Indiana University Men’s Basketball Faces Uphill Battle in Big Ten Tournament Quest

Video by IU Athletics

Staff report

Bloomington, Indiana, USA – Monday, February 26, 2024

Indiana University’s head basketball coach, Mike Woodson, addressed the media today at a press conference in Bloomington, shedding light on the team’s struggles, their approach to the remaining games, and the ongoing quest for a spot in the NCAA tournament.

Woodson acknowledged the team’s prolonged struggle, emphasizing the importance of hard work and consistency to overcome a slump. “You know, only way you work your way out of a slump is got to put the time in on the floor and hopefully carryover when you go to the real game. That’s just how basketball is,” said Woodson.

With the Big Ten tournament looming as their best chance for an NCAA bid, Woodson is focused on taking one game at a time. “We got to win all four games to even have a shot. I’m not looking that far down the road. Only thing I’m looking at is Wisconsin,” he remarked. Woodson highlighted the significance of the upcoming match against Wisconsin, acknowledging the need for a strategic and successful game plan.

Reflecting on the recent loss against Penn State, Woodson took responsibility for both the team’s performance and his coaching. He expressed the importance of Xavier Johnson, who has been absent due to injury, and highlighted his coaching philosophy of sharing responsibility with the players during both successes and failures.

When questioned about managing a young team through a slump, Woodson drew from his experiences in the NBA, emphasizing the need for continuous practice, film study, and a positive mental attitude. He mentioned the challenge of maintaining morale and confidence within the team during tough times.

Addressing analytics indicating offensive efficiency with different player configurations, Woodson emphasized the team’s success with two bigs on the floor. He attributed the season’s challenges, in part, to the absence of Xavier Johnson, a key player.

Looking ahead to the Wisconsin rematch, Woodson stressed the importance of defensive efforts, recognizing the need for improvement since their previous encounter. He emphasized the team’s commitment to enhancing their defensive presence.

Regarding Xavier Johnson’s potential return, Woodson shared that Johnson participated in limited activities and contact during recent practices. Woodson expressed his reluctance to play a player who hasn’t practiced with full contact but acknowledged Johnson’s eagerness to return.

Despite the team’s struggles, Woodson asserted that there has been no slippage in their commitment to preparation and practice. “There is never any slippage. We work, my man. We come to work. We put in the good two, two and a half hours every day. That’s the only way I know,” he affirmed.

As Indiana University faces a critical stretch in the regular season, the team looks to regroup, make strategic adjustments, and build momentum for a potential Big Ten tournament run that could secure their spot in the NCAA tournament.

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