By: Pete DiPrimio
— Mike Woodson did not come to Indiana to concede — not basketball video games and positively not expertise.
He’ll go after the very best, and if which means recruiting at the moment’s starters to be tomorrow’s reserves, so be it.
“I do know loads of gamers suppose, ‘Are you going to recruit over me or on prime of me?'” Woodson says through this week’s Zoom press convention means. “I am unable to inform a child that I am not going to recruit on prime of him. I will attempt to recruit the very best expertise out there that matches what I am making an attempt to do.
“I feel competitors, and should you’re any type of competitor, that is the way you get higher as a ball membership and as a person participant.
“I’ve by no means ran away from competitors. I simply wished to play and attempt to make myself recognized. These are the varieties of youngsters I am making an attempt to recruit right here.”
Woodson made himself referred to as a fantastic participant, a tricky participant, a participant who did what wanted to be accomplished. That was from 1977-80, when in 104 video games as a Hoosier he averaged 19.8 factors, 5.6 rebounds and a couple of.1 assists, earned All-America standing and a Massive Ten MVP award.
Then he went on to play and coach within the NBA.
Now Woodson is teaching the Hoosiers. He is six months away the primary sport, a few weeks away from working along with his gamers.
Creating this workforce is a prime precedence, however not the one one. Woodson needs to win now, and sooner or later, and techniques and techniques will solely take you to date.
“I am making an attempt to take a seat on the (recruiting) desk with a few of the prime gamers,” he says.
Recruiting within the age of the switch portal provides a novel twist, particularly for a man who has by no means coached in school, however Woodson did recruit within the NBA, and if it got here with a free-agency label, the method was the identical.
“You attempt to go get the very best gamers that match what you are attempting to do,” he says. “With the portal, you do not know from 12 months to 12 months who’s going to remain and who’s going to go away.
“You have to contact each place if you’re speaking about constructing your basketball workforce. I will speak to a few of the prime level guards within the nation, a few of the prime 2s and three wing guys, and a few of the prime 4s and 5s within the nation. That is vital if you’re making an attempt to construct your program based mostly on the portal.”
Woodson hit the switch portal to land Northwestern 6-7 swingman Miller Kopp, Pitt level guard Xavier Johnson and South Florida 7-footer Michael Durr. He added five-star highschool prospect Tamar Bates, satisfied ahead Trayce Jackson-Davis to remain reasonably than enter the NBA draft and, briefly, gained the spring notion race.
Now it is about placing all of it collectively right into a championship-level workforce. Doing so requires a multi-faceted method, however for individuals who watched IU wrestle lately, capturing is a prime precedence, particularly from the free-throw line and three-point arc.
Think about the 3-point shot, essential in at the moment’s sport.
“I like everyone to have the ability to make the threes,” Woodson says. “I feel Michael (Durr), the massive middle, could make threes.
“Miller was a man that we needed to tackle, as a result of I feel he can play 2 (capturing guard), 3 (small ahead), and 4 (energy ahead) at his measurement. He possesses a weapon in with the ability to shoot the lengthy ball.
“Tamar Bates has proven he could make it, however now you have to present me you may make it on the subsequent degree.
“Xavier is extra of a streaky man. He’s extra in between the three-point line, and I did not carry him in as a knock-down three.”
Returning guards Rob Phinisee, Trey Galloway, Khristian Lander and Anthony Leal have proven 3-point-shooting potential, as has Pitt/Tennessee-Martin switch Parker Stewart. Even ahead Race Thompson has had flashes Woodson needs to faucet.
“I am nonetheless looking out sooner or later for guys that may make the lengthy ball,” he says. “We’re going to work with Thompson as a result of he’ll have a possibility to step out and be in that place to make photographs.
“It is the identical with Galloway. Phinisee is streaky in his capturing, however these are issues we’ll work on. We’re going to must put the time in on the ground when it comes to capturing.
“Even from a free throw standpoint, as a result of they only weren’t a fantastic free throw capturing workforce. All these areas have gotten to be cleaned up should you’re speaking about competing massive time within the Massive Ten.”
Woodson is actually speaking it.
“My largest hurdle is how rapidly can they choose it up,” he says. “You do not know till you begin training.”
What’s going to a Woodson-coached Indiana workforce appear like?
For starters, suppose quick and livid.
“I will attempt to play open offensively, and provides loads of gamers the latitude to do issues with the basketball till they show me unsuitable.
“Defensively, we’re going to attempt to be a hard-ass protection workforce the place we get after individuals and get stops after which rebound and have enjoyable offensively. That is my mindset getting into.”
In the case of protection, Woodson has some main keys — particular person delight, workforce cohesiveness, defend the paint and harass the perimeter. Neglect the pack-line defensive idea underneath former coach Archie Miller — that is about effort and imaginative and prescient and, sure, just a little little bit of Bob Knight (keep in mind that “hard-ass” quote).
“I’ve obtained to get gamers to have delight in guarding the ball and never beg for assist,” he says. “That is the place it begins.
“You then put a system in place the place if there’s a break down, you’ve got assist, and that helper has to have assist after which the subsequent man has to have assist, so it turns into a workforce protection.”
That is, in essence, 5 taking part in as one, and when it really works, each shot is contested, and generally there is not even a shot courtesy of the always-coach-pleasing shot-clock violation.
“Nice defensive groups work as a unit,” Woodson says. “Everyone is on a string, and when that ball goes up, everyone is chargeable for rebounding so you are able to do what you do the opposite approach.”
In different phrases, push the transition tempo.
“There are loads of items to place in as a result of I am very choosy in terms of defending,” Woodson says. “All of it goes hand in hand. Nice defensive groups defend the paint and get out to shooters. It is all about effort and placing forth the need to defend. It ain’t going to be good.”
What’s Woodson like as a instructor? For one, he plans for break downs as a result of they at all times occur.
“I’ve discovered through the years there may be this factor referred to as what ifs. If I say I need you to ship the ball this fashion and it will get despatched the opposite approach, what are you going to do? You going to give up on the play? Subsequent man in line, in place that will help you, is he going that will help you cease the ball?”
There’s technique after which there’s motivation. Each nice coach has a knack for getting his gamers to play to their potential and, at instances, just a bit bit extra.
“As a coach I type of suppose out of the field if you’re coping with gamers,” Woodson says. “Knight thought out of the field when he labored with me right here, and after we did not do what was requested of us, he made it a degree to verify we obtained again within the field and did what we needed to do.”
That is old-school teaching with a 21st Century, NBA-refined twist.
And if it really works, when it really works, look out.