Video, Quotes: Mike Woodson, Calbert Cheaney, Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway remember Bob Knight
Mike Woodson, Calbert Cheaney, Xavier Johnson and Trey Galloway addressed the media Thursday evening at Assembly Hall to remember Bob Knight, who passed away Wednesday at the age of 83.
Watch all three press conferences below:
MIKE WOODSON: Good evening. Let me just say it’s a tough day in Indiana basketball. When you lose a legend like Bob Knight, who meant the world to me, man, in terms of my growth, I mean, he basically shaped my whole career.
This program will truly miss an icon. It’s hard to really describe in words what he meant to me, but boy, I wouldn’t be sitting in this seat today if it wasn’t for Bob Knight.
To his family, I wish them nothing but the best moving forward. If there’s anything I can ever do, I’m going to always be here for them.
With that being said, I’ll open it up for questions.
Q. Obviously with Knight there’s a lot of things that were impressive. I’m curious what impressed you the most about him?
MIKE WOODSON: You know, I grew up with nothing. From a beautiful family of 12, brothers and sisters and a mom and dad, and I think what impressed me the most when he recruited me and he came to the house, he promised me that I would get an education and that I would play for the best basketball program in the country. That’s all I needed to hear is somebody to give me an opportunity.
So that impressed me, sure as hell impressed my mother probably more than me because I was the only one that was able to go to college and get an education and graduate.
Q. You’ve talked about coaches you’ve worked with, coaches that have — Cotton Fitzsimmons and Larry Brown, guys like that. In your day-to-day approach to the job, what are the things you think you take most from Coach Knight, whether it’s the way he taught or some of the stuff he ran, maybe the way he carried himself?
MIKE WOODSON: It was all about his preparation. We were always prepared to play, and that’s so important. You can will yourself to win, but can you really prepare yourself to really win.
That’s what he did when he was here. He prepared guys to play at a higher level than most of the teams that he played against and coached against.
I would say his preparation probably stands out more than anything because we never went into a game not knowing what the hell we were doing. We didn’t win every game, but we were in a lot of games, and the games that we lost, it wasn’t because we weren’t prepared.
Q. How do you bring what he did and his accomplishments and his legacy moving forward to the current generation of players? Do you talk about it, show clips? How do you incorporate that because you’re dealing with a generation that didn’t get to see your teams play. I’m curious how you move that forward and teach that.
MIKE WOODSON: Well, I haven’t changed a whole lot in terms of how I coach. You know, I’ve been some, I give some and I take some. I think coaching is coaching, and I truly believe — I’ve always believed this, all players want to be coached. It’s just finding the right buttons to coach them. That’s what Knight was so great at doing.
Yeah, he lost some players along the way that couldn’t take it or struggled with the way he coached, and they moved on. But for the most part, the guys that played for him here and stuck around, they enjoyed playing for him because he got the most out of them.
I’m going to continue to push guys and make sure that they do all the things necessary on the court as well as off the court. That’s how I learned. I think I’ve turned out just fine in that regard.
That’s something he instilled in me when I played here, and while I’m coaching this Indiana team, I’m going to do the same thing.
Q. At a previous job, I covered Royce Waltman, who was an assistant here right after you stopped playing, and we would talk on occasion off the record, and one day I asked him about Coach Knight and why he was so loyal to him, and Royce said something, though I’m not quoting it directly, you had to be here to understand it. You were here. You understand it. Where does the magnetism of that loyalty among his ex-players, his ex-coaches, when does that start, and how has it fed itself through your own life experiences since?
MIKE WOODSON: No, it started from the time he recruited me. He held true to everything he said he would offer me. Sure, I didn’t win a national title, but I won a Big Ten title, a gold medal with him, an NIT championship with him. So I was in the trenches with him.
That meant more to me than anything because he believed in me. As a coach, I believed in him. He was one of the best coaches out there. He was winning national titles.
It’s hard to really describe it unless you’ve gone through it, but if I had to do it over again, I’d do it the same way. I really would, because it really shaped me as a person. It really did.
Q. Through both your actions and your words, ever since you took this job, you’ve emphasized bridging the gap between that era of Indiana basketball and the one that you lead now. You’ve had him back at practice, he spoke to the team before. What was that like to have him back at the practices and speaking to a team that you’re leading when he was speaking to you guys?
MIKE WOODSON: I just wish he was more healthier when he was going through being back here because what better person to sit next to and chop it up and talk basketball than Bob Knight. I’m new to this college game. Boy, if he was right, man, it would have been unbelievable to sit next to him and he help me navigate through the waters of college basketball because he was so brilliant. His mind was just phenomenal in terms of his thought and his process in terms of beating his opponent.
He was always two steps ahead of everybody. I always thought that as a coach with him. He saw things that as players we didn’t see. Most great coaches are like that.
That part of it, being back, I think about that all the time because I can still sit and talk to Larry Brown and some of the guys that I’ve worked with, but I couldn’t do that with Coach Knight because his health wasn’t there.
Q. What do you tell your current team about when you played for Coach Knight that you maybe hope that sticks with them or that they take into their lives?
MIKE WOODSON: That they can always count on me, me being there. That’s important. After all the things Coach and I went through over the four years, I went on to play 11 years, and he was there every year. Would come see me play here and there.
As a coach, he was always there as a coach. I could lean on him. Hell, he was the reason why I got my first coaching job, because he had to make a phone call for me to an owner, and he made that call, and the next day I was hired. First-time assistant in the NBA.
I would hope my players can respect me enough after they’re done playing for me that they can reach back and call me and say, hey, Mike, can you help me if I need it. That’s more important to me than anything, and making sure that they’re doing all the things necessary while they’re here with me on and off the court. That’s what I went through.
Q. We talked about his preparation and how deep he would get into that and have players ready and I’ve heard players say the games were much easier than the practices. But during the games his genius would also come out because there are always times where things don’t go the way you expected them to go, but he was able to see things that a lot of people couldn’t see. What did you learn? What did you see? What are some of the examples of that?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, I mean, it’s hard to describe it unless you’re there on the floor and you’re playing the game and going through it.
I think one game that truly stands out is over in Puerto Rico playing for the gold medal, and that meant so much to Coach because of all the turmoil that surrounded that gold medal.
I remember playing Puerto Rico, and we were up, I think, 13 with about four or five on the clock, thought we could really coast out and win the gold medal, and they made a hell of a run to cut our lead to three. I was the captain of that team, and I remember him calling a time-out, and he grabbed me by my jersey, and he pulled me into his face, and from the viewers’ eyes, you guys probably thought, hey, he’s up to no good. He pulled me, and he said, Woody, don’t let us lose the gold medal.
We went back out and went on a 9-0 run to bring the gold medal home.
It’s just the little things. He could have not pulled me in and just said, hey, come on, let’s go win this thing. But he came to the main source, and that was me, being the captain. The fact that he pulled me in never once entered my mind. It was what he said.
It registered. We got the job done, won the gold medal and came home.
Q. Obviously we all found out the news yesterday evening. I’m just wondering when and how did you hear the news and just what’s the last day been like for you since you heard the news?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, we had practice. After practice, I went in to steam and shower and Tim McGraw came in and told me that he had passed. It’s tough. I mean, it’s tough.
Next question, please.
Q. You’ve mentioned that story several times about Knight making the call to get you your first coaching job. What do you think it was that garnered that respect from people that weren’t his players or weren’t his assistant coaches?
MIKE WOODSON: When you go through the grind with him, the respect factor is so high. We respected each other both ways, based on what I went through the four years that I was here.
It never wavered all those years, so I wouldn’t have expected anything else. I knew I could pick that phone up and he’d make that call for me. He never would have told me no. That’s just the respect factor and the friendship and the brotherhood that we had all those years.
I mean, it was special. It’s hard to describe it, guys, but boy, it was special.
Q. February of 2020 when everybody was back here together for that game against Purdue, when all those former players and you guys all got one more chance to be around Coach that day, what now still stands out from that afternoon, that evening, that weekend for you about sharing that time together?
MIKE WOODSON: It was like old times. You think back when he coached here, we had a reunion every summer where we got together for a weekend and just chopped it up, played golf, and got a chance to talk to guys that you hadn’t seen in a while. This was every year.
That was like a reunion bringing him back, and we needed to bring him back. He needed to be back here, man. This is Bob Knight’s house; make no mistake about it. So he had to be back.
I thought all the players that turned out and the fan support that we got that night for him, it was unbelievable. Hoosier Nation is going to miss him because as far as I’m concerned, he’s the greatest coach that ever graced the college basketball floor.
Q. Calbert, as someone who grew up in Indiana, was recruited by Bob Knight and played for Bob Knight, I recognize the answer to this could probably go on for hours, but how would you explain to someone not just who he was as a coach but almost I guess as a persona or as a cultural force in this state in the 1980s, the 1990s, at the time that you were growing up and then playing for him?
CALBERT CHEANEY: Oh, larger than life. Everybody wanted to play for Coach Knight and play for their state back when I was growing up. To have an opportunity to play for the man and to be recruited by him, I think that’s unbelievable. During that time, it was all about playing for your home state and playing for your home school and having Coach Knight coach you.
The dream came true for me, and I’m glad it happened.
Q. I’ve spoken to a lot of former Indiana players and assistant coaches over the years, and the one common theme is the loyalty that ex-players and ex-coaches showed to Coach Knight. When did you start to feel the magnetism of that loyalty yourself, and how has it kind of followed you through your life and your life experiences, some of the lessons that he imparted to you over his time?
CALBERT CHEANEY: It probably started — obviously my freshman year was kind of rough because you’re trying to get to understand how the man operates. He pushes you so hard, not so much the physical part but the mental part, trying to get you to understand how this game works and how to compete at a high level and how to be extremely prepared, and then once I finally got it — it’s amazing how much respect and admiration he has for you because you’re trying to do what he wants you to do, and he knows that you want to win, and he knows that you want to compete at the highest level and perform at the highest level for him and for the university and for the program.
That’s when I started to feel it. It got to the point to where all he had to do was tell me, hey, Cal, you’re not playing at your best right at this particular moment, you need to pick it up.
There were some times, too, when he went fire and brimstone on me sometimes, too, but that’s just Coach. He wants to win really extremely badly, but he wants you to feel that way, too.
He was all about team and what it’s all about to win as a team and accomplish the same goal. That’s what’s great about Coach.
Q. Is there a moment, whether it be a game or practice where Knight kind of really dove into some details and you as a player went, wow —
CALBERT CHEANEY: Freshman year, because with our motion offense, it was all conceptual. He would talk about, hey, if the big is up and if you’re down, he’s going to set a down screen for you; if he’s down low at the post, he’s going to set a back screen; if he’s on the wing and you’re at the top, he’s going to set a flare screen for you. I’m over there just like smoke coming out of my ears because you’re trying to understand that, and it’s not like he throws you into it. He’ll show you the concepts playing 2-on-2, 3-on-3, 4-on-4, but at the same time then you’ve got to try and make it work when you play 5-on-5.
Just stuff like that, and then the defensive concepts on how to be on our help and how we help on the weak side and all that stuff, it was just like, wow, how is this stuff going to work?
But then at the same time, you see it work. Once you understand it and see how it works, it works miracles.
I just think Coach is one of the smartest coaches I’ve ever been around, and I think what he taught back then was — he was ahead of his time.
Q. Have you ever been able to figure out what about your personality and his personality meshed so well to allow you to become the player that you did?
CALBERT CHEANEY: My mother. So my mother, I would always tell people that my mother was probably more of a disciplinarian than he was. It kind of made it a little bit easier.
But yeah, I always tried to be like — I was one of those guys, I was very competitive, but at the same time if he yelled at me or told me something or said something to me, you’re not doing such-and-such or such-and-such, okay, I’ll show you; I’m going to show you. Then once I’d show him, he’ll go over there, sit right down and shut up. That’s the type of relationship we had.
I think he had that type of relationship with all of his players. Like you said, if you do what he asked you to do, like I said, he’ll shut up.
Q. You kind of alluded to it a few times, but the approach that Bob Knight took, it seemed to be more of a teacher than a coach. The conversations I’ve had with either Pat Graham or Todd Leary or Brian Edmonds, everybody has their four years of notebooks where they took notes and all of that. How much of that just sticks with you and that you’re able to used to?
CALBERT CHEANEY: Huge, huge. I still have my notebook up in my office right now. It’s on the shelf.
It’s all about teaching, teaching the concepts, how the game works. I think a lot of — sometimes a lot of players, they don’t understand how the game works. They just want the ball in their hands and they just want everybody to get out of the way, but you’ve got to know how the game works because you’ve got four other guys out there on the floor.
So he was very, very detailed in teaching us how to play on the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball, special situations, all that stuff, preparing for teams that came in here.
It got to the point, another thing that was — in reference to preparing for teams, there’s so much video involved and this certain play, this is what this player is going to do, and then it got to a certain point to where when you got out there on the floor and you saw the play, them call a certain play, you knew exactly what they were going to run because we were so prepared. I think that’s what separated Coach from a lot of other coaches.
Q. Is there anything particular of Coach Knight’s style or his persona that you have seen in yourself carry over as you’ve made your way to the sidelines at this point in your career now?
CALBERT CHEANEY: Yeah, just the competitiveness, being competitive, and sometimes to a certain degree I have to go fire and brimstone on guys just to get them to understand. But at the same time, you’ve got to give them that little tough love, but also at the same time, you’ve got to put your arm around them and coach that, as well. His idea of putting his arm around you was he’d hit you in the back of the head. He’s got his National Championship ring, and he’d National Championship you to the back of the head and hurts, but that was his idea of love.
Yeah, just competitive fire every now and then that I show, and I just try to convey to the other guys, this is what you’ve got to do to win. You’ve got to have that competitive fire and competitive spirit in order to be successful.
Q. Coach Woodson talked about his impact off the court outside of basketball. What was maybe the No. 1 thing for you not even on the court but just the way —
CALBERT CHEANEY: That he does things for people that most people around in the public don’t really see or realize or know. The one thing that he’s going to be tough on you, he’s going to push you, he’s going to make you not like him sometimes, but at the end of the day, when you graduate and go off and do your own thing, he’ll do anything for you. You pick up the phone and give him a call, he’s going to pick it up and do whatever you need. That’s just the type of person he’s always been.
A lot of people didn’t really see that, but there’s a lot of people in this — that he’s touched a lot of lives in the time he was on this earth.
Q. Mike talked about his in recent years it was kind of bittersweet to have Bob there because he couldn’t necessarily talk to him like he might have a couple years ago about coaching, about things he saw. Do you miss that, too? Are there times where you can think of as kind of this phase of your career where I would have loved his advice on this thing or looked to him for that?
CALBERT CHEANEY: Oh, without question, no doubt. Sometimes you can get stuck as a coach or you might get stuck in life. Sometimes it’s good to have someone that’s experienced what he’s experienced, and that can help you along your way.
He’s just like a mentor — he’s a big time mentor for me, not only just a coach. He’s been there, done that, and sometimes I was able to pick up the phone and give him a call if I did have some trouble, but now in certain situations, I’m sure he’s in a better place.
Obviously, yeah, you definitely miss out on the advice that he’s able to give you.
Q. I asked Mike this, too, but we found out the news yesterday evening. When and how did you hear the news, and what’s the last day been like for you since?
CALBERT CHEANEY: It was weird because I didn’t hear it until after our practice yesterday. I started getting all these — I got like a million texts that said, sorry to hear about Coach. I was like, what the heck. So then all of a sudden I just look and I put a call in, and I was like, wow, yeah. It kind of hit me kind of hard at first because obviously I know he was 83, but still, you still think that in the back of your mind he was taken too soon. But at the end of the day, that’s life. Time is undefeated, and we’re all going to be there at some point.
But I know that he lived a nice full life, and he had people around him that loved him. Like I said, he was one of the greatest coaches I’ve ever been around, and the world lost a great man yesterday.
Q. I know you and Coach Woodson and of course all the players that played under Bob Knight have your relationship with him, but what do you think it was about him that really garnered the respect from people that didn’t play under him like you did?
CALBERT CHEANEY: Well, I mean, just his accomplishments, obviously what he’s done on the basketball floor. Obviously when you’re in business, any type of business, be it a sport, anything of that nature, you’re always going to — if you do your job well, people are going to respect that. I think he did his job really, really well, and people respected that.
I think that’s one of the things that he’s been able to do, and I think it’s great. Like I said, you guys in your field, I’m sure you guys are the tops in your field. I’ve got a lot of respect for you because you’re doing your jobs to the best of your ability. I think that’s the impact Coach Knight has had on a lot of people.
Johnson, Galloway transcript
Q. In terms of your knowledge of Bob Knight, did Mike Woodson bring that to you guys? How has he brought that to you guys’ class?
XAVIER JOHNSON: I think he brings up a lot, honestly, because it’s how he was taught as a player, when he was a player. He gives us the coach-player relationship. He tells us a lot of times that relationships are the biggest things, and that was something he was taught from Coach Knight.
TREY GALLOWAY: I think just going off X, I think just the impact he had on Coach Woodson we can see every day, and he shows the love and gratitude he had for him, and it was really cool to kind of see the connection that they had and how it’s really formed him as a coach and as a person, so it’s been really cool to kind of see that and see how far Coach Woodson has come on this journey and he’s still going, so it’s pretty special to see that connection they had.
Q. On a human level, Coach Woodson is hurting right now. This was his guy. How do you guys as players kind of rally to him, kind of reverse of what the usual would be to try to ease his own pain?
TREY GALLOWAY: Yeah, I think just doing all the things, whatever we’re asked to do. I think just playing hard and being leaders that we are, that we need to be, and bringing the other guys along is going to help him.
Obviously it’s challenging right now because it’s such a big loss for everyone and everyone is affected by it. But I think just for us to go out there and play as hard as we can and know the reason we’re playing, for Indiana tradition, and he’s a big piece of that tradition.
Just obviously remembering him and playing hard for Coach Woodson and his loss.
XAVIER JOHNSON: I just think we need to wrap our arms around him, honestly, because I know how it feels to lose somebody that’s close to you. I know that Coach Knight was basically a father figure to Coach Woodson because he lost his actual dad when he was 14, so I know he’s taking this real hard.
Like I said before, we’ve just got to do what Trey said, as well, as a team. We’ve got to come at it as a unit and play hard for him, and we’ve got to know the reason why we’re playing.
Q. Trey, you’re Indiana born and bred. What impact did Coach Knight have on you individually and your entire family?
TREY GALLOWAY: Yeah, especially for my family. My dad is a coach, so he always talked about him, and my family is a big Indiana fan. Just knowing what he meant to this place and to my family and the tradition that he left and what he build is incredible. I think just remembering all the great times he had here and just the success he had is important to me, my family and obviously everyone that was involved in Indiana. But it was a special thing he had going on. It was great.
Q. Trey, you’re obviously from Indiana so your history and knowledge of it goes way back, and Xavier not being from here, what has been the differences of learning about what someone that cast such a large shadow has done for the state and for the fans of Indiana basketball and what it means to Indiana basketball fans?
XAVIER JOHNSON: You know, from being out of state, that was one of the first things I learned. Coach Knight was one of the best if not the best coach to ever do it. Coach Woodson, he preaches a lot about him.
I know one thing, that when he came to practice, our practices were probably one of the best practices we had honestly because when he came around he it was just like a peacemaker. Seeing a guy you know built this foundation is big.
TREY GALLOWAY: Going off that, whenever he came to practice, we knew it was business. It’s special being able to see him sitting over there and just seeing Coach Woodson, like his face light up whenever he walked in, it was special to see that.
I think just knowing what he had and how special it was is important for us to carry that on and play hard like we have been. I think just going out there and knowing what we’re playing for, like I said, and the impact he’s left on Indiana, it truly is special.
Q. Coach Woodson just said it was important to him to kind of have a relationship with his players after they leave the same way he did with Coach Knight. How does that hit you, to know that he’s going to be there for you as long as he’s around?
TREY GALLOWAY: It means the world. That’s one of the things we knew when he came in. That was a big part of him, and the way he treats his players is special because he’s been there, and he’s done that.
I think just knowing that he has our backs and we have his is a good bond that we need to have throughout the year because there’s a lot of ups and downs that you go through, but if you’re all there together and have each other’s backs, it makes it a lot easier to get through those tough times.
I think just knowing that he’s going to be there for us way past basketball, it’s cool to see that, as well.
XAVIER JOHNSON: You know, going off what Trey said there, too, as well, he cares for each and every one of his players. I saw it — not to talk about myself, but I saw it the most when I was down bad and I was hurt, because I’ve never been hurt, honestly, but I saw that the most.
He cares about his family, brings people in and takes care of them just like they’re his own.