Mike Woodson has settled into Bloomington. The new office smell is gone. Mike has gone out and got true talent to trust him to nurture that talent, and to commit to Indiana University. He has gotten a rudderless program has gotten back on track. Time to really get to building on the momentum he had gained following bringing the Indiana Hoosiers back to meaningful March basketball. The next thing to be addressed is our offensive woes. This offseason Mike Woodson will seek to establish an offensive identity within the Indiana Hoosiers, I truly believe he can do it.
At times this year, Indiana’s offense seemed loss. That last stretch of regular season games were painful to watch at times. The manner in which our offense was coming out flat (largely in the second half for most of that final stretch), was truly astonishing at times. The team could look at times as if they had no game plan whatsoever on the offensive end. Which would often lead to Xavier Johnson having to try to win on his will alone, leading to poor shot selection and often stagnant possessions. Or it would lead to Xavier and Trayce Jackson-Davis playing their over the shoulder dish game in the post, that they would fail to connect on more often than not.
The lack of offensive structure and consistency was never more apparent than in that final tournament game against St. Mary’s. The juxtaposition between the Hoosiers’ and the Gaels’ offense was truly eye opening to just how shallow our offensive game plan could be. St. Mary’s was truly offensive, each man on the floor moving to open up the floor and create spacing for one another. They were operating like the gears of a finely tuned Rolex, while Indiana’s sense of creating space entailed of a two man game with 3 guys waiting on the wings stationary. If we want to compete consistently in the fatigue riddled games in March, we need to establish an offensive game plan, so deeply instilled in the Hoosiers, that they can almost pop into autopilot at their most tired, and still run it competently.
This identity doesn’t have to be complicated, we don’t need to reinvent the wheel. We just can’t have so many people waiting on the wings for a pass to come that just isn’t going to. We need to have off ball players creating opportunities. It’s not a total system rebuild. We can build upon the brighter points of the pick and roll that we were seeing between Xavier and Trayce earlier this season. Jalen Hood-Schifino and Malik Reneau ran a pick and roll dominant offense at national champion Montverde Academy. I see no reason why they wouldn’t come in and immediately be able to contribute to the offense. Their game should be able to translate immediately to the next level. Given this summer into next season, I think they could quickly gel and learn to work in harmony with some of our veterans come the season tip-off. That with the underlying potential for many of our players to contribute, with no potential ceiling higher than Jordan Geronimo, our team could be very dangerous.
The new weapons rolling into Bloomington next year are very promising. These new guys stand to potentially blow the roof off Assembly Hall each game. The incoming recruits skill levels are hopefully going to be something to behold. How will Mike Woodson utilize each of these guys’ skills and who’s skill will be brought to the forefront in the offensive gameplan? All questions that I believe Mike Woodson can answer this coming season.
Our defensive identity is present. Just keep sharpening that where you can. Here’s hoping we can still lock down a big body just for my own reassurance, but even then we are fine on the defensive end. Their attitude and commitment to a defensive game plan and identity must bleed into the other end of the court if we are to take the next step in our reemergence to national prominence.
Last thing, I’m not an offensive mastermind. I’ve never played a second of competitive ball passed the 8th grade. I don’t know what the answer is. I just trust Mike Woodson to know what it is. Here’s hoping that he can get the job done!