BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of a 2022-23 season with high expectations.
Woodson addressed everything from how his team has handled those expectations, offseason development, playing a difficult schedule and more. Here’s what he said.
On handling serious expectations:
Woodson: I’ve always felt as a coach, every season that I’ve gone in as a head coach, expectations are always high no matter what. I think that’s a good thing. You can’t run from it, it is what it is. I think our schedule that we’ve scheduled this year has put us somewhat in that light in terms of competition, really stiff competition, then you’ve got to go to the Big Ten, which is stiff every year. Expectations are always going to be high. When I came here and took the job, expectations were high. This program is built that way. It should be that way. It’s what it is, and I’m not going to run from it and I’m not going to let my players run from it. There’s a lot of big things that’s got to happen for our ball club, and I’m going to try to coach them up and push them in that direction.
On Xavier Johnson’s status following his offseason arrest:
Woodson: Well that’s all behind us. He’s gone through that process, he’ll have to do some community service. X has grown a lot thanks to all the things he’s done this summer. He’ put himself in a wonderful position with me being the coach, and I like everything about what X is doing now because he is doing the right things on and off the court. He doesn’t have a vehicle anymore. I took that away from him, so that’s his punishment and I don’t mean that in a negative way. We’re just trying to do things necessary to help us win basketball games, and I think he’s made a major step in that direction to help us.
On pushing Xavier Johnson to be more consistent and demanding more from him:
Woodson: Well when you look at what happened to X, with where we started with X and where he ended up, X probably caught more hell on this team than anybody from his head coach and there’s a reason why because I think when you build a basketball team, you expect a lot out of all your basketball players, but that is a pivotal position to how you play on both ends of the floor. X hung in there with me, he fought me at times, but it worked out well for him at the end and for our ball club. Watching him go through his summer work, because he did taste some success with the first time being in the Big Dance, he really came in with a totally different attitude, which is nice to see. It means to me that he’s growing up, and it has displayed nicely on the basketball court because out of all the summer play that I have watched and been a part of this summer, he’s probably been the brightest of them all.
On what he learned about himself as a college coach last year transitioning from the NBA:
Woodson: The one thing that I’ve learned being in the NBA all these years as a coach, there’s really not enough time to prepare and teach and really be a part of a players’ life because you’ve got three or four games coming at you a week in the NBA, it’s just not enough time in the day and that’s the frustrating part about the NBA, but it was a beautiful run for me. I’m not saying that in a negative way. The NBA was great for me, but coming back to coach college basketball here at Indiana, I’ve been able to really be around the players and I’m able to be a coach and I’m able to prepare and teach and on the basketball floor do things I like to do. We had our ups and downs last year, but I thought our ups outweighed our downs. We played a lot of positive basketball, we won a lot of basketball games and it’s up to me to get them over the hump and get them to the next level, and that’s what it’s all about.
On the team’s 3-point shooting:
Woodson: Well that was a big problem for us last year. You guys witnessed it as the media outlet and the fans, too. I thought we got a lot of good looks. We were in the top five in college basketball in terms of open 3’s and we just didn’t knock them down. I like to think Miller having a taste of what Indiana basketball is all about, I think he’ll be a lot better this season. Xavier has shown he can make them. I think some of the freshmen that we were able to bring in will be able to knock some of those down. Race kind of picked it up from previous years being a guy that wasn’t really allowed to shoot. He made some for us last year. I think we’ll be OK in that regard this year. It’s not like we’re not working on 3’s, we shoot them every day. We shoot free throws every day, it’s just when you get to a game situation you’ve got to feel comfortable and ready to knock them down and that’s my job to relax them and put them in that position.
On hosting an NBA Pro Day on Oct. 7:
Woodson: Well I think when you got high expectations and you got a few players that might have a crack at playing at the next level, it’s OK to invite the NBA world into your life. I’m not afraid of that. I don’t think it put any added pressure on the players. I think they were excited about it, really, to be able to let the NBA world come here, watch practice and see who’s doing what. Hell, it might enhance them to play harder and better, that’s kind of how I look at it. I’m looking forward to it, and it’s something that’s never been done here, I don’t think. I got to keep my ties with the NBA world, anyway, I got a lot of friends at the big level, so it will be nice for them to come in and watch what we do.
On how he handled high expectations as a player:
Woodson: Well again, rankings are a part of college basketball and all sports in college. You can’t get from under that. Hell, my senior year we were ranked No. 1 in the nation, and it didn’t work out that well for me. We didn’t win the national title. Rankings are what they are. You still got to play the game, my man. That’s what’s important, what happens between these two lines. It’s going to be my job to get this team to play at a high level every night and put them in position to win every time they step out on the floor. That’s what it’s all about, to me. Rankings are what they are. I don’t know what we’re ranked this year. Somebody told me we were ranked the top 20. That’s great, but you still got to play the game. That’s how I approached it as a player, and I think for some players it’s nice to see because it’s something that some of these guys haven’t been ranked since they’ve been here, but they are now so let’s go play the games and see what happens.
On what impresses him the most about Teri Moren’s program:
Woodson: She’s a hell of a coach, All you have to do is look at the results and how her team has responded to her body of work on the floor. Watching her team, her team is a beautiful team to watch because they do all the necessary things to win basketball games, and that’s a sign of Teri and the work she’s put in. I’m not surprised that they’re ranked, they deserve to be ranked. They led the Big Ten for some time last year at the top, and I expect that they’ll be back there this year, so I’m wishing them nothing but the best.
On Trayce Jackson-Davis expanding his game to the perimeter:
Woodson: Well again, I’m not going to stop him from doing that. He’ll be in a position where he catches it out there and has an opportunity to shoot it. If he shoots it, fine. Everybody makes it this thing where he’s got to be a 3-point shooter. I think if he makes a 15-to-17-foot shot it’s just as effective. That’s kind of how I look at it. He’s going to be in position to shoot those shots, the elbow and free throw shots, and it’s OK for him to shoot it. I think this summer, the work that he’s put in, he’s shown that he can make that shot and he has made it in our little pickup games and things of that nature. Just got to carry it over to the real games. I thought one of the biggest shots of the season was in the Big Ten Tournament against Illinois when he faced up Kofi and he shot a jump shot over him. He’s going to have to do that some more this season. Coach is not telling him not to. Put it that way.
On what he learned about coaching college basketball after last year :
Woodson: I’ve got to get better. I always put pressure on myself. I won’t put it on the player. Yeah, the player has to play, but I got to get better at finishing games because I thought there were a number of games I left out there last season in terms of we controlled the games. I look at the Iowa game, coming down the stretch, four and half minutes left, up nine and we can’t close that game out. For me, that’s tough to swallow as a coach. Those are things that I’ve got to go back to the drawing board and work on to a point where when I’m in that position, I get them over the hump and we come out of that game feeling good about ourselves. Coaching is coaching. There are a lot of things that come in to play when you’re a coach, and when I look at the college game and how it’s being played, a lot of pick and rolls, a lot of 3-point shots, the teams that sit at the top really get after it defensively. I think we’ve got to be able to do all those things to be able to compete at a high level and compete with the big-time teams. That’s what it’s going to take this season because that’s pretty much how all these games are being played.
On talking about expectations and leaving a legacy with Trayce Jackson-Davis:
Woodson: We talk. He knows expectations are high this year, and the fact that he’s made the commitment to come back is huge for our program. It’s like the piece to the program. I think the body of work that Trayce has put in over three years that he’s played here has been unbelievable, but he’s still got a lot of work on the table that he’s got to finishing. You talk about legacy, legacy is putting another Big Ten title in here, legacy is putting another national title. I think that’s what it’s all about and that’s what he’s thinking about more than anything. As far as his leadership, he’s making strides in that area to help lead because that’s what’s going to be expected of him. I’m not going to let him run from it. He’s got to be our leader. He’s got to push guys around him and hold guys accountable. He’s got to step up and be the guy. That’s what it’s going to take for us to reach those two goals.
On how he would define success for the 2022-23 season:
Woodson: Again, I don’t look at it in that light. My thing is I take a season one game at a time, one practice at a time. Yes, we’ve got goals. I can’t say this loud enough guys, I came back here to win Big Ten titles and a national title. That’s all I want, and I’m not going to push the team in any other direction. If they’re scared of that challenge, then they shouldn’t be here. That’s kind of how I look at it. I’m not scared of it, you shouldn’t be scared of it. We’ve got to do this together as a unit, and again, I know expectations are high. I get that, and that’s a good thing, but we’ve got to go out there and do it on the floor and show that we can win the Big Ten title and the national title. That’s all I’m concerned about right now, and the only way to do that is to get better each and every day in practice so when we step on the floor we’re playing at a high level.
On freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino:
Woodson: Well again, I don’t put pressure on any of these freshmen, but on the flip side of that, I’ve got to speed the process up. They can’t play like freshmen. I’m going to need those guys to be a big part of what we do. I always have told players you can’t play everybody 30 minutes a game. It’s the minutes you get that you’ve got to make the most of, and if it’s two minutes a game, it better be the best two minutes that you play out on the floor for us because if you don’t, I might not come back that way. Everybody has got to be ready to play. Schifino has been a great addition to our ball club because he can do a lot of things on the basketball floor, but he’s got to be held accountable to play at a high level and help us win basketball games. I’m going to need him to do that.”
On expectations facing a tough non-conference schedule:
Woodson: To win. That’s the only thing I’m expecting. As soon as we start here with Marian in the practice game, that’s when it starts, to me. Whenever there’s an official and we throw that ball up, I expect for us to win. Yeah, we’ve got some stiff competition this year with Xavier, [North] Carolina, Kansas and Arizona, but hey, it’s what it is, man. We’ve just got to be ready to play and compete and win. I’m not pushing anything else. We cannot run from the schedule. The schedule is what it is.”
On incoming freshman class:
Woodson: Well, they’ve had their ups and downs. They got a whiff of what I’m about a little bit, but the beauty about the four freshmen that we’ve brought in is they’re very, very competitive and that’s a big part of growing as an individual player because if they were non-competitive, boy, I would be very disappointed, but they are competitive. They don’t like to lose. I’ll share this story with you. When we first started, they couldn’t beat the first unit that I had out on there. They would go home with their heads hung down and disappointed, and I called them in after one practice and I said ‘Listen, there’s going to come a time where you’re going to beat that unit.’ Well, it’s been kind of back and forth ever since those first two weeks, so they’ve been very, very competitive. They’re trying to do all the necessary things on and off the court in terms of school, which is first and foremost. I like how they’re competing and that’s what makes coaching fun, for me.”
On Miller Kopp:
Woodson: Well, he’s very coachable. In the big league, we call him a true pro because he listens and he tries to do all the things that are asked of him. I think he’s trying to me more of a leader. He’s been around a while, too, and I’m going to need him to lead and hold guys accountable, as well as himself, but I like everything about Miller. Just got to get him making shots for us. I thought his defense last year was phenomenal. From where he started, people thought he really couldn’t defend, but he was one of our best perimeter defenders last year, which was kind of nice to see.
- GAME TIMES, TV INFO ADDED TO IU MEN’S BASKETBALL SCHEDULE: The Big Ten released TV and game time information for the 2022-2023 Indiana Hoosiers men’s basketball season on Thursday. All games can be seen on BTN, BTN+, CBS, ESPN/ESPN2, FS1 and FOX. CLICK HERE
- BEER SALES COMING TO ASSEMBLY HALL: Indiana athletics announced the addition of beer sales to men’s and women’s basketball games at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall during the 2022-23 season. This concession option will debut at Hoosier Hysteria on Oct. 7. CLICK HERE
- INDIANA BASKETBALL TO HOLD PRO DAY: For the first time in program history, representatives from all 30 NBA teams will be invited to see the 2022-23 Indiana men’s basketball team go through a pro-style combine workout. CLICK HERE