Mike Woodson has all the tools to create an offensive identity for the Indiana Hoosiers. Short Thoughts.

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!

Mike Woodson is showing us he can recruit. Now it’s time to prove he can develop. Short Thoughts on Jordan Geronimo.

Jordan Geronimo ended last season showcasing some of his superb athletic capabilities. Through the Big Ten Tournament and into the First Four game, Jordan began displaying bits of his potential. While he wasn’t getting any starting lineup love, he was given prominent minutes in our tournament run, including the Big Ten Tourney). Jordan Geronimo’s 15 pts against Wyoming were essential in locking up and validating our tournament bid in that First Four game. He has showed hints of truly elite and dominant play. But has yet to string it all together for any substantial amount of time. His raw ability and athleticism are present. I believe he just needs to tighten up his game and grow in consistency, and this 2022-2023 Hoosier squad that is beginning to take shape is just the team to do that on.

Whenever I reflect on our more recent teams I often find myself comparing them to the teams that I was most familiar with, the teams that were playing in the Hall during my time on campus (2011-2015). Which in the context of wanting to see a raw talent blossom into an NBA talent, may be unfair to Jordan, because I was consistently in the Hall to witness Oladipo’s development into the second pick in the NBA draft after entering Indana University as a 3-star recruit out of the DMV.

That being said, I genuinely believe there is a chance that the Jordan Geronimo we see next season could be a shocking surprise to those not on watch for it. In my personal, and very biased opinion, Jordan Geronimo can absolutely improve to an elite level by next season’s tip.

This will be Jordan Geronimo’s 3rd season within the Indiana Hoosier’s program, his 3rd season training in Cook Hall and its many resources. I feel it in my bones, this is the year that Jordan Geronimo takes the jump. Pure conjecture here, but he sees that more and more talent coming in means less and less minutes up for grabs. The frame and game is there for Geronimo, he now needs to work to sharpen his strengths and address his weaknesses. This offseason could potentially be career defining for Geronimo.

With Malik Reneau and Jalen Hood-Schifino already well acquainted with each others’ game and tendencies, much of those being shaped by Montverde’s pick and roll oriented offense, I think they can easily fold into whatever scheme Mike Woodson comes up with. This offense stands to be moving with a rhythm and tempo that has been lost in Bloomington for quite sometime now.  This is going to open up the floor, and not allow defenses to simply target our one producer in a given night, an occurrence that seemed all too familiar with anyone watching the second half of last season. These new opportunities allow guys to develop, by allowing hot streaks to play out. It’s in those hot streak moments where guys start to see what they can truly do on the court. It’s about getting as many of these guys to believe that they can go off at any moment by tournament time. The confidence truly bleeds into the player’s game and onto the court. I think a more fluid offense will help enforce this confidence for each player across the board.

If Jordan Geronimo can take this offseason to fill up the tank, gain some more muscle, work on that jump shot, and see that his game is going to be best used banging at the rim. I could see him being a key piece in our starting lineup by March. While shooting will be key, we’ve seen that from time to time he can still shoot. Again the guy has shown glimpse after glimpse of his potential. He just now needs to put it all together.

He needs to be the focus of moments like these.

Mike Woodson is showing that he can recruit. Now it’s time for him to show that he can develop. This will be Mike’s year ro prove that he can take the guys he’s getting and make them even better. This offseason for him will be crucial for the development of the program as a whole. If he is able to invest enough into Jordan Geronimo’s development, I think he stands to gain a rather impressive feather for his cap.

This article was written by a total biased fan boy. Just writing to pass the time until he can sit back and watch the candy stripes get back at it in Assembly Hall. Pure conjecture. Pure anxiety therapy.

LUX ET VERITAS!

Why you shouldn’t be too worried about Trayce Jackson declaring for the draft. Short Thoughts.

No reason to go scorched Earth yet people. This is all part of the process for a guy in the position that TJD finds himself in. While many are freaking out that there goes another leaving, there is no reason to be seriously worried that Trayce won’t play for the Hoosiers just yet. While throwing his name into the draft may seem like his exit from Indiana to those unfamiliar with the process, I personally don’t believe he is all in on the draft just yet.

This is all Trayce Jackson-Davis jockeying himself for the best possible position after next season. While he declared this year, he has up until June 1 to back out and retain his eligibility. But having declared allows for him to workout with NBA programs and attend the combine next month. Doing all of this allows Trayce to get insight into where he stacks up talent wise, but more importantly gives him critiques to his game straight from the people drafting in today’s NBA. These workouts will be essential towards Trayce finding out just what he needs to address in his game to prepare for the league next year.

Who can blame him. If he’s still able to retain his eligibility and participate in pre draft activities, what is there to lose for him? I imagine he will continue to work out with the team and use the Indiana facilities and when he’s not he may be training with some elite NBA trainers and others that will definitely aid him and tell him exactly where he stands to improve in order to maximize his potential. By doing this process this year, and even attending the combine, he will be able to learn even more about the draft process. A practice draft for yourself isn’t a bad thing to have.

We need these two both steering this ship next season!

I don’t believe there is any way that we stand to lose Trayce next season. Trayce Jackson-Davis doesn’t seem to be on many mock drafts as of late, and he and his corner are well aware of this. No way they would put him in anything other than his best possible situation. And all things considered, Indiana is just that! Indiana by all barometers (albeit not very calibrated in the days of NIL deals) Indiana stands to be a team on the national radar next year. With young talent coming in, and a wide open transfer portal Indiana could put a mean team on the floor with Trayce at the helm.

Trayce knows how much Indiana fans love him and I think he’s one of the few guys on the squad that truly gets how prestigious a role, and how great an opportunity they have playing for the Hoosiers. He still stands to make more at Indiana under the Name Image and Likeness deals than he does playing in the G League. While I believe Trayce has NBA talent, and while I may be biased, I would think he wants to take this final year to put it all together with a contender and boost his profile playing on a hyped up Hoosiers team.

All of this to say, I do not speak for TJD! Whatever his next year holds I’ll be following it for sure… but man I really, really hope it’s in Assembly Hall. Trayce Jackson-Davis has absolutely earned his pinstripes in Bloomington. Here’s to his future and here’s to it hopefully being as the chief of the Indiana Hoosiers next season.

Looking forward to tons of “I’m Coming Home” tributes when he announces a return.

That song’s an absolute tune.

LUX ET VERITAS!

The way too early pre-season rankings mean nothing really, but slight evidence that the Indiana Hoosiers are righting this ship. Short thoughts.

Well there’s a little faith booster for you. While these ultimately mean nothing, it means we are on the radar. CBS writer Gary Parrish said on the Hoosiers in his 19th spot, “The Hoosiers’ ranking is based on Indiana returning the top three scorers from a team that made the NCAA Tournament – among them Trayce Jackson-Davis, who could be a candidate for Big Ten Player of the Year. Indiana’s recruiting class is ranked in the top 20 and highlighted by 5-star guard Jalen Hood-Schifino”.

ESPN staff writer Jeff Borzello ranked the Hoosiers 21st saying, “Trayce Jackson-Davis falls into the same category as Cockburn, Dickinson and the UNC and UCLA players — not projected to be drafted in 2022 at this point but could certainly opt to leave. If Mike Woodson does get Jackson-Davis back, however, Indiana will return most of the core that got the Hoosiers back to the NCAA tournament. Miller Kopp was the only senior, and he appears likely to return for another year. Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson are back in the starting lineup, and Woodson had other options in Trey GallowayJordan Geronimo and Tamar BatesJalen Hood-Schifino is a top-25 recruit, and I’m very high on fellow incoming freshman Kaleb Banks.”

While ultimately, these “far too early” preseason top 25s mean less and less now the the transfer portals come to be more active than any professional free agency, but Indiana fans should see this as a great validation in our reasserting of the Indiana University basketball program. The Hoosiers under Mike Woodson in their first year have established a trend upward in national prominence. While our end may have ended in an objectively terrible fashion, however you may try to defend what the game against St. Mary’s was (tired, overworked, etc), our team’s season was still a success. We know the ultimate success is a national championship but it doesn’t happen overnight and having made the tournament is a genuine success for any coach in his 1st year following a firing of the prior head coach.

We are on the national radar. And that is the first step back to prominence. We need to be in the discussion to go and get the guys that will absolutely cement us as one of the top programs in the nation. By finding ourselves ranked in the preseason (albeit these will shift drastically with the transfer portal) it’s fair to say many will have their eyes on the Hoosiers, most rooting for us to fail, but nonetheless watching us. Getting into the mix is a step in the right direction for a program that lacked direction under Miller’s tenure.

After the ephemeral drought that was the Archie Miller era. Mike Woodson has immediately started steering this ship in the right direction. Say what you will about all these transfers. But that is just the nature of the beast now, and I genuinely believe that both Indiana University and the guys leaving mutually benefit from the breakups. All the guys leaving are not irreplaceable and we also can free up room for the needs of our team that truly need addressed. Least of which are shooting and a larger presence in the paint.

And again, these rankings don’t mean a thing. But it can lend insight into the thoughts of the nation in general and often manipulate thinking of the people reading these rankings. Just glad to be on them and be a topic of discussion and observation for fans outside our fine state.

Also…

Purdue finds themselves behind us among all of these pre season rankings, and I’ve got to say I’m not surprised… Ivey’s gone. Painter’s a proven dud, and that loss to St. Peters, whatever you think about that team, was the type of loss that leaves a shadow, a stink on your program for a few years to follow. Not good Matt… not good.

How inept do you have to be not to exploit this matchup nightmare? They don’t come up to the Big Man’s shoulders.

While the transfer portal could have these shifting by the hour, we currently sit higher than little brother. After all of the frustration from Xavier Johnson’s latest actions, it is nice to get a win. As small and meaningless as it is, the nation thinking we are going into next season better off than Purdue has me feeling just a minuscule amount better. And I’ll take it!

We comin’ for your job next year Matt.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Final Statements, Mike Woodson needs to back Xavier Johnson in this moment (optics people. optics.) Short thoughts.

I posted why I thought Xavier Johnson should be held to a 5 game suspension in order to reconcile (hardly) for the charges brought against him, barring any further ramifications. I read many of the comments and the discussions across a few platforms and just wanted to elaborate a bit on what there is to lose from a potential dismissal.

I know the arrest of Xavier has been the subject of our discourse for the last few days, I just really want to alleviate, even a little, those calling for a Xavier Johnson’s dismissal from the program that is so dear to so many of us. I want to make make the case that whatever you may think, if this ship can be steered in the right direction, Mike Woodson stands to gain a significant feather in his coaching and recruiting cap.

Many of those calling for his head, point to the stupidity of the actions that Xavier made the night of his arrest. And I am not here to defend those actions as they are just that, stupidity incarnate. The dumb decisions of a truly unappreciative individual. The actions made by Xavier Johnson were incredibly air headed and dangerous.

But for the betterment of the Program, I say those in power to do so have to aid Xavier in rehabbing his situation and his character altogether. Mike Woodson can’t simply turn his back on a guy that chose to come and contribute to Indiana Basketball. Yes, I get that he doesn’t have the perspective to truly appreciate the situation he finds himself in. But where better to instill that in him than Indiana University?

Being a starter for Indiana University, heck as a player at all, is a role that kids dream of, that many of us taking the time to read about Indiana Basketball and consume it religiously would have killed for. A role that Xavier Johnson has truly, undoubtedly, and absolutely taken for granted. While that alone can piss any of the Hoosier Faithful off to no end, for the sake of the Program we need to look for anyway to make this story have a happy ending.

I’ve seen many people arguing that they would never do this. While I get the reasoning, its a fairly narrowminded way to frame this situation. We don’t know Xavier Johnson’s upbringing. While some may have had parents and a network coming up that instilled core beliefs of discipline and proper societal decorum, we can not speak to the upbringing of others. We can not speak to his life experience. This man needs personal accountability. And ultimately maybe it will take losing everything for him to appreciate anything, but I really hope we can exercise our options before calling for Xavier to be booted out the door.

IF ONLY FOR RECRUITMENTS SAKE!!!

In the days of some people backing Juwan Howard’s actions as defending his team, optics are everything. When times get tough the recruits around the nation want to play for a guy that will go to the mat for them. And while this is for better or worse, it is what it is in today’s recruiting game. We need to adapt or continue to live in our stagnant state. Hoping to get back to the Indiana days of old is becoming more and more a pipe dream in the ever evolving days of the NIL and more and more extensive recruiting. The top tier athletes are pampered because they’ve been hearing they’re the best all their lives. Because for most of them it is true. This is just the nature of the beast now. The carrot beats the stick on the recruitment trail these days. If we want the best, we need to play the game. Rehabbing Xavier’s character and perspective will greatly aid Mike Woodson in the frontier that is recruiting today.

What presents a better image and representation of Indiana University, kicking him out the door, or proving to others that you leave Indiana University a better person than you arrived?

All this being said, we don’t even know he’s cleared the justice system yet. So by God, who knows…

LUX ET VERITAS…

“The Honorable Judge Mike Woodson” (Thoughts on the Xavier Johnson charges and how this could be handled).

So I’m sure everyone has read the news being spread around regarding Xavier Johnson’s arrest… and boy it does not sound great. If you haven’t heard the details here’s a solid, to the point explanation. I don’t feel like really retreading the details here. While Xavier was included in those previous “curfew violations” that resulted in self imposed suspensions for those players involved, this one is far more serious. Whatever those previous curfew violations entailed of, I can’t imagine that they were potentially so dangerous.

Driving 90 down Walnut Ave. for anyone unfamiliar with Bloomington, IN is an absolutely bananas move. This should result in some games missed for the Hoosier guard, that much of our success may hinge on next year. While I know we have some serious guards coming into the program next year, we will still need Xavier’s game to develop so he can contribute at a high level if our team wants to build on this year. Such an absolutely terrible look for Xavier Johnson. I am just so happy for this young man that he hadn’t been drinking prior to his flight from police.

It’s inexcusable but I am going to cut him some slack. While extremely dangerous and stupid, in such a pedestrian and bicyclist community like that area of Bloomington is, this behavior is truly reprehensible. But we need to remember that while these guys are top of their level athletes, they are still relative children. They are still learning how to conduct themselves and operate within the “real world”. They are superstar celebrities in this world. Especially in Bloomington. I’m self conscious as it is. I couldn’t imagine being ogled everywhere they go around Bloomington, as they are.

It’s moments like this that can either be the worst or the best moment in a young man’s life. For Xavier Johnson, the challenge isn’t defending your actions. The challenge is addressing the issue and finding out how you conduct yourself from this moment on. This needs to be a learning opportunity for a boy to realize what it takes to be a man and not a menace. Ruining a young man’s life is no way for this story to end. Xavier needs the opportunity to rebound from this. And hopefully even look to commit harder to his game so as to avoid the more destructive distractions that may present themselves from time to time.

For this reason I really hope that no heavier toned facts come out. Because at this current stage I believe this is repairable. No one was hurt. While people possibly could have been, thank the Lord above that no one was injured during the course of these events!

All that being said think about the Good Book itself, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone” John 8:7. Especially some of us kids in Bloomington for our college years. I’ll be the first to say while I never endangered others so drastically I still am not without fault. Kids learn from their mistakes, you just hope none of their mistakes are irredeemable. For this reason I hope Mike Woodson seeks to use this as an opportunity to show mercy and investment in these boys rather than just wield a strict hammer of discipline to make an example out of him on the exact opposite end of the spectrum. I think Mike Woodson’s handling of this situation and Xavier Johnson’s next season could speak volumes to recruits one way or another. Show these guys that we don’t give up on the boys who choose to throw on the Cream and Crimson and show them that we are invested in making these sometimes naive boys, great men.

On a separare note, sadly for Xavier Johnson the big ten is home to some of the most passionate and educated fans and home court advantages there are. And unfortunately this will be brought up each time he goes to the line this year. Every stadium he goes into chanting some b.s. about this crime, it’s not going to be fun for him. I hope that he can persevere and find a sense of peace, maybe this will aid his game on the court, slow down his own mind and maybe he will slow down his game a bit. I believe that Xavier Johnson could be an Indiana great if he were able to slow down and let the game come to him. Maybe a long reflection is exactly what the doctor ordered.

I would have to hope that we will make him sit 4 or 6 of the first games of the season. Following that, let him get back at it. We need the development of Xavier Johnson to continue to contend. Let’s not give up on this one!

LUX ET VERITAS!

Thad Matta Leaves Indiana for the Butler Head Coaching job. Short thoughts.

Alright, so another unexpected departure in the Woodson era. But this one should be seen as much more comforting and I don’t think there should be much issue with anybody from it. I was so pleased when I read the news on this hire. Thad Matta taking the Head coaching job at Butler is great for him! I have to think anyone with a grain of sympathy or a grain of intelligence, should know this is for the best, while we will miss his input on our program. If the man wants to coach and he finally sees that he can again, he should get out there and coach.

After his tenure aiding Mike Woodson in structuring his program, an opening has presented itself to Thad Matta and I wish him all the luck running the Butler program, so long as it isn’t against Indiana.

He’s heading home and good for him. He’s been battling illness while he’s been getting older and him accepting this job is a sign of good things for him and his family. Heading up a program as Head Coach is no job for somebody who can’t get up and get at it to get recruits while managing the guys you got. So I hope this means he’s got a full tank and can get a second life as a head coach. Just stay outta the Big Ten Thad and we won’t have any problems.

With his all-time record at 439-154. Thad Matta brings a breadth of knowledge to the Butler Bulldogs that can rival any active NCAA coach. His tenure at Ohio State should be known all too well to us Indiana fans who found themselves on the receiving end of much of those teams’ success.

That head coaching record places Thad Matta at 4th in best winning percentages among all active NCAA head coaches. While already revered throughout College Basketball, Thad is looking to even further cement himself in the history of the game. If he’s able to win anything of significance for the Butler Bulldogs I don’t see how he doesn’t go down as a truly great coach within collegiate basketball history. While still not winning a title is a black mark on the record, he will go down as one of the more storied coaches there are.

Indiana fans shouldn’t feel too bad for the departure either. Mike Woodson seems set to run the program as he likes. For better or worse, we shall see. If he needed Thad’s input Indiana would throw any and all necessary cash his way to keep him on within his pseudo-advisory role. While I would think I’d be fine and comfortable getting paid by Indiana to advise on basketball, apparently Thad wants another crack at it and thinks he’s up for it. More power to him. I sincerely wish him all success that doesn’t directly interfere with that of the Hoosiers. While yes, he is going to an instate school, we don’t deal with them enough for this to be a problem!

Going back to coach for a second time at his Alma Mater is a great privilege. While Butler hasn’t been the Butler of the Brad Stevens days, it’s still a very storied program. Cheers to them for going to Thad with the job offer. Ya gotta love a school going and getting one of their own. Almost like promoting from within. Ya love to see it in business, and ya gotta love to see it in basketball programs. Indiana made that move, and now Butler is as well.

Here’s to Thad’s second wind and here’s to him remaining healthy enough to start up his career again at age 54. Man… I thought he was older than that.

LUX ET VERITAS!

Why you should not be concerned about the Indiana Hoosiers entering the often feared Transfer Portal.

Everyone who sees the four most recent players to enter the transfer portal, you need to think about the circumstances pertaining to each players future, and just what the transfer portal stands to be in the age of the NIL (Name, Image, and Likeness) agreement. So I’m going to write this in order to talk the less rational off the ledge and to put some minds at ease.

In 100 years when people look back on the history of NCAA Basketball, I honestly believe that the history will be divided and discussed in terms as two different eras, the pre-NIL era and NIL era. The ability to capitalize financially on your brand has established an unprecedented and monumental shift in the landscape of college athletics.

You know who can’t make a cent of the millions upon millions of dollars to be made by student athletes now? Athletes with dwindling play time. Many people think that the NIL agreement would mean the top schools with the largest fanbases will get the largest name recruits. Which will be the case. But think about the 8th, 9th, 10th, or 11th guy on a squad. You honestly stand to make more money on endorsements by being the 1st or 2nd top billed guy within a mid level fanbase. So for all the athletes out there who realize that the NBA doesn’t seem like a valid possibility, it’s time to go out and make the money and find opportunity while you can. And none of these athletes should be demonized for it.

This is the new normal folks. Guys who see more earning potential for themselves elsewhere are going to be going into the portal. The 2nd guy on a mid major probably stands to make more in the age of NIL than the 8th or 9th guy at a power 5 conference. College town businesses will look to make deals with them far more often.

And just to express my speculation as to the reasoning, let’s just take a look at the 4 who have decided to test the waters of the portal this year, and where each of them currently stands within the program.

Rob Phinisee, while making a huge and iconic shot in Assembly Hall, his prospect for many minutes next year doesn’t look too promising. With the guys we’ve got coming in, I’ve got to believe that he sees the writing on the wall. The duties of bringing up the ball look on track to be split between Xavier Johnson and Jalen Hood-Schifino, whose size at 6-5 and his .998 247sports recruiting score looks to put him on pace to be the major catalyst of our offense next year. It looks like Rob will be playing even less minutes next year if he decides to come back to Indiana.

Khristian Lander, while I am sorry that Lander’s tenure as a Hoosier was most unremarkable, Mike Woodson has stated that he simply can not put such a defensive liability on the floor. If Mike Woodson’s program identity is going to be based on a lock down defense, I just don’t see him trusting Lander. And I’m sure Lander knows this. I am sorry that he didn’t develop more here in Bloomington. But if he isn’t gelling well with Mike Woodson’s game plan, he simply will not do. And if he finds success elsewhere, good for him. I hope he does find a welcoming home.

Parker Stewart, thank you for your efforts this season. I think that Mike Woodson knows shooting needs addressed and that means the team may look vastly different next year with who we could potentially get within the transfer portal. I think Parker Stewart sees an opportunity to play elsewhere to profit financially, honestly maybe even potentially play overseas and earn some coin. Could you blame him? The guy already has his Masters degree. Let him go elsewhere. I’m sure he may be ready to head out anyway. And good for him.

And Michael Durr. I appreciate the efforts, for better or worse. I wish you all the best. Don’t mind getting another scholarship in the chamber. Hope he finds a place that best serves him.

This is the future. The wild west of the NIL era. No rules. Just right. This is going to happen, guys are going to transfer. It’s happening elsewhere too. Don’t you worry. All of this transfer movement is for good reason, there are better things to fall in their place. Here’s to these guys finding better opportunities and here to whoever we decide to go after within the portal now.

In the words of John F. Kennedy, “We stand today on the edge of a new frontier”. While he was talking about the 1960’s I think his words speak true about the NIL. Now’s the time to test this thing. To go out and win in the new era.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Let me convince myself this is a good move for Indiana. Thoughts on the Dane Fife dismissal.

So Dane Fife was dismissed from duty as assistant coach yesterday, and I’m sure most of us have seen the statements made. So I won’t dive into those any further. We’ve seen visible contention and frustration between Dane Fife and Mike Woodson this year. I just had no idea it was to this extent. So here’s just a few thoughts on the matter.

I’m going to first delve into some of my reservations before allowing to let my unrelenting loyalty to this program take over and convince myself this is a good thing. At the end of the day I’m just a self proclaimed fanboy who will ride with this team until the day the good Lord calls my number… heck even then, I’ll be using my totally awesome angel magic or whatever superpowers I get to help raise the Hoosiers’ shooting 5% at the least.

But on to my reservations…

This seems flippant. This seems illogical. After a long tenure as Michigan State Assistant, Dane Fife had decided to leave what looked like the heir apparent role for Tom Izzo. I was convinced this was to help Mike Woodson redefine a once storied program looking to get back to national relevancy. That’s the type of guy I personally would ride with. That’s the type of guy who will take chances and risk it for a cause he believes in, and one close to his heart.

Dane in the Knight era

I know the animosity between the two was sometimes visible, but I never thought that losing Dane was even on the radar. I for one thought that his decision to leave Tom Izzo and his ever so sweet role waiting in the wings would have bought him Mike Woodson’s loyalty for life. I thought we had the Robin to Mike Woodson’s Batman. It appears this was not the case.

If Tom Izzo held him in such high regard, he must be a great addition right?

And while this does seem like a gut punch out of the blue, I am beginning to almost delusionally sell myself on the idea that this is for the best…

For one, in his year at Indiana Dane Fife was unable to secure a single recruit. Now, I can’t speak to how difficult it may have been to get the guys that Woodson may have had Dane Fife targeting, because I’d imagine as our most recognizable assistant Woodson probably had him focused on some of the top tier guys. The same guys getting offers from programs firmly established, not programs looking to reassert themselves. So to be fair that sales pitch could be more difficult. But honestly. We need the guys who can get those guys in spite of that… we need some salesmen at assistant coach.

We need assistants who can get THE GUYS. Nothing less will get us to national prominence again. RECRUITING IS KING! In today’s NCAA you need a game changer or two that can dictate the game when it’s truly on the line. And if Mike Woodson doesn’t think Dane Fife was the guy to do it for us, we owe it to him and the program to trust the vision, until we can no longer do so.

Mike Woodson deserves the freedom to establish his network of lieutenants in the manner he sees fit. This isn’t a democracy, it’s an advised dictatorship. And honestly, that is how it has to be. In his first year, he’s got us trending upward. Give him every resource and allow him any action he needs to keep that trend elevating.

We don’t need some Head Coach-Assistant Head Coach tandem to lead us too our elusive 6th banner. I mean how many true HC-AC tandems are title winners? I’m going to say coaches are like quarterbacks, in that if you have two, you don’t have THE ONE. Yeah Dane Fife was a big name assistant, but assistants come and go, a program is defined by their leader.

Also it seems like this should weirdly be seen as a win for those among us who are convinced that we need to find “the next Bobby Knight”. This action should tell you that Mike Woodson is committed to creating a program that will be held to his standards and his expectations, under his direction and vision. So honestly in this regard this is a very “Bobby Knight” move. Being ruthless in the pursuit of athletic dominance is soooo Bobby.

On an almost totally unrelated note, while I’m starting to convince myself this is a good move, one thought that I’ve been having over the course of a few years now is I may think the answer to winning in today’s NCAA is not “the next Bobby Knight”. Sadly, I feel like the Bobby achetype may have no place in today’s NCAA landscape. It seems more and more that today’s top tier recruiting game is dictated by the carrot, not the stick. Seems more and more like the slimeball coaches are the ones finding ways to win, Calipari and Coach K being my prime examples. The priorities of these top athletes now seem more focused on “their brand” than a commitment to winning. Call me the oldest 29 year old you’ve ever heard, but they just don’t have the same priorities as they did back in the days of Bobby. So while reverting back to discipline and determination is Mike’s way, I can only hope at this point that this is the answer.

I really am hoping that all of this culminates in Mike Woodson establishing a program, nay a culture of commitment to excellence. Both on and off the court. His self imposed suspensions were my personal prime evidence of him willing to cut off a leg to stop an infection of unaccountability. Which I love. It’s Mike’s way or the highway now, for better or worse. He is looking to establish accountability at Indiana, in an age that accountability seems to be less and less of a priority for others. I will rooting for him to pull that off and I have to think I can’t be alone.

I really hope we can find the guys who will recruit with the best of them. But just lastly in regards to our breakup with Dane Fife (still always a Hoosier), I’ll ask you to ponder a quote from the oft revered thespian and cultural supericon Marilyn Monroe…

“Sometimes good things fall apart so better things could fall together.

Here’s hopin’ your right Marilyn!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!

Jalen Hood-Schifino (The Future of the Program) has me very excited for the 2022-2023 season

I wanted to take a moment in case anyone wasn’t aware, our team, while having plenty of returning players, is gaining an absolute stud of a freshman next year. Jalen Hood-Schifino!!!

Credit Phenom Hoops on YouTube

Those were only highlights for his sophomore year. He’s only gotten stronger while maintaining the touch at the rim visible throughout that video.

This man is absolutely lighting it up for Montverde High School. At 6-5, and with moves smooth as Tennessee whiskey, I have to believe he will immediately make an impact and shoulder a large portion of our offense next season. Playing at schools such as Monteverde he is already becoming acclimated with playing with top level D1 talent alongside him. It’s playing at schools like this that allow guys to have the inate ability to trust their teammates. A lot of guys who are top dogs in High School can often seek to overcompensate when they feel they must carry their squad. This is not the DNA needed for an NCAA championship team.

The kid is a walking bucket. Not only that, he also primarily runs the offense off the pick at Montverde a system that, barring a total system shift from Mike Woodson, will aid him greatly in being able to jump into Indiana’s starting 5 at the 1 or 2 and have an immediate impact. His coach at Montverde has stated that his maturity over the course of his senior season has been something to behold. He is allowing the game to come to him and being patient. An attribute that was lacking in Xavier Johnson over the course of this season. I feel like whenever I say something like that about Xavier I must leave a disclaimer stating that a large portion of this last season Xavier Johnson largely rushed and forced things because he had to. There were some games this year, none of the other guys wanted to score. So Xavier (in my personal All-Indiana Heart team) needs to be given some slack on that. But having Jalen will only help him slow down his own game while knowing he has a reliable offensive engine in Jalen Hood-Schafino.

Jalen Hood-Schifino will be playing in the Jordan Brand Classic on April 15th this year. The game is now the premiere high school showcase game in the country. This game is made up of many faces that are destined to be the future of not only college basketball, but the NBA as well! If you would like to check out the alumni including Trae Young, Zion Williamson, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Chris Paul, Romeo Langford, and Trayce as well, you can check the WIKIPEDIA on the classic. Being invited to this game is a career achievement. An invite to this showcase is a badge of honor given to those blessed with the natural gifts that they then honed over their 18 years on earth and proof that they are on track to be true greats in the game of basketball.

Getting guys like Jalen Hood-Schifino, especially getting him out of the state of North Carolina, is the difference between the good teams and the great teams. This is the first major and I mean MAJOR get for the Mike Woodson era. If we can really show out with some young guns this coming season that will just snowball into more top tier recruits and more success in Assembly Hall!

While this year ended on a shallacking from the St. MARY’S Gaels, I still believe this season ended as a success. And with the recruiting class we’ve got coming in next year, our tournament bid looks to be only the start of some very beautiful basketball to come.

In the words of the late, great Frank Sinatra,

The best is yet to come!

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

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