Indiana Daily Student

Old friendships rekindled as Indiana men’s basketball prepares to play Bethune-Cookman

<p>Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson points toward the court during a game against Ohio State on Jan. 6, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will face Bethune-Cookman Thursday at 8:30 p.m.</p>

Indiana men’s basketball head coach Mike Woodson points toward the court during a game against Ohio State on Jan. 6, 2022, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Indiana will face Bethune-Cookman Thursday at 8:30 p.m.

Indiana men’s basketball has never faced Bethune-Cookman University before, but that doesn’t mean the two teams don’t have any connection. 

The squads are tied together by their head coaches, Indiana’s Mike Woodson and Bethune-Cookman's Reggie Theus, once teammates on the Kansas City and Sacramento Kings and still good friends now. 

“We've been friends since 1981, '82,” Woodson said in a press conference Wednesday. “He's attended my golf tournament that I used to host for years in Las Vegas, and we kind of made our rounds over the years playing golf in different other people's tournaments, so we've kept in touch. I'm happy to do this game with these guys.” 

As usual, Woodson’s Hoosiers will be led by senior forward Trayce Jackson-Davis, who, despite battling a severely sprained thumb, wasn’t slowed down by the wrap on his hand in Monday’s season opener

Jackson-Davis scored 15 points, tied for the lead in scoring among the Hoosiers in Indiana’s 88-53 win over Morehead State University. 

Jackson-Davis isn’t expected to miss time with the injury, but Woodson said the thumb injury he dealt with as a player was the most painful he played with in his career. For Jackson-Davis, the extra padding in the wrap should help ease the discomfort. 

“(Head Athletic Trainer) Tim Garl padded it just to give him some relief, and it seems to be working for him,” Woodson said. “He had taken a couple days away, too, just to get it calmed down, and we've just got to hope that it's not something that's going to nag him the rest of the season.” 

If the injury does start to affect Jackson-Davis, though, Indiana will look no further than freshman forward Malik Reneau to step up in his place. In his first career college basketball game, Reneau had no troubles adapting to the environment. He put up 15 points of his own and added five rebounds in just 17 minutes.  

But Reneau’s game has quickly proved to be more versatile than just being a big man down low. If he continues to improve the rest of his game, Reneau could spread teams out even further when Indiana employs him alongside Jackson-Davis or Race Thompson. 

“Nobody is handicapping him,” Woodson said about Reneau. “I've let him rebound the ball and push the ball up, take it all the way to the bucket and make plays. He's made plays out of the double-team. He's shot out on the floor some.” 

Reneau was part of a bench unit that outscored Indiana’s starters against Morehead State by two points. After the second unit struggled last season, the Hoosiers are seeing a renewed sense of leadership when the starters sit, led by sophomore guard Tamar Bates. 

“The way I see it, me coming off (the bench) and other teams having to deal with that, that just makes us that much better and shows how strong we are,” Bates said. “No matter who starts, we’re always keeping the long game in mind.” 

Bates scored 9 points and added two assists and two rebounds against Morehead State. He said his role this year is to add a spark to the team off the bench by doing what he does best: defending, creating shots and creating opportunities for teammates to score. 

Bates’ work this offseason and the acceptance of that role has put him in a vital position for Indiana with the potential to break out this year. 

“Tamar has been one of the brightest spots since we've gotten back together, dating back four and a half, five months ago,” Woodson said. “I'm expecting a great season out of him. He's going to play. He's proven and putting himself in that position and done everything that's asked of him to deserve some minutes on the floor this year.” 

Indiana will tip off against Bethune-Cookman at 8:30 p.m. Thursday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The game will be broadcast on Big Ten Network. 

Follow reporters Evan Gerike (@EvanGerike) and Emma Pawlitz (@emmapawlitz) and columnist Bradley Hohulin (@BradleyHohulin) for updates throughout the Indiana men’s basketball season. 
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