops, we’ll talk D.J. White and the NBA draft. We’ll talk whatever you want. You can berate me over a recent column, if you so desire. I’m open to anything.
Indiana’s 2007 football team began its spring practice an hour ago on the practice fields next to Mellencamp Pavilion.
Before practice began, Indiana assistant head coach Bill Lynch told reporters that the Hoosier players are more ready to face the absence of head coach Terry Hoeppner this time around because this is the third time he’s been away from the team for health reasons.
“It’s a resilient group, a group that has a tremendous amount of respect for coach Hep,” Lynch said. “They’ve been through a lot with this situation.
Lynch didn’t give any additional information about the health of Hoeppner, who according to an IU news release will miss spring practice because he needs rest. Hoeppner has had two brain surgeries in the past 15 months.
Lynch said the staff will be giving Hoeppner film to watch after each practice.
Here are a few other notes from practice: running back Justin Carrington has moved to linebacker; there’s a #67 out there who isn’t listed on the roster, but who looks like William Keglar, the big defensive tackle who tried out for the team last fall; quarterback Ben Chappell is now No. 2 on the quarterback depth chart so he’ll get a lot of reps this spring; cornerback Richard Council and offensive lineman Jerry Schultz are the only players out for the spring, Lynch said. Both are recovering from knee surgeries.