Bloomington, Ind. – Kelvin Sampson has told Ben Allen what he wants, and the Hoosiers' sophomore center is backing down.
Into the paint, that is.
Among the plethora of changes Indiana fans can expect to see this winter is the location of the 6-11, 262-pound Allen on the court. The first-year Hoosier coach has let it be known that while he likes Allen's ability to stretch defenses with his shooting stroke, he'd prefer to see him a shade closer to the basket.
And Sampson's suggestions aren't really open for discussion…
"I think Coach Sampson is going to have me playing inside a lot more," Allen said Tuesday.
With that in mind, Allen has added nearly 30 pounds to his frame in the off-season, going from 235 a year ago to 262. Despite the added weight, he said it hasn't had any negative effect on his conditioning. In fact, Sampson's off-season conditioning workouts have the bigger Allen in better shape as well.
"We've been conditioning for the last four weeks, and we had a (conditioning) test yesterday and I improved significantly with my conditioning (from a year ago)," said Allen, who averaged 3.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 10.0 minutes a year ago. "If I can stay at this weight and still improve conditioning-wise, I'm fine."
The added muscle has been paying dividends during individual workouts and in open gym. While Allen had his struggles a year ago maintaining position close to the basket, the added weight and strength has allowed him to be more of a presence on both ends of the court in the preseason workouts.
"I'm definitely stronger in the post, and I've been able to guard D.J. (White) and make moves on D.J., back him down," Allen said. "He's going to be one of the best big men in the Big Ten, so I feel if I can make moves on him, I feel I can make them on anyone."
Allen and White have been going head-to-head a great deal in the preseason, and White has been doing what he can to help develop Allen's inside game. While there will be plenty of times where both are on the floor together, Allen will spell White on occasion as well at the five, requiring him to be the low-post threat on the floor for Sampson's squad.
"With Coach Sampson's offense (Ben's) mostly going to be inside," White said. "Me and him have been working on some more post moves, making strong moves around the basket, trying to get him more familiar with the inside game. So it will be a little different for him."
Allen said he was asked to play inside before he arrived at IU when he was developing his game at the Australia Institute of Sport. But at AIS, he had plenty of freedom to take big men outside and use his ability to knock down perimeter shots as well.
With perimeter threats such as Rod Wilmont, Lance Stemler and A.J. Ratliff on the roster, it's a good bet Sampson won't give Allen that same sort of carte blanche to wonder out behind the 3-point line. But on the occasion when he does find himself with space on the perimeter, Allen said he won't hesitate to pull the trigger.
I'm playing the four a lot with D.J., so that requires outside-inside," said Allen, who shot 39.5 percent (17-of-43) from 3-point range a year ago. "So if I'm on the 3-point line and I'm open I'm definitely going to shoot it because I've got confidence I can make it."
Allen Backing Down
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