Don’t look for new Indiana basketball coach Mike Woodson to bring back preseason exhibitions open to the public anytime soon.
Woodson said on Monday Indiana will instead play two closed, or so-called “secret scrimmages” prior to the tipoff of the 2021-22 season.
The first-year coach identified at least one of the scrimmage opponents when asked about his scheduling philosophy.
“We do have a couple of scrimmages (one) with Cincinnati, then we have a team we’re going to scrimmage up in Louisville, Kentucky,” Woodson said.
Cincinnati features recently departed IU assistant coach and former player Mike Roberts. Woodson didn’t identify the dates or the second team involved. (Update: Rick Bozich of WDRB in Louisville reported the second opponent is Belmont.)
Indiana’s past closed scrimmages have typically occurred in mid-October with no television, and no highlights released by IU. A box score is often circulated after these games.
The closed scrimmage approach follows a national trend and one recently adopted by Indiana under former head coach Archie Miller. The Hoosiers played a scrimmage against Marquette in Indianapolis in 2019 and they faced Loyola Chicago there in 2018. IU also hosted one public exhibition each of those years, something they won’t do in 2021.
The closed scrimmages will allow Woodson and his staff the chance to assess where his team is against higher caliber competition without putting film out for future regular season opponents to evaluate.
At least in the case of Cincinnati, the scrimmages will come against competition better than what IU will face for most of the nonconference slate. Of the Hoosiers’ 11 non-Big Ten games, only three (St. John’s, Syracuse and Notre Dame) are high major programs, and only one of those contests (Syracuse) is a true road test.
For now, Woodson isn’t focused on stacking the early schedule with major challenges.
“I don’t care who we play. I mean, I want to get this team back on top to the point where we want to be playing the Kentuckys and UCLAs and Kansases, big games,” Woodson said on Monday. “We got St. John’s, Syracuse this year. They’re considered big-time schools and big-time programs.
“It doesn’t matter who we play. Our schedule is already set. It’s what it is. We just going to try to take it one game at a time and see where we are.”
The dates, times or location of the scrimmages has not been disclosed. Fans should not expect to be able to attend or watch the games.
Indiana opens the 2021-22 season on Nov. 9 against Eastern Michigan in Bloomington. You can view the complete IU basketball 2021-22 schedule HERE.
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