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'Everything is interchangeable': Indiana men's basketball embraces positionless style of play

Mike Woodson and the Hoosiers will play a versatile brand of ball this year.

With four talented freshmen joining the Indiana men’s basketball team this season, there are lots of questions about lineups, positions and the overall minutes distribution of the team.

While those questions are yet to be officially answered on the floor, the team has hinted to many of its players being at different positions on the court. It started with Kaleb Banks and Jordan Geronimo (who are traditionally power forwards) saying this summer that they will play small forward a lot this season. That theme continued at Thursday’s media day.

It started with Trayce Jackson-Davis talking about how he expects to play power forward with big men Malik Reneau and Logan Duncomb playing at center.

“[Duncomb will] play a little bit of the five. I think Malik will rotate at the five and four, as well,” Jackson-Davis said. “But with our offense, everything is interchangeable.”

“Being able to be a versatile big, not only playing in the post but being able to outside on the perimeter, it’s definitely stuff that me and coach Woodson talked about,” Reneau said.

Trayce Jackson-Davis during the game against the Purdue Boilermakers and the Indiana Hoosiers at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington, IN. (Missy Minear/Indiana Hoosiers)

This style of multi-positional basketball goes along with Mike Woodson’s NBA background. “Positionless basketball” has been a term tossed around for years in the pros, and it feels like Woodson is embracing that heading into his second season at the helm.

In 2017, Celtics president of basketball operations and former head coach Brad Stevens said, "It may be as simple as three positions now, where you’re either a ball-handler, a wing or a big.”

The Hoosiers are leaning all in on this pro style of play. The team recently announced it will hold its first-ever pro day on Friday, Oct. 7. The event will be in the afternoon, as Hoosier Hysteria begins later that evening. Representatives from all 30 NBA teams will be invited.

“It's something that's never been done here,” Woodson said on Thursday about the pro day. “I've got to keep my ties with the NBA world anyway. I've got a lot of friends at the big level. It will be nice to have them come in and watch what we do.”

This positional versatility won’t only be in the frontcourt. Guard Xavier Johnson said he’ll also be playing in multiple places in 2022-23.

“I’m honestly going to be playing two positions this year, so I’ve got to know two different positions,” Johnson said. “I’ve just got to know where everybody’s supposed to be because I’m not just the point guard, I’m going to play the two with Jalen [Hood-Schifino].”

It seems like this will be a stark difference from the stern position alignments the team had a season ago. This could be vital for Indiana on both ends of the court.

“Everybody’s over 6-2 so that’s going to be good for switching…Being able to play different positions is going to be a key thing for us. I think that’s a huge thing for our team,” Reneau said.

Everyone is waiting to see how Woodson manages his lineups and which freshmen will play large minutes. But don’t be surprised if most of the team is playing two-to-three positions this season.

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