Collison a Big Concern for Hoosiers

Sacramento, Cal. – UCLA has big names like Arron Afflalo and big bodies like Lorenzo Mata to contend with in Saturday's second-round NCAA tourney contest. But the biggest challenge for Kelvin Sampson's squad might be containing the smallest man on the floor.

Sacramento, Cal. – UCLA has big names like Arron Afflalo and big bodies like Lorenzo Mata to contend with in Saturday's second-round NCAA tourney contest. But the biggest challenge for Kelvin Sampson's squad might be containing the smallest man on the floor.

Six-foot-one, 165-pound point guard Darren Collison might not be the intimidating presence off the floor, but on the hardwood he's a headache waiting to happen for opponents.

"If someone were to ask me who the top five point guards are in the country, I'd probably put him on that list," said IU freshman Armon Basssett.

A sophomore, Collison is the point man on both ends of the floor for Coach Ben Howland's team. He ranked second in the Pac-10 in assists with 6.0 per game, and his 2.3 steals/contest led the league. Add in 12.7 points per game and 45.6 percent shooting from behind the 3-point arc, and it's easy to see why Collison is a major concern for the Hoosiers.

Earl Calloway said he'll be matched up with Collison to start Saturday's contest, and he knows just how important that match-up is to each teams' chance of emerging victorious and earning a trip to San Jose for next week's regional.

"He's the leader of their team, and I'm the leader of my team," Calloway said. "I just have to go out there and try to contain him, put pressure on him, and just try to out-compete him and try to get my team the win."

While the final boxscore will say more about what both Calloway and Collison do offensively, their work on the defensive end will be equally important. For Calloway, that means taking care of the basketball against one of college basketball's best at taking it away.

"He's a crafty defender, he has quick hands, and I've got to take care of the basketball – don't play with it," Calloway said.

Collison has had a couple of huge games on the defensive end this season, including a nine-steal effort in a November win over Long Beach State and six against Cal-State Fullerton. His 68 steals on the year is nearly double that of IU's leader, Rod Wilmont, who has 35.

Considering the fact that both Indiana and UCLA have enjoyed much of their success this season thanks to their proficiency at shutting teams down defensively, forcing turnovers and scoring off the miscues could play a big role in Saturday's outcome.

"When you play against a really good defensive team, it's important to get some easy baskets," IU Coach Kelvin Sampson said. "You can't grind it out every single possession."

Indiana wants to limit Collison's transition opportunities, and that will fall to Calloway to make that happen.

"The main thing is try to help my team – don't take it as a personal matchup, take it as a team match-up," Calloway said. "Try to collectively play defense together. I know D.J. will help me on the ball screens, things like that. We'll be good to go."

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