Mar 29, 2021
Indiana Basketball Introduces New Coach Mike Woodson Press Conference Transcript
The Indiana University basketball team introduced Mike Woodson as the new head coach during a press conference on March 29, 2021. Read the transcript of the briefing here.
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Mike Hall: (01:57)
The men’s basketball program in Bloomington, Indiana is in need of a rebirth, and they believe they have found their man. Mike Woodson is about to be introduced as the new head coach of the Hoosiers, and when he steps to the podium, we will take you out there live here on the Big Ten Network.
Mike Hall: (02:15)
Hi, there from Chicago. I’m Mike Hall. Glad to have you with us on this historic day as the 30th head coach in the history of this story program is about to make it official. We go out to Bloomington right now. Scott Dolson is the athletic director who is ready to introduce Mike Woodson right now.
Scott Dolson: (02:29)
… Teri Moren, our women’s team, just all the best with the big game tonight. I’m leaving here actually early this afternoon to head down to San Antonio, and just couldn’t be more thrilled, more proud of our team. When we made the decision to make a change in men’s basketball, it was the same day as the women’s selection show. When I went to visit, I went to the selection program with our team, and I talked to Coach Moren. I apologized to her because I did not want this selection to take anything away from the great things are happening with women’s basketball. She’s just been fantastic, and just can’t thank her enough.
Scott Dolson: (03:07)
We’ve stayed in close contact. In fact, she set up a Zoom call for me to talk to the team this past Friday night before the Sweet 16 game, which I told Heidi, my wife, afterwards, was so incredible. Coach Moren thanked me, but it was more meaningful to me, I think, than it was for the team. I know Hoosier nation’s down in San Antonio. I just want our women’s team to know how much we’re behind them and ready for the game tonight.
Scott Dolson: (03:36)
Also, before I talk about the great news today with our men’s program, I do want to say some special thank-yous. This is really, really important to me that I thank some special people that are really invaluable in this process. I want to start with President McRobbie. President Robbie has just been incredibly supportive. I just can’t thank him enough. I know he’s got a million things on his plate. He answered every call I had throughout this last two weeks and made me feel like I was his number one priority, and as always, asked incredible questions and just the collaborative process with him was terrific and just want to thank him so much for his support.
Scott Dolson: (04:17)
I want to thank the board of trustees, in particular Quinn Buckner. Quinn and I go way back. Quinn utilizes a liaison in this process. Quinn and I, we talk about being mission-driven. We were mission-driven on several other projects we’ve had, and we’re mission-driven on this project. I can just say this: I’m a better leader for having the opportunity to work so closely with Quinn Buckner and just want him to know how much I appreciate that.
Scott Dolson: (04:45)
I want to thank my wife, Heidi. Heidi, part of the process, I holed myself up in the basement of our house, and she brought meals down to me regularly and would always say that, “When this is over, you don’t think this is going to continue. This is it. This is it for the wait service,” but she was my rock, and I appreciate that, and just thank my kids as well. We’ve got five kids, and not one single… We had three birthdays during this process of the five kids. They all go from 21 up to 28. Not one time any of our kids ask me one question about any candidate or who’s on the list. Even our youngest, who’s a junior here at IU, that just impressed me so much that they just get it, and they just want to be supportive. They love IU like we do, and just want to thank them.
Scott Dolson: (05:34)
There’s two members of our senior… All of our senior administrative team in athletics have been huge, but two members I want to particularly single out, Deputy AD Stephen Harper and Senior Associate AD for Sport Administration Becky Pany who throughout this process just worked tirelessly the last two weeks, and actually before that. I hate to highlight them because I don’t want anybody try to steal them from us, but they’ve been fantastic. Then there’s others, and I hate to… but Mattie White, our deputy AD who’s down in San Antonio holding down the fort with women’s basketball, Lorian Price, who’s our senior associate AD for academics who’s been incredible in this transition process in leading the transition team.
Scott Dolson: (06:15)
Then finally, we created a vision document, and this whole thing today is about the vision for IU basketball the future. After we made the change, we created a document that really spelled out that vision. We had two staff members, Ali Ricker and John Decker, who actually are on vacation, and while they’re on vacation work tirelessly for two days to turn around a document that was a vision that we created that would have taken a month at least.
Scott Dolson: (06:42)
Again, I just tell you that because it’s all about team, and that’s the theme you’re going to hear the more I talk today. I didn’t use the search committee, as you know, but I relied on just so many experts that I talked to, experts in the NBA from owners to general managers to scouts, experts in college, coaches, athletic directors, commissioners. They know who they are. There’s some names. I’ll keep that confidential out of respect for them in the process, but they know who they are, and I just want them to know I just can’t thank of enough for the time they took to really help me walk through this process and do the deep dive and due diligence that I wanted to do.
Scott Dolson: (07:25)
There’s some names on there that would probably surprise people how much time they put in. The NBA trade deadline was going on during this process, and I had people that were so heavily involved in that but took literally large amounts of time to help me through this process and give me great advice.
Scott Dolson: (07:41)
I want to mention Fred Glass and thank Fred. Fred, our former athletic director, one of my mentors, he told me from the start he did not want to know one candidate. That was our deal. But he wanted to be there to support me and sent me message after message just to support as always, and just having him as a rock means it means the world to me.
Scott Dolson: (08:00)
I want to thank our fans. Our fans are resilient. Their passion. Their support. I want our fans to know that we all want the same things. I just hope they know how much we appreciate that. I want to thank our former players and managers. I cannot tell you the support, the messages… I’m so behind in text messages right now that it’s embarrassing, but I want them to know that from my deepest of my heart, I appreciate their support and their love for this program. Then finally, and most importantly, I want to thank our current players. Our current players, as I said two weeks ago, change is hard, and the fear of the unknown is hard, but our former players couldn’t have handled any better. I’ll say this: They were resilient, and they were so helpful. I’d had two Zoom meetings in the last two weeks with the full team and several one-off conversations, and really, they helped me in this process and give me ideas of characteristics that were important to them. I give Archie Miller a ton of credit in terms of the quality of young men we have, the character, and just who’s in that locker room. I just wanted our current players to know how much I appreciate that.
Scott Dolson: (09:18)
Moving forward, the first thing I do is I want to welcome Thad Matta, Thad and Barbara and the girls to the program, and just quickly mentioned really the vision for that. Really, the partnership with Thad really came about after my first meeting with Coach Woodson. Coach Woodson and I had an incredible first meeting, and we talked about the vision for the program and how to bridge the past to the future.
Scott Dolson: (09:44)
One of the things that he said to me, which struck me, is that he’s a collaborator. One of the things that’s really important to him is putting great people around him. He says, “Scott, you and I will be joined at the hip. If we do this, this is a partnership,” and it actually was music to my ears because that’s what I was looking for, not for me to micromanage the program, but this needs to be a unified effort, and it was really, really important to him.
Scott Dolson: (10:08)
As I move forward in the process after several meetings, I realized that I’m joined at the hip with a lot of our coaches. For me to put all my resources, although, obviously, basketball is so critical to us, that I needed some help. At the same time Coach Woodson was asking me for resources around him, and so I actually came to him, went to Thad and thought there was a perfect maybe marriage there for Thad to help me on the needs I had to make certain I had the resources with basketball and that Coach Woodson, he’d mentioned to me that he had a partnership with Glen Grunwald when he was with the Knicks as the head coach, and it was incredible to have a resource to bounce things off of, and I felt like this could be a perfect fit.
Scott Dolson: (10:56)
It worked out great, and the rest is history, but I’ll say this: Mike Woodson is 100% the head coach. He reports to me and is the final decision maker based on my final approval on basketball decisions. Thad reports to me, is a key resource and for Mike and is really… just can’t thank him enough for being a part of our program.
Scott Dolson: (11:22)
Having said all that, I’m excited to get to the main agenda item right now is that I’m just so excited to make the introduction I’m getting ready to make. I said two weeks ago that we’re going to build on our foundation. It was really important that we have a celebrated history, as you all know, in basketball, but the really most important thing is we have a vision for the future, and the plan was to focus on that vision for the future.
Scott Dolson: (11:50)
Ultimately, there were three reasons why I ended up… which I feel to me was the perfect choice. I can summarize it in three things. The first thing is, is that a feel that Coach Woodson was a perfect fit as a person. The people I talked to had no idea who I was leaning towards, who was in the mix, not, but I’m talking about people all across basketball, all across, to a person. They said, “There’s no better person than Mike Woodson as a person,” and that meant a lot.
Scott Dolson: (12:23)
The other thing they said… and I had someone really, really, I respect in basketball say to me that we need someone that’s a normal person, that just fits in. We need to fit in and collaborate and be a part of a team. I can’t tell you how many people told me what Mike stood for as a person. I knew Mike, but not great. We were acquaintances with my relationship being around here, but he was the right person, and that was really important.
Scott Dolson: (12:46)
The second thing is, again, as I did my deep dive, Mike’s known as a visionary. Mike’s an Xes and Os guy. Mike, in the NBA and circles of people that at the highest level that I talked to talked about his visionary pick and roll defense that he started in Atlanta that became the normal way for defenses to play moving forward, for his visionary offense, his one in and four out. I’m talking to people that weren’t advocating for Mike. They had no idea where I was in search who talked about there’s no better mind in the NBA than Mike Woodson. It hit me, as we’re looking for the future, that was really, really important.
Scott Dolson: (13:26)
Then the final piece, which is obviously the most important, is I want to partner someone who share the same vision, the same passion, the same plan moving forward because I think it’s all about the plan. It was clear that Mike was the right choice. He checked those boxes among all others. With saying all that, I just can’t tell you how excited I am today, how proud I am to announce to all of you and to Hoosier nation today the next head basketball coach at Indiana University, Mike Woodson. Mike.
Mike Woodson: (13:59)
Scott Dolson: (14:09)
Mike, we got a little… We got to get your uniform back out. We [inaudible 00:14:11].
Mike Woodson: (14:12)
Thank you. Thank you.
Scott Dolson: (14:17)
Mike Woodson: (14:17)
I haven’t seen this in a long time.
Scott Dolson: (14:19)
They said it still fits. Perfect.
Mike Woodson: (14:25)
Thank you. Thanks for coming out. Before I even open the floor up for our questions, there are so many people that I want to acknowledge for me being here today: Coach Bob Knight, who means so much to Indiana basketball. He took a chance on a kid out of Indianapolis many years ago to come here and play basketball. It was a journey for Mike Woodson. Coming to Indiana University to play basketball, he taught me how to play the game of basketball from a fundamental standpoint. He taught me how to be a man on and off the floor. That was huge for me coming out of the inner cities of Indianapolis.
Mike Woodson: (15:44)
I pay tribute to Coach Knight in the utmost way because Indiana basketball will always be Bob Knight. Will always be. It was great that he came back in February a year ago and all the ex-players that surrounded him, the fans. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing, so Karen, coach, I love you guys. For me, this is a complete circle. I’ve done pretty much everything that I wanted to do in basketball.
Mike Woodson: (16:22)
I never dreamed of playing professionally. You don’t go in to college, particularly at that particular time, that you’re thinking that you’re going to play professional basketball. I was just trying to get an education, which I promised my mother and my sisters and brothers. I got that and was able to get drafted in the NBA and fortunate enough to have played 11 years. It all worked hand in hand in making my decision to come to Indiana University, and-
Mike Woodson: (17:03)
Making my decision to come to Indiana University. And then I got into this crazy game of coaching. I have a lot of people to thank for that. Cotton Fitzsimmons, who was one of my early mentors in my early days as a pro player, was the guy who summoned me to come to Phoenix and start coaching. From that day on, it took off for me. The juices started to flow and I just felt after I left the game of playing, I had something to offer some young kid as a coach on and off the floor because I like to think the years that I played here at Indiana University, Coach Knight did something right because I turned out just fine. So in that regard, I felt I had something to give back and I was able to do that over the years of coaching. I was assistant coach for about eight years and then I got my big break as a head coach after winning an NBA title with the great Larry Brown in Detroit.
Mike Woodson: (18:15)
It’s been a nice run in the NBA, but to be able to circle back and come back home and coach Indiana University basketball means a great deal to me. It’s never been about me as a person. I do what I do because I have a beautiful wife and two daughters who allow me over the years to do what I do and Terri, Alexis, Mariah, unbelievable people. They the rock that I stand on. So for me to come back here, to be in front of all my fans and the family and friends, it’s amazing. I never dreamt that this would ever happened to me, but I’m here.
Mike Woodson: (19:09)
And I have so many other people to thank, president McRobbie, Scott for taking the time to fly. I know he had called me and said he wanted to speak with me and he wanted to do a Zoom. And I told him, I said, “If you’re interested in Mike Woodson, either I get on a plane or you get on a plane and you come see me.” And he said, “I’ll be there tomorrow morning,” the next day. So it was I thought a great interview in terms of getting to know one another. Didn’t know if I was going to get the job, but I felt good about my position and what I had presented in terms helping to move the needle here at Indiana University. So Scott, I thank you for making that trip to see me. There are people here today that I like to thank before we get really into this and that’s my family members that are here. Scott, Quinn, can’t say enough, brother. You guys have been in my corner for many, many years, and I thank you. Wayne Junior Rafford is here today. And I know his dad is very happy today. Wayne, thanks for coming, brother.
Mike Woodson: (21:06)
I want to thank my Knick family for allowing me to get out of my contract and come home. Jim Dolan gets a bad rap in New York, but he was a great owner for me. He allowed me to head coach and he allowed me to come back and be an assistant. I have him to thank, Leon, Wes, Scott Perry, and Tom Thibodeau, what a great coach. His beautiful staff that they’ve assembled in New York has allowed me to do what I do now and be able to come back and be a coach here at Indiana University. They didn’t have to do that, but they did. So I thank them very much from the bottom of my heart. Miss [D. 00:22:04] and all the front office and medical and trainers, everybody in that Knick organization is first class and I have them to thank for me standing here today, so thank you.
Mike Woodson: (22:18)
I’d like to think the [Ferguson 00:22:22] family, Steve, Connie, and Matt, and his whole family because he’s been a major mentor in my life. The Cook family, Bill, who’s no longer with us, known him for very many, many years and he was one of my early mentors. He and Gail Cook and Carl, just a beautiful family. [inaudible 00:22:49], I know if you’re listening, boy, you were very instrumental in me getting through school, want to thank you. Nancy Cross, who lives here in town. I know she’s happy that I’m back. Bob [inaudible 00:23:08], we go a long way back. I said I wasn’t going to get sensitive, but boy, this is a great day for Mike Woodson and his family.
Mike Woodson: (23:33)
And it’s a great day for the fans and Hoosier nation, I think, because it’s going to be my job to bridge the gap between young people who don’t know who Coach Woodson is and the old timers that do know who I am. And I’m going to bring all the old timers back like the old days and we’re going to bridge the gap between old and new. And at the end of the day, it’s about two people or two things and that’s the fans and our basketball program and our players. Our players will be first and foremost, I spoke to the guys last night and I think they understand who Coach Woodson is early on because I’ve told them that this whole program is going to be about family. And being about family, there’s a lot of things that comes with that. They are looking for me to get them where they need to go and I’m looking at them to get Indiana basketball where it needs to go. And that’s going to be huge because I’m a coach that push and grab and I try to get the most out of my players. And that word accountability is so important. When you look at players and you talk about coaching. So I’m going to meet with each player individually today and kind of see where their heart and mind are and talk about moving this program in the right direction and that’s getting it back on top, that’s why I’m here. I’m excited about being here. Scott, you just have no idea. This is a wonderful day.
Mike Woodson: (25:41)
So with that being said, and I’m sure I’ve missed some people that I need to thank, but they know they are. I appreciate all the support I’ve gotten over the years and all the old timers, ex players that played here, hey, I’ve gotten a lot of phone calls from you guys reaching out and trust me, when time comes, I’ll return the calls, but I appreciate the support, I really do. So with that being said, I will open the floor up for questions. Here we go. Rick Bowser.
Rick Bozich: (26:27)
First questions is Rick Bozich.
Rick Bozich: (26:28)
Hi, Mike. How long has it been [inaudible 00:26:28] coach at IU and what do you think the biggest challenges are that you face?
Mike Woodson: (26:35)
Well, it’s always been my goal… When I was doing my thing in the NBA as a head coach, I think the timing when the jobs opened up here were not in my favor because I had a job and I never really tried to pursue it, but one time and I didn’t get the job. And so I went on back to my NBA world and that’s where I remained until yesterday and when Jim Dolan gave me the opportunity to get on a plane and come here for the job. But I’ve watched Indiana basketball all my life from afar, even though the 30 years that I’ve spent plus in the NBA. I was always glued to Indiana basketball and that will never change. It’s a big part of my life. We had our ups and downs over the years, I get that, but I’ve always been true to Indiana basketball. So to be able to circle back and give it another shot in trying to come back as the head coach, this time I was able to get it done.
Rick Bozich: (28:03)
Mike Hall: (28:06)
Mike, welcome home [inaudible 00:28:08]. The one concern is your lack of college basketball experience, how do you plan to bridge the gap there?
Mike Woodson: (28:21)
This is echoing. I’m sorry, I couldn’t understand that because [crosstalk 00:28:26].
Mike Hall: (28:27)
I understand. Is there anything I can do?
Mike Woodson: (28:35)
I’m sorry, I can’t understand what you’re saying.
Mike Hall: (28:39)
Mike Woodson: (28:41)
[crosstalk 00:28:41] come in a little bit clearer. And if you can understand then maybe you can repeat the question, that’d be great.
Speaker 1: (28:59)
[inaudible 00:28:59] are you concerned about your lack of college experience?
Mike Woodson: (29:05)
Not at all. Basketball, to me, is basketball. Sure, I’ve never coached in college, but I like to think that I’ve coached at the highest level and I’ve coached some of the greatest players that’s ever graced the basketball world. The NBA family is a beautiful thing, guys, and I’ve been fortunate enough to be a part of that for 30 plus years. So yes, there are going to be some challenges, me coming back here to coach this great university and this basketball team, but at the end of the day, coaching is coaching. I got to get players, go out and recruit quality student athletes that can come in here and help this program move in the right direction. And I got to groom these young men to be men on and off the floor, that’s what it’s all about. Somebody took a chance, like I said earlier, on me and I turned out just fine. So there will be challenges, but I’m going to try to surround myself with people that can help me navigate some of the challenges. But at the end of the day, I got to put a product on the floor that Hoosier fans will love from a defensive standpoint and from an office standpoint, in terms of winning basketball games. I got to teach and develop players, that’s the only way it’s going to get done in terms of building a program to win.
Rick Bozich: (30:52)
Coach, this is from [inaudible 00:30:53]. You mentioned bridging the gap. This will be the first time that you have recruited. If you were talking to a prospect right now, what would your message be?
Mike Woodson: (31:06)
Well, again, it wouldn’t be my first time recruiting, first time recruiting in college. We recruit all the time in the NBA. The one year I coached Atlanta Hawks, when I was given that job, I had the youngest team in the history of the game and they were all recruits from the college game where you had to go out and do background checks, medical checks, I mean, all kinds of things in terms of bringing a player in that you think that can help build your program. So we’re not new to recruiting, free agency, you got to go out and recruit. But we’re recruiting younger people now and I get that.
Mike Woodson: (31:47)
And I remember when coach came in to recruit me, all those things come into play. Yeah, I’ve been far removed from it, but I honestly believe I can go in a kid’s home and be able to relate because of what I’ve gone through in my career and I have a story to tell, I do. And if that kid’s willing to listen and he buys into my story, I think I can get them to come to Indiana University. Yeah, recruiting is hard because you got a lot of coaches out there trying to recruit the best talent to help their respective teams win basketball games. Well, I’m going to be in that same pool and I’m going to go out and try to do it the right way and we’ll do it the right way and we’ll win the right way once I get quality kids here that I think can help us win basketball games.
Rick Bozich: (32:53)
This is from Mike [inaudible 00:32:56], do you have staff members in mind and what are you prioritizing with your assistant coach hires?
Mike Woodson: (33:01)
Well, yes, I have people in mine. And I will sit down with Scott and [inaudible 00:33:09] and kind of asses some of the coaches that I’m getting all kinds of calls from friends and coaches that want to come and help me. And then I have my list of coaches that I think can help me. So we will collaborate together and figure out what’s good for Mike Woodson and the Indiana University program moving forward. Coaching is important. I think you got to put people around you that you trust, people around you that’s willing to work hard. That’s what I’ve done in my two stops as an NBA head coach. I tried to put people that it’s going to work and that’s going to be loyal and help me develop young players to be basketball-
Mike Woodson: (34:03)
… me develop young players to be basketball players and good people off the floor.
Rick Bozich: (34:10)
Coach, this is from Eric. Can you explain to everyone why it’s important to have the former players at IU be part of the current program, and how that impacts the current players?
Mike Woodson: (34:20)
Well, it impacts it in a huge way. All I can talk about is the days when Coach Knight was here and how he had everybody come back every year, and that was a beautiful reunion, man. I miss those days, and I’m going to bring those days back because I think it’s important. A lot of these old timers, they probably look at me as an old timer, we laid the groundwork for where we are today, and those players should never ever be forgotten, and in my heart they won’t ever be forgotten. So, I will bring them all back and bridge this gap that is so desperately needed with the young players and the young fan base that we do have. A lot of these young fan base, they don’t know who I am, and I get that. My daughters remind me of that. But at the end of the day, I’ve been chosen to be the coach here and I’m going to try to tie it all together to make it all work, and we’ll all be one big family and win basketball games.
Rick Bozich: (35:42)
Coach, this is from Zach Osterman. What will your message be to the players as you sit own with them today? What kind of vision will you outline to them?
Mike Woodson: (35:50)
Well, again, moving forward we have a few players that have entered the portal, players that I think can help us win basketball games next season. So, my first job is to sit down with each one of them and talk about staying in Hoosier Nation, that’s what’s important. And if I got to plead and beg a little bit to keep them here, I’m going to do that. But again, they’ve got to make the final decision on what they want to do, but there’s no better place in the country to play basketball, I think, and that’s what I’m going to relay to them. I’m going to let them know that I’m in their corner, that we’re family. I’m going to always have an open door policy where they can come in and talk to Coach Woodson. I’ve never strayed away from that over the years. So, there’s a lot that I have to do once I leave this press conference, in terms of sitting down with each individual player and having a powwow with them and see where their heart is.
Rick Bozich: (37:08)
Okay, next question’s from Alex [inaudible 00:37:10]. Did you know Thad well before this, and what do you envision his role being with the program?
Mike Woodson: (37:15)
Well, I’ve always watched Thad from afar, and again I follow the big 10, and Thad has had major success in the big 10 as a head coach, the 13 years he coached the Ohio State team, and I had my battles with Herb Williams, who was a great Ohio State player and who worked for me in New York. So, we always go around about with one another during the big 10 season. So, I’ve watched Thad from afar, this is the first time I’ve actually had an opportunity to sit and talk with Thad. Again, great basketball mind. My ego hasn’t always been intact, in terms of being able to accept great basketball minds and what they’re thinking. I think that’s healthy from a coaching standpoint, and I think it can’t do nothing but help me as I move up the role in trying to build this basketball team. So, I’m grateful that Thad’s on board. Again, we’ve got to put a staff together and we’ll work towards that here in the next week or so.
Rick Bozich: (38:32)
Coach, this is from Dustin. What vision do you have for the team and for this program as far as [inaudible 00:38:39] play is concerned on offense and defense? Scott mentioned, when you made the hire, that he wanted the team to be on the cutting edge and play a modern style of basketball. What does that mean to you?
Mike Woodson: (38:50)
Well again, when I look at college basketball, a lot of it is they’re taking things from our league now, and their defense or switching defenses, a lot of zone, may it be three quarter court, half quarter, zone defenses. Offensively, they’re shooting a lot of threes, like the NBA. So, when I look at college basketball and the fact that our game is starting to come this way in a major way, I think I can bring a system in that, from a defensive standpoint where we can recruit players that are capable of playing three or four positions. That’s how I did it in the pros. Players that if you did switch defensively, you felt good about them, that player guarding the ball. And players that are committed to rebounding the basketball. I think when you build a defensive system, if everybody’s connected together and work hard to defend, not only the ball, but when there’s a breakdown, and rebound the basketball as a unit, you put yourselves in a position to win basketball games. A la New York Knicks. Offensively, the three ball has changed the game. There’s no doubt about that. So, we’ve got to recruit players that can shoot the ball, and pass, and dribble, and be able to make plays for one another, and in doing that I think I can create an offense that everybody touches the basketball, and if you can shoot the basketball, then you’re expected to shoot it and make shots. If you can’t shoot it, then you got to do other things to help us win basketball games.
Mike Woodson: (41:07)
So, it’s my job to go out again and put the best team possible on the floor that can do those things, but the style has changed, like I said, and it’s a beautiful style. I don’t think you can always just live on shooting threes, but it’s great if you’ve got a team that can make it. We built a team in New York with [inaudible 00:41:33] and Jim Dolan and myself, where we bought in eight new players that season and all eight could shoot the three ball, and our core group was fabulous at shooting the threes, and we led the league in threes taken, threes made, and we’re third in three point percentage. And that team ended up winning the division that year. So, the three ball has changed the game, and we’ve got to find players that can make the three ball as well.
Rick Bozich: (42:09)
Coach, this is from [inaudible 00:42:11]. Calbert Cheney told me one of your biggest strengths is adapting to the talent that you have year to year. Can you give us a couple examples of that?
Mike Woodson: (42:19)
Well, when I started in Atlanta, I started out with 18, 19, 20 year old young men, and I wasn’t realistic when I came into Atlanta, because I’d just come off a title run in Detroit where we won an NBA title. So, I honestly felt when I went to Atlanta, that I could win an NBA title that year, because I was on such a high, and that just wasn’t realistic. But I never sold those players on not making the playoffs. When you look back at that team; Josh Smith, Josh Childress, Royal Ivey, Donta Smith, Salim Stoudamire, Marvin Williams. These are all young babies, and that ownership was fortunate enough to stick with me. They gave me the resources, they gave me the opportunity to build that team, and three years later we were in the playoffs playing the Boston Celtics to a game seven, who ended up winning the NBA title that year.
Mike Woodson: (43:31)
So, basketball is funny, but we’ve just got to keep pushing, and pushing players to do the right thing on and off the floor.
Rick Bozich: (43:50)
Coach, this is from Dana. Can you talk about growing up in Indianapolis, your childhood, family, high school career?
Mike Woodson: (43:57)
Well, I’m from a major big family of 12 brothers and sisters. I lost my parents at a very young age, and I’ve lost my siblings along the way. But growing up in Indianapolis and playing the game of basketball, there just wasn’t a place you couldn’t go to get a basketball game in Indianapolis, and the talent back then was just tremendous, man. I mean, I can go in every area of Indianapolis and play pickup basketball and play at a high level with great talent.
Mike Woodson: (44:39)
And I don’t know if it’s still that way today, but it was loaded back then. And everybody who played basketball, they always had their eyes on Indiana University, or Purdue, or Notre Dame, but I always had my eyes on Indiana University and the basketball program, because it was so powerful at that time, and every year you knew that Indiana was in position to do something special, and that’s what I wanted to be a part of, and I remember my sixth grade teacher, which I couldn’t afford at that time to go to Bob Knight’s camp, pay for me to come down, and I ended up winning a three on three contest at Coach Knight’s camp with two other kids, and Coach gave me a T-shirt and told me he would follow me my senior year in high school, and that’s all I needed to hear. And I had a great senior year, and he came knocking, and I made the decision to come here and play basketball. So, it all started in Indianapolis growing up.
Rick Bozich: (45:57)
Okay, Coach, last question from Kent. How do you feel about the players you have inherited? Do they fit the system that you want to play, or do you want to crack the system to your player’s strengths?
Mike Woodson: (46:12)
I’ve watched a few games of the Hoosiers this year, and they’ve had their ups and downs. I get it. The pandemic hasn’t helped, I guess their psyche and their way of thinking in terms of college life here on campus. But I’ve got to assess, after going back today, and I’ll go and watch more film, and I’ve got to assess after speaking with these young men, and get their feelings on this past season and what their thinking is on staying or leaving. Because some decisions have got to be made if they decide to leave, but I’m going to do my best, put my best foot forward to see that the guys that I think can help us move forward in this program, that they stay on board. But if not, then I’ve got to go to plan B and probably go in the portal and try to find players that I think fits the system that can help us win basketball games here.
Rick Bozich: (47:34)
Coach, I did have one more question. NBA people have praised you for your player development skills with young guys in the league. Can you see that skill immediately helping you here at this level too?
Mike Woodson: (47:47)
Well, it’s going to have to help me, because I think when you get a younger player, there’s so much that that young player has to be taught, and that’s on and off the floor. I harp on that off the floor thing so much because it goes hand in hand, academics and basketball. You can’t separate them. But the development program and the development of individual players is vital, I don’t care what level it is and what sport it is. If you don’t develop, you struggle I think, and over the years, all the teams in the NBA that I’ve worked with, we’ve been able to develop great players, man. And it takes time, but if the player’s willing to accept coaching, because it’s demanding. I mean, hell, it wasn’t easy for me, and I turned out just fine, and I’m going to push guys, I’m going to be demanding that they work, come to the gym, put the time in. And I think if they do that good things will happen, and in the long run we’ll all benefit from it from a basketball standpoint.
Rick Bozich: (49:09)
Coach, thank you very much.
Mike Woodson: (49:11)
Rick Bozich: (49:11)
At this time, we’ll have Scott go back up to answer a few questions.
Mike Woodson: (49:14)
All right. Thank you. Take my jersey, Scott.
Rick Bozich: (49:25)
Okay, Scott. What was the process like for you, what was the first meeting like, you going to Mike, and what really connected you with Mike early on in this process?
Scott Dolson: (49:38)
Yeah, the process is probably not as complicated as a lot of people think. I really spent a great deal of time early on focusing on the vision, that I mentioned earlier, and at the same time creating a list of candidates that I thought of, candidates that were identified through people liaisons letting me know, and then working through that and just lots and lots and lots of phone calls and due diligence with people I trust. And the first meeting with Mike, I talked about it earlier, it was just clear the priorities that I’d identified and the vision for the program, he got it.
Scott Dolson: (50:20)
There was an immediate connection with us, and one of the things that stood out is, again, the type of person he is, the respect he has, but the collaboration. Because I’m a big believer, from a leadership standpoint, in teamwork, and surrounding yourself with good people. I say that about the staff I work with at our team, I say that out our other coaches and their staffs, and that’s exactly what Mike was saying to me, not even really knowing that that was critically important to me. And he said it earlier, there’s no ego, it’s not about Mike Woodson. It’s about a vision for the program in the future and building on-
Scott Dolson: (51:03)
A vision for the program in the future, and building on our tradition of excellence. And so we hit it off right away and that meant a lot to me.
Rick Bozich: (51:11)
This is from Jeff, how did you come up with the idea of a partnership between Mike Woodson and Thad Matta? And how did you pick Matta as the partner for coach Woodson?
Scott Dolson: (51:22)
Yeah, it really came out, I was flying back on an airplane from New York after our first visit, and it just struck me, I kept thinking about Mike, the success he’s had and how he had partnered. I kept thinking about Glen Grunwald, and I thought about my role in putting this team together. And I’d had conversations with Thad, and Thad and I, from the start, as I talked to him, a lot of people don’t know, but Thad’s got an incredible passion for Indiana basketball.
Scott Dolson: (51:53)
Thad and I, I’m two years older than Thad, but we’re both products of the 1976 team. He grew up an incredible fan. In fact, Scott Eells, a player on that team was from, I would say, Hoopeston, Hoopeston Illinois, that Thad grew up following Scott Eells and followed Indiana basketball. He was at the game when Scott May broke his arm in 1975. And so in my mind, I started thinking about this team and really based on what Woody was asking me for and what he needed. And then knowing, in my conversation with Thad, his basketball mind, his knowledge of the business speaks for itself, I just started formulating this plan, again, and the next step is assistant coaches and so forth and so on.
Scott Dolson: (52:45)
But for us to do the things that we want to do for the vision, it’s all about picking the right leader. It’s kind of what I’ve said before about Tom Allen, or I’ll say it about Terry Morne or Todd Yeagley, but it all starts and stops with the head coach. And clearly Mike Woodson is the leader we need, but it’s imperative on me to surround the head coach with the resources to make things happen and to achieve our vision. And Thad to me, was an absolute perfect fit. And everything I said about Mike from a person in terms of the type of person he is, all the people I talked to across college basketball, across the NBA, it’s just so interesting to me, even though their paths had crossed, they knew of each other, obviously the same qualities in Mike that appealed to me, the exact same qualities in Thad in terms of the type of person he is, the type of selfless leader and a person that I could partner with. And again, knowing my responsibilities in the department, having an administrator that can help me with this vision for Indiana basketball
Rick Bozich: (53:49)
Here’s from Tom. Can you talk about the first conversation with Mike and where it went from there?
Scott Dolson: (53:55)
Yeah. The first conversation with Mike, I flew to New York as he mentioned, I did do a lot over Zoom. It’s kind of commonplace, I am like most people, probably all of you on the Zoom right now are a little Zoomed out, but we just had a terrific meeting. I look at it more as a conversation and again, for me, and I don’t mean to be repetitive, but it’s all about the vision for the program for the future. And I talked to so many people, but one of the things in hiring a former player that was really, I think critical is, you have to hire the right person first, the person that has the skillset, the knowledge with all those things that were important in our vision. And if they happened to be a former player, that’s a bonus.
Scott Dolson: (54:44)
But I was so impressed with everything. I talked to Mike about everything I learned from talking to people. And I like to talk to people who had no idea who I really was interested in. People that were just talking to me because they were interested in helping me and Indiana University. So Mike hit all of those qualities and then was just reinforced with people that are at the highest levels of respect in the NBA and college basketball. So I just felt like, again, from that first meeting on, we had a connection.
Rick Bozich: (55:21)
Okay. This is from Dustin. What did you hear from Mike in terms of style of play that told you he would be a good fit and what did he say or do to convince you that it would be able to make the transition from the NBA to the college game?
Scott Dolson: (55:33)
The big thing is, again as I said, and people I talked to and then what he conveyed to me and I grew up in basketball, so I like to talk it. I’m not a coach, and I told him Mike, I don’t want to pick the players we recruit, I don’t want to be a micromanager, but at the same time, I understand it to some level. And it was just very interesting to me to talk to Mike about his vision, ways that he adapted to the teams he had, the ways he developed players, we talked about the pick and roll defense and how big that is and how really, which is another important factor, how the college game is really migrating to the pro game. And from a style of play, the meetings I had with our current players, which I can’t underscore how important those meetings were with our current players.
Scott Dolson: (56:26)
Our current players really talked about three things. They talked about relationship was really important to them. They talked about skill development and how that skill development can translate to the style of play we play, but also translate to playing at the next level. And the third thing they talked about was just a style of play overall. And again, in my meetings with Mike in talking to him and then talking to several people, as I said I highly respected across the NBA and college basketball, Mike just, it really just felt like it was a great fit for sure. And he happens to be a great former player, which is nice too.
Rick Bozich: (57:09)
This from John, what did you think when Mike told you he needed that conversation to be in person? How quickly were you able to get on a plane? And you say you didn’t know him that well, but how much in that in-person interaction, did you get a sense for what kind of person Mike is?
Scott Dolson: (57:26)
Yeah. It was very fortunate to be able to get things moving. In this type of search, you have to be nimble. Again, I did lock myself in the basement and was on the phone pretty much nonstop, but I felt like in talking to Mike, that I agreed with him and I was that interested that I felt that that was important, so I flew down there. And right away, it’s interesting because you sometimes are around people, again, I’d been around Mike, I would say we’re acquaintances because of my relationship with the kind of basketball family as a manager, but there’s certain people you’re around that you feel like that you’re old friends with and it’s kind of hard to describe, but you know it when you see it. And I’ll say this, it felt the same thing with Thad as well. You just feel like sometimes when people are cut from the same cloth and people’s. And I’ve said this before, your reputation, my dad said this when I was young, my dad said, “Your reputation is built on what you do, not what you say you’re going to do.”
Scott Dolson: (58:31)
And Mike’s reputation, from people who weren’t advocating for him for the job, they were going through a list of a lot of names that I was just running by to get what people thought. Mike’s reputation was impeccable. And I certainly felt that and felt like we were old friends. And again, this is a partnership. To move the program towards a future that we want to do, we all have to be together on this, and it’s a unified front and it’s building, again to be repetitive, but this is how I feel, we’re building on this tradition, but it’s got to be a vision for the future and where basketball is headed are where our recruits, when they look and think about Indiana basketball, it’s attractive because of what coach Woodson’s doing, what he can bring to them from their individual skill development, what that does for our team and team success and also for basketball beyond college if that’s our aspiration, which most of them it is.
Rick Bozich: (59:28)
Okay. Two more questions. One from Kayla. A few weeks ago, you talked about acknowledging past accomplishments, but at the same time wanting to create a modern tradition Coach is obviously a former player and a coach Knight, what about him did you see as a good fit to blend the two ideas to build a new tradition?
Scott Dolson: (59:45)
Yeah, I think our tradition, there’s certain things that are just in the fabric that just in my view just never change. And that was established a long time ago with coach Knight. Our players go to class, we care about the whole person. We do things right. We play by the rules and then obviously we want to compete at the highest levels. And those are things that just are in the foundation of the program. And you can see with our fans, one of the things that’s always been interesting to me and something I take a great deal of pride in is that our fans get as excited about seeing a former player at a game or reading about a former player’s success in life, as much as they do about their success on the court. And I love that part of Indiana basketball. But at the same time, we’ve got to change and we’ve got to make certain we have a vision moving forward.
Scott Dolson: (01:00:40)
And so balancing that past and having that foundation to build on is huge. No one will ever convince me that it’s a negative to have that incredible foundation. That doesn’t put pressure, I don’t think at all. To me, that’s our springboard for the future, but it’s incumbent upon me as leading this department to make certain that I bring people together that can attract the student athletes that understand we’re about the future and we have a vision for the future and that they understand that we understand what the future is of college basketball and also the professional level as well.
Rick Bozich: (01:01:15)
Okay. Last question from Alex. The recruiting aspect is a huge part of this job, how confident are you that Mike will be able to be successful there? And what gives you that confidence?
Scott Dolson: (01:01:25)
I’m 100% confident. And it’s because recruiting is about relationships and trust. And relationships and trust are, it’s easy to say, and it’s hard to kind of quantify, but you know it when you see it. And I will sleep great at night knowing that Mike Woodson is in the homes of recruits talking about, not just basketball, but talking about all the important qualities in entrusting a young man to come play for this program. And I’ve got zero concerns from that area. I’ll sleep well at night knowing that Mike Woodson is out there recruiting student athletes to come to Indiana university to play basketball.
Rick Bozich: (01:02:06)
Scott again, thank you.
Scott Dolson: (01:02:08)
Thank you all very much and go IU.
Mike Hall: (01:02:25)
So there it is. It’s official now, a former Indiana Hoosier player is back to be the head coach. And why are we in this position? Because the last time that Indiana made an NCA tournament was 2016, only two big 10 programs have a longer drought of playing in the dance. Mike Woodson officially introduced as the 30th head coach in Indiana history. A lot of takeaways from this early introduction to him. He was asked about having no college experience as a head coach, and his response was, “Basketball is basketball.” He said, “Indiana basketball will always be Bob Knight’s.” Tying back to the fact that he was a player there from 76 to 80, Bob Knight was his head coach. Touched on a little bit of his personal life, including talking about losing his parents at an early age. And one of the most interesting things about this setup was the fact that Thad Matta will be a part of the program. He said that Woodson wants collaboration, wants resources around him. And there’s a good relationship with Matta all around at Indiana.
Mike Hall: (01:03:30)
And you heard Scott Dolson talking about the fact that Matta has some deep ties to being a fan of Indiana basketball as well. We are not done with our coverage of this big news from Bloomington. The head coach of the Hoosiers, Mike Woodson is going to join me for a discussion. You can see and hear that entire discussion coming up later on this evening on the big show where we’ll be talking about, among other things, the Indiana Hoosier Women’s program, which is playing in the elite eight. But again, the big story of the day, Mike Woodson is coming back home to be the new head coach for the Indiana Hoosiers. He is still the fifth all-time leading score in Indiana program history. Again, you can hear my interview with Woodson coming up later on this evening on the big show.