News and notes from Mike Woodson’s radio show

  • 01/22/2024 8:12 pm in

“Inside Indiana Basketball with Mike Woodson” returned Monday night for its first live episode this year. Woodson sat down with the voice of the Hoosiers, Don Fischer, at the Chop Shop Market and Table in Bloomington.

Here’s a recap of Woodson’s comments from this week’s episode of Inside Indiana Basketball:

• Woodson said “the only way to get out of” the struggles is to continue to work. Woodson said IU hasn’t had a full deck yet that has had the time to play together. He said, “It’s a tough time to search” because the thick of the Big Ten schedule is here.

• Woodson said, “Hopefully, we’ll get (Kel’el) Ware back here soon,” and that Indiana has to “get X (Xavier Johnson) going.” He also said his team needs more from its seniors in terms of leadership and mentioned Johnson, Trey Galloway and Anthony Walker.

• On what Indiana looks like at practice: “They struggle sometimes. There is so much thrown at these young players. We just expect that when you get new players, that whatever we roll out, they’re supposed to understand. Well, it’s not that way. It’s not that way with your studies. When you go to your math class  because the teacher rolls it out there, hell, that doesn’t mean you’re going to pick it up right away. It’s been a struggle from a defensive standpoint of them catching on.”

• Woodson said going against Zach Edey was an “eye-opener” for Kel’el Ware. “It was a learning lesson for him.”

• On Ware’s status: “We’re hoping he’ll be back Saturday, I can’t promise that.” Woodson said Ware isn’t back on the floor yet in practice.

• Woodson said he’s “dealing with new stuff this year” and said “this team is different than the team we’ve had the last two years.” Woodson said it isn’t an excuse. “Listen, nobody wants to win more than Mike Woodson. The fans, I know they want to win, but nobody wants to win more than me. That’s the reason why I took the job and I’m going to keep pushing these guys until we get where we need to be.”

• On the recent play of Galloway: “He’s played well, but again, we’re not getting enough perimeter play to play well over a long haul of a game. We’re playing well in spurts and that’s good enough to get you beat.”

• On Mackenzie Mgbako: “Well, again, this was a kid that we got late from a recruiting standpoint. Didn’t know much about him. He kinda came dry to us and we were dry to him from a coaching standpoint. And he did struggle early. But the kid works. And he’s a freshman and it ain’t always freshman coming into college tearing it up. There’s a learning curve for all these young kids. And he’s still learning. But he has made a nice little jump. He’s been consistent. I just gotta get him better defensively.”

• On Gabe Cupps: “Gabe is giving us everything that I thought he would give us. He was coached by his dad, who did a hell of a job with that young man in high school. It’s been a nice carry-over into his freshman year because he’s not very big, and he’s not shot the ball like I thought he would shoot, but again, I think that will come in time. But the fact that he competes, man, that’s a big part of playing this game. You gotta be a competitor and want to compete and he leaves it out there on the floor when he’s out there.”

• On Malik Reneau: “Malik just needed time on the floor. I always believed that. Last year, just couldn’t keep him on the floor because he fouled so much. And they’re letting him play now. They see his physique and how physical he can be. I just gotta get him defending better and rebounding the ball better. Because he’s figured out the other parts of it. He’ll get better as time goes along, but I need him to get better now. But I need him to get better now, I do, but I think he understands that. But he has made a hell of a jump.”

• Woodson said Greg Gard came up to him after the Wisconsin game and said Bob Knight would have been disappointed that neither team played any defense.

• Woodson said he had a problem with CJ Gunn’s ejection at Wisconsin: “Guy sticks his head in your chest, anything is liable to happen in the heat of a basketball game. And I’m not saying what CJ done was right, he should have been the bigger person and walked away, but when you don’t punish the guy who instigated, that’s a problem with me. And I’ve expressed that at the top after that ballgame because if he never done that, I don’t think CJ would have been walking to the locker room taking an early shower.”

• On the challenge Illinois presents: “They’re a different ballclub than from when we’ve played them in the past year. They basically play small basketball. And they force you to try to go small as well. But we can’t do that. I got a 7-footer if he decides to play and I got Malik. So we gotta make them play us as well. They are playing well as a ballclub.”

• Fischer asked if this is a good time for an eight-day break: “Yeah, it gives us an opportunity to soul search and work. We’ll have another day off which is tomorrow because that’s mandatory. If it was up to me you’d get no days off, but that’s just the NCAA rules. So we’ll be off tomorrow and I’ll go and recruit tomorrow and then we’ll get ready for Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and then head up and play Saturday.”

• On whether he’s recruiting for next year or the following year: “For next year.” Fischer then said: “You’ve got one scholarship player coming and you’ve got several spots you’ll have available.” Woodson: “Yes, so we gotta continue to recruit as well.”

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