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Roundtable Discussion: After Indiana's collapse against St. Mary's, we grade Mike Woodson's first season and look ahead

Disappointing would be an understatement. Indiana’s season comes to a close after an 82-53 loss in the round of 64 against fifth-seeded St. Mary’s. 

To wrap up the season, our guys answer and discuss some of the biggest questions.

What went wrong against St. Mary’s?

William McDermott: They just looked exhausted. There are no excuses but Indiana was unprepared and drained. St. Mary’s is a great team and it was just one of those games where the Hoosiers never left the hotel room. It doesn’t help that Trayce Jackson-Davis, Xavier Johnson and Jordan Geronimo were basically playing a three on five as the other players were non-existent. 

Zak Ibrahim: What didn’t go wrong? Of course it’s important to note IU was playing its fifth game in a week. Saint Mary’s was playing its first game in nine days, so fatigue was clearly a factor. Indiana could never produce any quality looks outside of the first 10 minutes, while the defense never played up to its potential because of the fatigue. Saint Mary’s shot the lights out from 3-point range while IU got no perimeter scoring. 

Jack Edwards: Beating St. Mary’s was always going to prove to be difficult. It is even harder when three starters struggle offensively. Race Thompson, Parker Stewart and Miller Kopp combined for 64 minutes and had just six points to show for it. Not good enough.

Zion Brown: It felt like Indiana was too mentally drained to compete with St. Mary’s. After all Indiana had been through in the week leading to the game, it was going to be far too difficult for the Hoosiers to contend with a veteran squad like the Gaels.

How would you grade Mike Woodson’s first season? 

Zion: I would give Mike Woodson’s season an A-. The year was highlighted by an NCAA Tournament appearance and victories over Purdue, Illinois, Ohio State and Michigan. When you add the optimism of promising recruiting classes, Woodson’s tenure started off well. Woodson definitely has room for improvement as a college basketball head coach, but you can’t ask much more for a first-year head coach in the Big Ten.

William: B+. Very successful first year for Mike Woodson. I think it met and exceeded many expectations in the first season of a new era. Woodson was thrown into a tough spot and still made the tournament and ended multiple losing droughts. The sky's the limit. 

Zak: Mike Woodson gets a B+ from me as well. I was the one that called his first season a success after beating Purdue but I felt inclined to change my mind after the month of February. Luckily for IU, a quick turnaround occurred in the postseason. Through its run in both tournaments, IU showed the necessary belief needed to make a run at March Madness. Woodson instilled that belief and that’s a powerful thing.

Jack: I’m gonna go a little different to the rest of the guys and say a B. Before the season, both myself and the other guys projected Indiana as a 6-8 seed in the NCAA Tournament, meaning that they’re eventual 12 seeded play-in fell below pre-season expectations. Granted, we learned a lot about the roster's shortcomings, so he gets props for making the tournament and having a run in the Big Ten Tournament. However, there were flaws to the season (looking at you, February), giving it a very average finish in my eyes.

How should this team be remembered?

Jack: The pretext for every big game this year was about what IU had done in the past. Indiana broke numerous negative droughts and streaks this year, leading the team into a new year in 2022-2023 with a fresher start in a lot of ways. This team won’t be difficult to improve from (decent shooting changes a lot), nor was it a disappointing season. The most likely scenario is that this team is largely forgotten beyond the ending of the Purdue and NCAA Tournament droughts, as this year does not represent what Woodson’s Hoosiers will look like with years and recruits under the belt.

Zion: This team should be remembered as one that built the foundation for the Mike Woodson era. Should Woodson make Indiana legitimate contenders in the Big Ten and around the country, expect to see some tweets along the lines of, “They built this” with images of Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson. 

William: They should be remembered as the team that laid a foundation. The Hoosiers shut out all of the noise this year and simply got things done. They will set the tone and cultural change that the Indiana basketball program needed. 

Zak: The 2021-22 Hoosiers ended some of the program’s most staggering droughts, most notably the six-year absence from the NCAA Tournament. It took a run in the Big Ten Tournament to get there and it’s when we saw IU play its best. In the end, this group will be remembered for its postseason play: the good and the bad.

What are you looking forward to most about next season?

Zak: I’m excited to see all incoming freshmen and possible transfers. It never hurts to see fresh faces contributing for a program that escaped mediocrity like Indiana did this year. It’s a program on the rise, in part because of Mike Woodson’s recruiting class. These will be players Woodson has selected and I’m eager to see how he gets them to perform. 

Jack: A matchup with Kansas in December of 2022 is highly exciting, and will do wonders to improve Indiana’s non-conference strength of schedule (a big talking point in tournament seeding). The trip to another legendary arena in college basketball will make for great viewing. 

Zion: The three incoming freshmen (Jalen Hood-Schifino, Kaleb Banks and C.J. Gunn) will be a big storyline heading into the 2022-23 season. Hood-Schifino and Banks are touted as top-100 prospects and Gunn is the one Indiana native that is always good to get. The possible impact that these recruits could have on the team is very intriguing, as it may decide the ceiling of the team.

William: I'm actually really looking forward to seeing the adjustments Woodson makes with his playbook. Now, a year into his college coaching career, what changes does he make? Does he change some of his offensive philosophy? He’ll have a whole offseason to look at film and see what he has with the new guys? Next year I expect there to be a little more fluidity and pace in the offense. 

What (potentially returning) player needs to take the biggest jump next season?

William: Trey Galloway. Not that he doesn’t already, but if Galloway can develop a jump shot he will mean a whole lot to this team. That jump shot, whether it's from 3 or midrange, is going to be crucial for Indiana and for Galloway if he wants to take the next step. Anywhere above 35 percent and it makes IU’s offense so much more dynamic.  

Zak: I’ll go with Tamar Bates. He’s a true freshman who struggled through a shooting slump and inconsistent minutes but still played his game whenever on the court. He's never bashful when it comes to shooting the ball, and that’s something I like. Defensively, I also see him making noticeable improvement under Woodson. Overall, his supreme talent and confidence have me intrigued to see what he can become next season.

Jack: Geronimo is an interesting choice, but the player that needs one will be Khristian Lander. Lander is clearly not up to Woodson’s expectations, and as such, needs to either improve or move on to another program. He is one of many interesting players who are teetering on the edge of their IU future. 

Zion: It’s Jordan Geronimo. I’d love to give some insightful, out-of-the-box answer but Geronimo is the easy choice. He’s the most athletic player on the team and he’s already a great defender. If Geronimo can develop one consistent offensive skill — whether it’s perimeter shooting, ball handling or post play — he will be in position to get consistent minutes and become one of the Big Ten’s best. Indiana’s coaching staff should prioritize Geronimo’s development more than any other returning player.

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