News and notes from Mike Woodson’s radio show

  • 01/30/2024 7:53 am in

Mike Woodson made his weekly radio appearance on “Inside Indiana Basketball with Mike Woodson” Monday night for the final episode in the month of January. IU’s third-year coach recapped Indiana’s close loss to Illinois and previewed Tuesday’s game against Iowa. He also spoke with Don Fischer about Kel’el Ware’s status and Indiana’s recent offensive struggles.

Here’s a recap of what Woodson had to say:

• On Indiana’s close loss to Illinois: “I thought we rebounded extremely well… just defensively we were in tune, our switching was on par, we didn’t get buried on the boards, we just couldn’t make shots. And that’s a big part of the game. We didn’t make our free throws, we were 0-for-9 from the 3-point line — I thought we had some good looks — and still, on the road, we gave ourselves a chance to win but fell short.”

• Woodson said it’s been challenging not having Kel’el Ware, saying “he’s a big piece to the puzzle”, and that trying to get Xavier Johnson going again has also posed a challenge.

• On Mackenzie Mgbako’s double-double against Illinois: “Mack made some big-time plays inside, so that was promising to see and (he) could possibly be a weapon down the stretch.”

• More on Mgbako: “He’s come a long way, you just think back to when we started. It was like pulling teeth and it’s kind of nice to see him improving. I can’t help but think he’ll get better as the games go by and as the years come. He’s a solid college basketball player right now, there’s just a lot of room for growth for him.”

• On Indiana’s struggles from the free throw line and from beyond the arc: “I can’t explain it… we shoot tons of free throws and we shoot tons of threes. And you’ve got to be mentally tough… somehow I’ve got to help them get over that mental deficiency… it’s a part of the game. It’s not going anywhere.”

• Woodson credited a lot of Indiana’s defensive success over Illinois to the eight days they had to prepare in between games.

• On Indiana’s defensive struggles: “We had a lot of slippage. And again, a lot of it is the new guys. Malik (Reneau), who’s gotten better but still has a long way to go in terms of growth from a defensive standpoint, Mack, who is definitely behind, and Ware, who’s had his ups and downs but has been solid in terms of plugging the hole and blocking shots and things like that and rebounding for us. Not having him in the hole, that’s a big gape for our ballclub from a defensive standpoint.”

• On Xavier Johnson: “He really hasn’t played much basketball in the last year and a half, when you think about it…. he’s trying to find himself and I’ve got to help him. Because when he’s playing the right way, he can help us win basketball games. I’ve seen it, I’ve been a part of it. And I know he’s searching.”

• More on Johnson: “He’s a tough kid, he’s a tough competitor. He likes to compete. I just think he’s just trying find his game from the layoff, I really do. And we’ve got to keep encourage him and still coach him, because he has played on a roller coaster ride right now and we’ve just got to get him playing the right way to help us continue this journey.”

• On Malik Reneau: “He’s grown as a player. He’s made the jump from his freshman to his sophomore season and he’s being recognized now. We can’t hide him. The Big Ten teams know about him.”

• Woodson said he will know more about Kel’el Ware’s status Tuesday. He said Ware has been doing some things on the court but has been having daily evaluations.

• Woodson said Illinois didn’t hurt Indiana in transition and the Hoosiers did a good job guarding the perimeter and making Illinois struggle offensively. He said “you think you’d walk out of there with a win based on how they shot the ball”, crediting Indiana’s defense for a job well done against a top-10 team.

• On Anthony Leal: “He’s a senior and he’s done a lot of good things in practice. I just elected to go with him and I thought he played well… he was solid for us.”

• Woodson said Leal acts as a solid leader for the team, which is the expectation for seniors.

• On Iowa: “Very good basketball team. They post the ball, they push the ball, they press. They play half-court zone, so they do a lot of different things. Things that we’ve seen in the past from other teams, we’ve just got to come out and execute and compete.”

• Woodson called Iowa’s Tony Perkins the “head of the snake”, and emphasized the need for Indiana to be ready to compete for a full 40 minutes.

• Woodson said the key to beating Iowa is Indiana’s transition defense and halfcourt defense and keeping up with the Hawkeyes in terms of rebounding.

• On the state of the Big Ten: “The Big Ten has always been good. That’s never going to change. The talent level in the Big Ten is off the charts and on any given night if you don’t come ready to play you’re going to be beat. And we’ve got a great opportunity to get back on track starting here tomorrow at home.”

• On Indiana’s injuries: “We’re pretty healthy besides the big fella. We just haven’t had a lot of games where we’ve had a healthy team…to actually see what kind of team we have.”

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