White Trying To Get Right

He's been back on the floor for three weeks, but D.J. White is still trying to get back to where he was before he was sidelined by a broken foot.

While most of his teammates have 11 games under their belts, last season's Big Ten Freshman of the Year D.J. White has only seen the court four times so far this season and the lack of game time has been apparent.

In four games White has averaged just 18 minutes and has to take a breather more often than he would like.

"My conditioning is coming along and it's not too bad right now," said White. "I have been getting a little winded late in the second half but that's pretty good considering how long I was out."

That's precisely what happened in Indiana's 70-63 win over Michigan, when White went to the sidelines with 2:35 remaining and Indiana clinging to a 59-57 lead. But clutch plays by Robert Vaden down the stretch and four straight free throws from Marshall Strickland helped ensure Indiana's win.

That said, Mike Davis doesn't want to make a habit of having White seated next to him when Big Ten games are on the line.

"It's going to come along and I'm pushing myself in practice so it will get easier for me in the games," said White. "I know these early conference games are going to be tough but it'll come along."

The reason for White's absence from the lineup was a broken left foot he suffered in the first exhibition game of the season against Saint Joseph's (Ind.). Now that he is back in the starting lineup he has no ill effects from the injury except the lack of endurance. White has started the last two games at Ball State and home against Michigan.

"It's going to be more important for this team to show the depth we have," said White. "We have a lot of guys who can play the post in me, Marco, Ben (Allen), (Sean) Kline, (Cem) Dinc and we can put (Robert) Vaden at the four. (Rod) Wilmont can even play the four. It's going to be a big help to this team having that depth in case we get into foul trouble or someone goes down."

After sitting for the majority of the non-conference season, White is ready to continue the success he had a year ago against conference foes. On his way to freshman of the year honors White averaged 13.3 points, 2.2 blocks and posted a .572 field goal percentage last season in conference play. Indiana will need White to put up similar numbers this season to help them get off to a good start in what is shaping out to be the nation's toughest conference.

"I'm very excited to get into the Big Ten season," said White. "For me it's been a long time coming with my injury all those setbacks. It feels good just to be on the court for me.

"It's important for us to start off strong. You want to be one of the top teams early and not have it come down to the end fighting for a good season going into the Big Ten Tournament. It's key to start off good and get some wins under our belt."

Big Ten teams have started off the 2005-06 season on a very high note. The top seven teams in the conference ended non-conference play 73-9 and the conference is on pace to post the best out-of-league record in more six years with a mark of 89-22 (.802).

With the league doing so well, White knows how important it is for Indiana to do well in the conference.

"We're going to take it one game at a time because we're focused and we know how important conference games are," said White. "We can't look past anyone because every team in this conference is a good team. We're going to have a tough schedule but it's just going to show how good this team is."

With the win over Michigan in the Big Ten opener, Indiana has won 10 straight home games in the conference after going 8-0 last season. However the Hoosiers won just two road games and finished with a 10-6 conference mark.

"Continuing our success at home in the conference is another goal of ours, but that's how it should be for every team," said White. "We want to protect home. We lost one game this year at home to Duke. Last year we went 8-0 at home in the conference and we want to do that again as well as improve on the road."

One difference for the Hoosiers and more directly for White is the presence of Marco Killingsworth in the opposite block. With Killingsworth in the lineup the pressure for White down low decreases dramatically.

"I think Marco can handle his own, which makes it easier for everybody on this team," said White. "I know the Big Ten is tougher than the schedule we've played and different than when he played in the SEC, but I know he can keep on doing what he has been doing so far.

"I'm very excited this year about the focal point not just being on me in the post anymore. Teams can't focus on one player and it's going to be tough for them to get double teams when me and Marco are both on the floor. I think as a team our depth helps out a lot."

It's that duo that has White thinking of a possible Big Ten crown if he and Killingsworth can take care of business night in and night out.

"I think we can match-up with any backcourt in the Big Ten as long as we play our game and don't let anyone take us out of it," said White. "I know Marco can hold his own and I played well in the conference last season. We know a lot of teams in our conference like to run their offense through the post, but so do we. They're going to have to guard us also."

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