Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson addressed the media following the Hoosiers’ exhibition win over Saint Francis.
Here’s what he had to say:
Q: On Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau
Mike Woodson: “Well, again, they’ve been solid. They’re doing all the things that we’ve been working on for the last four and a half, five months now, and it’s nice to see practice is totally different than the game, but I always felt if you develop good habits in practice, it can be a nice carryover for you into ballgames, and I think that’s what’s happening to these two guys.”
Q: On Trayce Jackson-Davis, Malik Reneau and Race Thompson running the break
Mike Woodson: “No, they can do that. Trayce and Race did that last year for us. I’ve gotten away — and I started this in Atlanta coaching the Hawks, and when I coached the Knicks, I got away from the whole conventional way of, well, the big gets it off the board, he gives it to the guard, he brings it up. We’ve got a number of guys, we work on ball handling drills, that I feel good about guys making plays in the open court and being able to push to initiate our break.”
Now, until you prove me wrong, then I’ll scale you back and take the ball out of your hands and tell you that hey, you’ve got to play the conventional way. But Race, Malik and Trayce have proven that they can make basketball plays in the open court.
Q: On Jackson-Davis and Reneau
Mike Woodson: “Well, both can pass the ball and both can make basketball plays. It helps us in terms of how we run our offense now. I mean, they can both run pick-and-roll, they can both post the ball, and they’re smart enough when they’re double teamed to get rid of it to the right guy.
We’ve just got to continue to grow, get Malik in a really comfortable place where we’re not trying to put him in a bad position defensively because where Trayce is used to switching and guarding smaller guys, he’s not, and we’ve got to get him comfortable in that role.”
Q: On playing defense in college and his thoughts on defense
Mike Woodson: “Well, I tried to play defense, but Coach always thought I was probably the worst defender. I didn’t think I was, but he probably thought so. But I did what I was told to do, and that was put the ball in the hole.
But no, I talk about defense so much because of my experience not only playing for Coach Knight here the four years that I played, but that run that we made with that Detroit Piston team in the NBA when we beat the Lakers, that team defensively was — they will probably go down as the greatest defensive team ever, and I saw it up close firsthand, and I know it wins games. It won a championship for us.
I’ve got to push these guys in that direction. That gives us a chance, man, to be in every ballgame if we defend and rebound.”
Q: On Xavier Johnson
Mike Woodson: “Well, I told Xavier after the game, you don’t have to do it all this year. You really don’t. I think we’ve got enough pieces on this team that you can just do your part and not have to stress out about thinking you have to do everything. That was my words to him because there’s going to be nights X is going to really, really explode offensively and have big games, and there’s going to be nights that might not happen. But he’s still got to be Xavier Johnson for us. He’s still got to defend. He’s still got to get the ball where it’s got to go and set us up, break press defenses and things of that nature.
I mean, it’s just not his scoring ability. He’s shown he can do that towards the end of last year, and I just think right now he’s playing too fast. I’ve just got to slow him down and get him in a good frame of mind.”
Q: On C.J. Gunn
Mike Woodson: “Well, again, it’s the minutes that you get. He played well tonight, but he made a lot of mistakes from a defensive standpoint. You expect that from freshmen. I get it.
I’ve just got to get him where he understands that every possession counts. It’s important. You can take possessions off in high school and get away with it, but the talent level is too steep now in the college game, and you can’t take possessions off. That’s with all our freshmen.
He’s just got to keep working. That’s all I can tell him. Keep working.”