Watch as Indiana head coach Mike Woodson met with the media after a Big Ten Tournament semifinal loss to Iowa on Saturday afternoon in Indianapolis.
Joining Woodson were IU players Xavier Johnson and Trayce Jackson-Davis.
The transcript of the media session follows the video.
MODERATOR: We are joined by Indiana Head Coach Mike Woodson, Trayce Jackson-Davis and Xavier Johnson. We will start with an opening statement by Coach, followed by questions for the students, then we’ll go back to questions for Coach.
Coach, the floor is yours.
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Tough loss, gentlemen. I mean, you’ve got to give Iowa credit, they kept banging away. And we had some miscues coming down the stretch defensively I think that cost us, but I’m so thrilled and happy with our ball club and the way we compete. Again, we’ve been in this position so much this season that, you know, these sting a little bit, but we’ll get over this and get ready for tournament play if we are selected to play in the tournament.
Q. For Trayce and Xavier, both guys can answer this. This result aside, how well do you guys feel you’re playing heading into the NCAA Tournament?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Well, like they said in the locker room, I don’t think anyone wants to see us right now. I think we’ve proven not only to the Big Ten but to the country that we’re also a team, a top team that can compete with anyone. So took the last-second three to beat us to the hottest team in the Big Ten right now and it stings, but at the same time I feel like we’ve got a lot of ball left.
Q. Trayce, kind of to follow on from that, do you feel like at some level this weekend reflects kind of a lot of those close games Coach has not talked about not being able to close them and this weekend did you find the way, I guess?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Yes, all in all, we played our basket and we executed well, we listened to Coach’s plan and we finally got over the hump. After that first game against Michigan, I think that’s when we started to believe. I think when we got down to Iowa late, I still think that out team believed that we were going to win and then obviously they hit a tough shot and it happens. That’s just basketball.
Q. Xavier, Trayce had 31 today. You guys did a really good job of finding the ball, but you did a great job of positioning well, too. When he was rolling like that, did you just want to keep feeding and feeding and feeding?
XAVIER JOHNSON: We kept feeding and feeding. We made the right play feeding the ball out and we were able to knock down shots. Some shots we didn’t knock down but we’ve got to go back to the lab and just keep working because if we get selected for tournament we got to be ready to knock them down.
Q. X, Trayce, either one of you guys, obviously the late three, the bank was pretty well defended. You guys had somebody in front of him, but Jordan got loose a couple times before that. What did you guys kind of see that got crossed up to give him a couple looks?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Just missed communications. Our defense relies heavy on talking and sometimes guys get confused and you’ve just got to talk it out. He got loose for a few and then Keegan got loose for a few and he was knocking shots down, so you’ve got to be aware where guys are.
Q. Trayce, seems like you and Xavier have kind of taken your chemistry to a new level with the alley-oops and all that. Just speak to how that’s happened.
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Me and him just talked about it, we talked to Coach, trying to get more ball screen oriented. He’s a great player, especially when he gets downhill, he’s going to make the right reads. And playing with him, I love playing with him, that’s my guy.
Q. Trayce, you mentioned in the locker room after the game someone said that no one’s going to want to face you in March. Who was that that said that?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: That was one of our — am I allowed to say it? I’m not allowed to say it.
Q. Question for you, Trayce: How do you feel about the words of people saying that you helped get this program back on the map?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: It means a lot to me because I’m a Hoosier born and bred, and just coming back for my third year playing for this guy next to me, it’s been an honor and a blessing. I’m just glad because we didn’t have the year that wanted, but just showing people here at this tournament and just believing in what we’re doing and how he’s going to help us get to where we need to be. And I think this tournament has shown that we’re still here and Indiana basketball is going to get back on top here soon.
Q. Trayce, 50 points in the paint overall and you have another big day with 31. Building off that and just continuing to score inside as you get to the postseason, just how important is that going to be and how did you like seeing some single coverage today?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: Yeah, I liked it a lot. I thought they were going to send more doubles, but they didn’t. I think they were worried about how well we were shooting the ball in this tournament. But as Coach says, if there’s no one guarding you or there’s one person guarding you, he thinks I’m the best player down low in the country and no one can stop me. I’m just using that confidence to our advantage. Obviously if they’re going to double me, I know my teammates run enough shots down.
Q. X, you’ve been called the head of a snake by Race Thompson a couple of times. Watching this offense as we come down the stretch, it has been a huge difference to watch it flow. What has been the biggest difference for you in making all this happen?
XAVIER JOHNSON: Just my coach giving me confidence. More ball screens with Trayce because I make good reads and finding my teammates because that’s my main role for this team because we’ve got good shooters and it’s proven.
Q. Can you just run through that last play through your eyes, just kind of what you saw and what you thought when it actually went up?
TRAYCE JACKSON-DAVIS: So first off, I saw the shot clock and then I saw he was pretty well defended and he was almost like probably four, five feet away from half court, so I knew he was going to hoist one up. And then as the ball — I saw — I thought it was going to be long and then it banked in and sometimes that’s what happens. It’s March, so obviously March Madness, it’s crazy, crazy time of year. But even the stadium and the electricity, just playing in that stadium was really cool. That last shot, the ball doesn’t always bounce your way and obviously we’re about one second away from going into overtime.
Q. Mike, I know it’s not just as simple as kind of point A to point B, but in thinking about what you guys couldn’t find in some of those close losses this season, have you seen this weekend just maybe those little details, those little margins, this team connecting those things across this weekend a little bit better?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Yeah, this team has made major strides this weekend. You know, again, we’ve been — we’re battled tested, we been in so many games and the games that we have come up short, it’s been — it’s been tough, but our guys have always responded and we’ll respond again after this one tonight. This stings a little bit because we played well enough to win the game. You know, what I kind of told our guys after the game was when you go up 10, you got to remember how you got the lead and not celebrate so soon. That’s the whole part of trying to learn how to win, and we’re still working in that, in that area.
Q. Can I get your thoughts on Trayce, his impact, staying and getting — being such a big part of getting this program back to the national stage?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Well, it was huge. When I took the job, there were about seven, eight other players that didn’t raise their hand that day to stay on board. So I had to do some damage control, start recruiting. I started at the top with our best player at the time, which was Trayce. After sitting down with him and watching film and he deciding to stay, that was the first big piece to the puzzle and we just started piecing around him.
Q. Mike, I was going to ask how can you maintain this momentum that you picked up, but listening to Trayce talk, they still seem that they have — they appreciate what they have accomplished and they’re ready for more. What has been the difference in the entire team getting to that level?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Well, again, this team hadn’t been in postseason play for a very long time, so these guys are excited about that, and they should be. I’m excited for them because they worked their butts off this year to put themselves in this position. But again, until the committee says Indiana’s going to the tournament, we’re still sitting here waiting to hear those words. But these guys are very excited about that if that possibly will happen.
Q. Obviously you mentioned defensive miscues before. I mean, where did you see X in terms of the breakdown? He had some shots to Murray and also the two to Bohannon before the one he banked in.
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Well, the biggest three was Bohannon making when he broke free at the top. He was wide open. It was Miller and X that just didn’t communicate. They came together on the screen and both went to the guy that went low and left. Hell, one of the best shooters in the country wide open and he made us pay.
Q. You’ve been in Indiana for a long, long time, so can you tell me a little bit about what you think of Keegan Murray and what the biggest and most difficult challenges were in trying to get him under control today?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: He’s the real deal. Indiana’s going to love him. No, he’s a load. I mean, there’s just nothing he can’t do with the basketball in his hand. He’s a pretty good defender and he rebounds the ball in terms of his height and length, so I mean, I think the sky’s the limit for him. I think he’s going to be just fine and a good NBA team is going to really love him. He’s played well.
Q. Coach, you guys shot 26 percent from three. Were you happy with the looks you got from deep or was there something else offensively that you wish you could have gotten?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: That’s kind of how we’ve been all year. Guys, we’ve had a lot of good looks from the perimeter. There were a lot of wide open looks tonight, we just didn’t make them and that’s a part of basketball. I mean, I got to keep positioning our guys. When Trayce is being double teamed, our guys have got to step up and make shots. I thought Iowa made shots when they had open looks and we struggled to make them tonight in that area.
Q. Just describe in totality the weekend for Trayce and what this does for his confidence going forward in the postseason, because he did have a little lull there at the end of the season, him producing the way he produces.
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Well, it’s been huge. For him to come back home here in Indianapolis and play the way he’s played, it’s been great for not only him but for his teammates around him and the coaches and all that work with him. It’s been great. I mean, when we going to need him to continue to play that way as we enter the tournament play if we’re selected because, I mean, he’s kind of been our horse all year in terms of playing inside-out basketball. It’s been great. I think he’s pretty pleased in terms of how he’s played because he’s played well.
Q. Following on Xavier, in three games, 50 points, 22 assists, only eight turnovers. We asked about this at the end of the season as well, that kind of run he had building up to this, but what has clicked for him? It seems like his decision-making, his ability to kind of know when to attack, when to look for his own offense, when to slow down, when to speed up, what has changed for him?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Well, I think he’s comfortable now and maybe he wasn’t too comfortable early on with me kind of in his ear a lot, but I was just trying to get him to play the right way and he’s done that here the last eight to 10 games. He’s really played his butt off. I’m so happy for him, man, because he’s caught more from me than anybody on the team and we’re benefiting from it, his teammates are benefiting from it. And we’re playing the kind of basketball that I kind of envisioned playing and he’s had a lot to do with it.
Q. Coach, I would be remiss if I didn’t ask this. I know it’s not on the opponent and everything, but your years in the league as a player and as a coach, is there a comparison for Murray that, “He reminds me of” blank, and if so, who would be that player?
COACH MIKE WOODSON: Oh, I don’t really compare players. I think it wouldn’t be fair to that young man. He has a pretty good all-around game himself already and I think the league, NBA guys kind of know that. I mean, he’s kind of put himself out there this year in terms of players throughout the country. I mean, he’s been consistent and solid all the way through their season. He’s going to be a good NBA player, I know that.
FastScripts Transcript by ASAP Sports