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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.


Mike Woodson ‘always looking to better’ Indiana basketball with final available scholarship



The Indiana basketball program has one available scholarship for next season and Mike Woodson is 'always looking to better' the roster. (Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times-USA TODAY NETWORK)

As Mike Woodson and the Indiana basketball program approach the first segment of summer workouts, its roster is still not full.

Currently, the Hoosiers have one open scholarship for the upcoming season.

On Wednesday, Woodson made it clear — in order to compete at the top of the Big Ten and around the country, he’s ‘always looking to better’ Indiana basketball.

“We’re always looking,” Woodson said of his final scholarship spot. “Based on a lot of the players tonight that might pull out (of the NBA draft), there might be a player that falls through the cracks. I’m watching it closely and I’m always looking to better our team and if we can pick up someone, based on who falls through the cracks, then we will.”

The NBA Draft withdrawal deadline was May 31 at 11:59 pm and while there were some big names announcing their intentions on returning to college, Woodson isn’t going to go for just anybody.

With six new players coming in next season as of now, including three transfers, chemistry, role and fit are incredibly important.

“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. “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 role that Indiana needs to fill is on the perimeter. The Hoosiers are lacking the consistent knockdown shooting it needs in order to raise their ceiling this year. As of now, a lot is being put on the untapped potential of the roster … mainly the young pieces.

Indiana has five-star newcomers in Mackenzie Mgbako and Kel’el Ware. It also has core pieces returning in Xavier Johnson, Trey Galloway and Malik Reneau.

But, Reneau, Mgbako and Ware have combined to start just seven games at the college level.

The talent level is there, as is the versatility — something Indiana hasn’t had from top to bottom on its roster since Woodson took the program over.

When it came down to assembling the roster that is currently constructed, while the Indiana basketball staff had full control of the players incoming, there will be a taste of what Xavier Johnson wanted as well.

“Yeah, he asked me who I was interested in and I told him and we got a couple of the guys that I actually liked,” Johnson said. “We built a solid, solid team coming in.

“I would say from my watch, I think we have a pretty — a pretty unique, unique team. We’ll be more athletic than last year.”

So, as Woodson and the rest of the Indiana basketball staff look at its final scholarship spot, it’s one that is 100 percent open for use, but not one that will just be tossed around unless the specific skillset arises.

SEE ALSO: ‘It’s going to be my job to bridge the gap’: Mike Woodson’s vision for Indiana basketball is coming to life

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. 

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Indiana basketball senior guard Xavier Johnson gives update on his health: ‘I’m 100 (percent)’



Dec 10, 2022; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Indiana Hoosiers guard Xavier Johnson (0) reacts after a three point score against the Arizona Wildcats during the second half at MGM Grand Garden Arena. Mandatory Credit: Lucas Peltier-USA TODAY Sports

Besides the additions of Oregon transfer center Kel’el Ware and the commitment of 2023 five-star forward Mackenzie Mgbako, the biggest offseason win for Indiana basketball was the return of senior guard Xavier Johnson.

Last season, Johnson played and started in just 11 games before he suffered a broken foot on Dec. 17 after playing only nine minutes against Kanas. He would go on to miss the reminder of the season.

Towards the end of last season however, there were rumblings that Johnson and Indiana would seek a medical hardship waiver, which they opted to do, with the senior guard running out of chances to realistically get back into the rotation and contribute.

Going into the offseason, the potential return of Xavier Johnson quickly became one of the bigger storylines for the Indiana basketball program and on April 26th, it was announced that Johnson’s medical hardship waiver was approved by the NCAA. 

Mike Woodson and Indiana basketball had their starting point guard back.

“It’s been a long process, honestly,” said Xavier Johnson when speaking to the media on Wednesday night. “I had to see it all through, talked to my coach (Woodson) and my family. The best option was to come back to school just for the benefit of my health. I would say I thought I was gonna come back in February, late February, but I think it was best for the team just to keep competing (last year) without me and I’ll just be there to support.”

During the process of the medical hardship waiver application, there is not much that a college athlete can do but just wait and see what the NCAA decides based on the facts.

Waiting is exactly what Xavier Johnson did.

“I really just had to wait, honestly, I mean there’s nothing right to the process, but waiting,” Johnson added.

As a senior and the elite competitor that Xavier Johnson is, it certainly was hard for him to have to sit on the sidelines and watch his teammates at Indiana play without him for the second half of last season. When Johnson went down, the keys were given to freshman guard Jalen Hood-Schifino as the primary ball handler for the Hoosiers, who used that opportunity to play his way into a potential lottery pick in the NBA Draft.

Even though there was a chance that Xavier Johnson could have returned late last year, the best thing for Johnson in the long term was to sit out and have a better chance at coming back this season and playing a full senior campaign.

When Johnson got the word that his wavier was approved by the NCAA, you can say the wait was well worth it.

“It was a long process of getting my waiver, but once I got it, that weight was off my shoulders.” said Johnson.

“Coach (Woodson) called me and asked me if I wanted to transfer. I was like ‘what you mean do I want to transfer? Did I not get my waiver?’ He was like ‘yeah you got your waiver. Do you want to come back and play for me?’ I was like ‘yeah!’ (laughter).”

Besides Johnson, there might not be a happier and more excited person on this earth to know that his starting point guard, his senior leader, is returning to help captain the 2023-24 Indiana Hoosiers than Mike Woodson.

The coach-player relationship that Mike Woodson and Xavier Johnson have built these past few seasons is truly special. Woodson has a special connection with his point guards and really understands the value of having a great one like Johnson.

And as far as Xavier Johnson’s health heading into the summer portion of the Indiana offseason?

“I’m 100 (percent),” Johnson simply and confidently said.

SEE ALSO: ‘I think we are getting into more of what coach Woodson wants’: Former IU basketball player Christian Watford discusses Hoosiers offseason

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. 

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Indiana basketball: Kel’el Ware among thirty-five athletes to participate in USA U19 Men’s National Team Training Camp



Indiana’s Kel’el Ware Among Thirty-Five Athletes to Participate in USA U19 Men’s National Team Training Camp - 5/31/2023 12:00:00 PM - Photo Credit: Indiana Men's Basketball

As announced per an Indiana basketball release, sophomore center Kel’el Ware was among thirty-five athletes selected to participate in USA U19 Men’s National Team Training Camp.

In April, Ware announced he was transferring to Indiana after spending one season at Oregon. Ware averaged 6.6 points, 4.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks per game in one season at Oregon.

Below is the full release.

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – USA Basketball today announced the 35 athletes expected to participate in the 2023 USA U19 Men’s National Team Training Camp at the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Camp begins June 11 with the 12-member team to be announced before departing for the 2023 FIBA U19 Men’s World Cup Championship, scheduled for June 24-July 2 in Debrecen, Hungary.

Included in that list is IU sophomore center Kel’el Ware who is joining the Hoosiers after spending his freshman season at Oregon.  He represented USA Basketball winning a gold medal at the 2022 FIBA U18 Americas Championship in Tijuana, Mexico.  In six games, he averaged 15.7 points and 6.8 rebounds while shooting 67.2% from the field in 19.4 minutes per game.  He also had 11 blocked shots.

He played for the 2022 USA Nike Hoop Summit Team that defeated the World Select Team 102-80 in the 23rd Nike Hoop Summit and came off the bench to score 11 points on four-of-five shooting from the field and also grabbed five rebounds.

At Oregon, the North Little Rock, Arkansas native played 35 games and started four as a freshman for the Ducks.  He averaged 6.6 points and 4.1 rebounds in 15.8 minutes of action per game and led the team in blocked shots with 45.  His best game of the year was an 18-point, nine-board effort against eventual national champion, UConn.  He also had nine rebounds against Michigan State.

Athletes attending training camp were selected by the USA Basketball Men’s Junior National Team Committee.  Athletes eligible for this team must be U.S. citizens, born on or after January 1, 2004.  Nearly half of the athletes have prior USA Basketball experience. Ten invitees have won a gold medal as a member of a USA Basketball junior national team.

Supporting as court coaches during trials will be Jonas Hayes (Georgia State University), Kevin Kruger (UNLV), TJ Otzelberger (Iowa State University) and Micah Shrewsberry (Notre Dame).

The United States will square off with Lebanon, Madagascar and Slovenia in pool play.

The U.S. will face off against Lebanon and Madagascar for the first time at a 2023 FIBA Men’s U19 World Cup. The U.S. own a 2-0 record against Slovenia at the U19 World Cup.

The United States has won the competition eight times, including three of the last four competitions—in 2015, 2019 and 2021.

SEE ALSO: Kel’el Ware ready to make big impact for Indiana basketball: ‘(I’m ready) to prove everybody wrong’

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. 

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