Quotes: Everything Mike Woodson said at Huber’s Winery

  • 05/29/2024 8:56 pm in

BORDEN, Ind.  – Mike Woodson addressed the media on Wednesday evening at Huber’s Winery at a Hoosiers Connect NIL event.

You can watch the full media availability here, but we’ve also transcribed Woodson’s comments, which are available below:

On the recent NIL ruling, his interpretation of the ruling and discussions at the Big Ten coaches meeting:

“Well, I mean, it’s gonna help. I think anytime you got additional money that goes towards recruiting, it’s gonna help. We’re in different times now, man. I mean this summer was a busy summer for me and my staff in terms of entertaining the portal and just a lot of work, man. I mean, it’s not going to change, man. It’s going to be that way for years to come. It’s what it is. And I just think as long as the playing field is even for everybody, it should be very competitive. You’re able to go out and recruit and get talent to come in to help you win.”

On adding the dynamic ability of Myles Rice and Kanaan Carlyle and how it can help change IU’s offense:

“You think about our guard play over the last three years and it’s no knock… we had guys like X (Xavier Johnson) and (Rob) Phinisee. We couldn’t keep anybody healthy, number one. I’ve learned in this short period of time that I’ve been in college, you win with good guard play. It’s great to have big guys that can play and do the things that we’ve had over the last three with our bigs that we’ve coached. But you win with perimeter and guard play, good guard play. And that was something that we came out of this past season not having X, you know, the games that he missed, that we had to really amp up our backcourt and get better and I thought we’ve done that.”

On going into next season with more depth on the roster at multiple positions:

“We had no choice. You know we had guys that left, we had guys that graduated. That’s the new norm now guys. I mean, this is not like the Bob Knight days where you could build your team over three or four years and trust the process. You know, our process now is changing every year because you don’t know who’s coming and who’s going. And it was a busy summer because we had to fill a lot of holes based on who left and the guys that graduated, so it was a busy summer.”

On what he’s looking for from the guards:

Well, you know, I mean, I tried to build our team around how I played a little bit in New York. We had guys like Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton, Pablo Prigioni, guys that can create and make plays not only for themselves, but for their teammates. And that was one of the things when we sat down after the season in terms of evaluating players that entered the portal, that was going to be an emphasis on players that we brought back here from a perimeter standpoint. And these two guys (Rice and Carlyle) are capable of making plays off the bounce. They’re capable of making plays for the teammates and they’re capable putting the ball in the hole so. And they’re young players you know, I mean, if things don’t go big and according to plan, all these guys dreams are playing in the NBA. And if that doesn’t happen, then you hopefully you got them back for another year or two. You know, I mean, that’s kind of how we approach that when we stepped out to recruit these guys. So I’m pleased with the guys that we brought in. I just got to put it to work now and get them ready to play.”

On lessons learned from roster turnover in previous seasons and whether it can help this season with all the new pieces:

“The one thing I have learned is that we got to be deeper in certain positions. We came in last year not knowing that, number one, we didn’t think Jalen (Hood-Schifino) would probably leave. And we knew we had Gabe (Cupps). I didn’t come into the season thinking that I was going to start and play Gabe the minutes that he that he played. Not that he didn’t deserve it and not he didn’t hold his own, I thought Gabe had a hell of a freshman year. But we really counted on Xavier (Johnson) to be back after all his injuries… we just thought we had him back and that crushed us. We never really rebounded from it. We were playing catch up where we had to mix and match and try to make Gallo (Trey Galloway) a point guard and Gallo did a hell of a job for us, he grew up in that area and being able to handle the ball and make plays for not only himself but for his teammates. So I just didn’t want to get caught in that position again. I didn’t think we had to this season after the guys that we saw in the portal that we liked. And once we got involved, they seemed to like us and now they’re wearing the Indiana uniform.”

On Trey Galloway’s health:

“Well again, he’s going through rehab and you know, he’s not ready to play yet on the floor. But we’re hoping and thinking he’s going to be back and ready to go when season starts. So he’s just got to continue… we got eight weeks here coming up starting June 3rd and going well into July and you know, hopefully by then he’ll be ready to play.”

On if he did anything different this year with the approach in the the transfer portal:

“No, I mean we’ve done pretty much the same thing every year. I thought a year ago we brought in… we had some good freshmen that came in and we brought some pretty good portal players in, I thought, last season. But this year it was wide open, it was more wide open in terms of how we evaluated it. We sat down at the end and I kind of treated it like I was when I was back in the NBA. I make our guys rank the top 10 players at their position. And then I make the decision on who we’re gonna go get. And if it’s the best player, then we gotta give it a shot because all they can do is tell us no. And we got involved with (Oumar) Ballo kinda early, not even knowing that he was even gonna go… we didn’t know if he was gonna go in the portal or not. There was rumblings out there and I made it very clear that if he goes in, we gotta get involved. And he went in and we were able to get involved and was able to land him here at Indiana. So it’s been a busy summer. It hasn’t been no different than what we’ve done in the past. We’ve approached it that way since I’ve been here. Fortunately for us, we’ve gotten players that want to wear an Indiana uniform and want to play for us. Some really good players.”

On if he wants to be this heavy in the portal on a year-to-year basis:

“It’s what it is. You just don’t know. I would love to grow a team with high school kids, they stay with me for four years, man, but those days are gone, man. You’ll get a player that’s disgruntled and ‘hey, I want more minutes.’ I’m trying to put together a team where you can’t worry about minutes. It’s gotta be about team. And you gotta commit to team because then everything else takes care of itself, man. And that’s with any coach in college basketball. That’s what you gotta navigate, man, because everybody wants to play, everybody wants to go to the NBA, well, shit that’s not realistic. You can’t play everybody 40 minutes. Everybody is not going to play in the NBA. And that’s being real from a guy that spent 34 years of his life there. It’s what it is.”

On what Mackenzie Mgbako needs to do this offseason in terms of improvement:

“Just keep working, man. You guys (the media) were down on him early when he was struggling and it’s a process. You think because a guy wears a five-star, a four-star, that they can come into college and tear it up. It’s not that easy. It’s no different than going from college to the NBA, man. It’s a learning curve. I don’t give a shit how good you are. You have to learn. And it was a learning curve. It was an eye opener for him because he did struggle early. But he just kept working and working and working and he got better. And I can’t help but think that he’s going to continue to get better. I gotta push him. He’s been working his butt off this summer. They’ve been all over the place. He’s been out in LA playing with a bunch of NBA guys working on his craft there with people that we know that can help him do some of the things that we already have taught him. So I can’t help but think that he’ll come back this year and make another step, which we need.”

On what he likes about Oumar Ballo and what stood out when watching him:

“He’s won. He’s been in a winning atmosphere at Arizona and he’s produced. He’s had some good years. He’s an older guy that’s serious about winning. That was the whole thing that attracted me to him. And that’s why he’s wearing an Indiana uniform, man, because I think he can help us with his leadership, get to where I want to go and that’s winning a Big Ten title and a national title.”

On how Ballo and Malik Reneau fit together:

“He does a lot of nice things. He doesn’t have to have the ball a lot like I featured Trayce (Jackson-Davis) when he was here. He doesn’t have to have it a lot, but I’m going to utilize him. It’d be crazy not to. But he runs the floor, he creates space when he demands the ball, he blocks shots, he rebounds for his position. I think he and Malik will be just fine. It might free Malik up a little bit more to do some things that I want him to do differently this year but I think they can both co-exist. I think Malik and (Kel’el) Ware had a nice combination together this year. Unfortunately Ware has taken off to the NBA.”

On whether IU can go with more lineups to spread the floor next season:

“Absolutely. Just like I played in New York. I just haven’t been able to get there. And I think we can this year based on what we’ve brought in. We can play smaller a little bit with Mack and (Luke) Goode probably playing some four. Even the big fella, I’m going to try to play two bigs just to test it and see, you never know with (Langdon) Hatton, he can make 3s. I just gotta wait. These eight weeks, man, of summer play will kinda shape where we are as a ball club and give me some indication going into next season.”

On Reneau and Mgbako coming back and if he had to give them a hard sell to come back:

“Well it was huge getting them back, number one. But moving forward, you gotta put pieces around them. They can’t do it by themselves. We showed some of that at different times of the season last year. We needed more pieces around them. It was huge getting them back though because they’re a huge piece to our puzzle. No doubt about that.”

On balancing portal recruiting with high school recruiting:

“Gotta keep recruiting them, man. I’m not going to stop recruiting them. I think they’re (the 2025 class) talented enough to help us here in the future. So we’re still on their doorstep, we’re still going to AAU games and I’m on the phone constantly communicating because we’d like to see them stay here in the state. But again, it’s up to these guys. They’ve been offered the scholarship, I don’t know what more we can do. We can keep hammering home, say we want you in the uniform and come see us, can we come see you and they could still tell us know. I convert back when Coach Knight asked me to come here and play, it wasn’t so much for the university, I came here for Bob Knight. Hell, he asked me, gave me an opportunity and shit I didn’t mess around, ‘I’m coming coach. I’m there, I’m going to be there wearing an Indiana uniform.’ So those guys have that opportunity because I have offered them scholarships and I do want them here man. I just gotta keep recruiting them. I can’t quit. And hopefully one or two will say ‘yes I’m coming.'”

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