Indiana’s depth will no doubt be on display this week when the Hoosiers put their nation leading 15-game win streak on the line for three games in Guaynabo, Puerto Rico.
At times last season, IU coach Teri Moren looked at her bench and saw players who weren’t ready to play, couldn’t play and/or were injured. The rotation was about seven players. But now in 2018, Moren looks at her bench and sees multiple players who can enter the lineup at any point.
The Hoosiers will play three games this week, two against quality opponents in the top 70 of the RPI rankings in Loyola Marymount and South Dakota. Grambling is the third game a team in the 200’s. Nonetheless, the three games in three days will be a testament to the options the Hoosiers have, depth-wise.
“Last year we didn’t have the depth and Tyra (Buss) and (Amanda Cahill) were playing a bunch of minutes,” Moren said. “We feel we can go pretty deep into our bench and that’s exactly what you want when you’re looking at a three game tournament like this, not really a tournament, but a three game series, that you can rely on different pieces and your bench and there’s no question that we’re going to have to do that because we have three really good opponents.”
The depth will improve with the return of freshman forward Aleksa Gulbe who has missed the last two games with an ankle sprain suffered in practice prior to the Butler game. Moren said she expects Gulbe to be close to 100 percent come Wednesday after having about two weeks off.
With three games in three days, Gulbe’s addition will be welcomed. There’s also the thought of having to prepare for three games in succession like the Hoosiers will have to do. Moren says it can help her team down the road.
“We’ve always taken the one game at a time approach with this group,” Moren said. “We’re looking at it as a tune up as what the Big Ten Tournament is going to look like. We have to be able to play three games in a row, take them one game at a time.”
PODCAST: #IUWBB is still undefeated as the Hoosiers prepare for their trip to Puerto Rico next week.
We recap last week and look ahead. https://t.co/9vfKn9GguX
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) December 12, 2018
With finals week complete, the Hoosiers can focus in on their six games over the winter break period. The three games in Puerto Rico will be their final three before Big Ten play starts. Thus, the final three games they will have to tighten the screws before the conference slate begins.
According to senior forward Kym Royster, working on something to improve each and every game is important.
“After every game, we have things that we need to work on and get better at,” Royster said. “Every film session, there’s things that we look at a whole and to compete in the Big Ten, ‘this has got to better.’ We’re very coachable, so everyone is willing to do what is necessary to continue to get better each game.”
Redshirt-junior @alipaige_14 is averaging 17.3 points per game, 6.9 rebounds per game and 5.6 assists per game in her first season with the Hoosiers.
Here are two minutes to showcase the scoring and facilitating skills of Patberg. #iuwbb pic.twitter.com/PQpj5sxTmk
— The Hoosier Network (@TheHoosierNet) December 18, 2018
While these three games may not be true road games, each game will be a test. The depth will also be tested. Just like they did in Los Angeles, the Hoosiers will have a chance to experience Puerto Rico. However, when the Hoosiers step into the gym, it’ll be all business.
“Coach Moren always says when we go on the road it will be our biggest challenge because as a team, we’re all we got,” Royster said. “We have to make sure that we’re playing as if we’re playing in Assembly Hall. We’ve got to be the good energy for everyone in order to hopefully leave 3-0.”