During IU guard Ali Patberg’s recent slump, nothing was different for the redshirt-junior.
Through the struggles, IU coach Teri Moren said they went through the film with her to get her back on track. Because when Patberg is playing up to her ability, it makes Indiana that much more dangerous. The four-game slump saw her shoot just 9-of-39 with 18 turnovers.
Still, the mentality never changed. It was her toughest stretch as a Hoosier, but because she wasn’t affecting the game as positively as she had in the past, Patberg had to do it in other ways.
But Sunday’s 22-point performance in Indiana’s win at Nebraska was back to the norm for her. She shot 8-of-12 from the floor and looked more like the Patberg we saw during the non-conference season. The performance showed how important she is to Indiana’s success.
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“As a basketball player, you’re going to have difficult times, you’re going to have times when you don’t play well,” Patberg said. “At the beginning of the year, coach talked about knowing that we’re going to have times where we’re not playing well or doing well. Personally, I wasn’t shooting well, but I felt like I still tried to impact the game in ways that I could.”
Moren sensed a bit more confidence in her starting point guard, mentioning she went out and hit her first few shots in Sunday’s win. That gave her confidence throughout the game and allowed her to be aggressive. But being aggressive in past games has come at a cost.
Enter the turnover problem. It’s something that has not only plagued Patberg, but also the whole team as a whole. In two straight losses to Rutgers and Maryland, the Hoosiers committed 20 turnovers in each game.
As the starting point guard and someone who averages over 35 minutes per game, the ball is going to be in Patberg’s hands more than anyone on the floor. Because of that, Moren has preached ball security.
“I think Ali’s focus really was on ball security for us and making sure that we had our pieces where they needed to be, it just so happened that she was aggressive and some of those early shots for her fell,” Moren said. “Like we’ve continued to do with her, just encouraging her to find her shot, be aggressive and I thought she did that throughout the game.”
Turnovers will continue to be a talking point for the Hoosiers. If they are able to limit them, there is a greater ceiling of success. But if turnovers continue to plague the Hoosiers, wins will be hard to come by in a tough Big Ten.
Sunday was the first game of the season Patberg did not turn the ball over. That is a welcome sight as she has averaged over three per game. She talked about how while her struggles were frustrating, it comes down to small details. The turnovers are those small details that will be difference makers as the Big Ten season winds down.
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“Those details are what end up coming back and biting you in the butt,” Patberg said.
Moren has talked plenty this season (and in the past) about not getting to high or too low during a season. Patberg’s struggles were a good example of the latter. She didn’t let it affect her and it almost felt like she was always going to get back on track.
Wednesday against Minnesota will be a chance for Patberg to show that her struggles are in the past.
“Me personally, nothing really changed,” Patberg said. “I didn’t change my shot, I didn’t do anything. I just kept getting in the gym like I normally was – being confident. I have a whole team and coaches that believe in me and it was more just getting back into it.”