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Fred Hoiberg on Mike Woodson: 'No Doubt He'll Be Successful at Indiana For a Long Time'

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.

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — Nebraska coach Fred Hoiberg is one of a handful of Big Ten coaches who has both college and NBA experience, as both a player at a coach. 

He knows all about new Indiana coach Mike Woodson because their paths have crossed often in the pros. Hoiberg played in the league for nine years, with stops playing for the Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves.

Woodson, who has spent 40 years in the NBA as both a player and a coach before being hired at Indiana in late March, was the head coach of the Atlanta Hawks from 2004 to 2010, and then a year later he was hired to coach the New York Knicks, and he was there from 2011 through 2014.

Hoiberg played against Woodson's Hawks team the final two years of his career, then as coach of the Chicago Bulls, he went up against Woodson when he was an assistant with the Los Angeles Clippers.

"I always admired Mike as a coach playing against his teams, first of all as a player in the NBA and then later coaching against Mike,'' Hoiberg said Thursday during Big Ten basketball media days at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. "His teams always took on his personality, his toughness, and he was very good with his schemes on both ends of the floor.''

Hoiberg knows all about happy homecomings, because he's done it himself. He played at Iowa State and later went back to coach there, and had great success. Nebraska is home for him, too, because his grandfather, Jerry Bush, was the head coach of the Cornhuskers from 1954 to 1963.

"Obviously, knowing the landscape of Indiana basketball will be a big advantage to him,'' Hoiberg said of Woodson, who played at Indiana from 1976 to 1980 and was the school's No. 2 all-time leading scorer when he graduated.

"I had a similar situation at Iowa State when I took over that program,'' Hoiberg said. "Knowing the people that you are coaching in front of, there's an advantage to that. Even Nebraska for me, having always being around that program, that's an advantage for me.''

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"There's no doubt in my mind that Mike will be successful at Indiana for a long time.''

Hoiberg said he was thrilled to be back in Indianapolis. He played his first four NBA seasons with the Pacers, and loved his time in Indiana. 

"I love coming back to Indianapolis,'' Hoiberg said. "When I walked in, I saw a picture of Mel Daniels, which is really the guy that drafted me. See him up in the rafters here, he was just such a great mentor to me when I came in here. Mel was one of the all-time great people. Just loved what he did for me as a young player. To see Reggie Miller's name up there, Roger Brown, Slick Leonard, to see his picture, he was such a great person and a guy that I a lot of wonderful times with.

"My first two kids were born in Indianapolis. We played at the old Market Square Arena, with some of the best atmospheres, going through those great series with the Knicks, with the Bulls. We had a chance to beat them in the "Last Dance" (1998, Michael Jordan's final season with the Bulls) in that Game 7 where we had them down pretty good in the second half.''

Hoiberg, who was so popular in Ames, Iowa when he played at Iowa State, got a lot of love from Indiana fans when he was here. That was reciprocal, he said. He loved it here, too. 

"I'll always have great memories of this place. We loved it here, and we loved our time here,'' he said. "It's such a passionate fan base, especially for basketball. It's certainly a place that any time I come here, I'll try to go back by our old house. We had four awesome, awesome years in Indianapolis.''

Hoiberg took part in Media Days Thursday along with his players. Woodson and Indiana players Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson and Rob Phinisee will be part of Friday's festivities.

  • 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
  • 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