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Spaletto: In season finale against Maryland, Indiana offense needs to get back to what works

Last time when the Hoosiers took on the Maryland Terrapins in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, Indiana’s defense played a vital role in what was a historic victory for the program. IU held Maryland under 70 points, for what was only the third time the Terrapins had been held under 70 this season. 

However, this time around, the other side of the ball is where the Hoosiers need to succeed in order to get a win in College Park.

Over the past three games with Mackenzie Holmes back, the Hoosiers have shot around 30 percent from 3-point range (about 3 percent lower than their season average) and have had spurts where the offense has struggled. As the team tries to ease Holmes back into their offense, where she is a huge part of what they do, Indiana has taken more 3s and has struggled to stay consistent from beyond the arc. IU is shooting almost 5 percent worse from long distance in the past three games than its season average. With the Big Ten Tournament coming up in less than a week, the Hoosiers will need to hit shots from the outside in order to beat some elite teams in the Big Ten.

Besides outside shooting, it is imperative for Indiana to get back to what has been working offensively this whole season — getting easy looks and scoring the ball inside. Yes, Holmes has been out for a month after having knee surgery, and it has been a process trying to get her back up to speed. But seeing how vital of a role she played — scoring 15 points and grabbing 14 rebounds when the last time these two teams met about a month ago — it is essential that the Hoosier offense gets Holmes some opportunities to score in this regular-season finale.

Along with the frontcourt, the backcourt will need to play just as big of a role in order to get a win in College Park on Friday. Grace Berger has really found her stride recently, as she’s averaged 19.5 points (three points higher than her season average) in the past four games. Although her scoring has been enormous in terms of Indiana staying close in these games against Iowa, where the Hoosiers have become most dangerous this season is when another guard knocks down some big shots where Indiana can build a lead.

Ali Patberg played a huge role in last month’s game against the Terrapins, leading the team in scoring with 18 points while also dishing out three assists and grabbing two rebounds. Her threat to score from all over the court gave Maryland fits defensively, which opened up shots for the rest of the Hoosiers out on the court. If she and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary can not only knock down outside shots while also facilitating good ball movement, look for the Hoosiers to look like they are getting back on track in a massive game in College Park.

This is an enormous opportunity for the Hoosiers to get out of their offensive slump they have been having in this end of the season run. Yes, they’ve averaged almost 90 points against Iowa over the past two games, and the offense has looked like it has earlier in the season at moments during the season. But the consistency has not been there during this stretch, and how this offense can perform throughout all 40 minutes will be a key part in this team’s run in March.

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