One month until Indiana’s Hoosier Hysteria officially kicks off the 2023-24 season, the second annual media day took place Wednesday evening alongside the women’s basketball team. Head coach Mike Woodson and the rest of the Hoosier roster spoke to the media about their goals for the new season.
Here are three takeaways from what was said during media day:
Xavier Johnson is healthy & ready to dominate
Johnson suffered a broken foot against the Kansas Jayhawks in December of last year, forcing him to the sideline for the remainder of the season. Now coming back from that injury, the captain is hungrier than ever to compete at the highest level.
“The toughest part was seeing my team,” Johnson said. “We went on a losing streak last year and I couldn't really help them out, to get on the floor to really help them out, so I had to talk to them and just be the motivational speaker on the sidelines.”
Fellow teammate Trey Galloway expressed his empathy for Johnson’s situation last season. During his three-year career at Indiana, Galloway has suffered groin, back and wrist injuries which have put him out for over 15 games.
Galloway and Woodson both stated how vital Johnson will be for Indiana to see success this season. Johnson is expected to be one of the vocal leaders while utilizing his five years of experience to propel the team forward.
Indiana’s young talent is intriguing
The Hoosiers brought in many new faces this offseason. Kel’el Ware, Mackenzie Mgbako and Gabe Cupps top that list. Heading into the 2023-24 season, all three are prepared for their first action as an Indiana Hoosier.
Ware already has a year’s worth of experience under his belt coming from Oregon. Ware was criticized for his work ethic and lack of production with the Ducks, something that he says fuels him to work as hard as possible.
“I want to prove that everybody is wrong about me,” Ware said, “I want to show everybody that I have a motor, I can keep going on the court. Most people try to say that I’m lazy, well I’m going to prove to them that I’m not lazy.”
Indiana’s other two freshmen Cupps and Mgbako come to the Hoosier state with the help of NBA legends. Cupps went viral in 2019 while playing travel basketball with Bronny James, challenging the NBA’s all-time leading scorer LeBron James to a 3-point contest. Since his encounter with King James, Cupps has continued to stay in touch and once he committed to Indiana 2021, the Centerville native got a special shoutout from James himself.
Mgbako comes to Indiana as the second-highest recruit in the 247Sports era. The five-star prospect communicated with future NBA Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony prior to his commitment to Indiana. Anthony spoke about how it was to play under Woodson during his time with the New York Knicks and was part of the reason Mgbako chose Indiana over Kansas.
New team, same goals
Despite losing Trayce Jackson-Davis, Jalen Hood-Schfino, Race Thompson, Miller Kopp and others to the transfer portal, Indiana’s goals remain the same.
Win a Big Ten title. Win a national title.
The Hoosiers bring in 10 different faces to this season’s roster. Woodson acknowledged that a lot of work is still left to be done before Indiana opens up its season against Marian for an exhibition in October. But the third-year head coach is optimistic considering the players the team has brought in.
Indiana’s official practice begins Sept. 26 with the season opener on Nov. 7 against Florida Gulf Coast. Stay up-to-date with Indiana men’s basketball by following the Hoosier Network as well as beat reporters Audrey Marr, Thomas Montalbano and myself all season long.