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A new journey awaits IU women’s basketball this season

As redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg came over to talk with the media Thursday after IU’s first practice, she was in a dancing mood.

“In My Feelings” by Drake was reverberating around Assembly Hall. She was dancing to the music as well. Once her media responsibilities were finished, it was IU coach Teri Moren’s turn to speak with the media. That gave her team some time to get in two lines.

Moren had her back to them, but they were grooving to the music doing the “In My Feelings” challenge. She wasn’t surprised with her team’s fun spirit.

“Two critical things for teams that are successful: they are connected and have elite communication,” Moren said. “This has been a fun group… They’re connected in a different kind of way.”

But this season, the main voices are going to change. Over the past four seasons, Amanda Cahill and Tyra Buss have been constants in the IU women’s basketball locker room. Due to graduation, they have since departed.

Thus, the quest for a new lead voice has commenced. Luckily for IU, there are plenty of returning players from a season ago. There may not be that prototypical senior leader with only two seniors on the roster. Moren still has seen a few people step up so far during the offseason and the first practice.

“Kym (Royster) certainly as a senior has shown great leadership abilities,” Moren said. “AP (Ali Patberg) and Brenna Wise both, not just by their actions, but also verbally. Two kids that are comfortable in their own skin and have already played in college. I think Kym, especially today in our first practice, her voice I thought carried a lot of weight throughout.”

Royster, Patberg and Wise all figure to be big contributors. Patberg and Wise are two players who sat out last season due to NCAA transfer rules. As Moren mentioned, they figure to be big pieces both on and off the court for the Hoosiers.

But then there’s Royster. She’s coming off a career-best season where she scored just over 10 points per game and grabbed six boards per game. Being the senior who will get the most playing time this season, she feels like she herself needs to step up and be more vocal as well.

“With the freshmen being on the floor, everything is new for them,” Royster said. “Me being the four-year senior, I’ve been around the longest and I know what the expectations are.”

Without Buss and Cahill, arguably the best duo to ever play for IU women’s basketball, there’s a new vibe. It’s a new era and new voices are needed to step up.

Moren has talked about this program being a player-driven program. When she got here, she had Buss and Cahill to help do that. This is the first time in her tenure when she will need new people to step up and not only fill the void as leaders, but also producing on the court.

The talent is still there for the Hoosiers. They have plenty of returners and new faces that will contribute in big ways. But this is a new era for the Hoosiers.

“For so long it’s been Cahill and Tyra’s team,” Moren said. “Now that they’re gone, we have to create a whole new identity. They embrace that idea that it’s going to take all of us.”

I am a senior from Seattle, Washington majoring in Media. I am formerly of the Indiana Daily Student where I covered Indiana men’s soccer team and women’s basketball. You still can find me broadcasting for WIUX Student Radio and on BTN Student U outside of The Hoosier Network. Former intern at 710 ESPN Seattle and broadcaster for the Falmouth Commodores. Email: Follow me on Twitter: @JoshEastern.

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