Big Ten basketball notebook: D.J. White a ‘rock’ for Indiana
Indiana senior forward D.J. White has been double trouble for opponents this season.
The reigning Big Ten Player of the Week is averaging 16.6 points and 10.9 rebounds for the league-leading Hoosiers. Last week, White became the first Indiana player in more than a decade to have a 20-20 game when he finished with 21 points and a career-high 22 rebounds against Michigan.
“He’s been our rock,” Hoosiers head coach Kelvin Sampson said. “If there’s one kid from a maturity standpoint who handles things on a daily basis and doesn’t have many highs and lows, it’s D.J.
“He has been a great role model for the rest of our guys, especially our new guys.”
White is the first Hoosier to have at least 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game since Alan Henderson in 1995. His 22 rebounds against the Wolverines are the most by an Indiana player since Henderson grabbed 28 in 1992. No other Big Ten player is averaging at least 10 rebounds a game.
“You look at the stat sheet and rebounding is such a wanters’ statistic,” Sampson said. “D.J. leads by a great example just with his rebounding.”
What Might Have Been
Indiana freshman Eric Gordon is the early frontrunner in the league’s player of the year race. That is no consolation for Illinois fans, who saw Gordon verbally commit to the Fighting Illini then change his mind and sign with the Hoosiers.
Gordon and Illinois head coach Bruce Weber downplayed Sunday’s Hoosiers-Illini matchup, the first for Gordon in an Indiana uniform. Gordon scored 11 of his 17 points in the second half to help the Hoosiers rally for a 62-58 win. The 17 points was 6 under Gordon’s season average.
Sampson would not be surprised if his 6-foot-4 guard actually was a little nervous coming in.
“He’s a human being,” Sampson said. “We’re talking about a kid who turned 19 years old on Christmas Day. He’s not made of wires and buttons. He’s such a great kid and a sensitive kid.
“With all the build up and hype, at 19 I know I would have been (nervous). I would have probably approached that game a little different. That’s something he knew he was going to have to go through. And he’s going to have to do it again on Feb. 7 as well.”
Gordon and the Hoosiers play at Illinois that day.
Another Immediate Impact
Minnesota’s Al Nolen makes the most of his time on the court. The freshman guard leads the league in steals with 37 even though he is averaging only around 22 minutes a game.
“He just has excellent instincts and great hands,” Golden Gophers head coach Tubby Smith said. “We really work hard on forcing the guy to turn his back to the defender, and Al does a good job of coming in and making steals with that technique. He does a good job of studying the other player, reading the scouting report and recognizing when he can take the ball off an opposing player.
“Al’s ability to steal the ball is very unusual for a player at this level.”
Nolen added three more steals in Saturday’s 76-73 win over Penn State. One came with the game tied as the Nittany Lions were looking for the last shot in regulation.
Nolen sank the winning free throws in the final 5.6 seconds.
Milestone Wins in Sight
Smith will look for his 400th career win tonight when the Golden Gophers host Indiana. Sampson is 10 victories shy of No. 500 for his career.
On the Air … For Now
Good news, Ohio State fans. Most of you actually will see your team on TV more than once this week.
Tuesday’s game’s at Michigan State was televised by ESPN. Saturday’s contest at Tennessee -- a rematch of last year’s NCAA tournament thriller won by the Buckeyes -- will be shown on CBS.
Now the bad news. The Big Ten Network is scheduled to televise at least four more games this season. As many as four other games may be shown on the network.
Launched last August, the Big Ten Network is not seen on most major cable systems in the Midwest. The network wants to be shown on expanded basic cable, while large companies such as Time Warner Cable would like it to be placed on a digital sports tier.
DirecTV and Dish satellite subscribers can watch the Big Ten Network.