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‘We’re gonna have to add some pieces’: Indiana basketball facing critical few months ahead as it’s clear how far it is from where it needs to be



Indiana basketball
Another double-digit loss on Saturday makes way for the next conversation and how critical the next few months are for Indiana basketball. (Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports)

Following the 20-point loss to Purdue on Saturday night, one thing was clear — Indiana basketball needs to add a lot of talent this offseason. Despite some key pickups this summer, Indiana failed to do enough to keep its program competitive during Mike Woodson’s third season on the sidelines.

Saturday was the seventh double-digit loss from Indiana this season. It was also the fourth loss by at least 20 points.

Sitting at 14-10 overall and 6-7 in Big Ten play, IU has seen its 10 losses come by an average of 15.2 points per loss.

Why? It’s simple — the talent on this roster just isn’t good enough and that’s a clear fault of the coaching staff.

“We just got to continue to grow as a team, and we’re gonna have to add some pieces (this offseason),” Indiana basketball head coach Mike Woodson said postgame. “But the season’s not over with guys, we still have seven more games I believe to go and anything can happen. We have four of those seven at home, which we got to take care of our home court. We’ve got to win at home and then we got three games out on the road that we got to go and win. It’s just that simple.”

‘We’re going to have to add some pieces’. In the world of the transfer portal, that’s not a surprise. But, it’s an indictment that shows Mike Woodson understands he didn’t do enough this offseason. It also is a statement that highlights how far away Indiana is from being where it should and needs to be.

Indiana landed Kel’el Ware, Payton Sparks and Anthony Walker from the transfer portal. While Ware has turned into the player that many people expected coming out of high school, following a disappointing freshman year at Oregon, Sparks has fallen out of the rotation and Walker isn’t a game-changing player.

Indiana was heavily involved with numerous additional transfer targets this summer but were unable to land them. Guys like Dalton Knecht, Jordan Dingle and Chris Ledlum headline that list. Others like Caleb Love and Cormac Ryan add to it.

While the expectation was to have a healthy Xavier Johnson, in this day and age, you can’t rely on what you already have. Unfortunately, adding as much talent as you can is imperative.

Indiana failed to do so and even came into this year with one available scholarship.

So, results like Saturday — and most of the losses this year — have been consistent.

“I’m not frustrated,” Woodson said. “I mean, we have a young team that’s still trying to figure each other out.

“I thought our team the last two years was right there. I think we beat Purdue the last three out of four outings prior to this season. So I thought our team was pretty special last season and the season before,” Woodson said. “They (Purdue) have grown together. We revamped our team this summer with 10 new faces on our ball club and we’re young. I’m not using that as an excuse. I still expect to win. But it’s kind of caught us a little bit.”

That youth has had its growing pains. It’s been a huge reason for the lack of consistency.

The lack of leadership in a time of need, with the youth on the roster is unfortunately a failure this season.

“We had fault this season in spurts,” Woodson said. “We haven’t been able to just put 40-minute ball games together like we have in the past and that’s been some of the frustration. But again, for me as a coach, I’ve just got to continue to teach. We’ve got to continue to work and put the guys in the best position possible to win, and tonight was just not our tonight.”

The Indiana basketball program has a lot of questions to answer about the direction of its future. The next few months will determine if this year was just a blip on the radar. If it was a learning experience. If it was a one-year dip. But, it could also determine the long-term outlook for Mike Woodson.

Because it would be an even bigger failure to repeat this next year.

What will Indiana and, more importantly, Mike Woodson’s response be? Only time will tell, but with the season all but over, the real work begins.

SEE ALSO: ‘We lost our intensity, our focus’: Indiana Basketball was embarrassed once again by Purdue

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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.