Just over six months ago, Bendu Yeaney ruptured her Achilles in Indiana’s second-round NCAA Tournament loss to Oregon.
On Saturday, she came onto the stage at Indiana’s annual Hoosier Hysteria, dancing to ‘Ballin’ by Mustard and Roddy Ricch.
Yeaney is still working to come back from injury before she’s completely cleared for competition. But if Saturday was any indication, Yeaney, along with Alexis Johnson and Chanel Wilson, two other players recovering from injury, are well on the way to making an immediate impact for what could be IU coach Teri Moren’s best Hoosier squad yet.
The Indiana women’s basketball team is coming off its second NCAA tournament appearance under Moren last season, a year after winning the WNIT.
Moren came out to a roaring round of applause from the Hoosier faithful. She started out her introductory statement by reminiscing on how far she and her staff have come in this her sixth year at the helm of IU.
She pointed to the WNIT banner now hanging in the rafters and referenced the two NCAA tournament appearances she has under her belt. Yet, she still yearns for more.
“I’m really, really proud and humble of the things we’ve been able to accomplish to this point,” she said. “But I’ve got to be honest. We’ve still got a lot to do. And we have players to do it with.”
Moren wants to achieve more and this year is potentially her greatest chance to do that. IU returns its top four scorers including Ali Patberg, Jaelynn Penn, Brenna Wise and Yeaney.
— Indiana Women’s Basketball (@IndianaWBB) October 5, 2019
On top of that, the Hoosiers welcome a recruiting class that features a number of talented players including 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball, Jorie Allen.
One of the Hoosiers’ biggest struggles last year was rebounding, especially keeping opposing teams off the offensive glass.
What did they do to address that?
IU went out and added a trio of freshmen in Arielle Wisne, Mackenzie Holmes and Hannah Noveroske, all of whom stand 6’3” or taller. It’s part of the foundation that Moren is trying to build and maintain.
Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill helped put Indiana on the map in the women’s game. Patberg, Wise, Yeaney and Penn are tasked with growing it even more.
“None of our success happens on accident,” Moren said. “We talk about the work ethic and dedication, but you have to have support.”
It’s no secret that IU and Moren expect to be successful this season. The Hoosiers went out and beefed up the non-conference adding games against South Carolina and defending National Champion Baylor to pair with matchups against UCLA and Florida.
It also gets a road date with Miami (Fla.) and a double play against Maryland in conference. Indiana will have no shortage of exposure to the top talent in the country. All of that competition will help IU this season, but also going forward.
The foundation for this team is just beginning. Over the summer, Patberg was granted a sixth year of eligibility while welcoming fellow Notre Dame transfer and former McDonald’s All-American, Danielle Patterson.
As IU begins to embark on this year’s campaign, Moren reiterated to the crowd that each season comes with ups and downs, but the support from IU fans will continue to allow this program to grow.
The last two seasons, IU has averaged around 4,000 fans per home game.
“You guys matter,” Moren said. “We’re grateful for you guys. When we’re winning, be with us. And when we’re falling short, stay with us. Winning is hard. We love Indiana basketball and we need you, don’t ever forget that.”
Saturday’s Hoosier Hysteria introductions resembled what IU hopes to see on the court this year. And with a healthy Yeaney, much needed size and veteran leaders, Moren has her squad on the way to dancing into March once again.