In March 2021, Indiana University hired alumnus Mike Woodson as its men's basketball coach. Woodson played for the Hoosiers for four seasons — sandwiched in between Indiana's national championship season in 1976 and 1981 — and he earned second-team All-American honors as a senior, when he averaged 19 points per game to lead an Indiana team that had six future NBA players.
Here's everything you need to know about Woodson's college career.
Mike Woodson's college basketball stats, vitals
Weight: 195 pounds
Years active: 1976-80
NCAA tournament record: 2-2
Career averages: 19.8 points per game, 5.6 rebounds per game, 2.1 assists per game, 50.5% shooting
What was Mike Woodson's record in college?
In the four years that Woodson attended Indiana, the Hoosiers went 78-41 (.655). However, Woodson did miss time as a senior, when he played in just 14 of the team's 29 games due to injury.
What kind of prospect was Mike Woodson in high school?
As a senior in high school, Woodson averaged 28.6 points, 16 rebounds and four assists per game for Indianapolis Broad Ripple High School, according to the Associated Press. Broad Ripple High School went 20-4 and received the No. 4 ranking in the state. Woodson was named first-team All-State by the AP.
The AP reported that Woodson once scored 44 points in a game with his future college coach Bob Knight in attendance.
Woodson was cut from his seventh-grade basketball team, according to the Indianapolis News, who he told that he was more interested in football at the time.
Woodson was named an Indiana All-Star in 1976. In one matchup against the Kentucky All-Stars, Woodson scored 26 points and in another, he had a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds.
According to the Indianapolis News, Indiana and Cincinnati were the only schools that ever had a chance at enrolling Woodson.
What was Mike Woodson's game like?
From the onset of Woodson's college career, it was apparent he would be a star for the Hoosiers. J.D. Lewis of The Republic (Columbus, Ind.) wrote in November 1976, "6-foot-5 freshman Mike Woodson of Indianapolis Broad Ripple High School, showed vast offensive potential during the Hoosiers' second public scrimmage of the season at Columbus North High School Memorial Gymnasium. Woodson led all scorers with 37 points in the 45-minute workout before about 4,500 fans, who paid $1.50 apiece to watch the defending NCAA champions."
Woodson played at both guard and forward — perhaps a versatile, "positionless" player who was before his time — and he frequently posted higher rebound totals than what you might expect for a traditional guard.
As a freshman, Woodson set the Indiana and Big Ten scoring records for a freshman, while leading the Hoosiers in scoring. His 500 points in the regular season bested the previous Indiana record of 376 by Don Schlundt. An edition of the St. Cloud Times from late January 1977 shows Woodson ranking seventh in the conference in rebounding average and eighth in scoring average, as he was immediately a premier scorer and rebounder in the Big Ten, even as a freshman. He finished as the second-leading scorer in conference play.
As a sophomore, Woodson had a 28-game stretch in which he didn't score fewer than 16 points, according to the Journal and Courier. No Hoosier's single-game high in points scored (31) or rebounds (13) during the 1978 topped Woodson's single-game bests.
Woodson was also durable, as he averaged 37 minutes per game as a sophomore, including nine games in which he played all 40 minutes and six games in which he played 39.
The Indianapolis Star
What were some of Mike Woodson's best games?
Here are some of Woodson's best games in college:
Indiana 81, Iowa 65 | Jan. 29, 1977
Woodson set a new career high in points scored with 27 points on 11-of-16 shooting, while grabbing eight rebounds, and he drew two of the four fouls committed by Iowa star Bruce King in the opening four minutes, which sent him to the bench. "Woodson, who boosted his IU career high to 27 points with this performance, was the one who poked holes in Olson's contrived defense in the first half," wrote the Herald-Times' Bob Hammel. "Slipping behind screens, or into gaps, or through the middle going straight-ahead or sideways, Woodson found 13 shots the first half and sank 9 of them."
Indiana 73, Michigan 64 | Feb. 13, 1977
Woodson scored a team-high 26 points on 11-of-25 shooting to go along with eight rebounds and four assists against a Michigan team that entered the game with an 11-1 record on the season. Michigan led by three points at halftime but Woodson started the second half with three consecutive baskets and Indiana never trailed again.
Indiana 69, Northwestern 54 | Feb. 26, 1977
Woodson scored 18 of his team-high 24 points in the first half as Indiana blitzed Northwestern at home. In one stretch, the Hoosiers outscored the Wildcats 30-6 over 10 minutes.
Iowa 80, Indiana 73 | Feb. 28, 1977
Woodson set a new career high in points scored with 34 points, including 18 of the Hoosiers' 29 points after halftime, albeit in a losing effort against the Hawkeyes. None of Woodson's teammates had more than eight points.
Indiana 64, Iowa 62 | Feb. 22, 1979
Woodson scored Indiana's final three points in a two-point upset over Iowa, which entered the game tied for first in the Big Ten with an 11-3 conference record. Woodson finished with a game-high 31 points.
Indiana 72, Illinois 60 | March 4, 1979
In a road win against Illinois, Indiana's Mike Woodson exploded for 48 points — two-thirds of the team's total — on 18-of-27 shooting, plus 12 free throws. At the time, it was the third-highest single-game total in program history. The win improved Indiana's record to 18-12 and helped the Hoosiers receive an invitation to the 24-team NIT. "It was a performance that left teammates, opposing players, cheerleaders, coaches, writers and 16,503 other assorted spectators in awe," wrote the Indianapolis News' Ray Compton.
Woodson scored the game's first eight points, he had 29 points in the first half, and with 14:49 remaining in the second half, he had 37 points by himself while Illinois had 36 as a team.
Indiana 76, Ohio State 73 | March 2, 1980
After Woodson returned from injury, Indiana rattled off six consecutive wins, capped off with a three-point, overtime win over Ohio State that gave the Hoosiers the conference title over the Buckeyes. Woodson and Isiah Thomas shared the team lead with 21 points apiece. Woodson made three important baskets to tie the game at 63-63.
What awards did Mike Woodson win in college?
Here are some of the awards and honors Woodson received in college:
- 1980 Second Team All-American (NABC)
- 1977-78 Preseason First Team All-Big Ten
- 1977-78 fourth-leading vote-getter for preseason Big Ten MVP
- 1977 Second Team All-Big Ten
What did people say about Mike Woodson?
Former Indiana assistant coach Bob Donewald, after Woodson committed to Indiana (courtesy of the AP): "We're happy to have Mike Woodson because he's not only an excellent player, he's the kind of an outstanding young man we try to recruit for our program. We're looking at Woodson not so much as a forward but as a perimeter player, who will fit in very well with our inside passing game. He won't be anchored to the inside."
Indianapolis Star writer Susan LaMar in March 1977: "The adjective 'super' is an accolade in athletics that ought to be used sparingly. In the case of Indiana basketball freshman Mike Woodson, however, a lack of restraint is excused."
Former Iowa coach Lute Olson, after Woodson scored a then-career-high 29 points as a freshman in a game in which Iowa's defensive game plan was to play a box-and-one against Woodson's teammate Kent Benson (courtesy of the Times-Mail): "Whatever we played 'em, we should have played Woodson tougher."
Former Indiana coach Bob Knight, prior to Woodson's sophomore season (courtesy of the Journal and Courier): "Mike Woodson has solidified a spot on our team. He's just an outstanding offensive basketball player. But, he has a lot of work to do on defense."
Knight (courtesy of the Journal and Courier): "Woodson is a very, very fine offensive player. At times last year he was probably as good as any freshman I've ever seen."
Knight, on his outlook for his 1977-78 team (courtesy of the Journal and Courier): "The only tangible quality we have is Woodson and we'll just start with him and go from there. We're counting on him being a good scorer. It's about the only thing that really came out of last year."
Former Purdue player Walter Jordan (courtesy of the Times-Mail): "Woodson's a hell of a shooter."
Former Illinois coach Lou Henson, after Woodson scored 48 points against Illinois (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "We used Smith, Bresnahan, Lanter and sometimes all five guys on him. And sometimes it looked like we had no one guarding him."
Former Illinois guard Mark Smith, on Mike Woodson's 48-point performance on the day Woodson was left off of the United Press International's All-Big Ten First Team (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "Maybe that made him mad."
Smith, continued: "He's the best I've seen moving without the ball."
Knight, after Woodson wasn't named to the All-Big Ten First Team as a junior (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "Woodson's got to be the best offensive player not to make an all-Big Ten team. That's kind of ridiculous. This is the third year he has averaged close to or better than 20 points in the conference and we're not a great offensive team."
Former Indiana guard Butch Carter, after Woodson scored 48 points against Illinois, while the rest of the team only attempted three shots in the second half (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "I didn't want to go to anybody else because he had the hot hand."
Knight, after Woodson returned from a back injury during his senior season (courtesy of the Iowa City Press-Citizen): "I'm not sure there's another guy alive who could have made the comeback Mike Woodson made this season. Butch (Carter) and Mike are two of the finest young men I've ever been around. This Big Ten championship belongs to Woodson and Carter."
Former Minnesota big man Kevin McHale (courtesy of the Times-Mail): "Mike got hot and that applied a lot of pressure on us and then we kept making mistakes – throwing the ball away."
Former Minnesota coach Jim Dutcher (courtesy of the Star Tribune): "Woodson gives them the wing shooter that makes Bobby Knight's offense go. They have used Ted Kitchel and Phil Isenbarger there, but neither one is in the class of a Woodson. Woodson makes them an entirely different team."
Mike Woodson quotes
Woodson, on his recruitment (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "I had Cincinnati in mind, but I've always wanted to go to Indiana University. Some people in town told me not to go to Indiana, but you can't go to any place better than Indiana. They lost five men this year, so that leaves at least three starting positions open."
Woodson, on what he needed to improve upon in college (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "I need to really work on my defense. I don't know why I can't play better defense, because in practice this year that was all about coach Smith had us work on. But I don't have as much concentration when I play defense as I do when I'm on offense. That's going to have to change if I want to play at Indiana."
Woodson, on how he might fit in to Indiana as a freshman on the reigning national champions (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "I've been a starter my whole life, so it would be hard sitting the bench. I want to play, but if coach feels somebody is better than I am, then the other guy should be playing. But I do feel I have a good chance of playing."
Woodson, on not getting chosen for pickup games growing up (courtesy of the Indianapolis Star): "I'd want to get in the game but when it came to choosing sides the guys would pick their friends. And I'd have to sit out and watch or find some place to play by myself. I can go back now and people will want to shoot with me. But I'm the same Mike Woodson who didn't get in those other games."
Woodson, on his freshman season (courtesy of the Indianapolis Star): "I didn't think I was really good enough to go to college on a basketball scholarship. I didn't really get into basketball until recently."
Woodson, on his goals for his college career (courtesy of the Indianapolis Star): "I've never been — through high school and all — on a team that was undefeated or that won a championship. I'd like to be a part of that someday."
Woodson, after scoring 48 points in a win at Illinois (courtesy of the Indianapolis News): "I didn't want them to think they could dominate us."