One for one, but a hefty season awaits.
The women of Indiana basketball certainly lived up to all the hysteria surrounding them this season, defeating the University of Indianapolis Greyhounds 97-43 in a blowout exhibition game Friday.
It was the first game this season at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, and gave all 13 players an opportunity to show out on the court.
This is a very veteran team. Forward All-American Mackenzie Holmes led the Hoosiers with 19 points and seven rebounds, seventh year graduate guard Ali Patberg finished with 14 points, two rebounds, and three assists, and All-American guard Grace Berger had 13 points, three rebounds, and five assists.
While most of Hoosier nation knows what to expect from these veterans, sophomore guard Chloe Moore-McNeil may be the Hoosier who surprises fans the most this year, playing the most minutes out of everyone in this game.
After a run to the Elite Eight last season, head coach Teri Moren realized depth within the team was lacking. Moren said the players got fatigued in the Elite Eight game against Arizona, and the team needs more depth coming into this season. Indiana looks to have players coming off the bench who don’t just exist, but produce; and players such as Moore-McNeil may just allow for that deepness to take shape.
“She came off the bench ready,” Moren said. “Chloe came in from the beginning and guarded everything almost exactly how we wanted it to look like.”
Freshman guard Kaitlin Peterson grinds on and off the court every day, Moren said. She will be another new face that will help Indiana deepen its run this year, playing 21 minutes and scoring 12 points off the bench Friday. Holmes said she was thrilled to see younger players contribute and bring new energy into Assembly Hall.
“Their ability to mature in front of our eyes on the court today was really special,” Holmes said.
While the entire team saw minutes Friday, the offense was not up to Indiana’s standards. Friday’s game was a learning lesson, Holmes said, and will allow for a few wrinkles to get smoothed out before their first regular season game.
Getting out-rebounded, missing free throws, and rotating off the bench from one post player to another because of foul trouble against a non-conference team, is just not going to cut it as the season progresses, Moren said.
“To sit here and say that the Big Ten is going to look just like how it looked tonight, is probably a careless comment,” Moren said. “Reality is, it’s not going to happen.”
No matter what five were on the court Friday, every group played with rhythm and communication. Much of this chemistry comes from the leadership of Patberg, Holmes and Berger, Moren said.
“They are an example of what a good team that has great chemistry every day is,” Moren said. “They walk their walk and talk the talk. It’s obviously paid dividends for us.”
Moren said that because of Patberg’s and Berger’s experience with the team, she’s more their manager than coach at this point. Protecting and managing their minutes on the floor is crucial this season, as they both have put a lot of mileage on their legs after Indiana’s deep run and Berger playing with Team USA over the summer. While Patberg said she was scared the emotions might get to her when she ran out in her stripes for the first time for the very last time, she felt a different emotion.
“I was afraid I might tear up a little, but I’m excited, and I’m so thankful I’m here,” Patberg said.
Being a process-oriented team, Indiana isn’t too focused on what’s to come, but more focused on working out little kinks, one day at a time.
Indiana will begin its regular season on Wednesday, Nov. 10 in Indianapolis against Butler at Hinkle Fieldhouse.