Malik Reneau just made a great recruiting class SUPERB. Credit Jalen with his first career assist. Short thoughts.

I’m kind of in shock. Really when it was all playing out it made some semblance of sense, but nonetheless, I’m still in shock.

What an absolutely awesome thing to happen on what is normally one of the worst Mondays back to work. This is an absolutely incredible moment for our program. When Malik Reneau decommitted from Florida following their coaching change, I had the smallest glimmer of hope. Hope that Montverde forward Reneau would want to follow up his high school national championship run with a college run along with the same man dishing him the assists, Jalen Hood-Schifino.

So I’m going to come out and say that this big get is Jalen Hood-Schifino’s first assist for the Indiana Hoosiers. He really had to play the most essential role in convincing Malik to commit to play ball in the Hall. Credit to him. He is racking up wins for us and has yet to take the court. I love it!

These guys have championship chemistry. Their time together in high school is going to pay dividends on their ability to produce for the Hoosiers right out of the gate. The 5 we stand to have taking the court if our recruits are able to step up to the college game is truly dangerous. And elaborating a little on whether or not they will translate their games quickly to the college level, I have to say, they were playing at Montverde! Each game they played, they were playing against top recruits in the nation and BEATING THEM! They’ve been playing the most talented future stars of the game for much of their recent years and coming out on top with a High School national title again this year. I have no worry that these boys will step on campus and quickly prove that they not only have the goods, but they have got the GREATS.

Remember when Trayce and Xavier were playing the pick and roll to success this season? Jalen and Malik have been running the pick and roll at Montverde heavily, to much success. Their game is going to greatly impact the flow of the offense, allowing various guys relied on heavily last year to get open and freed up, thus creating other offensive threats. And with the prospective shooters coming in as well, this is very promising. Whatever gameplan Mike Woodson will seek to utilize on the offensive end Malik and Jalen stand to find immediate roles.

Renaue is ranked #21 on ESPN nationally. A certified stud. Joining Jalen Hood (#24), Kaleb Banks(#79), and CJ Gunn as the freshmen on the Hoosiers team next year. And what does this mean?

This means Indiana has jumped up the recruiting rankings into the 5th spot (according to 247 sports) for the upcoming season. The top spot in the Big Ten. And that is what it takes to compete in today’s NCAA landscape. You need to get the top recruits to consistently be battling in March and into April. And after his first season on record, he is bringing in top talent! It’s great to see that the program is in the hands of a true recruiter now. Above all else in NCAA Basketball, RECRUITING IS KING!

We finally got a closer.

Mike Woodson has been able to make such an immediate impact that I believe that this should absolutely be enough for the few dejectors to see that Indiana is on the mend. We are making the necessary moves to compete at the truly elite level. We are getting the guys, and if that means we need to trust that Mike Woodson’s disciplinary or administrative decisions, we need to do just that. The program is in good hands and we need to believe that and trust that until we can no longer do so.

Here’s to Coach Woodson for coming into Bloomington and changing the program for the better right out of the gate.

Just a little fan boy tangent, I can’t take the off season. I’m chomping at the bit to get back in front of the TV and watch the Hoosiers. This transfer portal era has made the offseason so much more open and really anxiety inducing. I am just hoping we win more than we lose in the portal. This team is going to be a lot to be excited about. This is the beginning of many good things to come. Here’s hoping we can capitalize on some of this elite talent while we still got them. These guys may not be long for college basketball. I NEED COLLEGE BASKETBALL BACK!!!

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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