Indiana is the basketball state.
Sure, others will claim that title, but this state’s gyms are larger than everyone else’s because we care more. Lines around the school to watch the latest star, coaches from across the country heading here and all eyes on the high school tournaments.
We’re proud to have produced names like Larry Bird, George McGinnis, Eric Gordon, Rick Mount, Brad Stevens, Mike Woodson, Matt Painter and literally countless others. If there’s basketball around the country on a big stage, someone from here probably has a hand in it.
This can be said of FAU’s Dusty May, coach of the breakout star Owls who stole the spotlight in last year’s March Madness run to the Final Four. They weren’t done either, bringing back all of that talent and knocking off Arizona the other day.
May is from Greene County, population 30,786, just a thirty minute drive from the campus of Indiana University. He was a Hoosier himself, working under Bob Knight as a student manager before beginning the coaching career that led him to Boca Raton back in 2018.
It wasn’t an overnight thing. May’s Owls didn’t reach 20 wins in his first four years before bursting onto the national scene with 35 last season.
As soon as FAU became a household name to the national audience so did May’s status as a former Indiana manager. Other former Indiana managers are college assistants, NBA scouts and... Hoosiers’ athletic director Scott Dolson.
The angle was inevitable: would May coach the Hoosiers one day? He’s from the state, went to college here and has a successful track record. Someone was going to ask the question and portions of the fanbase would be left to dwell on it.
But here’s the thing: you don’t have to.
May is a Hoosier. He went here, worked in the program and his name is on an Indiana University degree. That’s enough to be happy with right now, take some pride in another star from our state.
You can just leave it there. It’s okay.
Indiana has a head coach, his name is Mike Woodson. He just got here three years ago and is another celebrated alum. He put in the work on the court when he wore candystripes as one of the best players in the Big Ten.
He’s already produced a Big Ten Freshman of the Year that he recruited and developed alongside a First Team All-American that he inherited and coached up. Jalen Hood-Schifino and Trayce Jackson-Davis sing his praises any chance they get.
When a student yelled “I love you Mike Woodson,” at senior day he, mic in hand, replied “I love you more.”
When Rob Phinisee went to Woodson during a timeout against Purdue and asked for the ball, the latter ran a play to get him a shot. After, Woodson was quick to praise Phinisee in the postgame press conference and dismiss anything that happened before he got here: “You’re playing for Coach Woodson now, and he loves you.”
Trying to post another coach into the job when Woodson is only halfway through year three isn’t mindful of the work Woodson has done and continues to do. He’s signed half of Indiana’s top-10 all-time commitments in just three offseasons and got the program back to the tournament after a multiyear drought.
May? A fantastic coach in his own right. You don’t have to make him anything more than that, national voices will already be doing that work.
One of the bad sides of stories like FAU is everyone speculating on the coach’s next move. It happened with Micah Shrewsberry at Penn State. All the attention was on Georgetown and Notre Dame with many overlooking the work he’d already done, especially with stars like Jalen Pickett.
It’s missing the forest for the trees. We lose attention on some of the better untold stories in college hoops because a big job is about to open, too focused on the future to fully appreciate the present.
Mid-major programs don’t get the attention they’re due as is. There’s a better story to be written than putting a name on hot boards before the new year. You can just be happy for that, you don’t have to turn it into anything else.
May deserves better. Woodson deserves the same. Their teams deserve more.