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Restructuring of Indiana basketball squad gives Mike Woodson flexibility

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BORDEN – Mike Woodson isn't done with bullyball yet. But he has more on his mind this summer.

More depth. More skill. More variety. More, in Woodson's eyes, than what he had in New York.

During his annual appearance at the now NIL fundraiser at Huber's Orchard and Winery in southern Indiana on Wednesday, Woodson spoke at length with reporters about his newly assembled roster. The Hoosiers will begin summer workouts in the coming days, with the rest of Woodson's team expected to be back in Bloomington and (for the most part) on the field.

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There, Woodson will begin to sort out questions about roles and rotations and put the pieces together for a team that welcomes as many new scholarship players for next season as it did for last. IU's fourth-year coach will have a deeper guard rotation to refine and will have to pair two big players with the return of Malik Reneau and the arrival of Arizona transfer Oumar Ballo.

“I'm going to try to play with two big guys,” Woodson said, “just to test it.”

Woodson, however, has bigger ambitions. He is thinking not only about last year's frontcourt rotations, but also about other players.

Ballo is one of the best centers in the country and, at 6-foot-3 with length inside — on both ends of the court — is as good as any player in the country. And Woodson said Wednesday he believes Bellarmine transfer forward Langdon Hatton can extend his reach to the 3-point line in time.

But Woodson also has the healthiest wing team of his four years in Bloomington: He was able to retain Mackenzie Mgbako, the Big Ten's co-freshman of the year, signed five-star freshman Bryson Tucker and signed Luke Goode, who transferred from Illinois.

Mgbako finished last season with marked improvement on both ends of the court. He scored in double figures in all but two games starting in early February and hit 37.8% of his 3-pointers in league play. After making two or more 3-pointers in just four of IU's first 13 games in his freshman season, Mgbako accomplished that feat 13 times in the Hoosiers' final 20 games.

Goode's credibility has long been known. A dangerous 3-point shooter, Goode averaged 38.8% from long range in three seasons in Champaign. Last season, he made even more on 157 attempts, which was by far his highest single-season percentage in college.

A McDonald's All American, Tucker brings his mid-range skills to the rotation and should become an equally reliable 3-point shooter in time. He could also be the most dynamic of the three.

Together, they give Woodson the depth and flexibility he hasn't necessarily enjoyed so far in his time at Indiana. The Hoosiers may start games with two big players, but they definitely have the personnel to switch to smaller lineups that spread the opponent from multiple directions and well beyond the 3-point line.

“Just like I played in New York,” Woodson said of his time with the Knicks. “I just didn't manage to get there, but I think we can do it this year.”

Indiana doesn't necessarily have to commit to one style of play or the other. Flexibility and versatility are a welcome addition to Woodson's skill set, which he works with every night.

All of that has yet to be figured out, which is why these summer months are important. Trey Galloway remains sidelined with knee surgery, but the rest of the IU roster should be back on campus and on the court soon as the coach begins to mold them into something resembling a Big Ten contender.

“Man, these eight weeks of summer play will shape our position as a ball club,” Woodson said, “and give me some guidance for next season.”

Follow IndyStar reporter Zach Osterman on Twitter: @ZachOsterman.

Indiana Basketball Roster 2024-25

NO. Surname position Year
2 Gabe Cupps G So.
3 Anthony Leal G Mr+
5 Malik Reneau F Fr.
12 Jakai Newton G R-Fr.
21 Mackenzie Mgbako F So.
32 Trey Galloway G Mr+
Oumar Ballo C R-Sr.+
Canaan Carlyle G So.
Luke Goode F Fr.
Langdon Hatton C Fr.
Myles Rice G R-So.
Bryson Tucker F Fr.