INDIANAPOLIS – Just over a week after Indiana Basketball Media Day, the program made another appearance at the Big Ten Basketball Media Days on Friday at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.
The two-day event included press conferences and one-on-one sessions with the 14 head coaches and selected players from the men’s and women’s programs at each Big Ten school.
Indiana head coach Mike Woodson was joined by Trayce Jackson Davis, Rob Phinisee and Race Thompson in Indianapolis.
With the team’s first scrum scheduled for Oct. 17 against Cincinnati, there was plenty to talk about ahead of the season. During Woodson’s time behind the microphone, he provided insight into the team’s chemistry, touched on the importance of Indiana basketball history, and even commented on the program under Archie Miller. Here are some important points.
Trayce Jackson-Davis needs support on the pitch
It’s clear that the return of All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis should be the centerpiece for the Hoosiers on both ends of the pitch, but Woodson has said he doesn’t want all of the blame on him.
“We just can’t rely on Trayce to carry the load,” he said. “I try to instill in all of these players that they have a chance to play and to make a difference in our baseball club.”
When Woodson entered this program just over six months ago, he took a look at the crew and their movie and found some notable gaps he needed to fill. That’s why he brought in Xavier Johnson, Miller Kopp, Tamar Bates and Michael Durr.
But it’s not just about these four new players. It is also on those he inherited. He said everyone needs to step up and play a role. Woodson expects everyone in uniform to be ready to play.
“We don’t have a team where we have three or four superstars,” said Woodson. “We have a dominant player at Trayce, we have a bunch of supporting players. These supporting actors must all be ready to play.
The pressure isn’t just on the rest of the team to step up, however. When Jackson-Davis pledged to stay in Indiana last spring, Woodson didn’t show him what he had done right from a basketball standpoint, but rather everything he couldn’t. to do.
From that point on, Jackson-Davis came to the gym early and stayed late. He is put to work.
“I can’t help but think that this is going to help him in the long run as well as us as a team,” said Woodson.
Have Rob Phinisee shoot the ball
Woodson described Rob Phinisee as “a treat” and said he has been a beacon of hope over the past three months in terms of running the program.
But he didn’t hesitate to mention the biggest problem he had with the playmaker: getting him to shoot more.
“I tell him it’s good to shoot basketball,” said Woodson. “I don’t know if he has been told by coaches in the past, but I tell him it’s okay to do that.”
Woodson said he was just reluctant to shoot, so he worked with him on that. But it’s not a natural transition.
“I basically have to swear him to shoot the ball,” said Woodson.
In addition to learning how to take more photos, Woodson is happy with Phinisee’s growth. He said he was going to need him and his leadership this season.
Importance of bringing in former basketball players from Indiana
Isiah Thomas’ appearance at this year’s Hoosier Hysteria was not only a cool moment for fans, but it was an important lesson for the team. Although Woodson and Thomas only played together for a year, Woodson said it was nice for his players to see their interactions and something of that magnitude.
It doesn’t stop there. Woodson shared that Jared Jeffries, Scott May and John Laskowski visited the team on Thursday.
“These young players need to see this because these banners are hanging there for a reason,” said Woodson. “A lot of the players who put these banners on the rafters have had quite a career at Indiana University and have also played NBA basketball. So, for our young group, it’s good that they come.
Woodson wants his players to understand the importance of Indiana basketball and what it means to the state. That’s why he showed them his story so much.
“UI basketball will never go away,” he said. “And for these young people to understand, there’s a reason there are 22 Big Ten titles, then five national titles. They must understand that it is a rich tradition in terms of basketball. If you look at it another way, you are missing the mark.
Mike Woodson’s return trip to Indiana
It wasn’t the first time Woodson had spoken to Indiana about the head coach job.
When the position opened in 2017, before the show kicked off with Archie Miller, they spoke to Woodson as well. But he said he didn’t like the way the process was going. Indiana wanted to talk to him and he said he walked away from it at the time.
Everything changed the second time around. He said it was a very professional and sincere process.
“I think when you train at any level you want to be wanted,” said Woodson. “They made it clear that they wanted me and that I wanted to come back.”
He felt good coming out of his job interview and felt good about what he had to offer Indiana. Then the job was his.
“It was obvious to me because I would never take another job. I would never go to another college, ”said Woodson.
He said it hurt and was frustrating to watch Indiana basketball from afar in recent years, but he didn’t assign any blame.
“I will never criticize a coach, it’s not in my nature. Coaching is tough, really. Archie did what he thought was best for the team, it just didn’t work, ”said Woodson.
He said he wanted to see the program improve, but so did anyone who played for Indiana or went to college there. They want to see Indiana do well. And now it’s Woodson’s job.
“Now I’m in this seat,” Woodson. “We have to make sure we can take a big step and put this team back on top. That’s the only reason I came back.
(Photo credit: IU Athletics)
Filed in: 2021 Big Ten media day, Mike Woodson, Robert Phinisee, Trayce Jackson-Davis