Big Ten: Sampson Speaks

By - October 29, 2006

Perhaps the most engaging interview of the afternoon came at the Indiana round table, as first-year coach Kelvin Sampson held court with about a dozen reporters, asking the many unfamiliar faces from a different media circuit their names and where they were from. He also took each question as an opportunity to expound on his more general philosophies of the sport.

“We spend a lot of time watching how hard we play,” said Sampson of his approach since assuming the reins in Bloomington. “The first thing that we’re trying to teach these kids is not some tricky offense or some intricate defensive scheme. It’s a foundation: Play hard, compete, play with some emotion, play with some enthusiasm, play with a little passion.

“College basketball is not a ‘cool-daddy’ game. There are some NBA guys that [relax] when they hit around Game No. 42 -- like Game No. 42 is not necessarily the same as the playoffs. In college basketball, every game has to be the Fourth of July, Christmas morning or happy birthday. You try to get kids to play with some enthusiasm and passion.”

Sampson, whose Hoosiers are coming off a fourth-place finish in the Big Ten, said that his father was his inspiration for wanting to spend a life in education.

“I played college basketball but I wasn’t a very good player,” Sampson said. “But I loved the game, and I loved watching my father teach the game and how things came together. And I like to teach: If I were not a college basketball coach, I’m sure I would be a teacher somewhere because I enjoy that part of it. And I like to teach basketball, to teach kids to compete and play hard and be a team, be passionate about it.

Though Indiana returns a pair of starters from last season’s group, Sampson insists that a new coach means that his roster is replete with so-called “first-year players.”

“Coaching a team with no returning players for you, every kid on my team’s a freshman,” Sampson said. “Now, [Rod Wilmont] is a fifth-year senior, but he’s never played in the offense we’re running. We’ve got a lot of guys coming back that have played, but they’re new to what we’re doing.”

Posted by at 04:29 PM on October 29, 2006

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