BLOOMINGTON, IN - FEBRUARY 15, 2022 - Indiana Hoosiers Head Coach Mike Woodson during the game between the Wisconsin Badgers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. Photo By Andrew Mascharka/Indiana Athletics

“We’re playing right now” — Louisville’s Payne reveals schedule conversation with Woodson

“My thing is I like to get a team in position first before we start chasing the big boys.”

That was Mike Woodson a year ago when asked about his philosophy on putting together a nonconference schedule.

The schedule Woodson designed in year one reflected that sentiment of not rushing into tough games before his team was ready.  The Hoosiers faced the high-majors they contractually had to — St. John’s, Syracuse and Notre Dame — and the rest of the nonconference slate involved mid and low major foes.

But Woodson was in no mood to afford the same luxury of time when his good friend Kenny Payne was hired as the head coach of Louisville in March.

Instead, Woodson went with a full court press.

“‘Kenny Payne, we’ve gotta play right now,'” was Woodson’s not so subtle scheduling request, Payne shared at a Q&A session with Louisville season ticket holders on Monday evening.  “‘I don’t want you to say no, we’re playing right now.’

“And I was like Woody, I’ve only got five guys from my team last year, why in the world would I play you,” a smiling Payne continued.  “You know why you want to play, you’ll look good and I’ll look bad.  I know why you want to play.”

Payne’s posture is understandable.

Louisville is coming off a 13-19 season, and they only return 28 percent of their minutes from that team.  They didn’t make enough of a splash in either the transfer portal or the 2022 high school recruiting class to expect an overnight turnaround.

Just like Woodson needed time a year ago, Payne feels he needs a minute to ramp up.

“I need to be able to put together a schedule to where it’s competitive but also gives (players) an opportunity to be confident,” Payne said.

Indiana leads the all-time series with Louisville 11-9, with the most recent meeting coming in 2018, an IU win in Bloomington.

Woodson didn’t get his wish, as the Hoosiers won’t be playing Louisville in 2022.  But Indiana will face Kansas, Arizona, and to be determined opponents from both the ACC and Big East.

You can see what is know of Indiana’s 2022-23 schedule HERE.

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