Covering the Land of Lincoln

Mike Woodson previews road game at Illinois

Watch and read what Indiana head coach Mike Woodson had to say Tuesday afternoon ahead of the Hoosiers’ road game at Illinois on Thursday night in Champaign, Illinois.

full transcript:

Have you had to coach this team differently in order to get them to play how you want?

“We always have pretty grueling practices, I mean, that wasn’t nothing new. We just went a little longer in terms of trying to really prep and get ready for Wisconsin, but our practices are pretty much the same every day. Geronimo was a guy that I challenged right before the Wisconsin game that day, and I thought he responded.”

What does IU have to do to compete on the road for 40 minutes?

“You just said it, you gotta put a 40-minute ball game together. You can’t play in spurts on the road, and the one thing I do know when you’re playing on the road is you got to rebound and defend the basketball and not turn it over. Those three in those order. And if you do that, you give yourself a chance to win.”

How can you get Miller Kopp more shots and open looks?

“Guys, [the opposing team isn’t] leaving him. So I mean, when he gets good looks, we just hope he can knock them down. It ain’t about utilizing him [more] — I run a few plays for him here and there, but my focus ain’t just on Miller. Everybody’s gotta play a role. When you got shots, you gotta be able to knock them down.

“For some reason, he’s not getting a lot of shots because they’re not leaving him, and I wouldn’t leave him either. So coming out of the double team when Trayce is being double-teamed, the rotations to him are a lot quicker based on who we’re playing. He’s capable of putting down two and three dribbles and escape dribbles and getting shots, that’s something that he may have to do more if he gets the opportunity.

“But I’m not here to create a lot of shots for just Miller, I’m not here to do that. I think our offense flows where everybody touches the basketball and get an opportunity to shoot the ball.”

What does a more intense practice entail?

“I’m not going to get into all that. I mean, practices are what it is. We run up and down, we compete, we break down defenses, we break our offense down. I mean, practice just is what it is .Everyday we try to go at it.Now, the day before a game I don’t normally go three hours;I don’t do that because I like for them to have their legs.But it was a lot of skull session going on, a lot of teaching, things of that nature, and things we wanted to get in and we were able to get in, and it took us three hours to do it.”

Injury updates on Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson?

“I talk to (team trainer) Tim (Garl) every day and the bottom line is they’re not on the basketball floor, they’re in rehab. They’re basically in the training room doing rehab. And I don’t go in the training room and inquire about what they’re doing or get involved, that’s not my expertise.So when Tim tells me they’re ready to get back out on the floor, then I’ll let you guys know, but that’s not any time soon I don’t think.”

How has Xavier Johnson’s leadership grown while being out?

“I think X sees more now than he’s ever saw by sitting over [on the bench] watching just like I have to watch during practice and in games. And he kind of understands — he made that statement last week, ‘I see what you mean coach. A lot of the sh** that you were getting on me about that’s not being done.’ I mean, you get a better view of it when your a** is sitting over there on the bench watching what’s going on on the floor.

“So in that regard, he’s been great because he’s been able to help Jalen and some of the younger guys with some of the stuff that he sees and I see. So in that regard, it’s been great, I think. I need him back in a uniform, though, as quickly as possible.”

Initial impressions of Illinois on a four-game win streak?

“They’re defense has picked up. I thought watching the Minnesota game played last night, they kind of got after them from a defensive standpoint. And when you turn it over, they make you pay because they get the ball up and down the floor.

“They got a nice mixture of guys. They don’t have Kofi (Cockburn), but the big fella that’s playing inside for them is playing well for them, and he does a lot of nice things from a low post standpoint, and Trayce has to come ready to play.

“But I like their team, I think they’re well-coached, and they’re playing at home. They went out on the road, which they hadn’t won a lot out on the road like that, so it was a nice win for them last night. So they’re coming home on a four-game winning streak feeling pretty good about themselves.”

Specific areas of focus when preparing for a road game?

“I thought our last two road games, we got out to a decent start. Even the Penn State game, I thought it was back and forth, and then eventually they just smacked us and we didn’t answer the bell. The main thing is just staying within what we do and playing hard. That’s the biggest key on the road. Like I said earlier, you have to defend and rebound the ball. You can’t gift them points.

“I mean, it’s playing hard enough out on the road, and you go on the road and throw the ball all over the gym and give them easy opportunities to score, that defeats what your offense is about because it puts so much pressure on you “To get stops every time down the floor. That’s time every time on the road. Your offense has to be sufficient enough to the point where you’re not turning it over and you’re getting some good shots and good looks. But defensive rebounding.” has go to be a must.”

Are you encouraged by Malik Reneau’s performance recently?

“Well, he’s playing harder. I thought the Wisconsin game is probably as hard as he’s played all year, really. That’s a big part of it. Once he figures out how to play hard all the time, then I think basketball will start to come easy for him because he is talented and he does a lot of things on the offensive end. But I thought defensively the other night, he really was trying to make a conscious effort to move his feet and do some of the things that we’ ve been asking him to do with some force.

“We’re gonna need him, man, because he’s such a talented kid. I thought Logan (Duncomb) came in and gave us some positive minutes, the three or four minutes that he played. So my thing is, when we’re playing bigger teams, I gotta test Logan and Malik a little more and just see where they are.”

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