At the beginning of the year, Indiana head coach Teri Moren set a goal of 15 or more assists per game as a team.
This goal has come easy for an Indiana team that prides itself on depth and getting everyone involved, but Wednesday, Indiana was far from achieving this goal. The Hoosiers totaled a dreary 21 turnovers compared to nine assists.
In most games, this stat line would have Moren lamenting the team’s inability to possess the ball and control the pace, but Indiana locked in defensively beginning in the second quarter. After trailing 16-12 after the first quarter, the strength of Indiana’s defense lead the team to a 15-2 advantage in the second quarter.
The Hoosiers forced Butler to shoot 16-for-52 from the field, resulting in a 64-53 Indiana win. Ali Patberg lead the way with 14 points, followed by Grace Berger with 12 and Mackenzie Holmes with 10.
"I'm disappointed in our turnovers category," Moren said. "I feel we are a veteran team led by a veteran point guard that struggled tonight."
While Moren knows her team will need to limit turnovers going forward, perhaps a more pressing issue is managing rotations and lineups with the return of Bendu Yeaney. Yeaney suffered a ruptured achilles in the NCAA tournament last season and a quick recovery already has her back on the court.
Yeaney averaged 9.7 points and 4.7 rebounds, and guarded the other team’s best offensive players in most games last year.
Yeaney’s return to the rotation is a big boost for Indiana, but also means that she will start to take minutes from certain players that have contributed to a Hoosier squad that is off to the best start in program history.
With Yeaney’s return, the Hoosiers will be able to consistently go 10 players deep, but could mean a diminished role for certain players as seen against Butler. Yeaney back in the lineup meant no minutes for Keyanna Warthen, who was averaging 14 minutes per game before tonight.
Moving forward, Moren will have some tough decisions to make regarding the team’s rotation. Last season, Yeaney started alongside Patberg and Jaelynn Penn in the backcourt, but the emergence of Berger as the team’s leading scorer puts last year’s guard trio in question.
Yeaney’s ability to lock down the other team’s best player makes her even more valuable and gives Indiana even more versatility at the guard position. In Yeaney’s return, Chanel Wilson played only seven minutes versus Butler and could force Moren to limit Wilson’s role.
While Warthen and Wilson are candidates to have their minutes decreased simply because Yeaney will need to play, it doesn’t mean that Moren should forget about the importance of their roles altogether. Indiana has had success playing Wilson at point guard, giving Patberg the opportunity to play off the ball to provide another 3-point shooting option.
Luckily for the Hoosiers, they have two nonconference home games versus Youngstown State and No. 10 UCLA before Big Ten play begins. It will be imperative for Moren to use these two games to experiment how she wants to play the team’s rotations.
"We have a lot room to grow," Moren said. "We have to get better and it starts with our point guard play."