It’s no secret, Indiana has struggled to play a complete game through the first 12 contests of the Mike Woodson era.
The Hoosiers were +24 against Northern Kentucky in the first half, and then -6 in the second. They were +17 at Wisconsin before the break and then -22. Against St. John’s IU was +12 in the first, -10 in the second. And against Eastern Michigan IU was +17 in the first, -11 in the second.
At Syracuse things went the other direction, but still the Hoosiers couldn’t put together a complete game. They were -16 in the first half, +16 in the second. That first half at Syracuse and the second half at Wisconsin are the reasons why the Hoosiers (10-2) have two losses in their early-season results.
IU basketball fans everywhere have agonized over the disparity from half to half, as the Hoosiers have been seemingly dominant one half, and then collapse the next on a few too many occasions.
Two Bloomington residents were able to get the message directly to head coach Mike Woodson’s phone.
“I got a text the other day from (Bob Knight’s wife) Karen Knight, and she mentioned that, ‘you remember that Coach (Knight) always said to you guys the first five minutes of the second half is the most important minutes of the ball game,'” Woodson told Don Fischer on Monday night on his radio show.
Woodson conceded that, given his team’s inconsistent play, that message he got routinely as a player is going to have to be better reinforced with his team.
“So that was left in my texts, so I’ve gotta start using that a little bit more often with our players,” Woodson continued.
The refrain from Knight to Woodson was something Fischer was familiar with as well.
After spending 29 years interviewing the legendary coach, Knight’s emphasis on the first five minutes of halves stuck with the legendary radio voice.
“He (Knight) constantly talked about the most important five minutes of every ball game was the first five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half, because it set a tone for the rest of that 20-minute segment,” Fischer said.
Immediately after several of his team’s erratic performances, at least with the media Woodson seemed to want to downplay the negative and focus instead on the segments of strong play.
But with a clear trend established and a much more difficult schedule on the horizon, Woodson isn’t publicly shying away from the problem. He knows there will be a lot more outcomes like Syracuse and Wisconsin if his team doesn’t play at a high level for 40 minutes.
“I’m just looking at how we can continue our style of play, you know, why do we let up when we do get big leads like that,” Woodson said. “Those are things that for a team that is trying to learn how to win and is growing together, you gotta fix, and you gotta fix it quickly.
“If you do that then (opposing) teams quit, but we haven’t gotten teams to do that yet.”
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