Sampson Doesn't Fret Over Bassett's Status

Bloomington, Ind. – When it comes to possibility of being without Armon Bassett for Sunday's game and coping with injuries in general, IU Coach Kelvin Sampson's summed up his approach pretty succinctly Thursday.

Bloomington, Ind. – When it comes to possibility of being without Armon Bassett for Sunday's game and coping with injuries in general, IU Coach Kelvin Sampson's summed up his approach pretty succinctly Thursday.

"Who cares?"

As No. 10 Indiana (13-1/2-0) gears up for a highly-anticipated meeting with Bruce Weber and Illinois (8-8/0-3) Sunday at IU's Assembly Hall, Sampson is unsure whether or not his starting point guard will be relegated to the sidelines for a third straight game with bone chips in his left ankle. But the Hoosiers' second-year coach doesn't appear overly preoccupied with whether or not the team's fourth-leading scorer will be ready to go.

"At the end of the day, it's a basketball game," Sampson said. "If they can play, that's good. If they can't, they can't play. What's the big deal? It's a basketball game. Nothing more than that."

Bassett has been limited since Dec. 29 when he injured the ankle midway through the second half of a lopsided win over Chicago State. Sampson said Bassett has generally been on the sidelines during practice ever since, and he's played only three minutes in the Hoosiers' first two Big Ten games.

But with no timetable for his return – Sampson's own public comments have ranged from being hopeful Bassett could play in the next game to the possibility of season-ending surgery – the Hoosier coach has fielded a steady barrage of inquiries about his status. Sampson doesn't have any new answers, and appears to be growing a bit short on patience on the subject as well.

"If he can play, he'll play. If he can't, he can't. If he warms up, he warms up. If he doesn't warm up, he doesn't warm up. Who cares? It's up to him. Talk to the doctors. I don't know what the big deal is about that," Sampson said.

What Sampson says is a big deal, though, is making sure that Bassett doesn't risk any sort of permanent injury. That's why he says he defers the decision on whether or not to play Bassett to team physician Dr. Larry Rink and team trainer Tim Garl, and that he'd rather err on the side of caution.

"What's the worst thing that could happen – lose a game?" Sampson said. "That's not the worst thing. The worst thing that could happen is permanently injure a kid. Armon's health is a whole lot more important than us winning and losing games. If you lose sight of that, you've kind of lost perspective."

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