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Opposing View: What Kent State is saying about Indiana



Kent State Golden Flashes guard Sincere Carry (3) and guard Malique Jacobs (2) and forward Miryne Thomas (33) answer questions during the press conference at MVP Arena. (Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports)

Indiana’s NCAA Tournament gets underway on Friday against 13-seeded Kent State. The Hoosiers are looking to advance past the Round of 64 for the first time since 2016.

The Golden Flashes are 28-6 overall and winners of the MAC. They are looking for their first tournament win since 2002 when they advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to Indiana.

Here are some of the key quotes from Kent State head coach Rob Senderoff and players Sincere Carry, Miryne Thomas and Malique Jacobs ahead of Friday night’s matchups.

SEE ALSO: Everything Indiana basketball said previewing Kent State

Q. We were talking to Indiana. They kept talking about your defense and how impressed they were with it. What is it about your defense that makes it so good? And just how much do you guys pride yourself on really doing well without the ball? Any of you can answer it.

SINCERE CARRY: I think we just play hard and play through a lot of mistakes. If somebody gets beat on a dribble or we mess up a ball screen, we can pick up for somebody else’s mistake. But just communicate and play hard. Playing hard is the recipe to our great defense.

MIRYNE THOMAS: I would add to that that the tenacity of our defense and covering for each other, that really keeps us together. It keeps us as one.

Q. How much confidence do you guys get from your close losses earlier in the year to Gonzaga and Houston? Do you feel you’re better prepared now having gone through the conference schedule to face a bigger team like Indiana?

MALIQUE JACOBS: I think the close wins that we got and the close losses, the close games, it helped us out to stay composed during the last three minutes of the game. It’s a big part of us being here right now.

Q. You guys feel like you can play a little bit looser being the underdog, like there’s a little less pressure on you?

MALIQUE JACOBS: The way we play is play loose, play Kent State basketball. So we play Kent State basketball, we’ll make a good run.

MIRYNE THOMAS: I think the statistics speak for themselves, but our track record, this history also speaks for itself. So we might be an underdog lower seed coming into these games, but we know face to face we’re just as good as those higher seeds. So we’re excited to get to play.

THE MODERATOR: In a few moments we’ll have Kent State Head Coach Rob Senderoff.

We’re joined by Kent State Head Coach Rob Senderoff. Any questions, we’ll open it up.

Q. Coach, obviously the storyline, facing Indiana again, for you for the first time. Talk about going back into that challenge alone. You’ve been a coach there, so you know the challenges of being on that side and on this side now. Talk about that in itself.

ROB SENDEROFF: I mean, it’s an unbelievable program and an unbelievable team that we’re playing against tomorrow night. I have an incredible amount of respect for all the players on that roster, Trayce Jackson-Davis being one of the best in the country. Jalen Hood-Schifino being one of the unique talents in the country.

And Coach Woodson’s done a tremendous job, him and his staff, of playing in one of the best conferences in the league and having as much success as they’ve had.

So it’s certainly a big challenge for us tomorrow night, but one that we’re really excited about.

Q. One of the questions Indiana fans still have from your time at Indiana is like why did you guys do what you did that got IU put on probation? Can you kind of just take the fans through what happened, what the thinking was at that point in time?

ROB SENDEROFF: Quite honestly, I’m happy to answer that maybe at another time. I really think that the NCAA Tournament, it’s about the three guys that were up here from Kent, those players and their stories. The kids from IU that have tremendous stories as well and have been through whatever they’ve been through throughout their careers.

I feel like that’s what the tournament is about. It’s not about Rob Senderoff or what happened 20 years ago. As much as it’s about Sincere Carry and how did he make it to this point and how has Jalen Hood-Schifino developed as a player this year.

Respectfully, I’d be happy to talk to you about it at another time, but I really feel like the tournament, wasting that time on me is really not where I want to go today.

Q. You guys have been — really sort of made your name on defense. Your ball pressure, your ability to force turnovers. How do you balance not wanting to change what you do and wanting to just stay true to your identity when you face a player like Trayce Jackson-Davis that just kind of has the gravitational pull and the passing range he has out of the paint?

ROB SENDEROFF: It’s a great question and a heck of a challenge. He’s such a good player that, if you just do one thing against him, you’re going to be in trouble because he’s going to figure it out. He’s that good.

So we do have to create some turnovers, as you mentioned. They have tremendous size and physicality, IU does. And we’re going to have to stay true to who we are as a team. We got here because of how well we’ve defended and how many turnovers we’ve created over the course of the season, and we’re going to have to do a great job of that tomorrow night to have any chance against one of the best teams in the country.

Q. Two-part question. It’s kind of both how they relate on the floor. Your defense, why is it so good? What is it that really causes teams fits? Second question is on Sincere and how his game translates, especially on a level like this.

ROB SENDEROFF: How we defend is really there’s two parts to it. Some of it is personnel based. We have some tremendous individual defenders. Sincere was on the All-Defensive Team. As you know, Malique Jacobs was the Defensive Player of the Year. Both of those guys were on the All-Defensive Team last year as well.

So they are unique talents on that side of the ball. Then what we’ve tried to do as a coaching staff is put them in position as best we can to make as many plays as they can on that side of the ball.

You will see some trapping. You’ll see some digging it out of the post. You’ll see some full court man to man. You know, nothing that I’m telling you is something that hasn’t happened all year long. So you’ll see some of that, and hopefully that will allow us to create some turnovers over the course of the game or speed them up and make them take quicker shots than they would like to.

And as for Sin’s development, to me, he’s on the Mt. Rushmore of players that’s played at Kent State over the last 20 years. Obviously there have been some great ones that have come through, but he’s in the conversation among the best. I think winning this conference championship last week, tournament championship, and being here really solidified that for him individually. Then obviously how we play out here could move him even further up the ladder.

Q. Did you schedule Charleston and Houston and Gonzaga in part in anticipation of having your team ready for March?

ROB SENDEROFF: We did. When you return, we returned Sin and Malique, we brought in a transfer from Ball State, Miryne Thomas, who we knew was a really good player. We signed some new guys who we thought could help Chris Payton, in particular, as a transfer from Pittsburgh.

So we knew we were going to have a good team. We didn’t know how good, but we also knew we needed to challenge ourselves in the nonconference. As you know, following basketball and covering it as long as you have, schools from the MAC sometimes struggle to get games.

But we worked really hard. We played, like you said, in the nonconference, College of Charleston in a home and home, Northern Kentucky, who’s also in the tournament, we opened up the season at their place, Houston, Gonzaga. We also played Cleveland State, who was in the championship game of their league, South Dakota State, who didn’t have quite the season that they normally have, but still a very quality mid-major team coming off 30 wins. When we played New Mexico State and UTEP, we expected those to be really difficult games, and they were.

So we did that with a purpose, and I think our players would have confidence regardless because I think that’s just how they’re built, but having played that schedule and played some of these games as closely as we have, I certainly think it gives us confidence.

And at the same time, I think it gives the Indiana coaching staff the ability to tell their players like you guys have got to be on point because look at what they did in this game and that game.

So it does work both ways when you get here, but in terms of preparing for this moment, I think it certainly helped us.

So it’s a huge part of what’s allowed us. We’ve had success for a while now, and it’s a huge part of what’s allowed us to maintain a level of success is that family atmosphere that you brought up. I really appreciate the opportunity to talk again about that on this stage.


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



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.

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Big Ten announces Indiana women’s basketball 2023-24 schedule



Teri Moren, Indiana women's basketball

The Big Ten officially announced the 2023-24 schedule for the Indiana women’s basketball program on Thursday afternoon.

Below is the full release from the program and the official schedule for the upcoming season.

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – Indiana women’s basketball has announced the 2023-24 regular season schedule, including Big Ten matchups, on Thursday afternoon.

The season begins on Nov. 9 against Eastern Illinois at home inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. IU’s non-conference schedule features a pair of potential Top 25 matchups when it faces Stanford in Palo Alto (Nov. 12) and against Tennessee in the Fort Myers tipoff on Thanksgiving night in a nationally televised game on FOX at 6 p.m. ET.

Murray State (Nov. 17) and Lipscomb (Nov. 19) also visit the Hall in non-conference action as the Hoosiers will also travel to a neutral site game in Portland, Maine against Maine at Cross Insurance Arena.

IU will kick off Big Ten play on Dec. 9th when it travels to Rutgers. It will wrap up non-conference play against Evansville and Bowling Green State University before jumping back into league play on New Year’s Eve at home against Illinois. They wrap up a four-game homestand on January 4th by hosting Michigan.

The next six matchups alternate between home and away as it visits Nebraska (Jan. 7), returns home for Penn State (Jan. 10) and heads to Iowa (Jan. 13). Minnesota comes to Bloomington (Jan. 17) while the Barn Burner Trophy is up for grabs at Purdue (Jan. 21) in the first of two meetings between in-state rivals.

They then play their first of two meetings against Northwestern (Jan. 28) and at Maryland (Jan. 31). February begins at Ohio State (Feb. 4) before a two-game homestand against Michigan State (Feb. 8) and Purdue (Feb. 11) are on the slate. The Hoosiers are back on the road for Valentine’s Day at Wisconsin and at Illinois (Feb. 19).

Wrapping up the regular season, Iowa and Indiana meet for the second time on Feb. 22 in Bloomington before a final regular season road game at Northwestern (Feb. 27). The regular season finale will be at home for Senior Day when the program hosts Maryland (Mar. 3).

The Big Ten Tournament will be held March 6-10, 2024 at Target Center in Minneapolis. Game times and TV designations will be determined later.

2023-24 Indiana Women’s Basketball Schedule

Date Opponent Location
Nov. 1 Northwood (exh.) Bloomington, Ind.
Nov. 9 EIU Bloomington, Ind.
Nov. 12 at Stanford Palo Alto, Calif.
Nov. 17 Murray State Bloomington, Ind.
Nov. 19 Lipscomb Bloomington, Ind.
Nov. 23 Tennessee^ Fort Myers, Fla.
Nov. 25 Princeton^ Fort Myers, Fla.
Nov. 30 Maine# Portland, Me.
Dec. 9 at Rutgers* Piscataway, N.J.
Dec. 18 Evansville Bloomington, Ind.
Dec. 22 BGSU Bloomington, Ind.
Dec. 31 Illinois* Bloomington, Ind.
Jan. 4 Michigan* Bloomington, Ind.
Jan. 7 at Nebraska* Lincoln, Neb.
Jan. 10 Penn State* Bloomington, Ind.
Jan. 13 at Iowa* Iowa City, Iowa
Jan. 17 Minnesota* Bloomington, Ind.
Jan. 21 at Purdue* West Lafayette, Ind.
Jan. 28 Northwestern* Bloomington, Ind.
Jan. 31 at Maryland* College Park, Md.
Feb. 4 at Ohio State* Columbus, Ohio
Feb. 8 Michigan State* Bloomington, Ind.
Feb. 11 Purdue* Bloomington, Ind.
Feb. 14 at Wisconsin* Madison, Wis.
Feb. 19 at Illinois* Champaign, Ill.
Feb. 22 Iowa* Bloomington, Ind.
Feb. 27 at Northwestern* Evanston, Ill.
Mar. 3 Maryland* Bloomington, Ind.

*^ – Fort Myers Tipoff
# – neutral site game at Cross Insurance Arena
* – Big Ten matchup

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.

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



Xavier Johnson, Indiana basketball
Indiana basketball point guard Xavier Johnson was named preseason All-Big Ten Second Team by The Almanac on Wednesday. (Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports)

One of the top college basketball publications have released its preseason awards and honors for the Big Ten and Indiana basketball point guard Xavier Johnson was one of the recipients.

Johnson, a sixth-year point guard, was named to The Almanac preseason All-Big Ten Second Team.  Johnson played and started 11 games for Indiana last season before suffering a broken foot on Dec. 17 that kept him out the remainder of the season. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 assists per game last season.

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.

In 2021-22, Johnson averaged 12.1 points and 5.1 assists per game.

Johnson returned to Indiana last season after a terrific end to his 2021-22 season. Following a four game losing streak and the end of February, Johnson hit his stride in the last month of the year. In the last nine games, he averaged 16.7 points per game and 6.9 assists to just 2.8 turnovers a game. That helped lift IU to a NCAA berth.

“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,” Mike Woodson said at Indiana basketball media day on 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.”

Heading into this season, Johnson was named captain of the Indiana basketball program — a high honor, but one that comes with his effort and leadership throughout his IU tenure.

“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. “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.”

In five seasons between Pitt and Indiana, Johnson has played in 129 games (126 starts).

“This year, X has played more basketball games in college than anybody on our ballclub, 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,” Woodson added. “That’s what it’s all about.”

The 2023-24 season for the Indiana basketball program gets underway on Nov. 7 against 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.

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