Mike Woodson's full press conference at Indiana men's basketball media day

Mike Woodson’s full press conference at Indiana men’s basketball media day

Indiana head men’s basketball coach Mike Woodson kicked off Thursday’s IU basketball media day with a 20-minute long question-and-answer session. Ahead of the Hoosiers’ highly-anticipated 2022-23 season, Woodson discussed several topics, including Xavier Johnson’s offseason arrest and subsequent growth off the court, the big offseason expectations facing the Hoosiers, and which players have stood out to him throughout the summer and into the fall.

Among the many points Woodson discussed, his comments about IU’s goals this season were perhaps the most poignant.

I’m not going to let my players run from [the expectations],” Woodson said. “There’s a lot of big things that’s got to happen this year for our ballclub, and I’m going to try to coach them up and push them in that direction… Rankings are what they are. You’ve still got to play the game, my man. That’s what’s important, and what happened between these two lines.

“It’s going to be my job to get this team to play at a level every night and put them in a position to win every time they step out on the floor. That’s what it’s all about to me. Rankings are what they are. I don’t know what we’re ranked this year. Somebody told me we’re ranked in the top 20. That’s great. But you’ve still got to play the game.”

Woodson also addressed senior starting point guard Xavier Johnson’s offseason legal troubles and what he’s done to this offseason to show he’s move past those issues.

“Well, that’s all behind us. He’s gotten through that process. He would have to do some community service,” Woodson said. “X has grown a lot, based on the things that he’s done this summer. He’s put himself in a wonderful position with me being the coach that I like everything about what X is doing now, because he is doing the right things on and off the court. He doesn’t have a vehicle anymore, I took that away from him. If that’s punishment, it’s punishment, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. We’re just trying to do the things that are necessary to help us win basketball games, and I think he’s made a major step in that direction to help us.”

“…When you look at what happened to X, where we started with X and where he ended up, X probably caught more hell on this team than anybody from his head coach. There’s a reason why. I think when you’re building a basketball team, you expect a lot out of all of your players, but that position is a pivotal position in terms of how you play on both ends of the floor. X hung in there with me. He fought me at times, but it worked out well for him at the end and for our ballclub.

“Watching him go through his summer work, because he did taste some success, it’s the first time he had experienced being in the big dance, he really — I mean, he just came in with a totally different attitude, which was kind of nice to see. It means to me he’s growing up. It has displayed nicely on the basketball court, because out of all the summer play that I’ve watched and been a part of this summer, he’s probably been the brightest of them all.”

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