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Player Postgame Q&A: Indiana basketball players Gabe Cupps and Kel’el Ware react to exhibition win over Marian



Indiana Basketball

Indiana basketball players spoke with the media to discuss the team’s second exhibition against Marian on Friday night.

The players included were Kel’el Ware and Gabe Cupps.

Below is full Q&A and transcript.

Q. Kel’el, could you take us through what the last few weeks of practice have been like for you? Coach Woodson said he’s been pushing you a lot. And tonight to knock down three — scoring inside a little bit, how do you feel your game is at this point?

KEL’EL WARE: I feel like my game has just been evolved, and the more I get in shape, like Coach Woodson said, the past previous practice he’s been pushing me to run hard and all the coaches have. The more I get in condition, I feel like we’re going to be a better team.

Q. Gabe, you played a lot of minutes tonight. 22 minutes. You’re getting integrated into the college game, the speed. How has it been making that adjustment, and with the size, playing with guys like Kel’el Ware?

GABE CUPPS: I think playing extended minutes tonight kind of showed me that you can still get tired with those long media timeouts. But playing with guys like Kel’el, it makes the game a lot easier just to be able to read ball screens and be able to come off, like you can just throw it up if somebody’s not there or if they’re trailing it or if they can’t see the ball. So it definitely adds a whole other element to the game that makes it more fun.

Q. Kel’el, there’s a moment in the second half where you were fouled and your head kind of went down and your teammates came over to you to offer support. What does it mean to have their support through the game?

Kel’el Ware: It means a lot. Because if you do make a mistake, just leave it in the past, just move on to the next play, the next play, and just keep going until we win the game.

Q. Gabe, as somebody who has always has the whole offense in mind. What does a guy like Kel’el open up for you when he can step up from the 3-point line and move in space and obviously how he finishes around the rim?

GABE CUPPS: I would say he just creates a lot more space vertically and just throughout the court, especially to be able to step out and shoot like he can. Bigs can’t get detached from him.

If they go out and close out on him, he’s athletic and he moves well enough to be able to put it on the floor and back cut and throw lobs, be a threat vertically too.

Q. Gabe, you’ve been the catalyst for some really good defensive spurts for the second group, what have you guys been like in practice and what do you think that second group will be like in the regular season?

GABE CUPPS: I mean, I think we try to take it to the red team every day and we try to challenge them. So everybody just competes on our team, and I think when everybody’s going at each other and they have the thought in mind they’re just making each other better, that’s when you get a really successful team. I think I’ve done a good job in practice of just coming consistently and pressuring the ball all the time. When I get out here, guys usually aren’t as fast or strong as X that I’m guarding every day in practice.

I feel confident that if I can get up and pressure X every day, then I can come out here and pressure guys up the floor the whole time.

Q. Going off that theme of defense, there was a moment with about a minute left in the first half where Woodson called timeout and you guys kind of huddled and really kind of seemed like clicked especially from that point on going into the second half. What was said in that timeout and kind of how did you guys close out on the perimeter in the second half?

KEL’EL WARE: Well, we knew that they were a team that could shoot the ball, and so we had to just make sure that we get to the 3-point line, if they drive in, then of course we have bigs down there that could block, me, Malik, and Walk, he had a couple of blocks tonight. Just had to take away their two-points.

Q. A lot of your production has been in the second half after slow starts. What do you think gets you going and then what keeps you going?

KEL’EL WARE: I would say in the first half I’m sort of just moving at a fast pace when all I’ve got to do is just slow down. Once I slow down everything will just come to me and everything will open up for the team.

Q. Kel’el, Coach Woodson said he’s been kind of going after you to be more aggressive on the offensive end to help your game, particularly at the basket. Is that drill work? Is it sort of the mental kind of stuff trying to be aggressive with you? How does he try to coax that out of you and what has he done to help develop your offensive game?

Kel’el Ware: I would say it’s mental. Like I said, in the first half, everything would be sped up, when all I have to do is just slow down and everything will come to you, the floor will open, you’ll be able to see everything, instead of just rushing into a move to it.

Q. Gabe, you’ve been orchestrating the break a lot through the last couple of games. What does it do for the team when you get out and run?

GABE CUPPS: Coach Woodson has made it a point to us that we want to try to thrive in transition and get a lot of fastbreak points. Anytime I get the ball and see open floor, I want to push it and try to get guys easy shots. I think it’s deflating for a defense to give stuff up in transition, and with our ball pressure and our anticipation on defense, we can get out and run a lot. That’s good for us.

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Kyler Staley is a Basketball Recruiting Analyst for Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Kyler has been in the basketball recruiting industry since 2019 and is a credentialed media member. He has covered Indiana since 2021 while continuing to also work for Prep Hoops Indiana. He has previously worked for Rivals.