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‘We’ve got to get better from a personnel standpoint’: Indiana basketball set to begin a new era



Mar 5, 2023; Bloomington, Indiana, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Jalen Hood-Schifino (1) forward Trayce Jackson-Davis (23) and forward Race Thompson (25) in the second half against the Michigan Wolverines at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

The 2022-23 season began with high expectations for the Indiana basketball program. Not only to compete near the top of the Big Ten, but as the favorites to win the league. Expectations were also to get back to a Sweet Sixteen for the first time since 2016.

Indiana had the pieces to do so. Unfortunately, the end result was short of the goals it had coming into the season. Despite that, many can say it was a successful season — especially how the team dealt with the injuries to key players all season long.

A Round of 32 blowout loss to Miami is the second-straight season the Hoosiers have been bounced by double-digits in the NCAA Tournament, however.

“This one is tough to swallow because I truly believe that this team had a legitimate shot,” IU head coach Mike Woodson said after the 85-69 loss. “As a coach, I put so much pressure and heat on myself to get teams over the hump, so I’ve got to take some responsibility for this one tonight.”

Led by consensus First-Team All-American Trayce Jackson-Davis and Big Ten Freshman of the Year Jalen Hood-Schifino, the Hoosiers were top-heavy with talent. But, the surrounding players were unable to consistently show up all year long and now the question is; where does Indiana go from here?

Without Jackson-Davis, who already announced his intention to leave, and Hood-Schifino, expected to leave for the NBA, there are two major holes to fill. Add in two more starters with Miller Kopp and Race Thompson, the Hoosiers will be losing 68.1 percent of the team’s scoring, 63.3 percent of rebounding and 65.1 percent of the assists.

That’s not including the potential for players to enter the transfer portal.

“We made a step forward based on where we were a year ago, but it’s not good enough as far as I’m concerned. It’s not,” Woodson continued. “We’ve got to get better from a personnel standpoint, and I’ve got to get better as a coach. I mean, it’s just that simple.”

And, it’ll likely start with a new system in place with no more Jackson-Davis.

“Trayce Jackson-Davis is the first center that I’ve ever coached in my career where I had to utilize my center as a post-up player,” Woodson said. ” … it’s the first time in my coaching career that I’ve had to coach a young man starting out on the block and expanding his game. I don’t know where we’re going to be next season in terms of how our style of play will be. But we’ve got to get better. I do know that.”

“Well, we’ve been able to put him in those positions in practice, and it’s been a nice carryover in the game. We’ve been trying to move him around out on the floor,” Woodson added. “And I think what’s helped him more than anything is the fact he’s been able to rebound the ball and push the ball out and initiate our break. We’ve given him the latitude to do that, and I think he’s fulfilled that position real well.”

The ‘x-factor’ for next season is that of senior point guard Xavier Johnson. Johnson, who suffered a season-ending injury on Dec. 17, is applying for a hardship waiver and will look to return to Indiana in the fall. If so, that’s a starting point that the offense can — and should — revolve around.

The second? Shooters. Indiana shot 36.8 percent from three this season but ranked 353rd nationally in attempted 3s per game (15.5) and 334th in made 3s a game (5.7).

Indiana’s top two three-point shooters in terms of volume are now gone in Kopp and Hood-Schifino. That leaves Trey Galloway and Tamar Bates as the two ‘shooters’ from this year … and Galloway isn’t a true knock-down and volume shooter while Bates has struggled with consistency.

“Again, when you’ve got good looks — last year we were in the top five in the country in getting wide open threes, and we didn’t make them. We had some good … It’s a part of the game,” Woodson said earlier this year. “I don’t try to put a lot or read a lot into it when we go through a stretch like this.”

The college game is going away from ‘traditional’ big men and is now revolving around 6-foot-7, 6-foot-8 scoring wings and veteran guards. That’s not what Indiana has been built on. Now, it needs to be.

Despite the roster turnover coming, there is still a full expectation that Mike Woodson has Indiana on the right path.

Now, it’s just about keeping the momentum he’s made in his first two years, in year three.

“I just think about just being part of the change really. Just two years ago, we were getting Booed in our home city, Indianapolis, off the court in the Big Ten Tournament. Just being in this moment two years later, it’s really special,” Jackson-Davis said about the direction of Indiana. “It’s really special to me to have the Indiana fans on your back and just cheering for you and giving them hope. It’s something that this program hasn’t had in a while. So I just thought it was really cool to be part of that and be part of that experience.

“I know this guy (Mike Woodson) right next to me is going to make sure that things stay in the right direction.”

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.