The Inside the Hall Mailbag: lineup flexibility, non-conference scheduling, 2025 recruiting and more

  • 06/24/2024 9:48 am in

The Inside the Hall Mailbag is a collection of questions sent to us via X (@insidethehall), via email, submitted via our community and our Facebook page. Submit your questions and we’ll answer as many as we can.

@NeinLandon: How worried are you about Ballo defending a dynamic center who can take his game to the perimeter?

How many dynamic centers are there in college basketball capable of taking their game to the perimeter? Not many. Those centers also have to account for guarding Ballo. There are few, if any, centers in college basketball that can match the size and physicality of Ballo. He is a physical specimen that few defenders will have an answer for. That’s a major reason he was considered by many to be one of the top transfers in the sport. Ballo has won – and won big – at every stop in his college career and he’s coming into IU with the expectation to win big. On most nights, he’ll get the better of his matchup at the center position.

Mark Robbins: Has there been any thoughts of not playing Malik and Ballo at the same time for more outside shooting and better ball movement?

At his media availability in May at Huber’s Winery, Mike Woodson suggested yes. Here was his full quote:

“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.”

It remains to be seen whether it comes to fruition, but Woodson specifically mentioned Mgbako or Goode playing some at the four.

@random_blackcat: Any chance we fill that last scholarship spot?

It’s unlikely. The talent pool in the portal has dwindled, IU has few minutes to offer and summer workouts are in full swing.

If there was a reclassification opportunity that made sense for both sides, any program with an open scholarship would consider it. But there’s just very little left in the portal at this point, so the likelihood of a late addition is unlikely. Having a scholarship open could come in handy if there’s an appearing mid-season transfer next season.

Rick Coleman: Some friends and I were talking about the upcoming year and how it may be one of the most important years in IU history in terms of determining the direction of the program. We are in on some high level kids… if this year is what we hope … Finish 1 or 2 in the Big and play at least into the second weekend does that greatly enhance our perception as program moving forward. If we fail to meet expectations… another 7th place finish in Big and an early tournament exit, does that set us back? Sorry this is so wordy, but I was having a hard time crystalizing my thoughts. Thanks.

It’s pivotal. How you’ve described it is spot on. Indiana needs to capitalize on a solid nucleus of returning players and a massive haul from the transfer portal. The roster is talented enough to expect a top four or five finish in the Big Ten, at minimum.

It’s never easy to set a baseline expectation in terms of NCAA tournament success – it’s a completely unpredictable event – but getting to the second weekend should be the expectation for Indiana this season.

If those benchmarks – a top four or five Big Ten finish and reaching the second weekend of the NCAA tournament – are not met, there are going to be decisions for Scott Dolson to address in terms of the direction of the program. There shouldn’t be a four year period for Indiana basketball where the program isn’t reaching the second weekend of the tournament, at minimum.

@LaBeck81: Still feel like we are a challenging non-conference game short. Atlantis is 3 + South Carolina at home (which is ok, not great). Is there any chance there’s still a strong one not announced yet?

The non-conference does feel a little light particularly if things don’t break well for two big-time matchups at the Battle 4 Atlantis.

Arizona, Davidson, Gonzaga, Louisville, Oklahoma, Providence and West Virginia are the potential opponents in Atlantis. That’s a solid but not spectacular field.

Right now, Indiana has three games at Atlantis, South Carolina, Chattanooga, and Eastern Illinois. That’s six of the 11 non-conference games. The assumption is that IU will also play a game in Indianapolis.

To answer your question, sure, there’s a chance but don’t bank on it. More than anything else, Indiana needs to win a few of those bigger matchups this season and win more comfortably in the guarantee games than it did to begin last season.

FoyMcNaughton: Who would win the following tournament, each series being a 7 game series, all teams being in perfect health?:

1 seed: ‘75-76 Hoosiers
2 seed: ‘74-75 Hoosiers
3 seed: ‘86-87 Hoosiers
4 seed: ‘92-93 Hoosiers
5 seed: ‘80-81 Hoosiers
6 seed: ‘01-02 Hoosiers
7 seed: ‘12-13 Hoosiers
8 seed: ‘24-25 Hoosiers

How can you go against the 1976 team here?

Yes, there are a lot of people who will tell you that the 1975 team was better before Scott May got injured but the 1976 team is the last undefeated team and is generally considered one of the best college basketball teams of all time.

It’s definitely fun to think about all of the great teams across different eras for IU basketball.

@EMcCartney1993: How important for recruiting is the staff continuing to send transfers into the draft every year?

It’s important but NIL is still the most important factor in recruiting. As long as Indiana continues to have top tier NIL resources, the Hoosiers will continue to be in the mix for the top transfers in the portal.

If Indiana can continue to send transfers to the NBA along with its stellar NIL, it can become a destination program for the top transfers in this era of college basketball.

@bigwayne13IU: Regarding recruiting for next year, of course there are a million unknowns. However, do you think it is realistic they could get Mullins AND Haralson? Or does one cancel the other out realistically?

I don’t think one cancels out the other. They’re different players. Mullins is an elite scorer and shot maker who is rapidly improving. Haralson can score but he also can facilitate and help run a team. They can definitely play together and complement each other well.

That’s not to say IU should or will get both players to commit but it shouldn’t be viewed as a one or the other situation and IU doesn’t appear to be approaching it as such.

MarkCoppock: What’s with Oumar’s boot? More philosophically, why can’t IU escape the boot? Is the ground harder in Bloomington? Is there more gravity than elsewhere? Has this ever been studied, scientifically? Maybe there’s a tiny black hole that exists directly underneath the epicenter of the athletic facilities and causes players to come down the tiniest bit harder, which over time results in more injuries from the additional stress. 

The boot has been a source of consternation for Indiana fans for many years. A lot of it is preventative in nature and it’s always best to be cautious with injuries, particularly at this time of year. I can’t speak specifically to Ballo’s situation but there have been plenty of situations over the years where an IU player has been spotted in a boot and the injury was not significant.

Until information surfaces to the contrary, assume injuries are minor and don’t stress over a boot sighting.

Ro bot: Thoughts about Catchings and the video of Matt Painter explaining what happened?

The player and the coach need to be on the same page. In this case, it’s clear Kanon Catchings and Matt Painter were not on the same page. Catchings has aspirations of getting to the next level expeditiously and wanted a defined role. That’s not how things work at Purdue. And kudos to Painter for not compromising on his standards there.

Painter has coached a lot of great players at Purdue. He’s coached players who have stuck around for four years and he’s coached a two-and-out lottery pick in Jaden Ivey. He hasn’t guaranteed a role to players and he doesn’t have to in order to have success. It’s best for both parties that this was worked out now rather than closer to the season so both could move on.

townie 12: IU and Woody seems to be very adept at navigating NIL and transfer portal… it seems to me we may be a top 10 or even top 5 school in terms of ability to function in this crazy new world of CBB. How would you rank IU Alex vs. other schools? Is it too soon to tell?

IU has done well in the transfer portal under Mike Woodson. This offseason, however, was far more successful on paper than last. Indiana added at least three impact transfers this offseason compared to just one last offseason in Kel’el Ware.

Is it sustainable to build a program for the long term this way? The sweet spot seems to be landing a few key high school recruits each year who you can develop over a few seasons (or a one-and-done who helps you win now) and then supplementing with impact guys from the portal. You’re not going to see many programs go with huge recruiting classes of high school players in this era. But it’s also not ideal to be adding five to seven transfers each season, either.

To answer your question, this offseason was impressive. Woodson deserves a ton of credit. If IU can continue to recruit the portal this successfully, the program should be one of the best in the sport in terms of acquiring talent.

Tickty Tak: Any idea when the Kansas game might get slated? Great atmosphere, would love to go again.

Indiana will not play Kansas this season. That agreement was a two-year deal with a game in Lawrence in 2022 and a game in Bloomington in 2023.

Filed to: