Bloomington, Ind. – Most of the Indiana Hoosiers hoped to start the season on the right foot in the opening exhibition game against North Dakota.
But for D.J. White, all the focus was all on his left.
After sitting out all but a handful of games last season with a broken left foot, White returned to the lineup for Indiana's first exhibition game almost exactly one year after his original injury.
"I'm happy and relieved," said White. "My foot is fine and my body feels good. It was kind of awkward at first. I haven't been out there in a while going against another opponent. But it feels good. I know I have a lot of things to work on, but overall I'm happy to be back out there."
White broke the foot when the Hoosiers defeated St. Joseph's Nov. 4, 2005, and then suffered a second injury to the same foot, ending his season after just five games. One year later he showed no lingering signs from the injury – just a little rust from sitting on the sidelines.
"As the game wore on, he got into it more," said Indiana head coach Kelvin Sampson. "It's not an easy game. Think about the things he has been through in the last two years. I think his best week of practice will be this week. I'm proud of him."
Playing 24 minutes, White scored 10 points on 3-of-8 shooting and was also 4-of-6 shooting from the free throw line in a 95-50 win over North Dakota. He added seven rebounds – all defensive - two assists and three blocks. Sampson was quick to point out where White needs to improve.
"Today was a starting point and come mid-November, he will be getting better and better," said Sampson. "I thought he was a lot better the second half. He had seven defensive rebounds. When he starts tagging seven offensive rebounds to that, I'm going to give him some ‘that-a-boys.'"
For the second-straight year White begins the season with recognition from conference coaches, being name to the preseason All-Big Ten team. After being named Big Ten Freshman of the Year following the 2004-05 season White was unable to earn any postseason awards a year ago because of his injuries and hopes to get back on track this season.
"Like Coach (Sampson) said, I was a little rusty out there," said White. "That comes along with it. I feel with every game I'll become more familiar with the game. I should be fine. There are no worries for me."
Sampson hopes White will be the center piece of his defensive scheme after White set an Indiana record for blocks by a freshman with 64. However, after the first exhibition game of the season, Sampson knows White has a lot of rust to knock off.
"I thought D.J. was very tentative in the first half," said Sampson. "He played a lot harder in the second half. But I also know that this is the first time in two years where he has just played. I know he's rusty and I told him don't worry about any of this. These exhibition games are what they are – you're supposed to develop some rhythm, get some chemistry on the court and just work to get better."
All's Right with White
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