BLOOMINGTON-When it comes to figuring out which five players to put on the court, it's not the who or the what or even the when that concerns IU Coach Mike Davis the most.
Instead, it's the how - as in how they play.
With preseason All-Big Ten forward D.J. White once again available, the Hoosier coach's already plentiful options are bordering on endless. Indiana now has 12 players who have played 10 minutes or more in at least one game this season, creating the sort of "problem" that just about any college coach would love to have.
Too many players, too little time.
But Davis isn't so much concerned if White returns to the starting lineup for Friday night's 6 p.m. contest against Butler or how many minutes everyone on the roster is getting. Instead, it's making sure the five players on the floor are playing as a unit and playing with intensity on the defensive end that will earn players coveted minutes.
"We just have to continue to play team basketball," said Davis. "We're trying to keep the chemistry together."
Thus far, the chemistry has been working just fine. Indiana is off to a 6-2 start and ranked No. 18 nationally despite the absence of White for the first seven games and A.J. Ratliff for the first three. Suddenly a team that has been sorely lacking quality depth during the last two seasons is overflowing with personnel options.
The biggest thing in Davis' mind, though, is making sure those on the floor are doing what they need to to help the Hoosiers continue to be successful. That means big men like White and Marco Killingsworth attacking the basket when presented with one-on-one matchups and kicking it out when they're not, and guards who are patient enough to try to get the ball inside first before hoisting an attempt from the perimeter.
With the notable exception of the Indiana State game, Indiana has generally done that in the early going. Davis noted after Wednesday's practice that his team has recorded at least 15 assists in seven out of eight games this season after recording 15 or more assists only four times in the last two years combined.
One of the big reasons for the success has been Indiana's ability to go inside and then kick the ball back out if opponents opt to double team, and that figures to be an even greater option now that White has returned to the court. After missing seven games with a broken bone in his foot, White returned Monday and contributed eight points, five rebounds and two blocks in 17 minutes against Charlotte.
"We're just trying to get D.J. back into the mix," said Davis. "We want to get DJ back into a rhythm. I thought he played great for the first game back. Only having one practice, to play 17 minutes in that environment against those athletes…I thought he was pretty good."
But that debut doesn't necessarily mean White will be back in the starting lineup Friday when Indiana travels to Indianpolis to face Butler at Conseco Fieldhouse.
"We'll play it by ear," said Davis. "Everyone knows he's a starter. We're not going to rush him."
Practice Note: Sophomore James Hardy, who joined the basketball team last week, was absent from Wednesday's practice session. Davis said afterwards that his absence was injury-related, citing a hamstring injury for the 6-7, 215-pounder.
"He's hurt and he's been hurt," said Davis. "He's going to wait a couple of weeks to get well."
Hardy battled a slew of injuries during the football season, including an Achilles, knee, quadriceps and hamstring.
Who To Play Not A Big Concern
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