Kelvin Sampson sees some similarities between Eric Gordon and NBA All-Star Gilbert Arenas. He also thinks Brandon McGee has some of the same qualities as former Oklahoma All-American Eduardo Najera, and the first-year Hoosier coach thinks the "sky's the limit" for 6-9 center Eli Holman.
That's high praise indeed, but word is Sampson's strongest words of praise might have come about 6-7 guard/forward Jamarcus Ellis – if he'd been able to talk about him. The Chipola (Fla.) Junior College star's letter of intent didn't arrive at IU until last night, preventing Sampson from offering any praise about the former Chicago Westinghouse standout.
Ellis' versatility and toughness are two of his greatest strengths. Chipola JC is off to a 4-0 start, and Ellis was averaging 19 points, 11 rebounds, and eight assists in their first three games. Chipola JC Coach Greg Heiar said he plays Ellis everywhere except center, and he's the catalyst of a team that went 26-5 a year ago.
"He plays anywhere from the one through the four," Heiar said of Ellis. "He's such a great rebounder, anytime he gets it he's instantly the point guard no matter what position he is on the floor. I let him rebound it and push and make decisions. But if he's got a mismatch we'll put in the post, he can guard all five positions. Very versatile, very unselfish."
One the best tools Kelvin Sampson was able to use to put together the 2007 recruiting class was his summer Elite Basketball Camp.
With Sampson's off-campus recruiting restrictions, he relied a great deal on the work of his assistants to get many of IU's targets on campus for the late summer camps. Among those who were in attendance were McGee, Gordon and 2008 commit Bud Mackey, just to name a few. The camp gave Sampson an opportunity to evaluate the players in person, and it gave the players a chance to evaluate Sampson, the IU program, and the city without actually taking an official visit.
While Sampson will be able to get back to a normal recruiting routine in the spring, expect the Hoosiers' Elite Camps to continue to be a very important tool this staff uses. The 2007 Elite Camp has been scheduled for June 28-29.
While talking about last night's IU Basketball banquet and the plethora of former IU players who were going to be in attendance, Sampson offered some words of praise for former IU Coach Bob Knight.
"This is such a great university and the basketball program has such great tradition that has been made by coaches, players and fans," Sampson said. "I don't think a entity was responsible for it. I think there are a lot of people responsible for Indiana being great. You see it with the great coaches. You go back to Coach McCracken and Coach Knight. Directly or indirectly, Coach Knight influenced a generation of coaches. A whole generation of us, especially my age and a little younger, looked up to guys like Coach Smith at North Carolina, Coach Knight, and Coach Thompson at Georgetown. Those guys influenced us because those are the guys that we saw."
How good of a job did the Big Ten do in recruiting this year? Four of Scout.com's top eight classes are from the Big Ten (Purdue, Michigan State, Ohio State and Indiana) and six of the top 30 players in the country are headed to Big Ten schools – Eric Gordon (No. 2 – Indiana); Kosta Koufos (No. 10 – Ohio State); Durrell Summers (No. 19 – Michigan State); E'twaun Moore (No. 22 – Purdue); Chris Allen (No. 29 – Michigan State) and Kalin Lucas (No. 30 – Michigan State).
The Big Ten's total of six top-30 players bested the Pac-10 (four), Big East (four), ACC (two) and SEC (two). Only the Big 12 (eight top-30 players) out-did the Big Ten.
"It's one of those games that everyone wants to play."
That what Jahkeen Gilmore had to say Tuesday about Indiana's opportunity to play No. 2 Michigan this weekend. This game comes just three weeks after the Hoosiers played the No. 1 team in the country, Ohio State, and fell 44-3.
While it's a game that is in the national spotlight, I'd have to say the game the Hoosiers would probably like better would be, say, a home against Northwestern or perhaps another match-up with Michigan State. There will be a national television audience for Saturday's 3:30 p.m. kick-off, but with IU still one game away from bowl eligibility with just two games remaining, Michigan might not be the opponent I'd want to play this weekend…
Don't be amazed if there are a few changes to the Hoosiers' starting defensive lineup Saturday. Indiana's woeful effort in Saturday's 63-26 loss at Minnesota sent IU Coach Terry Hoeppner and his defensive staff back to the drawing board in search of something they can do to prevent a similar aerial assault this weekend.
"We spent hours trying to patch up, repair, in some cases replace individuals," Hoeppner said.
So where would those changes come? While the secondary would be the most obvious area to look, there were also issues with the Hoosiers' front four. IU had little luck pressuring Minnesota quarterback Brian Cupito, giving him all the time he needed to throw for 378 yards and four touchdowns in the Gopher victory.
"It wasn't one guy - it was an across the board," Hoeppner said. "We were equal opportunity offenders on defense when we needed to be defenders."
IU fans could see some different scheme as well in an effort to slow down a very proficient Michigan offense.
"Part of it is execution on the field, but part of it is can we put them in better defenses, better coverages?" Hoeppner said. "That's our responsibility as coaches. That started Saturday night."
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