The Crossroads Classic came to end over the weekend, and if this kind of reception in Indianapolis continues, Mike Woodson might want to think twice about bringing his team back up to his hometown.
Just nine months ago irate fans booed as Indiana missed free throws against Rutgers in the Big Ten Tournament at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.
On Saturday it was Xavier Johnson who drew the ire of the petulant segment of the fans in the Circle City. With the Notre Dame defense sagging off the senior point guard daring him to shoot or drive into traffic, Johnson complied, missing five 3-pointers in a row while also forcing shots in the paint and turning the ball over.
After an early shot clock missed 3-pointer in the second half the fans booed loudly at Johnson, and when he checked out of the game moments later there was a chorus of cheers. All of this for a player who has only been with the program for six months and has only played in eleven games with the team.
It seemed like a bit much for Woodson, who probably not by chance was asked about the booing on his Monday evening radio show.
“That irritates me. I just want to send a shout out to all of our Hoosier Nation fans man, because again we’ve got to ride this journey together,” Woodson told IU radio voice Don Fischer. “Xavier catches a lot of hell from me as a coach, and none of our players need that.
“Listen, we’re one big family, Hoosier Nation has always been a family, and will always be. I can’t tell you how to come to the game and react, but booing is not the way to go for me. Let’s be positive. This team hasn’t been together that long. We’ve had 14 games together as a group, three as exhibition games that don’t count.
“So we’re still trying to learn one another and they’re trying to deal with me as a coach and that isn’t always easy. When I look at it, the the booing part of it was disturbing because I’m not used to hearing that from our Indiana fans because they are the best fans in the world, I’ve always said that.”
Indiana was up by eight points after the Johnson miss, and the fans were no doubt concerned about a repeat poor second half performance similar to the one he delivered at Wisconsin a week earlier.
But Woodson’s message was this — he’ll do the coaching and give the negative feedback, and the fans should focus on staying positive.
“I just need them to support what we do, support our players, keep them pumped up man, let me give them hell,” he said. “That’s where it should come from, not our fans.”
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