Men’s Basketball: Big man dishes on big topics

Franklin Kao

Coming off of two big victories over then-No. 9 Michigan State and then-No. 15 Purdue, Indiana has reestablished itself as one of the nation’s elite teams. The Hoosiers have a conference record of 11-2 and an overall record of 22-4. While freshman phenom Eric Gordon may be soaking up the media’s attention, much of the team’s stability has to do with senior forward D.J. White. He is averaging 17 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks a game, while shooting 62 percent.

The Daily caught up with White before the season at Big Ten Media Day to talk about Kelvin Sampson, Northwestern basketball and Southern cooking.

Daily Sports: You played in the Pan American games this summer. What was that experience like?

White: It was a great experience. I had the chance to play with some great players from the U.S. Drew Neitzel, he was on the team. (I) got a chance to build a relationship with him. I got a chance to play against other players form different countries. It was just a great experience overall.

Daily: What did you find most interesting about playing against teams from other countries?

White: Just different styles. Very unselfish teams. Different offenses they ran. Different things of that nature.

Daily: As a senior leader on the team, what are some of your goals?

White: Just get the best out of our abilities. Just be a leader for this team.

Daily: And what are some of those leadership qualities you will bring?

White: I just try to provide them with anything they need. A lot of my teammates look up to me, I feel. So just be there for everything they need. If something goes wrong, then I’ll talk to them, and tell them it’s OK. That’s a big role that I want to play this year.

Daily: What is it like playing for coach Kelvin Sampson?

White: It’s a great experience. He’s very tough and hard-nosed. He expects the best out of us at all times. It’s good.

Daily: You’re originally from Alabama. Do you miss anything from Alabama?

White: The food. My mother’s cooking. There’s no real sweet tea or lemonade in Bloomington, not like it is in the South, so that’s probably what I miss the most.

Daily: What is this sweet tea like?

White: Very sweet. Homemade sweet tea. Very sweet, not watered down. You don’t have to put your own sugar in it. It’s just sweet.

Daily: On the other hand, is there anything that you like in Indiana that you can’t find in Alabama?

White: Not really. (Laughs) But I wish there were some things that Alabama has.

Daily: So what was it like playing in the tournament last year and advancing to the second round?

White: It was a great experience. Playing in the NCAA tournament, it was a great experience. (But) it’s a different season. We had a good time. We didn’t finish the way we wanted to finish, but hopefully we will this year.

Daily: What is the team working on to get further in the tournament this year?

White: Just trying to get better as a team and as a unit. That’s basically all we can do at this point. We haven’t played a game yet, so that’s all we can do.

Daily: What is your favorite sports movie of all time and why?

White: “Any Given Sunday.” I just like Jamie Foxx as an actor.

Daily: What is your favorite non-sports movie?

White: I’m a big “Oceans” fan. All the “Oceans” – 11, 12, 13. I love those movies.

Daily: What is the toughest thing about Northwestern?

White: Oh, the Princeton Offense. Back cuts and all that. That’s probably the toughest thing.

Daily: And what does that force you guys to do?

White: It changes some of our lineups sometimes. We can’t go traditionally how we do to two-post and three-perimeter. Sometimes we have to go four guards and one post, so they just mix up our defense.

[email protected]