Big Ten media day took place on Oct. 7 and 8 in the newly renovated and renamed Gainbridge Field House in Indianapolis, IN where each B1G team was represented by their head coach and players. Purdue, Michigan State, and Indiana headlined the final day.
Many coaches touched on returning to some form of normalcy regarding playing last season through a pandemic, but MSU head coach Tom Izzo may have said it best when talking about the returning atmospheres around the B1G.
“There’s nothing like going to Purdue and Indiana,” Izzo said. “Going to some to some of the best venues in the country let alone the Big Ten.”
Mike Woodson’s First Big Ten Media Day
Woodson, like any other media availability he has had in the recent months, expressed how excited and happy he is to finally be home.
In Woodson’s opening statement, he was asked about the progression of senior point guard Rob Phinisee and his answer was one that Indiana Hoosiers should take not of.
“For me, he has been one of the bight spots in the last three months,” Woodson said. “My problem with Rob is that I have to get him to shoot more.
The first-year head coach was also asked about the addition of Miller Kopp, Parker Stewart, Michael Durr, and Xavier Johnson and if they will take some of the load off Junior star Trayce Jackson-Davis.
Woody’s response? Everyone needs to step up. Not just the new faces. He explained that to him, every face was new, so he did not particularly care if each person was a transfer or someone from last years roster. Woodson did express that he believes Kopp, Stewart, and Johnson will help with the three-point shooting woes the team has had in the past.
Rob Phinisee, Race Thompson, and Trayce Jackson-Davis
The three players that represented Indiana University at B1G media day were senior guard Rob Phinisee, senior forward Race Thompson, and junior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis.
The three fielded question after question in a professional manner and even cracked a few jokes. Again, it was obvious to anyone in attendance that their has been a shift in culture for the IU men’s basketball program.
TJD was asked about his off-season workouts and testing the limits with the range of his jump shot. After expressing that he has done what he believes is necessary to show that he can be consistent from outside of the paint, Phinisee made sure the point was made.
“He can shoot,” Phinisee said. “From midrange and he has even hit a few threes in scrimmages.”
Phinisee had many strong statements throughout his interview session, but his strongest statement came without saying a word at all. His outfit. The senior guard was awarded best dressed by media member Andy Katz.
Thompson, who is the longest tenured Hoosier and the last remaining player from his class, had a more sentimental approach to media day.
On many occasions, the senior captain said the one thing that has stuck with him, and the one piece of advise he gives younger players, is to not take anything for granted because it all goes by extremely fast. Thompson also mentioned that the times he has spent recovering from various injuries over his career has helped him slow down and take everything in as it comes to him.
Overall, each player expressed one common subject. This is not the same team fans have seen in recent years. The 2021-2022 Indiana Hoosier men’s basketball team genuinely enjoys being around one another. There were serious answers to questions, but more importantly there were laughs, there were high-fives, and there were smiles.
These are all things that Mike Woodson is on record saying he wants to bring back to Indiana basketball. Not just a winning culture, but a brotherhood that will last long past the student-athletes days of playing basketball.
The next time fans can see the Indiana men’s basketball team will be their opening game against Eastern Michigan on Nov. 9 at Assembly Hall at 6:30 PM EST. This will be the first time IU basketball will play in front of fans in 580 days.