Here's What Indiana Coach Mike Woodson Said in His Opening Statement at Big Ten Media Day

Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson met with reporters during Big Ten Media Days on Friday morning, talking about his new Hoosiers team and what it means to be back home at his alma mater.
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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson met with the media on Friday morning during Big Ten Media Days. 

Woodson was hired on March 29 to replace Archie Miller, who spent four years at Indiana without earning an NCAA tournament berth. He has aggressively recruited, landing five-star recruit Tamar Bates, and added several players out of the transfer portal, hoping to turn around a program that went 12-5 last year and lost its last six games.

Here's what Woodson, an Indianapolis native who played at Indiana from 1976 to 1980 and spent four decades in the NBA as a player and a coach, had to say during his 10-minute press conference on the main stage at Gainbridge Fieldhouse.

MIKE WOODSON: "Thank you. Good morning. How is everybody? Thank you, Commissioner Warren, and your staff for all you've done today. It's a beautiful setup. I'd like to send a shout out to our new president (Pamela Whitten), and also our new (Board of Trustees) president, Quinn Buckner, who is the president of our Board of Trustees, as well as (athletic director) Scott Dolson, who made the trip to New York to bring me back home. 

"It's so it's good to be back. Just a little brief introduction to our team. We've had an opportunity for the last three months to work together. I kind of got a jump on probably all the colleges that are out there, Division I schools, because we had an opportunity to go to the Bahamas. That trip was great for me because, again, it gave me an opportunity to put some things on both sides of the ball, and it gave our team an opportunity to get to the Bahamas and bond. We've got a number of new guys on our ballclub. It gave them the opportunity to bond with some of the old guys that were here in the past year.

"With that being said, it's good to be back in Bloomington. It's good to be back here in Indianapolis where I was born, where I was born and raised, and played all my high school basketball here in the city. It's good to be back. So I'll open up the floor for any questions. 

QUESTION: "Coming from the NBA, coaching and playing in some pretty tough markets, do you think that gives you an extra way to get these guys the mentality of the NIL, the business management, when they push for the next level of the NBA so they don't see that as a distraction while they're trying to play a good college season?''

MIKE WOODSON: "I think it helps a little bit. But, again, I'm in the Big Ten now. There's an elite group of coaches that have done it. I'm new at this. So I don't know if it gives me an advantage or not. I spent all my life in the NBA. A lot of the players that you recruit are trying to get to the next level. Now with the NIL and the portal, things changed now I think in the college game of basketball. I think we as a university got to be on top of that in terms of how we navigate our players through this. But there's a lot of work that's got to be done. Again, I don't know if I have an advantage or not. I know I'm competing with a lot of great college coaches and a lot of great players that play the game of basketball in college. 

QUESTION: "With Trayce Jackson-Davis obviously being one of the best players in the Big Ten this year, what role do you see some of your other guys playing, especially some talented freshmen you had last year?'' 

MIKE WOODSON: "Again, when I took this team and started watching a lot of tape, film on the team, we have some holes to fill. I thought we went out, like, bringing Xavier Johnson in, Miller, bringing Tamar Bates over, big Mike (Durr), I thought we filled some of those holes. I'm looking at our roster whether everybody's got to step up. It's just not the four guys we brought in, the guys that I inherited. Everybody's got to play a role. I've always felt that way as a coach. We just can't depend on Trayce to carry the load. I'm trying to instill in all of these players that they have a chance to play and make a difference on our ballclub. That's the only way I think we can win at a high level. 

TOM BREW QUESTION: "We've talked a lot during the summer about your quick indoctrination to learning about all your players. Can you talk a little bit about getting to know your assistant coaches and such, how all that's been working for you so far?''

MIKE WOODSON: "When I took the job, it was on the fly. I had to put a staff in place, which I thought the guys that we brought in, they know the college game. They're good basketball coaches. They've helped me kind of navigate through the recruiting process, the things that I can do and can't do.

"Then just the college game in general from a basketball standpoint. It is a little different than the pros. In the pros we got a lot of guys that can make the three ball. Our team, you know, we're trying to get to that point. That's why we went and picked up Xavier and Miller who both can make the long ball. Hoping that Tamar Bates along with Galloway and the guys I inherit will improve this year in terms of shooting it. But I'm happy with my staff because, again, without 'em I would be lost, being new at this. But we got a lot of work, a long way to go.'' 

QUESTION: "How have you seen Rob Phinisee evolve? How does he do things differently from when you got started?''

MIKE WOODSON: "Again, I try to evaluate players based on them dealing with me now. I can't look back in the past and look at the things Rob has done and hasn't done.

"For me he's been a treat. I think he's been one of the most bright spots over the last three months in terms of running our ballclub and getting things done on both sides of the floor. My problem with Rob is I just got to get him to shoot more. I'm telling him it's okay to shoot the basketball. I don't know if he's had coaches tell him in the past, but I'm telling him it's okay to do that. He's been a nice treat to our team in terms of his growth. I'm going to need him, his leadership, as we move forward this season.

QUESTION: "Xavier Johnson played a lot of college basketball, but not on successful teams. Is there something that you guys have to go through to make winning a habit with a player like that who is obviously talented but hasn't had success? 

MIKE WOODSON: "Again, we got to do that with all our players. We're all new. They're trying to get to know Coach Woodson and I'm trying to figure them out as individual players and the things that they can do to help us from a team standpoint. Xavier has been great because he changes the game with his speed. He can make shots. He can get in the paint and create. 

"I'm just trying to get him to be a better point guard and involve his teammates in terms of running our offense. There's no doubt he's got to be good on the defensive end because I think that's where we'll be a better team if our team is defending on a high level. That will put us in position to win ball games.''

Woodson will talk more later this afternoon, and Indiana also has three players here, veterans Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson and Rob Phinisee. 

Several more stories will be posted later today.

VIDEO: Commissioner Kevin Warren's introduction of Mike Woodson

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  • HOW GOOD IS REAL GOOD? Indiana was picked to finish seventh in a recent Big Ten preseason basketball poll, which disappoints a lot of people in Hoosier Nation. How high do the Hoosiers have to finish in the Big Ten to make everyone happy? Tom Brew column, with complete poll. CLICK HERE
  • JUWAN HOWARD ON WOODSON: Michigan coach Juwan Howard has a lot of respect for Mike Woodson too, and he also knows what it takes to make the move from the NBA to college. He's had great success at Michigan, and Indiana is hoping Woodson will have similar results. CLICK HERE
  • FRED HOIBERG on WOODSON: During his days as a player and coach in the NBA, Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg said that he always admired new Indiana coach Mike Woodson, and thinks he'll have a lot of success at Indiana. CLICK HERE
  • INDIANA SCHEDULE, GAME TIMES: Indiana's schedule is now complete, and most of the games now have a start time and TV designation. Here is the complete schedule, which begins on Nov. 9 with a home game against Eastern Michigan at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. CLICK HERE
  • ISIAH THOMAS COMES HOME: Hall of Famer Isiah Thomas came home to Bloomington for Hoosier Hysteria last weekend, and it was an emotional day for him, being reunited with Mike Woodson, his former teammate in 1980. Thomas spoke to the fans, but also spent a lot of time with Indiana's current players. CLICK HERE