Below is a video and transcript of Mike Woodson’s Q&A with the media at the podium of the 2023 Big Ten basketball media day:
— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) October 10, 2023
THE MODERATOR: Please welcome from Indiana University Head Coach Mike Woodson. Coach Woodson is entering his third season with the Hoosiers after leading the program to back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances. Coach Woodson, we’ll begin with your opening statement.
MIKE WOODSON: Good morning. It’s good to be back. I’m looking forward to another great year with our ball club. A lot of work on our hands. We fielded ten new players this summer, and it’s a work in progress right now. So I’m pretty pleased and happy where we are as a ball club as we stand today, but we’ve got a long way to go. So with that being said, I’ll open the floor up for statements.
THE MODERATOR: Questions for Coach Woodson.
Q. You have the four new teams coming in. What do you think that adds to the league, and what concerns, if any, do you have about travel and scheduling attached to that?
MIKE WOODSON: It’s competition. I mean, I’ve always been a coach and player that loves competition. The four teams that are coming in are well-coached, talented players, and I think it can do nothing but enhance what we already have. The Big Ten is loaded with great coaches, man, and great players. So I look at it as competition. A lot of work. You got to get your ball clubs ready to play.
Q. How does your offensive coaching philosophy change when you lose guys like Trayce and Jalen who had the ball in their hands so much last season?
MIKE WOODSON: I think back to when I started this journey two years ago. We had the post Trayce Jackson Davis. It being such a new team for me, that was the right thing to do. Then last season everybody thought we posted him probably more than the first season, and we didn’t. You know, we ran more pick-and-rolls versus posting the ball. So I think you have to have a little bit of both. I don’t think I want to be a team to just rely on shooting threes. I think you’ve got to take the ball inside and keep the defense honest that way as well. So right now I don’t know what kind of team we’re going to be offensively. We put in a few things here over the
summer and since we started official practice. We’ve got a long way to go, but I like the make-up of our ball club.
Q. You have in Kel’el Ware a very uncommon player, the length, the body type. You don’t see a lot of guys like him. How do you take advantage of what he brings to the floor and sort of take him away from whatever trouble his frame can create?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, he is a very skillful player. The first time I’ve coached a 7’2″ guy after all the years I’ve spent in the NBA. It’s just a matter for him I think of getting comfortable with the Big Ten and working hard.
I think a lot of these young players, they truly believe they work hard, and I’ve always felt there’s another level that you can always reach as a player. I’ve got to get him to that level. He has been working. He stuck around this summer and put in a lot of time. I’m pleased with his work ethic, but he still has a long way to go I think.
Q. My question about MacKenzie Mgbako and the freshmen that you have, it appears you’ll be counting on them to do some things for you guys this year. Just the impact that he can have and also that freshman class.
MIKE WOODSON: Well, again, we were high on him when he came on the board in terms of being recruited. Once he made the commitment to us, he has come in this summer and really worked. Great shooter. He can really shoot the basketball. But, again, high school — that jump from high school to college is a big jump, just like the jump from college to the NBA. He has a lot of work that he has to put in to get to where he needs to go in terms of helping us win basketball games. I mean, again, I’ve got a bunch of young players that I’ve got to teach. A couple of sophomores that were freshmen last year, that I’m expecting big things from, but he’s a piece to the puzzle that we’re hoping that can step in and play right away and do some nice things for our ball club.
Q. You mentioned some of the sophomores now. Malik is one of them. How have you seen him grow since the end of last season?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, the fact that he’s got his body — his body is in much better shape than it was his freshman year. Again, a lot of that had to do with the fact that he stuck around this summer. Most of my guys stayed in Bloomington this summer and put the work in, which they needed to do. I’m expecting big things out of him because he’s very talented and can do a lot of things on the floor. So he’s just got to continue to work. I’m pleased where he is today as well because he has been working his butt off, but we’ve got a couple of other sophomores with C.J. and Kaleb Banks that I’m expecting some big things. I can’t wait on them. I need them to be ready to play this season.
THE MODERATOR: Coach Woodson, thank you for your time.
MIKE WOODSON: Thank you, guys.
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