Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson spoke to reporters following IU’s 69-68 win vs Morehead State on Tuesday at Assembly Hall.
Woodson discussed the slow start, the issues on the floor, Anthony Walker’s performance, and more.
Below is the full video Q&A and transcript.
Q. Obviously lethargic start but then you storm back there with the run. What kind of taste do you have after that game? Are you disappointed where put yourselves in that situation or more pleased with the fight that you guys showed?
MIKE WOODSON: First of all, you’ve got to tip your hat to Morehead because they played a great game. I’ve been preaching all year, you can be beaten by any team. Doesn’t matter who they are, if you don’t come to play.
I thought at the start of the game we were flat, and like we didn’t even want to be out there. But finally we picked it up when our backs were against the wall, and we made plays coming down the stretch that we had to make in order to win the game.
I thought Malik’s defensive stop at the end was probably the biggest defensive play of the night, but at the seven-minute mark we were down 11, I think, and then our defense got better and we were able to make some shots. We’ve just got to keep working. We’ve got to get better in a lot of areas. Free throws, three-point shooting. We’re taking enough threes, we’re not just making them.
Q. Why do you feel you guys took so long to really get going, start attacking, be aggressive?
MIKE WOODSON: If I knew that, I could really answer that question. I mean, as coaches, we think we’re ready to play every time we step out on the floor, and it didn’t happen tonight. For whatever reason, it didn’t.
But at the end of the day, the guys made the plays that they needed to make to secure the win, and that’s what counts.
Q. You finished the game with a 20-4 run. Within that run, you out-rebounded Morehead 18-5, and within that Anthony Walker had five of those rebounds. Walker was consistent from the beginning. Just kind of illustrate his effort tonight and what it meant.
MIKE WOODSON: Phenomenal. He deserves the MVP tonight. He played 22 minutes, had 18 points, nine rebounds. By far his best game since he’s been wearing an Indiana uniform.
We needed every bit of it to win this game tonight.
He gets the game ball based on what he did tonight. But again, I’m not taking anything away from Morehead. They played a great game. I’m just pleased that we didn’t quit, could have easily thrown in the towel and said, hey, we’ll get ready for the next game, but we didn’t do that. We kept fighting and was able to get the win.
Q. Their guard Lathon No. 2 had 30 points but didn’t score in the last nine minutes. What was the adjustment there to limit him down the stretch?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, we really struggled with the pick-and-roll up top. It’s something that we haven’t done all year.
Then he got away. He made some tough shots. I knew they were going to go to him at the end, and I thought they got the switch that they wanted with Malik, but Malik just held in there and kept his ground and was able to get a tip, his hands on the ball when he shot it.
I thought Gallo started to really take the ball away from him some. When he got rid of it, I told Gallo not to let him get it back if he could so he was trying in that area to keep the ball out of his hands because he was basically the hottest player on the floor.
Q. You were down 11 at half and it seemed like it was a shorter conversation when you guys took the floor. What was that halftime conversation like in the locker room?
MIKE WOODSON: Well, again, it wasn’t real pretty. Based on how we were playing. We were awful. You’ve got to give them credit because they competed the first half.
Our fans don’t come out to see stuff like that. I was very disappointed.
We got it going late in that seven-minute mark is when we really dug in and did what we needed to do.
Q. With sort of Big Ten sort of approaching the season, right now after today, what is your biggest point of emphasis to your team moving forward?
MIKE WOODSON: Can’t concern myself with the Big Ten right now. We’ve got a game on Thursday. That’s Alabama — they’re the next team up.
Then we have another game after that, after the Christmas break. Then we start the Big Ten.
We’re two games away from the Big Ten. I can’t concern myself with that right now.
Q. When you put the effort you guys put in to Kansas, this team has looked forward to Kansas since the schedule came out, the next game, is that the game you’ve really got to worry about when you play? It seemed like they were slow coming out for most of the game.
MIKE WOODSON: That’s a great question. My thing is it should never be that way. When you’re playing this game of basketball, and especially when you’re playing here at home, you should never have highs and lows like that.
The Kansas game was a great game. I thought we did a lot of good things in that game, but we just fell short. That doesn’t mean you come back the next game and lay an egg to start the game. That’s unacceptable. That’s on me, man. I was very disappointed in how we played the first half. That should never be.
We’ve just got to — I’ve just got to keep working as a coach to get them better to make sure that we don’t put ourselves in that position again.
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