Indiana hires Mike Woodson as head coach; three things to know about the former Hoosiers star

Indiana pulled their new head coach off an NBA bench – but no, it’s not Brad Stevens.

The Hoosiers announced on Sunday that they hired Knicks assistant coach Mike Woodson after sacking Archie Miller earlier this month. Woodson and Indiana came to an agreement on a six-year deal, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.

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Woodson hit the ground running, as he was already on his way to meet his players shortly after Indiana made his official announcement.

What can the 63-year-old bring to an Indiana program that has struggled to regain its former glory? Here are three great things to know about Woodson.

Mike Woodson has a great history with Indiana

Woodson, originally from Indianapolis, might as well have come out of the movie “Hoosiers”. He was all-in on Indiana basketball from a young age.

“Each court had courts, little basketball hoops in the backyard,” Woodson told the New York Post in 2012. “If you didn’t have it, you had neighbors two doors down that had it. You had parks in every part of town where you could go and get a pickup match. … You had to to be able to pass, and shoot, and dribble, and play without the basketball, you know, the swing violation, that was Indiana basketball.

“And Bob Knight is the one who really instilled a lot of fundamentals and how high school coaches taught their teams.”

Unsurprisingly, he went to Indiana and found great success under Knight’s tutelage, scoring over 2,000 points from 1976 to 1980.

“I wanted to go to a place where I could play and where I knew I could get a good education, and my family didn’t have to travel far to see me. So that was perfect,” Woodson told The Post. “And I thought I was playing for the best coach in the country at the time.”

After his stint in Indiana, Woodson played 11 seasons in the NBA, spending time with the Knicks, Nets, Kings, Clippers, Rockets and Cavaliers.

Mike Woodson’s NBA Coaching Record Needs Context

If you look at Woodson’s professional resume, the final number isn’t that impressive. As a head coach for six full seasons with the Hawks and over two seasons with the Knicks, Woodson compiled a Overall record 315-365 (.463 winning percentage).

However, it’s important to note that Atlanta’s winning tally has increased each season under Woodson (13, 26, 30, 37, 47, 53), and he has guided New York to a record 54-28 during of the 2012-13 season, the last time the Knicks made a playoff appearance. Again, it’s 54 wins with James dolan Knicks.

Was Woodson in the same conversation as Gregg Popovich of the Spurs and Erik Spoelstra of the Heat? No, he had his faults. His offenses could stagnate and become iso-heavy, and at times he was hesitant to embrace modern basketball and analysis. (Zach Lowe wrote in a 2013 Grantland article that Woodson preferred “raw points awarded to possession-based stats”).

Still, the overall record doesn’t give a full picture of Woodson’s time in the NBA. He deserves credit for turning a depressing Hawks franchise and giving the Knicks something to celebrate.

Mike Woodson could use experienced staff

The main concern with hiring Woodson is how he is going to handle the challenges of the college game, given that he has no experience at this level. Recruitment in particular will be difficult.

It appears Indiana is borrowing from the NBA model by giving Woodson a “general manager” in Thad Matta, the most successful coach in Ohio State history.

Matta can help Woodson put together a staff who can compete for top talent – and ensure Indiana doesn’t lose rookies in the state to Purdue and other Big Ten schools. Watch Michigan coach Juwan Howard. He wisely kept Saddi Washington on board and added Phil Martelli and Howard Eisley to his team. The Wolverines feel pretty good about Howard’s tenure so far.

Can Woodson match Howard’s success? That’s a high bar, but hiring experienced assistants would be a step in the right direction.

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