LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — After four attempts to replace Bob Knight outside the Indiana University basketball family, it appears the Hoosiers have decided to hire one of Knight’s former players to direct the IU program toward the top of the Big Ten.
New York Knicks assistant coach Mike Woodson agreed to a 6-year contract to replace Archie Miller, who was fired after four seasons on March 15. Woodson will be officially introduced during a Zoom teleconference at 10 a.m. Monday.
Welcome home, Coach Woodson. pic.twitter.com/jrIeKcYawR— Indiana Basketball (@IndianaMBB) March 28, 2021
Woodson, who turned 63 last week, has never coached college basketball but did direct the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks to the playoffs during 9 seasons as an NBA coach. He has worked as an assistant coach with the New York Knicks this season.
"When people say that it's a drawback that he never coached college basketball, that's a joke," said one former college basketball coach. "He's coached and had success at a higher level, the NBA, where the games come faster and you have to make more adjustments because there is more scouting.
"That's a ridiculous criticism because if you asked any college coach where they would want to go just to learn pure basketball for a month, they would tell you the NBA."
Although Woodson's career winning percentage as an NBA coach was .463, he coached the Hawks and Knicks to five playoff appearances in nine seasons. His winning percentage was nearly 60% percent in this final 5 seasons. Woodson also served as assistant coach under Larry Brown during the Pistons' 2004 NBA championship season.
"It's a great choice," said Jerry Eaves, the former University of Louisville guard who coached against Woodson in the NBA.
"He has ties to Indiana, he has strong ties in Indianapolis and he has ties in the African-American community. It's a great thing that Indiana has put its faith in one of its former players."
Woodson was part of Indiana's top ranked recruiting class in 1976. In four seasons with the Hoosiers, he scored 2,061 points, which ranks fifth all-time at Indiana.
In a statement released by the IU media relations department, IU athletic director Scott Dolson said:
“This is a great day and a great fit for Indiana Basketball. Throughout this process, I was looking for someone I could partner with to return Indiana Basketball to a level of success that Hoosier fans have come to know and expect, and Mike is that person.”
“During the last two weeks, I have spoken with numerous individuals at the college and NBA levels, and they were unanimous in their support of and respect for Mike. From his ability in terms of X’s and O’s to his skill at building relationships and developing players, his reputation is outstanding.
"As a coach, he’s succeeded at the highest levels of the NBA, and he’s mentored some of the game’s all-time great players. On top of all of that, as one of our program’s legendary players, Mike certainly gives us a bridge to our past. But more important than what he did as a former Hoosier player, he’s someone who shares my vision for what Indiana Basketball is about, and I’m thrilled about what this day means for our program.”
Gregg Doyel of the Indianapolis Star reported that Indiana was also adding former Ohio State coach Thad Matta to its athletic department as associate athletic director for basketball administration.
Matta guided Ohio State to two Final Fours and five Big Ten regular season championships before he retired because of health issues in 2017.
In four seasons, Miller did not make the NCAA Tournament at Indiana, although his 2020 squad was likely to be one of the last teams invited until the novel coronavirus canceled the tournament. Miller's record at IU was 67-58. He failed to beat Purdue in seven tries.
The Hoosiers lost their final seven games this season, leading Dolson to fire Miller with 3 years and $10.3 million remaining on his contract.
Copyright 2021 WDRB Media. All rights reserved.