PARADISE ISLAND, The Bahamas – From his earliest days on the career as IU men’s basketball mentor, Mike Woodson has promised an offense developed all-around supplying his gamers “the latitude to do points with the basketball right until they verify me mistaken.”
Friday night time, that believe in will get its to start with examination, and a tough one particular also.
Woodson’s Indiana will enjoy the 1st of two video games from European pro outfit BC Mega right here in The Bahamas at 7 p.m. Friday. The Serbian aspect offers former Dayton guard Scoochie Smith and prospective future NBA lottery select Nikola Jovic, as properly as the pedigree of getting now sent talented gamers like Nikola Jokic and Goga Bitadze on to the league.
Have been the William Hill sportsbook here at the Atlantis On line casino placing odds for Friday night’s recreation, Mega would probably be favored, a testomony to the obstacle in entrance of Indiana right here in paradise.
“It’s actually likely to advantage us,” freshman guard Tamar Bates explained. “having the chance to come down below and perform against this experienced team. It’ll be really good for us, having some movie to check out, and just to see wherever we’re at.”
Nowhere additional so, potentially, than in a backcourt blanketed with new faces, Bates’ amid them.
Indiana can depend on tested expertise in the post, with All-Huge 10 ahead Trayce Jackson-Davis and veteran big Race Thompson performing as frontcourt anchors. But the Hoosiers’ guard rotation is considerably significantly less settled. Via transfer or higher university signing, IU has added a few likely crucial faces to its backcourt in the last yr.
At stage, Pitt transfer Xavier Johnson — one of the country’s most innovative players in excess of the very last a few seasons in accordance to tempo-no cost metrics — joins Rob Phinisee and Khristian Lander. The 3 each and every technique the placement with distinctive capabilities and strengths.
Woodson appears ready to count them all relatively equally going forward. They all know they can lean on one particular one more.
“Point guard is the most essential placement in basketball, I think,” Johnson reported soon pursuing IU’s observe in the Atlantis Imperial Ballroom on Thursday. “You’ve bought to know what all your teammates are executing. You have acquired to know all the plays. That is one particular issue coach Woodson preaches to the issue guards: We have got to know every little thing.
“It’s the most difficult job, we’re all willing to discover and we’ve received to assistance every single other out.”
All those 3 (and any one else who may deal with the ball frequently) will be envisioned to established the pace for an offense Woodson desires to go speedy.
Lots of of the NBA-stage principles Woodson has released on that aspect of the ball demand the Hoosiers to make transition offense productive, which starts off with very good outlet passing and head-up cross-courtroom distribution.
Johnson admitted absorbing Woodson’s plan has taken some time, but its concepts are beginning to turn into instinctive.
“The main point is our speed,” he said. “KL (Lander) is rapidly. All the guards are genuinely speedy. Rob’s quickly. All of us are fantastic with the ball, excellent at having our teammates open, earning plays.”
At two-guard, Bates and UT Martin transfer Parker Stewart will be counted on greatly. The two have followed winding paths to IU.
Stewart initially enrolled at Pitt, where he performed for one particular yr right before transferring to UT Martin to participate in for his father, Anthony. Following Stewart’s father passed absent unexpectedly in November 2020, Stewart entered the portal once again, landing at Indiana, the place he didn’t perform in the back 50 % of last season. For the duration of the coaching transform, Stewart considered transferring again but finally elected to withdraw from the portal and remain in Bloomington.
Bates, meanwhile, initially signed with Texas out of substantial faculty. He may possibly have appeared like a steal for Shaka Intelligent when a senior season at IMG Academy sent Bates’ stock soaring, all the way to No. 30 in the country in the 247Sporting activities Composite.
But Good remaining for Marquette, and Bates remaining Texas behind. After a whirlwind recruitment, he purchased into Woodson and signed with IU. Now, he’s a promising freshman guard who’s extra 12 kilos of muscle this summer time soon after, as Woodson put it, Bates came to university “real light in the butt.”
Woodson describes Bates as possessing the great form of athletic conceitedness, that which arrives from difficult operate and outcomes to exhibit for it.
“I’m a organization believer in reps remove doubt,” Bates mentioned Thursday. “I get a whole lot of photographs up. I operate out a great deal. I put the do the job in. So I feel like when I place the time in, I have that appropriate to be self-confident.”
Friday night time should really test that, in the exact way it will that collective place guard determination-earning, the Hoosiers’ depth in the face of a professional opponent and, frankly, IU’s readiness for Woodson’s very first time.
Mega will challenge Indiana’s defense from ball screens and significant choose-and-rolls, as nicely as the Hoosiers’ capability to navigate a expert protection running many of the identical concepts at the other end.
Woodson has put a whole lot on his players’ collective plate this summer time. This is a probability to take a look at how nicely they’ve digested it.
There’s a very real chance Indiana leaves The Bahamas future week -2 and much better for it, and that undoubtedly applies in a remade backcourt Woodson will count on this winter.
“Everybody’s very good at diverse factors,” Bates stated of IU’s guards. “We’re continuing to learn from every other. The past two months have been definitely good, and we have been getting some great do the job down here. What is still left to come, we’ll see tomorrow.”
Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.