Bahamas Foes Of Little Concern to Sampson

Bloomington, Ind. – Kelvin Sampson isn't shy about revealing what he knows about the Hoosiers' four opponents in the upcoming Bahamas trip. Nothing.

Bloomington, Ind. – Kelvin Sampson isn't shy about revealing what he knows about the Hoosiers' four opponents in the upcoming Bahamas trip.

Nothing.

"I have no idea who we're playing," Sampson said Saturday.

For the record, the Hoosiers leave Bloomington next Friday at 3 p.m., arrive in the Bahamas at 6, and then head straight to the gym to face Bahamas Select at 8:30 p.m. They will return to the 2,500-seat Kendall Isaacs Stadium on Saturday to play Guatemala at noon and the Sunshine Auto Club at 8 p.m., before concluding their 48-hour Caribbean stay with a 2 p.m. match-up against Commonwealth Bank Club on Sunday.

Sampson said his team will make every effort to win each of the four contests, but he's more interested in what unfolds during the next six days.

"The value is the 10 practices, not the games," Sampson said.

Leading up to Friday's departure, Indiana is permitted to have ten practices, beginning at 4 p.m. today. The seven returnees plus walk-on Brett Finkelmeier will practice once today and Sunday, with the six newcomers watching from the sidelines. Those six members of the '07 recruiting class can join their teammates on Monday once first semester classes begin, and Sampson said the team will practice twice on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.

While there's always value in getting a chance to work with the entire team long before the normal start of basketball practice in mid-October, it's especially important for an IU team that has a very different look from a year ago. With the loss of A.J. Ratliff for the first semester due to academics, Sampson returns only four scholarship players from last year's 21-11 squad.

The departees have been replaced by some gifted players such as Eric Gordon, Jamarcus Ellis and Jordan Crawford, but there's still a great deal of value in being able to get everyone together early on and get a feel for how all of the pieces are going to fit.

"It will give us a chance to get an early start," said D.J. White, one of this year's co-captains along with Lance Stemler. "We have six newcomers who are going to be a big part of this team this year, and it's an early start to get to know Coach Sampson, his style, and how we're going to play this year."

Those six additions – Gordon, Ellis, Crawford, DeAndre Thomas, Brandon McGee and Eli Holman – will start to get a taste for Sampson's style while watching the eight veterans go through a series of drills this weekend.

"I want them to watch the intensity of the workout, the speed and the tempo," Sampson said. "We're going to spend a lot of time teaching today, tomorrow and next week."

Once the team does arrive in the Bahamas, Sampson said he'll try to give everyone an equal opportunity to play, and he'll be keeping a closer eye on the new players on the roster.

"I want to see the new guys play as much as possible," Sampson said. "D.J. (White) – there's a good chance he won't lead us in minutes down there. I know what he can do."

Sampson will get a chance to see those players play at one of the Caribbean's top vacation spots, but with four games in less than 48 hours, it's a whole lot more about business than pleasure.

"When you think about the trip, I've had a lot of people say, ‘Wow, Coach, you get to go to the Bahamas,'" Sampson said. "That's in theory."


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