Last night was another step forward, Coach Woodson. Coaching the Hoosiers over The Scarlet Knights of Rutgers 66- 60. Beating Rutgers is a weight off his shoulders left by his predecessors, leaving him with an ugly losing streak to a few schools, Rutgers being one of them. Coach Woodson is really starting to kick some ass and take some names now. Beating Purdue for the second time in his two years and now beating Rutgers for the first time in like a million games. The win also brings Indiana to 8-5 in the conference. Good enough for a share of second place in the Big Ten Regular season. Three games behind Purdue, which may seem like a lot, buuut if you count the win, IU will be picking up in Mackey at the end of the month; that’s already like two games right there. So basically, the Hoosiers are only a game back from pole position in the Big Ten.
The era of Mike Woodson is still young, so it's hard to really define it. But he has some impressive wins an IU coach needs to solidify himself. Coach Woodson entered a program in disarray and is charting a course for this program. This course may look a lot different had a few things gone a few different ways. Let's say Trayce Jackson-Davis hit the transfer portal after Archie was relieved of coaching duties. Which is a nice way to say his ass got fired. Trayce Jackson-Davis has that kind of power to set the tone for this new era by staying and buying in. That ability has been one of Woodson's greatest assets. The impact of Trayce Jackson-Davis will be quite lasting in my mind. This makes every achievement Trayce accomplishes at IU even more special, like becoming the first player in program history to reach 2,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. That won't be easy to top. Coach Woodson spoke about how proud he was of Trayce surpassing the 2000 points mark – and Trayce was quick to give credit to his teammates and coaches for making the achievement possible. NBA teams looking for high-character, ready-to-play players have to look at Trayce's play and be like, "daaa-yum"
The game itself was a glass box of emotions. From the get-go, the Hoosiers, much like the Purdue game, pulled away early. Leading by as many as 14 points. With just some emphatic plays. When this Hoosier team is rolling, it is like the 8th wonder of the world in there inside assembly. TJD makes the game look so easy at times. The fast starts seem to have a little recoil at the end of the half. Team looked a little tired at the end of the half. Poor closeouts and bad rebounding eviscerated the lead. Three of Rutgers's last four shots were made 3-pointers. Rutgers is not necessarily known for its 3-point shooting; as a team, they only shoot 32%. But by the end of the first half Rutgers was 6 of 11 from deep. That’s 55%, which is cool because you just type 5,5, shift+5 to make a 55%. You might be thinking 55% is waaay higher than 32%! what the heck? why are they making so many threes? Well I’d just hold your horses there because the Scarlet Knights followed that up with a pretty terrible second half going 2 of 14. Yikes right? Now what do you get when you add 6 of 11 and 2 of 14? Yep, that’s right, 32 fucking percent. Now there must be some kind of law dealing with averages that may explain this better, but for now I’ll let those numbers do the talking. I don't even know if that carries any meaning. I just like when numbers number, you know?
There were points during the game where I was begging for an IU rebound or just expecting Rutgers to cash every 3-pointer they put up. As the game got close and the time was winding down. The Hoosiers didn’t waiver. They shored up a lot of areas on the fly. Eventually, winning the rebound battle and shutting down the perimeter in the second half make all the difference in the end. After the game was knotted up at 38 at the beginning of the second half, IU took back the lead and wouldn’t lose it the rest of the night. Keeping Rutgers at an arm’s length on the scoreboard appears to be an effective way to deal with their physicality. Miller Kopp, who apparently Rutgers refuses to respect as a shooter (just like some of IUBB twitter), made the scarlet knights pay to hit four triples. Racking up a total of 18 points. Kopp’s scoring was monumental. Some of those 3-pointers he hit were like defibrillators to the crowd. I will say one of my favorite parts of Miller's game is that he is damn near always the first to the ground for 50/50 balls. This team has a lot of explosive plays, but little things like that help the Hoosiers find these wins in close games.
This kind of win is huge for the Hoosiers, who are turning it on as of late, winning 7 of their last 8 games. This kind of recovery from Indiana speaks volumes about the team’s maturity. When the team was injured and losing games they had no business losing, the wheels could have fallen off right there. However, this team seems to have found its toughness through its togetherness. These guys have their heads down and are continuing to focus on the next game. Which will be a Saturday evening game at Michigan. A nice dusk tip-off or 6 pm EST for you folks that don’t fuck with dawn and dusk.
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