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!

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!

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!!!!

Indiana vs. Saint Mary’s. “The Mourning After” short thoughts on March.

Well… here we are. Bounced from the tournament, after getting taken to the woodshed. And while I will get into what we have to appreciate about this team. I can’t sit here and say I’m not feeling crushed. Because I really am. How excitingly nervous I was yesterday at this time, I am equally bummed now. But that’s all just me being selfish for that one. So I’m writing this almost as a self therapeutic exercise in counting the blessings we got out of all this. But before all that let’s just quickly run through some of my feelings on the game.

Quick notes on the St. Mary’s game

-When Parker hit the first 3 attempt of the day I was feeling pretty dang good. Dumb to go off a sample size of 1 but I couldn’t help but be feeling good after that one. Was feeling ridiculously optimistic as it’s not often we’ve been hitting that first open 3. But alas, the shooting did not continue through the course of the game.

-No matter how often our team goes into the half with a large deficit, it never gets easier to watch. Even when we were down by 12 at half. That Michigan Big Ten Tournament game has proven to me that anything is possible in this league and selfishly I almost expected the come back a little too optimistically. I think I am so hopelessly, irrationally, and painfully optimistic about anything Indiana Basketball that I can’t be objective at all. No way we can do anything of significance down the line without cutting those halftime deficits out.

-St. Mary’s ran an actual offense. Indiana did not. While I love how HARD Xavier was playing out there, unfortunately, it was just a lot of effort with no objective game plan. Again, I appreciate it, but without having a gameplan other than the hopeful pass over the center or sprint to the rim every time, it just won’t do.

-St. Mary’s offense was impressive to watch. Each man on the floor had a role each time down the court. It wasn’t just a 2 man play with everyone else opening the floor by standing on the wings. Credit to them.

SHORT THOUGHTS ON MARCH AS A WHOLE

Our boys scrapped hard to get into this thing at all. The Hoosiers deserve credit for that. The First Four being in Dayton and not at the respective sites of Round 1 is absolutely absurd when games don’t end until after midnight. Such an unfair way to go about it. Also, I still say it should have been Michigan playing in that First Four game and not Indiana. BS that we even had to play that one. But, you have to win the games you get.

All in all, this season has ended as a success. Our boys were dead tired heading into that game, and I really think I could see it from the jump even though we were leading there for a bit. We made the tournament that’s all I needed personally. But I also am not going to say I wouldn’t have loved a little run here now. But really, the boys saw the goal of the tournament for THIS YEAR and got there. I say THIS YEAR because that will not be the goal in the seasons to come. Making the tournament his first year, Mike Woodson has gotten a program with no direction and has us trending upward. That’s all I wanted, and I believe that’s all any rational Indiana fan should have asked for. Again, next season we will be looking to keep this trend towards success going. I have confidence that this can be the case.

If the devil had come to me with a contract saying Indiana will make it as far as Kentucky at the beginning of the season, I’d have signed that for sure. So while they are currently at risk of setting their whole state on fire. I believe we should be grateful for our expectations were far lower and more realistic. Also, it does alleviate some of my personal pain knowing Calipari and the Wildcats will be watching right along with us. Selfishly, I do relish the anguish of a cheater.

All in all, it sucks to be eliminated. Feel bad now, let it hurt, get it all out because come April we are back at it. The hunt for Banner 6 continues! The Hoosiers fought to enter the tournament, and they did. We just need to this to snowball. I mean, hey we finally have a chip on our shoulder from March heading into next year. I will be doing a deep dive all weekend on what exactly next years lineup looks to be (barring an inevitable crazy transfer portal just for every team), as well as working on a season recap. Thank you for taking the time to read this and Go Hoosiers.

LUX ET VERITAS.

Your Indiana Hoosiers vs. St. Mary’s Gaels Primer / Blind Faith Boost!

Here we are. Round 1 officially… Following the First Four victory I was high on life. While the game against Wyoming was at some points painful to watch, we pulled out the win. And I will take ugly wins each and every day! Hey, so long as we can bring the opposition down to our game tempo and rhythm we will be just fine. This team is no stranger to adversity, so now is the time to weaponize that familiarity to low scoring yet still competitive tempo and gameplay. I mean we’ve seen our play drop at points over the course of the season. So, I feel like the Hoosiers had to have learned a thing or two to address these situations. And, while the First Four was close, I believe we addressed it. There were points I thought Maldonado may get hot but our boys were able to sever that before it got rolling each time! That’s growth people. But hey, that games behind us, time to press forward and go get the win over the Gaels of St. Mary’s College

St. Mary’s Primer

Listen, we know they play in Gonzaga’s conference. But what an absolute joke of a conference! The Hoosiers have been able to hold their opposition to 65.7ppg (58th across college basketball) in a conference of consisting of legitimate powerhouses of collegiate athletics. St. Mary’s held the opposition to a respectable 60.5 ppg. I say respectable because while that is the spot for 12th fewest across college basketball, THEY PLAY IN THE WEST COAST CONFERENCE!!!! While we were getting beaten and battered by the gauntlet of the Big Ten, St. Mary’s was beating up on schools like San Diego and Portland. So if there is an advantage to playing in that league, it is lesser skilled opponents may take less out of you over the course of your season. But I don’t resign to this. They had competed with Wisconsin and actually beat Notre Dame early in the season, but what does that mean in March? Jack squat. Teams can be entirely different entities by March. Look no further than the Hoosiers for that. We started the season hot, but settled into where we are currently. St. Mary’s has been playing very well, but ultimately against who?!

Many can say that IU is playing ugly basketball, but I say it does not matter if we can drag you down into playing that same basketball. Just did it to Wyoming. While some may attempt to battle us in slower, physical, iso, backdown play. You can try to adopt that play style, our boys were born into it, it seems.

The Gaels’ are extremely well balanced. Their leading scorer, 6-10 senior Matthias Tass, averages 12.6 points a game. Each member of their offense contributes though with no one being left off of the box score for them. But the only problem with matching up against us, is our defensive liabilities are few and far between. We never even really had to transition to a single double team against Wyoming’s “stellar big men”.

St. Marys can shoot the basketball. Which means we can not be cutting under the picks in this game. The second we give them an opening it’s daggers. Daggers that could spell a heartbreaking momentum shift. Our boys will need to be playing tight man throughout. I have full confidence in our boys to do just that. I see a lot of venom for Parker Stewart out there. But that guy has got some clamps. Needs to cut down on just some poor decisions on overcommitting on defense, but nonetheless he is giving it his all and can guard any 2 or 3 we may need him to.

I say we ride the hot hands and look for Xavier to get the ball to 2 guys, Trayce and Geronimo. Let’s hop on this wagon, currently being driven by Trayce with Geronimo riding shotgun, and ride them as far as they will take us.

Blind Faith Booster

For this Blind Faith Booster I would like to shortly discuss the words of one of the GOATs, a true champion, Muhammed Ali (ever heard of him?).

Muhammed Ali spoke about belief in oneself when he said, “It’s the repetition of affirmations that leads to belief. And once that belief becomes a deep conviction, things begin to happen.

Words from a true legend to ponder heading into our bout against St. Mary’s. We all gotta believe it will happen tonight Hoosier Nation. You’d be amazed at the power of wishful thinking. Nothing in life is won without first imagining the manner in which it can possibly be won! No time for critiquing (after I had critiqued a bit earlier, I know). Our lads need our utmost support. They need to get out of this stretched out funk of limited shooting, and I think we can aid our guys in that endeavor through our support and appreciation. No doubt. No pessimism. Just optimistic unyielding, unbending, and unbreaking support.

LUX ET VERITAS!!!!

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

Up ↑