Sampson Delivers a Message

Bloomington, Ind. – Kelvin Sampson had a couple of visitors in his office Wednesday. A day after being relegated to the bench for the majority of the second half of IU's 54-51 loss to Duke, both Earl Calloway and Rod Wilmont stopped by Sampson's office...

Bloomington, Ind. – Kelvin Sampson had a couple of visitors in his office Wednesday.

A day after being relegated to the bench for the majority of the second half of IU's 54-51 loss to Duke, both Earl Calloway and Rod Wilmont stopped by Sampson's office to talk to the Hoosiers' head coach about what they can do get back on the floor and help the team beginning Saturday, when IU hosts Charlotte at 8 p.m.

"Earl came by, Rod came by, and wanted to know, ‘coach, what can I do?'" Sampson said. "That's their attitude. They want to help, they want to help the team."

Tuesday night, Calloway, Wilmont and A.J. Ratliff didn't do the things Sampson wanted to see from them in the first half against Duke, and the result was 12 turnovers and a 12-point deficit at intermission. That prompted Sampson to use Errek Suhr, Joey Shaw and Armon Bassett almost exclusively in the second half, a move that helped produce a furious IU comeback and a near-miss against the 11th-ranked Blue Devils at Cameron Indoor Stadium.

Ratliff, Calloway, and Wilmont, meanwhile, combined to play a total of three minutes.

Sampson said he was sending a message to the players, and it's one he's confident they heard.

"Making mistakes is not a crime," Sampson said. "It's okay to make a mistake, just don't repeat it. That's the message we're sending to these kids. And I'm not going to get mad at them because they didn't play good. That doesn't help anybody."

Sampson does believe Tuesday's time on the sidelines will help the trio of upperclassmen, and he's also confident it won't lead to malcontents in the IU locker room.

"They're good kids," Sampson said. "Kids that don't have high character become problems. These are high character kids, good kids. That's not an issue whatsoever, and it won't be."

While Tuesday's experience is something Sampson thinks Calloway, Wilmont and Ratliff will learn from, that doesn't necessarily mean Indiana will once again go with the same starting lineup that it did against the Blue Devils. Bassett started his second straight game and scored a team-high 16 points, and is certainly making his case for a regular spot in the line-up. Suhr, meanwhile, has never started a game during his IU career, but his play against Duke is making Sampson give some thought to starting the Bloomington native.

"I'm going to consider it," Sampson said. "He certainly earned consideration Tuesday night."

Suhr was a big part of an IU offense that cut its turnovers down from 12 in the first half to four in the second half, and shot 46.8 percent from the floor compared to 32.1 percent in the opening half.

"We didn't turn the ball over," Sampson said. "To be a good offensive team you have to take care of the ball. Then you can find out the other things you can do.

"Errek was just solid. Sometimes that's what that position requires. You don't have to throw five touchdown passes every game – just don't throw any interceptions. Get your team in whatever you're going to do, and make sure you get a shot."

Suhr did that Tuesday, and Sampson is looking for the trio of upperclassmen to do that as well beginning with Thursday afternoon's practice. Despite the limited playing time for that group Tuesday, the Hoosier head coach has been pleased with how they've responded to the message he was sending.

"If you're going around here worrying about playing time or shots, then you're in the wrong place," Sampson said. "The name on the front of our jerseys says Indiana. You better figure out how to help Indiana. That's the best way to help yourself."


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