BLOOMINGTON, Indiana — Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson joined play-by-play announcer Don Fischer on the Southern Stone restaurant’s weekly radio show “Inside Indiana Basketball.”
Woodson talked about Indiana’s 6-0 start, injury updates, the Hoosiers’ crucial win at Xavier, the upcoming matchup with North Carolina, Tamar Bates’ breakout game against Little Rock, and even Thanksgiving dinner.
Here are some of Woodson’s most notable comments Monday night.
On Indiana’s 6-0 start:
- “I thought everyone contributed, our bench was really good.”
- Woodson mentioned the bench that gave Indiana a boost after a slow start against Little Rock.
- “I couldn’t be happier with our players playing at both ends of the floor.”
On Indiana’s victory over Xavier:
- “The Xavier game was a big test.”
- Woodson said Xavier’s height was Indiana’s height and the Musketeers’ perimeter game was just as good as theirs.
- “Last year we lost a lot of games like this where we were right there.”
- Woodson was frustrated with the missed free throws — Indiana went 17-26 as a team — but he thought they secured vital rebounds and defensive stops down the stretch to win the game.
On Indiana’s victory over Little Rock:
- Trayce Jackson-Davis prevailed over Little Rock as a precaution, but Woodson said it was next man.
- “This is how you build a basketball team.”
- “I’d love to have Trayce with us every time we jump up, but someone else came in and took up the slack and we never really lost a shot.”
- Without Jackson-Davis against Little Rock, Race Thompson scored 20 points. Woodson said Thompson was solid from day one and off the ground.
- “[Race] does a lot of things that go unnoticed,” Woodson mentioned Thompson’s defense, rebounds and dirty work. “That plays a big part in winning basketball games.”
- “Everyone will play. [Trey] I think Galloway will be back. He practiced [Monday]so we have a chance to evaluate that tomorrow.”
- Woodson said if Galloway can train tomorrow, he will play North Carolina on Wednesday.
- Logan Duncomb was “under the weather” and didn’t practice Monday, but Woodson said he still has a chance to play North Carolina.
On Indiana’s offensive improvements:
- Woodson mentioned that they emphasized ball handling in practice and players use it in games. He believes it helped limit sales.
- Last year, Woodson said, “We threw the ball everywhere…I feel good that every player is handling the basketball now.”
- Woodson highlighted Jordan Geronimo’s offensive improvements and says he’s “like a champ with the ball”
- Woodson has a goal of 12 or fewer turnovers per game, and Indiana has met that in five of six games. Indiana just missed that benchmark when he turned the ball 13 times over a season high against Little Rock.
- “Our offensive is efficient and everyone moves the ball.”
- Woodson believes the team is more comfortable with their offense as a sophomore, and he wants everyone to feel good about the game of basketball.
- “I don’t want robots on our team.”
- “When I box players in and say race [Thompson] gets caught with the ball and we need a crucial bucket and he freezes because he’s not used to handling the ball that’s a problem.
- Woodson said he looks at ball handling and passing first while recruiting players to Indiana.
- “[The offense] is freelance. This year we’re playing with more pick and rolls because we didn’t have the players last year.”
- “Make no mistake, our strength lies in playing inside and out.”
- “I try to give these cats the freedom to play and I think it’s more fun that way.”
For team 3-point shooting:
- “Shooting comes and goes. It is what it is.”
- “Your defense puts you in position to win basketball games.”
- “If you then add a good offense to that, you’re really hard to beat.”
- Woodson said the boys put in a lot of work last summer to shoot the ball.
- Indiana is shooting 38.3 percent of 3 as a team this year after shooting 33.3 percent last season.
- “The 3-ball is a big part of college basketball, but I don’t want to live and die shooting 3s, and I come from a league that’s driven by 3s.
- Woodson said one of his New York Knicks teams led the NBA in 3-point matches and 3-pointer attempts, but he still emphasized defense. “Our defense was solid too, so we won 54 games.”
- “Even with great recordings, it comes and goes.”
- “I just have to pay tribute to the players who put in the work.”
About Tamar Bates:
- Bates scored a career-high 22 points in Indiana’s 90-51 win over Jackson State. He made 8 of 11 shots, including a 4-for-6 from 3-point range and 2-for-2 on free throws.
- “I couldn’t be happier for a player considering where he started and where he’s from and what he’s had to go through to get to this point.”
- “This game is something like what I saw in high school and I hope he can build on that because it was nice to watch.”
- Woodson said Bates is also playing better defense this year.
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About the North Carolina game:
- “This is a team we can’t sleep on.” Woodson pointed out
- “You have size. They have a great guard game in RJ [Davis] and [Caleb] Love. You picked up [Pete] Nance from Northwestern and they have Leaky Black. and [Armando] Bacot is as good as it gets, so their starting fives are legit.
- “They will be hanged, but we must be hungrier.”
- “I’m excited and can’t wait to get it.”
- “There are always concerns. When you play against a top 10 team, talent is there.”
- “They have seen some success at a higher level than our ball club.”
- Woodson said Indiana cannot take North Carolina lightly because they lost two straight games and played just one game with four overtimes on Sunday.
- “This team will force you to play 40 minutes.”
- Sean May is an assistant coach at North Carolina and the son of 1976 National Player of the Year Scott May, who led Indiana to a 32-0 season and the 1976 National Championship
- “Sean is like my son. I saw him grow up as a baby and become a great high school player, a great college player from UNC, so it will be different to see him on the other side.
- Sean May scored 48 points in two games en route to being the most outstanding player of the 2005 NCAA Final Four as North Carolina defeated Illinois in the championship game.
- “Let’s get all the fans out and dress in white and it’ll be fine. We’ll commit to 40 minutes and we’ll be fine.
At Thanksgiving dinner:
- Indiana hosted a Thanksgiving dinner with Little Rock basketball program Thursday.
- “Darrell [Walker] Your coach and I are very close. We worked together in New York and he was one of my assistants.”
- “We had a big feast together, and boy was it a lot of good food and a lot of good food.”
- Woodson said they had over 50 pies at Thanksgiving dinner, and his sister sent eight sweet potato pies to Bloomington.
- “I shared a few with everyone and kept a few.”
About the compatibility of basketball and school:
- “Academics are first and foremost for them… If a player is late for training because of academics, I have to live with that.”
- Woodson said he needs to schedule rest and make sure he doesn’t overtax his players.
- “That will be important on this trip.”
Indiana basketball operations analyst Nick Virden also joined the radio show Monday night to share his experiences and perspectives with the team. Virden graduated from Reitz Memorial High School in Evansville, Indiana, where he was manager of the basketball team for four seasons.
He went to Murray State for his freshman year, but then transferred to Indiana and became a manager for three seasons. As manager, Virden ran the video organization that helped coaches create the scouting reports.
In his new role as Operations Analyst, Virden will be responsible for the behind-the-scenes aspects of the program, including assisting with the planning of recruitment visits and other logistics. Virden said he’s grateful to learn from Woodson and the rest of the Indiana coaching staff every day, and that he hopes to one day become a head coach himself.
During Woodson’s coaching career, he said he often told NBA owners and general managers that the people in the video room and the medical room are the most important people to having a successful season.
“You start thinking like me, and that’s important when you’re building a basketball team,” Woodson said. “They are smart young men… They are like coaches to me.”
Woodson said the movie aspect of basketball and coaching is a lot more polished now, but people like Virden help make his job easier.
“I’m not high-tech like my video guys,” Woodson said. “I have a flip phone along with an iPhone… Damn, the flip phone brought me to Indiana so I can’t get rid of it.”
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