Connect with us

BASKETBALL

Indiana basketball set to begin offseason workouts

Published

on

The Indiana basketball program is set to begin offseason workouts in what is a critical next stage in its important offseason. (Indiana Athletics)

It has been a busy few months for the Indiana basketball program on the recruiting trail, but this week starts the next phase in its offseason.

Monday marks the beginning of offseason workouts for the team.

According to the NCAA, coaches are only allowed a maximum of two hours per week for ‘on-court and basketball-related skill training’. In total, they are allowed a maximum of eight hours per week with players. Most of that will be spent in the weight room.

For Indiana, it’s a critical time of the offseason with six new faces joining the program. Three players arrive from the transfer portal and three from the high school ranks as part of Indiana’s 2023 recruiting class.

With nearly an entirely different roster from last year, Mike Woodson will have his challenges — but at the same time, it’s an exciting moment for him and his staff. 

“I mean I got really seven new players and I gotta figure it out in terms of how we gonna play, who can do what,” Woodson said last week. “So I’m kinda anxious to see this next week. A lot of the guys are coming back this weekend and getting them in the gym and see who can do what.”

The main difference for the Hoosiers will be entering a season without All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis. The four-year Indiana standout is off to the NBA and Indiana will look for an entirely new system on the offensive end of the floor. For Woodson, that’s something that comes with experience, however.

“I’ve never coached a low-post player,” Woodson explained. ” … So there are a lot of things that I started implementing because again, it was new for me with the guy with his back against the bucket and giving him the ball and trying to design things to get him to basketball. I don’t have that anymore coming into this season and I can pretty much go back to my comfort zone and how we somewhat played in New York.

“The fact that we’ve added a seven-footer, a 6-10 guy, a 6-8 guy, I mean that helps us defensively when we do switch and it helps us at the rim. It helps us rebound it. I mean a lot of things that come along with adding longer, athletic, and rangy guys on your team.”

Indiana is coming off of back-to-back NCAA Tournament appearances and a 23-win season last year. 2023-24 is a critical season for Indiana in order to maintain the recent level of success its had in Woodson’s return to Bloomington and help bridge the gap between the Jackson-Davis era and the new era of Indiana basketball.

Indiana still has one available scholarship for the upcoming season, but it’s yet to be determined if it will be used.

SEE ALSO: Indiana basketball recruiting beginning to click on all cylinders: ‘I wanted to be able to sit at the table with the best players’

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. 

BASKETBALL

Indiana Basketball: Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway named captains for 2023-24 season

Published

on

Indiana basketball captains Trey Galloway and Xavier Johnson
Mike Woodson named Trey Galloway and Xavier Johnson captains for the Indiana basketball program ahead of the 2023-24 season.

Indiana basketball is entering a new era in its program but Mike Woodson is looking to lean on two veterans to help lead the team on the court.

On Wednesday during Indiana basketball media day, Woodson officially named sixth-year senior Xavier Johnson and fourth-year junior Trey Galloway the two captains for the 2023-24 season. Between the two of them, they have combined for 206 career games played at the college level. Both players are entering their third season under Woodson.

“Well, they’ve earned it,” Woodson said this week. ” … I named both of those two guys captains … I’m hard on captains. I’ve always been that way. Bob Knight was hard on me as a captain when I was here. You’re not given that title just to be given it. You’ve got to earn it, and you’ve got to be held accountable in terms of not only putting yourself in position to help us win, but getting guys to play at a high level around you. That’s important.”

Xavier Johnson has played in 45 games (45 starts) for Indiana. He’s averaged 11.6 points per game and 5.0 assists across two seasons. He’s shot 38 percent from three in 2.7 attempts per game for his IU career.

But, last season he broke his foot on Dec. 17 and missed the remainder of the year. That comes after a terrific end of the season in 2021-22 when he averaged 16.7 points per game and 6.9 assists to just 2.8 turnovers a game in the last nine games of the year. That helped lift IU to a NCAA berth.

“Unfortunately X didn’t get a chance to show what he did the first year last season because of his injury, and make no mistake about it, I say it, you guys probably couldn’t see it and didn’t write about it enough, but losing Xavier Johnson last year was huge for our team. I mean, it hurt us. We were able to regroup and recover from it, and a lot of that had to do with Jalen and the supporting cast. We just didn’t feel sorry. We got after it in practice and was able to maintain,” Woodson said. “X is back this year, and again, like I said, he’s done it a little bit longer than most of the young men that we’ve got on our team, so I expect more. He’s wearing that captain title on his head, so you’ve got to give me more, you’ve got to do more to help us win basketball games, and he will.”

Galloway, who has missed time each season to some extend with an injury, had his best season at Indiana last year. He averaged 6.7 points, 3.0 rebounds and 2.1 assists per game in 32 games. He ranked second in the Big Ten in three-point percentage at 46.2 percent.

This season, he’s expected to take a step up as a leader while maintaining his consistent play.

“My dad was a coach in high school, so I kind of learned a lot from him as a leadership standpoint because I was with him so much,” Galloway said. “But I think just kind of trusting my instincts and trusting myself because I’ve been in this position for a while now and I’ve been here four years, so I know what I’m talking about, and I think it’s going to really be important for me to be vocal and help those younger guys.”

Related: ‘Old Man’ Xavier Johnson’s return could be big for Indiana Basketball

The same goes for Johnson, who is clearly the most experienced player on the Indiana basketball roster.

“They (the coaching staff) get on me a lot about talking. I’m not the loudest guy, but I like to set everything by example. I like to lead by example,” Johnson said. “One thing I am one of the most experienced guys on the team this year, so they’re expecting me to lead by example and by my voice, honestly.”

Indiana basketball begins its official preseason practice on September 26. The unofficial start to the season comes on October 20 at Hoosier Hysteria.

The regular season begins on November 7 when the Hoosiers host Florida Gulf Coast.

SEE ALSO: ‘I want to win now’: Mike Woodson is done accepting mediocracy. He’s ready to take Indiana basketball to new heights.

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Continue Reading

BASKETBALL

‘Old Man’ Xavier Johnson’s return could be big for Indiana Basketball

Published

on

Xavier Johnson, Indiana basketball
Xavier Johnson talks to the media during the Indiana University basketball media day at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2023. © Bobby Goddin/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Xavier Johnson is not supposed to be here. He came into the 2022-23 year with the expectation that it would be his last at the college level.

Johnson joined Indiana in Mike Woodson’s first year and played a huge role in earning the Hoosiers their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2016.

“Well, I thought two years ago, make no mistake about it, we got in the tournament because of Xavier Johnson and his play coming down the home stretch,” Woodson said during his press conference Wednesday. “Last year was a setback year for him. We didn’t come into last season thinking that we would lose our starting point guard, and that was a blow for us in the stretch where we struggled to win games.”

Johnson came into the season with high expectations, but broke his foot against Kansas on December 17 and missed the final 24 games of the season.

“The toughest part was seeing my team,” Johnson said about his injury. “We went on a losing streak last year and I couldn’t really help them out, to get on the floor to really help them out, so I had to talk to them and just be the motivational speaker on the sidelines.”

Johnson was approved for a medical hardship waiver this summer allowing him to play one more season for Indiana. He is now in a new spot as he heads into the season coming off the first significant injury of his career.

“My whole career I’ve never been injured. This is my first time battling a major injury to my body,” Johnson said during Wednesday’s media day. “One thing the coaches have been preaching to me is about staying in the training room. Training room got to be my best friend.”

Entering his sixth-year, Woodson has seen how hungry Johnson is and knows how important he his to the success of the program. Johnson was named to The Almanac preseason All-Big Ten Second Team and expectations are high for his final season.

READ: Indiana Basketball: Xavier Johnson named preseason All-Big Ten Second Team by The Almanac

“I think he’s hungry. I’m sure it was the first time he’s ever been hurt where he’s missed practically the whole season, so he’s got to be hungry,” Woodson said about Johnson. “This is his last go-around. He can’t come — hell, how many years is this, six years for him? Hell, he’s an old man. Hell, he can’t come back for seven, so he’s got to give us all he can give us this year to make it right. But I do think he’s hungry, absolutely I do.”

With Trayce Jackson-Davis gone, ‘Old man’ Xavier Johnson has been thrust into a leadership role for the upcoming season. He was named a captain of the team and, with that, he had to work on some things to help him grow as a leader.

“They get on me a lot about talking. I’m not the loudest guy, but I like to set everything by example,” Johnson said Wednesday. “I like to lead by example. One thing I am one of the most experienced guys on the team this year, so they’re expecting me to lead by example and by my voice, honestly.”

With so much roster turnover, Johnson will have to play a key role in integrating the new talent, which will directly affect the success of this team. One transfer Johnson talked about on Wednesday was Kel’el Ware, the 7-foot center from Oregon.

“He’s a very versatile big. He can shoot threes and he can pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll, so that’s big time in the pick-and-roll game with me,” Johnson said about Ware. “Trayce couldn’t pop as much, but Trayce was leading throughout the rim. I don’t think nobody could stop him. But Coach Woodson is going to get him on the same track as far as pick-and-roll game.”

READ: ‘The word is out; they knocked you’: Mike Woodson, Kel’el Ware to use ‘lazy’ reputation as fuel

Johnson’s chemistry with Ware will be an X-factor for Indiana basketball. His connection with Jackson-Davis in the pick-and-roll offense was extremely important for Indiana and if the Hoosiers are going to have an effective pick-and-roll offense, Johnson and Ware will likely be at the center of it.

Indiana lost most of the team’s leading scorers from a year ago including the top two scorers Jackson-Davis and Jalen Hood-Schifino the NBA. Johnson seems confident that he and the guys around him have what it takes to replace the lost scoring.

“Before I came here, I was a scorer for my team. We didn’t win a lot, we didn’t have the same talent as well. I think I can still score the ball at a high clip,” Johnson said when I asked about his ability to score. “I got my teammates as well. I think Malik [Reneau] can score the ball at a high clip, I think Trey [Galloway] can. I think it’ll be different nights where we see a different person go crazy.”

While expectations for Johnson are high, it won’t be easy for him. Mike Woodson has emphasized he is harder on his captains than anyone else on the team, something  his former coach was known for.

“We’ve got to get better and practice on both ends of the floor. He’s got to play a role in that. I’m hard on captains. I’ve always been that way,” Woodson said about his captain. “Bob Knight was hard on me as a captain when I was here. You’re not given that title just to be given it. You’ve got to earn it, and you’ve got to be held accountable in terms of not only putting yourself in position to help us win, but getting guys to play at a high level around you. That’s important.”

Woodson will be relying on Johnson’s experience and leadership to help this team find its way after the departure of Jackson-Davis. With an extremely difficult schedule ahead, Xavier Johnson and the Hoosiers will have to figure it out fast.

“This year, X has played more basketball games in college than anybody on our ballclub,” Woodson said. “So I expect him to lead, be a point guard and be a leader on and off the floor and put us in position to win basketball games. That’s what it’s all about.”

SEE ALSO: Indiana Basketball Notebook: Key quotes, notes and more from media day

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Continue Reading

BASKETBALL

‘The word is out; they knocked you’: Mike Woodson, Kel’el Ware to use ‘lazy’ reputation as fuel

Published

on

Kel'el Ware, Indiana basketball
Kel'el Ware came to Indiana with the reputation as being 'lazy'. Now, he and Mike Woodson are using that as fuel this season. (Bobby Goddin/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

One thing that has come out of the Mike Woodson era at Indiana basketball? He isn’t going to sugarcoat anything. Whether it’s his performance, from his players or any of the media, he’s going to make sure everyone knows what he’s thinking.

He made it clear after Indiana lost to Miami in the Round of 32 last season that the personnel needed to get better. Once the transfer portal opened up — officially — he hit a potential home run with former five-star center Kel’el Ware. Ware, a transfer from Oregon, came into his freshman season as a projected lottery pick in the 2023 NBA Draft. That didn’t pan out for numerous reasons, but, one in particular.

His motor.

Whether it was from the Oregon staff or not, the reputation that Ware entered the portal with was one of ‘laziness’. By the time he committed to Indiana, everyone knew it. Including Mike Woodson.

“Well, when I recruited that young man I told him, you cannot go back and get what happened the year before. You can’t,” Woodson said at Indiana basketball media day on Wednesday. “The word is out; they knocked you and said, hey, you’re lazy, you don’t work hard, and if you make a commitment to me, that’s got to change.”

But, what Woodson has shown in his short time at Indiana, he’ll emphasize your weaknesses and turn them into strengths. That was exactly how he portrayed it to Ware.

“I’m not always the easiest coach to play for, but I’m in your corner and I’m fair and I want what’s best for you and my ballclub,” Woodson said. “He made the commitment to me, and I’m going to push him to play at a higher level to help us win basketball games.”

Kel’el Ware averaged just 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game a year ago. But, that’s not to say Ware didn’t have very good performances. In fact, he did. Ware had 18 points on 6-of-8 from the floor and nine rebounds against eventual National Champion UConn in November. He also had 17 points and nine rebounds against Michigan State the following game.

In a five-game stretch against UConn, Michigan State, Villanova, Washington State and UCLA, Ware averaged 12.6 points and 6.0 rebounds per game while shooting 61.8 percent on 2s and 50 percent from the field overall.

“He’s a very versatile big,” Indiana basketball point guard Xavier Johnson said. “He can shoot threes and he can pick-and-pop, pick-and-roll, so that’s big time in the pick-and-roll game with me. Trayce couldn’t pop as much, but Trayce was leading throughout the rim. I don’t think nobody could stop him. But Coach Woodson is going to get him on the same track as far as pick-and-roll game.”

So, as Ware settles into his role throughout his first season with the Indiana basketball program, one thing is for certain. He’s out to not only prove the doubters wrong … he’s out to prove himself right.

“Just to prove everyone was wrong. Show everyone I have a motor and keep it going on the court,” Ware said on Wednesday. “People say I’m lazy, just wanna show them I’m not lazy.

“Their (Indiana basketball) win now mentality is coming on to me now. I’m getting used to everything and enjoying it … I can give more.”

SEE ALSO: While motor is in question, skill is not. How Mike Woodson can unlock potential of Kel’el Ware for Indiana basketball

Make sure to follow Hoosier Illustrated on Twitter @Indiana_FRN, Facebook and YouTube to stay up to date on all of the news, updates and coverage of Indiana University athletics. You can also listen to the Talking’ Bout the Hoosiers podcast on Spotify.

Continue Reading

Trending