– According to Chris Korman of the Herald Times, Armon Bassett will likely miss Tuesday’s game at Michigan. Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson had the following to say on this morning’s Big Ten conference call:
“We have to get Armon Bassett back. For us to be as good as we can be, we need him to be playing. Not having him is a blow for us. I don’t think we’ll have him for the Michigan game, either. He’s just getting a lot of treatment. A lot of rehab. It’s something that’s going to bother him the rest of the year. It may be a thing where he needs to have surgery and be out or we may be able to get him through the year with it.”
Bassett played just three minutes on Wednesday at Iowa in Indiana’s 79-76 win. Look for Jordan Crawford to get the nod at the point Tuesday evening in Ann Arbor.
– Our friend Luke Winn of SI.com threw down a Q & A with D.J. White and here is one of the more interesting responses on Eric Gordon’s sleeping and eating habits:
LW: Gordon looks like such a veteran scorer when he’s on the floor. Does he at least have some freshman habits off of it, that make him seem like a kid? Or is there anything the older guys harass him about?
DJW: Well … We both take naps in the same room [at Assembly Hall] before games. And he snores in there a lot. It’s loud and it gets very annoying; I joke with him about it, but there’s nothing you can do to make it stop. You nudge him and he might lighten up for a few seconds, but after that he’s back to snoring.
He also can eat a lot. The way his body is like — with no fat — you wouldn’t know it, but he’ll eat like three hamburgers at a time. He has a huge appetite. He can easily out-eat me.
Eric Gordon scored 22 points and D.J. White posted his eighth double-double of the season with 21 points and a career-high 15 rebounds as No. 13 Indiana crushed Chicago State 97-59 Saturday night at Assembly Hall.
Gordon struggled from the field for the second straight game as he shot just 3 of 12 but the 6’4″ freshman hit 14 of 14 free throws.
Indiana opened the game on a 11-0 run and led 28-6 on a Lance Stemler three-pointer with 10:30 remaining in the first half.
“I thought we were ready to play,” Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson said. “I thought our defense was really, really good the first 20 minutes. We dominated every phase of the game.”
The Hoosiers (11-1) shot 47 percent from the field, out-rebounded Chicago State 56-26 and had 11 blocked shots.
Armon Bassett returned from a three-game suspension and scored 13 points.
Chicago State (4-12) shot just 36 percent from the field, committed 18 turnovers and missed all five of their free throw attempts. David Holston led the Cougars with 25 points.
The win extended IU’s home court winning streak to 26 and moved Kelvin Sampson to 24-0 at Assembly Hall.
Indiana will open Big Ten play Wednesday evening at 9 p.m. ET against Iowa at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
“We’re excited about starting Big Ten play on Wednesday,” Sampson added.
Indiana coach Kelvin Sampson addressed the media earlier today and gave us an update on Eric Gordon’s injury, Armon Bassett’s suspension, A.J. Ratliff’s return and an injury to Eli Holman. Here are some highlights of Sampson’s comments. The full transcript of the press conference is available here.
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:
“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.”
On the status of Eli Holman:
“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.”
Big win, huh? After hearing early in the day that Armon Bassett would miss the game alongside Eric Gordon, I was worried. Of course, I am neurotic about wins and losses; I always think IU will lose even if it should win, and I always think games are going to be closer and more challenging than they actually should be. Still, losing Eric and Armon was supposed to mean losing 40-50 points in production. But IU compensated, played well, and feasted on a Kentucky team that is just not very good at all right now. I’ll take it.
— First, that Kentucky team. How awful. I’ve been watching Kentucky basketball for, oh, 10 years — longer than I’ve been intently watching IU, thanks to a brother that used be obsessed with Kentucky — and this is by far the worst team I can remember them putting on the floor. I’m sure there have been worse teams. But this one is so thoroughly mediocre, and slow, and uncoordinated, that they never really looked like a challenge to a team missing its top two guards. That makes it tough to figure out how much of the credit for the blowout goes to the Hoosiers, and how much goes to the Cats.
— Earlier in the year, I talked about how no one on this team was a “true” point guard, and while that didn’t bother me, it did bear watching throughout the season. For all his strengths, I don’t see Kelvin Sampson as the most position-liberated coach out there; would he force Armon to be a distributing guard even though it’s clear he’s at his best as a shooter? What would he do with Jordan Crawford?
After Saturday, I think it’s clear that Crawford has the potential to be an every-play point guard on this team. He still has those freshman faults — too much lateral movement against the full court press, too many traps in the corner of the half-court, etc. But he also has a fully realized skill set. He’s great at attacking the basket, can shoot from the perimeter well, is athletic and big enough to guard opposing studs … he can do it all. It looks like he and Armon will complement each other really well in the next couple of years, each one doing some of the things the other can’t. That gives the Hoosiers plenty of guard depth to look forward to.
(More after the jump including my thoughts on Eric Gordon’s absence, Jamarcus Ellis and Sampson’s control of the program.)
First, apologies for the day-lateness. Thanks to an overeager waitress at Duffy’s in Chicago on Saturday night, I never wanted for a fresh Fat Tire, which, as you can imagine, is not the best way to avoid drunkenness if you’re trying to sit and watch the IU game. Many beers and a pretty tremendous hangover later, and here I am. Monday morning. Ouch.
Anyway, The Morning After is made a little bit more fun today, simply because we don’t have to gripe and whine for 1,000 words. No, Saturday’s win over Southern Illinois was about as impressive as possible, a sign that our high expectations for this team are warranted. Onward:
— 2-3 zone. Oh, the 2-3 zone! First, let’s give credit where credit is due: Southern Illinois had a bad shooting night. Whether they’re just a bad shooting team, or IU caught them on a bad time … well, that doesn’t really matter, because the Hoosiers leveraged Southern’s poor shooting with a 2-3 zone that solved multiple problems. First, it forced Southern to keep shooting from outside, thereby stopping a slew of early Saluki layups. (My table of amateur statisticians counted seven of the first eight shots as layups.) Second, it served as a way to rest an IU team that, thanks to Southern’s insatiable ball pressure, had to earn every single step forward in the half court offense. Add that to the fact that most players would rather play a million zones than one possession of half court man-to-man, and you had an IU team that looked better on defense than it has at any point in time early in the season. I still have hope that Sampson can develop this team, but it also seems equally as likely that they’re just not a very good group of ball defenders. If zone is what it takes – 2-3 against poor shooting teams’ 3-2 against good ones – then so be it. Zone it is.
— IU’s turnovers per field goal made weren’t stellar, but they were better than Tuesday’s abysmal effort against Georgia Tech. Perhaps Southern Illinois’ defense forced IU to congeal offensively, since ball pressure was heightened and trips into the lane were limited. Whatever the cause, IU looked more in sync on offense, looked more willing to make an extra swing pass, and so on. It’s good to see DJ get lots of touches in the post, for example, and be able to work into a rhythm on that little dribble fade he loves so much. It’s also lovely to see the Hoosiers work a little bit of perimeter team play into their usual diet of penetration.
A win is a win, sure, but there was plenty to complain about during IU’s 83-79 win over Georgia Tech last night. So let’s get into it. Hopefully this doesn’t become a recurring theme, because this team is too talented to grumble about all year.
— Turnovers. As in, too many of them. As in 17 of them. That’s not a catastrophic number by any means — when the number creeps up into the 20’s we can begin to really worry — but last night, the Hoosiers looked too prone to turnovers. Part of the reason was a sped-up pace driven by Georgia Tech’s effective full-court press, and the other part was general sloppiness by IU’s guards. Armon Bassett, Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis — each is prone to unwieldy passes and errant dribbles, and the results kept Georgia Tech in the game longer than anticipated.
— Beyond turnovers, IU’s defense was again suspect. Transition defense, especially in secondary break situations, saw the Hoosiers yield easy layup after easy layup, easy dunk after easy dunk. Players flew at head fakes, doubled when one defender was sufficient, and just generally looked every bit as disorganized as they did in their ugly loss to Xavier. Kelvin Sampson being what he is — a very solid defensive coach — I’m keeping the faith things get turned around eventually. But it’s becoming clear that the fix isn’t going to be nearly as quick as any of us had hoped.
— Lance Stemler hit three threes. This should not be notable, but it is, because it is so very outside the norm. That’s how bad Lance Stemler has shot the basketball for the past oh, 25 games or so.
Now that I’ve had 36 hours to regroup from the loss to Xavier on Saturday evening, I found it appropriate this morning to take a look at the film. There were plenty of pivotal moments to choose from, but the fastbreak dunk by Derrick Brown that resulted in a broken net took the cake.
1. A somewhat wild shot by Armon Bassett is tipped unsuccessfully by D.J. White.
2. After the tip by White, Derrick Brown tips the ball and then grabs the rebound. Brown immediately looks for Stanley Burrell.