Time For Kline To Shine

BLOOMINGTON-With D.J. White possibly gone for the rest of the season, Indiana will need to look to a fifth-year senior and a first-year freshman if hopes of a Big Ten title are to be realized. Veteran Sean Kline and newcomer Ben Allen will need to fill the hole left by White's departure and help Marco Killingsworth in the paint.

BLOOMINGTON-With D.J. White possibly gone for the rest of the season, Indiana will need to look to a fifth-year senior and a first-year freshman if hopes of a Big Ten title are to be realized. Veteran Sean Kline and newcomer Ben Allen will need to fill the hole left by White's departure and help Marco Killingsworth in the paint.

White is out indefinitely after breaking a bone in his left foot against Ohio State – the same foot that caused him trouble at the beginning of the season. After winning the Big Ten Freshman of the Year award last season, White has been able to play in just five games this season. Indiana is 5-3 in the eight games without him and 0-1 in the Big Ten, while winning all five games with him in the lineup.

"Every game is meaningful," said Kline. "You have to protect your home court. Without D.J. it's going to be that much tougher on us, but we're a good team and we have some depth. We need to step up."

Kline and Allen will be the two who need to step up the most. With a big threat down low in Killingsworth, the Hoosiers will have to find ways to get him rest during the course of a game and still score in the post.

Kline and Allen, though, will have to do it in different ways than either White or the 6-8, 270-pound Killingsworth, who have both created big problems for foes down low in one-on-one situations.

"The first thing we say is don't try to be D.J.," said assistant coach Donnie Marsh. "He's a shot blocker, he's long and we can do some different things in zones with D.J.

"Sean and Ben aren't that type of player. Ben does a really good job holding his ground and making people score over him or through him. He's gotten better and better at that as this year's gone by. Kline will put his body on you and he can draw the charge with his quickness. Sometimes that gets him in a little bit of trouble because he wants to gamble on some things, but when he stays solid he's a guy who can help well from the defensive position."

Kline had played in seven games this season while still being hampered by a lingering knee injury. He has scored just 18 points this season, all in his first three games of action and has not played more than six minutes in the last five games he has played.

"You just have to play hard every day and give every last bit of energy you have," said Kline. "You have to go all out on that floor, senior or not. Everyone should be doing that.

"You just have to play through (the pain) and stay tough mentally. It's a mental game and it's tough especially when you're dealing with a major injury or break. Torn ligaments or broken bones are tough to recover from, but you just have to go through the healing process and come back strong."

Allen has seen limited time off the bench lately, but played solid minutes while White was out with his first injury. He had a breakout night when the Hoosiers lost at Indiana State, scoring 21 points, including five 3-pointers.

He will need to adjust his game a bit in the Big Ten if Indiana hopes to use him in the paint against the tougher big men the conference has to offer.

"I think Ben has the ability to step in," said Kline. "He's a tough kid for a freshman. He's strong and he's proved he can shoot the ball. He's a big kid who knows the system and he plays hard. I think he's going to step in and do a great job.

"People need to step up. Injuries happen throughout the season and D.J.'s might not be the last one. I'm sure it won't be. We just have to fight through adversity."

For Kline the role is one he may not have expected just two seasons ago. Before tearing his ACL as a sophomore, he had cracked the starting lineup and was beginning to show promise for the Hoosiers. He now has to show what it was that made him a starter for this team just two seasons ago.

"I am ready for this opportunity," said Kline. "I miss D.J., though. I'm more concerned with winning than playing, especially with my injury, but I'm ready to step up and provide some leadership and hopefully contribute.

"You just need to win games and prove to people we're still a really good team without D.J. The Big Ten is such a tough conference. We have so many powerhouses in the conference this year. It's arguably the toughest conference in the nation and when you lose arguably your best player, people are going to have to step in and keep this team going."


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