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NCAAB: Indiana begins Mike Woodson era with matchup vs. Eastern Michigan

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Indiana is looking to one of its own to restore its winning tradition.

The Hoosiers will usher in the Mike Woodson era on Tuesday night when they host the Eastern Michigan Eagles.

Woodson, an All-America swingman at Indiana from 1976-80 under Bob Knight, will make his coaching debut for the Hoosiers after successful stints coaching in the NBA with the Atlanta Hawks and New York Knicks (among others).

Coming off a 12-15 season (7-12 Big Ten), Indiana is seeking its first NCAA Tournament appearance since 2016. Woodson was hired last March to replace Archie Miller, who went 67-58 in four seasons at Indiana.

Indiana fans got a sneak peak of Woodson’s motion offense and pressure defense during a two-game exhibition tour in the Bahamas in August, in which Indiana beat Serbian Pro Team BC Mega 79-66 and 64-53.

“That trip was great for me because, again, it gave me an opportunity to put some things on both sides of the ball, and it gave our team an opportunity to get to the Bahamas and bond,” Woodson said.

The Hoosiers will be led by preseason All-America forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who averaged a team-high 19.1 points last season. Jackson-Davis has led Indiana in scoring, rebounding and blocked shots in each of the past two seasons.

Starting forward Race Thompson and starting guard Rob Phinisee also return for Indiana. The Hoosiers expect significant contributions from several newcomers, including Northwestern transfer forward Miller Kopp, Tennessee-Martin grad transfer guard Parker Stewart, Pittsburgh transfer guard Xavier Johnson and freshman guard Tamar Bates.

Eastern Michigan, which finished 6-12 last season, is rebuilding under first-year coach Stan Heath, an experienced winner who has guided Kent State, Arkansas and South Florida to NCAA Tournament appearances. The Eagles, 3-11 in the Mid-American Conference last season, return just one starter, combo guard Bryce McBride, who averaged 13.7 points and 2.6 assists last season.

Heath is returning to his alma mater, where he played point guard from 1985-87.

“Eastern Michigan is a special place for me and my family,” Heath said. “I look forward to working with our student-athletes and implementing a style and systems that excite our students, community and alumni. Our goal is to win Mid-American Conference championships and be a perennial NCAA team.”

–Field Level Media

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