BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — It might only be September, but the expectations for Indiana basketball this year haven’t been this high in nearly a decade. Indiana University marched its way into the NCAA Tournament for the first time in five years last season. Most of that team is coming back to Assembly Hall this year, which is great news for this Hoosiers team that has been desperate to get back on top.
“When I came in here and took the job, expectations were high,” head coach and former Hoosiers star Mike Woodson said. “This program is built that way, and it should be that way. It’s what it is, man. I’m not going to run from it, and I’m not going to let my players run from it.”
IU’s top three scorers – Trayce Jackson-Davis, Race Thompson and Xavier Johnson – are back with very specific goals in mind: to live up to the lofty expectations.
“Finally coming in here to this historic program and having an expectation to do something big I think is huge,” Jackson-Davis said. “Obviously we’re going to carry that with a chip on our shoulder, but I think our team is hungry, and we’re ready to get out there and play.”
The key to IU’s potential success will be the return of last year’s leading-scorer and All-American Jackson-Davis, who averaged nearly 19 points a game last season.
“I mean, he’s the biggest part of our team so him coming back is just huge for us,” Thompson said. “I mean, I love playing with Trayce. He makes the game easy for me. He makes the game easy for our teammates.”
“The fact that he made the commitment to come back is huge for our program. I mean, it’s like the piece to the program,” Woodson said. “He’s still got a lot of work on the table. He’s got a lot of things he’s got to finish. You talk about legacy, legacy is putting another Big Ten title in here. Legacy is putting another national title. That’s what it’s all about.”
Five banners hang in Assembly Hall, two of them bookending Woodson’s career as a player here. Winning his own ring and getting to hang another one are at the top of his list for his second year as IU’s coach.