Indiana's finalgame in the Big¬†Ten tournament, against Illinois, was barely a minute oldwhen Hoosiers coach Kelvin Sampson called timeout and berated junior forwardD.J.¬†White for having just allowed Shaun Pruitt to make a layup. "Hewas in my face, yelling and spitting," White recalls. "It made me somad, I thought, Hey, I'm going to prove to him what I can do."
White responded bysnaring a season-high 13¬†rebounds (and scoring 14¬†points) in the58-54 loss. Now White needs to dem-onstrate he can light himself up. When Whitewas thinking of entering the NBA draft last spring, Sampson told him not tocome back for his senior year unless he was determined to be a leader as wellas a great player. "This time last year I didn't like D.J.'s body language,I didn't like his approach to practice and I didn't like how he reacted when Igot on him," Sampson says. "From Day One this year, he's been a totallydifferent person. He has a swagger he didn't have before."
White concedeshe's not naturally assertive--"I'm just a nice guy," he says--but if hecan keep up his nasty attitude, the Hoosiers could make a run to theFinal¬†Four. In addition to three starters from last year's 21-11 squad, asix-man recruiting class has given Bloomington great expectations. The gemstoneis Eric Gordon, but another freshman guard, Jordan Crawford, has been apleasant surprise during practices. His maturation at the point would allowSampson to play Gordon off the ball, where he is more comfortable.
Gordon, of course,created a stir when he decommitted from Illinois in October 2006 and signed toplay for IU. He was worth the fuss: During Indiana's trip to the Bahamas inSeptember, Gordon averaged 27.0 points on 57.6% shooting. "Eric has thatextra gear," Sampson says. "He can get to that next shelf in thecloset."
Gordon isnaturally reticent. "Eric probably wouldn't say anything if coach didn'tmake him," sophomore guard Armon Bassett says. That leaves the leading tothe now vocal White. "The [young] guys are going to look up to me," hesays. "I need to take this team over."
6'9"Sr.13.8 ppg7.3 rpgKEY RESERVE G A.J. Ratliff 6'3" Sr. 9.3 ppg 2.3 rpg
*HIGH SCHOOL STATS
‚Ä† JUNIOR COLLEGE STATS
Nov. 20 UNCWilmington
Nov. 23-24 ChicagoInvitational (vs. Illinois State; plus Xavier, Kent State)
Nov. 27 GeorgiaTech
Dec. 1 at SouthernIllinois
Dec. 3 TennesseeState
Dec. 15 WesternCarolina
Dec. 22 CoppinState
Dec. 29 ChicagoState
The Hoosiers will be tested after Thanksgiving with matchups against GeorgiaTech, Southern Illinois and Kentucky--the last two of which coach KelvinSampson inherited from his predecessor, Mike Davis. The rest of the scheduleincludes nondescript teams in friendly environments. But then, given theHoosiers' inexperience, maybe a lightweight slate is the smart way to go.
Coach KelvinSampson (2nd year)
Big Ten record10-6 (3rd)
NCAA tournament2nd round
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JOHN W. MCDONOUGH
TOUGH ACT After being called out by his coach, White brought a swagger back to Bloomington.