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December 12, 2007
White steps up game with Gordon sidelined
It was hardly unusual to see Indiana junior forward D.J. White post two double-doubles in two Indiana victories last week.
But that he did it mostly without freshman sensation Eric Gordon along for the ride is enough to earn White recognition as Rivals.com's National Player of the Week.
Gordon left the Hoosiers' early-week game against Tennessee State with about six minutes to go in the first half after a hard fall left him with a bruised back. White responded with a career-high 29 points to go with 14 rebounds. He followed with 16 points and 13 rebounds as IU whipped Kentucky 70-51 with Gordon still on the sideline.
He now has a career-high streak of five consecutive double-doubles.
"I knew for the team to do well and win, I had to step up and make shots, rebound," White told Rivals.com. "He's our leading scorer and we had to do things a little differently, but we got it done."
White, a 6-foot-9, 251-pounder, has been a key cog for the Hoosiers' since arriving on campus in 2004. He was a Rivals.com Freshman All-America that season. But now he finds himself sharing the spotlight with Gordon, who leads the Hoosiers, and the Big Ten for that matter, in scoring at 24.3 points per game.
White says there is plenty of room in that spotlight.
"There hasn't been anything difficult," White said. "The main goal for both of us is just to win. We do what we have to do."
They're a sort of basketball odd couple. White is a bruiser and a banger who gets his points mostly around the basket. Gordon has virtually unlimited range on his jumper, but he also can blow by defenders and take the ball to the rim.
"He can do a lot of amazing things," White said of Gordon. "Sometimes you catch yourself watching him in practice."
Because of injuries and academic troubles, eight players have started games this season for the Hoosiers (8-1). White and junior college newcomer JaMarcus Ellis are the only players to have started all nine games.
"It's been kind of tough," White said. "We've had a lot of different lineups. A.J. (Ratliff, a senior who averaged 9.3 points last season, isn't eligible until after the first semester because of grades) will be back shortly. But we're getting better and better on the defensive end and understanding what Coach (Kelvin) Sampson wants."
White, who's averaging 14.9 points and 9.1 rebounds, considered leaving for the NBA after last season. He says he's happy he didn't. He'll be happier if the Hoosiers reach the goal White has set.
"My goal is to take this team as far as we can and that's the Final Four," White said.
And how can this team reach its full potential?
"Defense," White said. "Defense is the thing for us. Scoring is not a problem for this team. We have four, five, six guys who can put up 20 on anybody. What we have to do is make a commitment to playing defense."
OTHER NOMINEES FOR NATIONAL PLAYER OF THE WEEK:
F Raymar Morgan, Michigan State
G Shan Foster, Vanderbilt
F Luke Harangody, Notre Dame
Bob McClellan is the college basketball editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.