News and notes from Mike Woodson’s radio show

  • 01/15/2024 9:09 pm in

Mike Woodson returned to “Inside Indiana Basketball” for its first episode of 2024. It was the first show in nearly a month due to the holiday season.

Woodson and Don Fischer recapped Indiana’s two tough defeats against Nebraska and Rutgers and their two bounce-back wins against Ohio State and Minnesota. Woodson also reviewed what improvements he’s seen from Malik Reneau, Mackenzie Mgbako, and Kel’el Ware, then previewed their Tuesday matchup against Purdue.

Due to the Martin Luther King Holiday, this week’s episode was not a live segment at the Chop Shop restaurant but was instead pre-recorded. The show’s first half consisted of Woodson recapping Indiana’s recent games and a half-hour of Indiana head football coach Curt Cignetti.

Here’s what Woodson had to say in this week’s episode:

• Since the last time Woodson spoke on the show, Indiana played its previous three nonconference games and started conference play. Indiana won three games against Morehead State, Northern Alabama, and Kennesaw State while suffering losses to Nebraska and Rutgers. Indiana won the other two of their first fourth Big Ten games, taking the home victory against Ohio State and Minnesota.

• Woodson told Fischer that Indiana’s been playing “up and down” recently, especially in their last four games. He mentioned that he expected that from the start because of Indiana’s number of new players this season. “We’ve kinda been up and down, but I expected that from the new faces.”

• The Hoosiers have played some really good basketball at home but have yet to replicate the same success on the road. After the 16-point loss to Nebraska and another road defeat against Rutgers, Woodson keeps telling his team, “You got to win at home and break them on the road.”

• “We’ve been playing extremely well at home,” Woodson said after his team’s most recent performance in Assembly Hall. Indiana defeated Minnesota 74-62 to improve to 9-1 at home this season. The Hoosiers will look to continue that same success on Tuesday against Purdue.

• Mackenzie Mgbako finished with 19 points, four rebounds, and two assists against Minnesota. Woodson said that a lot of Mgbako’s recent improvement is credited to the work he continues to put in. “He plays the game the right way,” Woodson said. Woodson then noted that the freshman forward has made great strides offensively, especially during Minnesota, but “still has a way to go” defensively.

• Kel’el Ware and Malik Reneau are two other players who have seen the fruits of their labor. Woodson said it is a “night and day” difference since Ware stepped on campus and that Reneau “has made the most significant jump.”

• Woodson said that if Reneau can continue to improve as a rebounder, he would be “really complete for us.”

• Gabe Cupps hasn’t necessarily lit up the box score with points, but Woodson has been impressed with his performance on the court. Woodson likes Cupps because he’s a “winner” and gives a lot of credit to his dad, Brook Cupps, for teaching him the right way. He said his defensive presence and ball-handling skills have benefitted Indiana.

• “A young team vs a veteran team should be a great matchup.” That was Woodson’s initial thought about the No.2 team in the country coming into Assembly Hall on Tuesday night. Woodson mentioned that matchups like the one against Purdue are “a great thing for college basketball.”

• When asked how he’s prepared for the Boilermakers, Woodson said that this year’s team differs from last year’s because of their new ability to shoot the three. Woodson also emphasized how important it is for his team to defend “the big man down low” in Zach Edey.

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