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Three takeaways from IUWBB’s 78-52 win over Northwood

It was far from pretty, but Indiana got through its lone exhibition of the year, topping Division II program Northwood 78-52 inside Assembly Hall. After a slow and error-filled first period, Indiana ultimately picked things up, as four Hoosiers finished the night in double figures. Three takeaways from tonight’s win:

The Kids Can Play

On night one of the 2018 season, Indiana’s leaders have already arrived. But perhaps more importantly tonight, everyone who played proved capable of backing up the Hoosiers’ top talent. If there was any doubt regarding what Jaelynn Penn (6-of-11, 14 total points, 5 rebounds) will be able to do this year, that changed tonight, as Penn excelled, even while not at full strength (ankle sprain). If Penn will lead on the stat sheet, Ali Patberg (4-of-6, 9 total points, 4 rebounds) certainly emerged as the vocal leader Indiana fans will expect her to be this winter.

“They believe in me and I believe in myself,” Patberg said. “Coach always says communication is key. If I’m always communicating then that leads to our whole team communicating.”

As one might expect from an exhibition, Teri Moren got (almost) everyone involved; just three players on the active roster tonight did not play minutes, one of them being Bendu Yeaney, who was left out for precautionary reasons. Brenna Wise showed everyone that she’s out to be the physical player she’s talked about being, and Aleksa Gulbe, who will presumably continue to get playing time after tonight, shocked fans, dropping 15 points and grabbing three boards to boot.

With the departure of two of the most prolific players in program history, concern about depth with this year’s team is justified. All in all though, Indiana proved otherwise tonight.

Grace Berger Finds Her Groove

Teri Moren has a knack for landing five-star recruits — from Louisville. Taking tonight as an (extremely small) sample size, Grace Berger is certainly gunning to replicate the sort of freshman campaign her fellow Kentuckian Jaelynn Penn did a year ago. What Berger did tonight in her first collegiate appearance was surprising in the least, finding her groove especially in the second half, going 6-of-12 from the field and securing a team-high six rebounds.

“Hopefully she’s everything that we’ve described she was going to be,” Moren said. “She has an outstanding ability to handle the ball, and she’s an athlete, too.”

Berger got what some would call a surprise start in place of promising sophomore Yeaney tonight and that, more than anything, is an intriguing thing to follow in the coming weeks. Yeaney has been experiencing soreness in her Achilles’ for about three weeks. She’s back practicing, but according to Moren, IU felt no need to force her into gameplay in tonight’s exhibition. At the outset of this season, Yeaney is projected to be a sort of anchor for this team — athletic, quick, and incredibly reliable. But as of tonight, Berger undoubtedly made a strong case to earn minutes, and perhaps even starts, as Yeaney recovers from injury. As far as IU fans should be concerned, it’s a good problem for Teri Moren to have.

Defense Shows Palpable Improvement

Teri Moren said it herself after the game. This was a typical exhibition in every way — nearly the entire roster got minutes on the floor, fans at least started to become acquainted with this year’s team, and Indiana came out of the gate sluggish.

“I think a lot of it we’re just going to chock it up as these guys being antsy tonight, playing in front of our crowd again,” Moren said. “A lot of it was just not being disciplined in the first quarter.”

After the first period, Northwood led 22-17, shooting 73% from the field. By the end of the night, it had fallen off all the way down to 30.4%. The Hoosier defense would pick it up, picking up 12 total blocks and five steals on the night. Coupled with the increased efficiency and all around effectiveness when IU had the ball in the second half, things got cleaned up.

The Hoosiers go for real on Wednesday when they welcome Milwaukee to Assembly Hall to open the 2018 regular season.

Connor Hines

I am a sophomore from San Diego, California studying in Indiana University's Media School. Beyond my work with The Hoosier Network, I'm a broadcaster for WIUX 99.1 FM, IU's student radio station, and BTN Student U. I previously served as beat reporter for Indiana Softball during my freshman year, and I look forward to continue to deliver fresh and innovative content with softball and much more during this year. Last summer, I interned with San Diego's Mighty 1090, the flagship AM sports radio station in my hometown. Tweet me your hot takes @ConnorHines17. Email: cohines@iu.edu

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