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11/04/2022
Mackenzie Holmes goes up for a layup against Ohio State. (Ross Abdellah/HN)
Mackenzie Holmes goes up for a layup against Ohio State. (Ross Abdellah/HN)

Takeaways from Indiana's 86-43 win in Kentucky Wesleyan exhibition

Indiana's starting lineup will look very different this season, which was on display Friday

The Indiana Hoosiers defeated Kentucky Wesleyan 86-43 in their first exhibition game of the season on Friday night. It provided a first look at the seven new additions to the team, as well as a front row seat to the highlight-worthy plays that the likes of Mackenzie Holmes and Grace Berger can make this season. While the stakes were low, here are a few takeaways from the matchup:

The lineup

Head coach Teri Moren experimented with a plethora of lineup configurations on Friday night, but there was one thing in common about the most successful groups out there — they all included the combination of Berger and Holmes. As the only two returning starters, the chemistry is already there between the pair of veteran stars. 

“Any time I get a chance to step on the court and play with Grace Berger, it’s an honor and a blessing, so I’m lucky to get to play alongside her for another year,” Holmes said. 

Holmes finished the game with 22 points and five boards, while Berger scored 16 points, had five rebounds and handed out nine assists in the contest. 

Those two are the only players that can confidently be assumed as starters this season. After the game, Moren spoke to one of the best problems a coach could have — too many potential starters. 

“This is going to be a team that’s going to have to make sacrifices,” Moren said.

While Holmes and Berger will likely be on the court as much as they can be, it’s the newcomers that still leave a few question marks on the table. They’re going to have to work for a starting spot, and it seems as though they are up for the challenge.

Based on Friday night’s exhibition, it looks as though Yarden Garzon may play more of a role on this team than originally anticipated. The freshman from Ra’anana, Israel may not have had the flashiest performance, but she made a few impressive plays on both sides of the court. 

“Yarden is going to be special,” Moren said. “I thought she was quiet tonight, but we have plenty of evidence just watching her practice that she is going to be very, very special inside of our program.”

The next starting spot could be given to junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil, who didn’t have her best game on Friday, but is a proven scorer and leader of this squad. 

The last starting spot seems to be a toss-up between two talented transfers who can really shoot the ball from deep — Sara Scalia and Sydney Parrish. Parrish, an Indiana native, has a more versatile game, serving as a solid defensive presence in addition to her scoring abilities. Scalia, on the other hand, is primarily a shooter. Her shot didn’t make it in as much as you’d like to see Friday night, but if she gets hot, she can be a dangerous contributor to a team that desperately needs shooting threats. 

Moren stressed the fact that nothing is final, though, and fans will likely continue to see a string of different starting lineups as the season continues. Teri Moren has got a fairly nice problem on her hands in deciding which potential starters to give the spots to. 

“At the end of the day, we all have to be about winning the basketball game,” Moren said.

The game itself

Defensively, Indiana looked like it was at its peak performance in the competitive minutes of the game. The team forced 27 Kentucky Wesleyan turnovers and a decent amount of shot clock violations throughout both halves. Holmes continues to be a major presence defensively, but it was a full-team effort on that end of the court, which is exactly how Moren expects it to be.  

“If you’re going to come to Indiana, you’re going to be expected to guard and to defend,” Moren said. “If that’s not what you’re interested in doing first, then maybe this isn’t where you need to be.”

While the defense performed at a high level, it still remains a question mark where the shots are going to come from this season. Indiana picked up Scalia and Parrish in hopes of filling that hole, and both have the potential to do so. On Friday, that was not necessarily showcased. Scalia went 3-for-9 from beyond the arc, but a few of her missed shots were just unlucky bounces. Parrish, on the other hand, only made five shot attempts. She had a nice 3-pointer in her first play off the bench, but beyond that, there wasn’t a whole lot to analyze in the shooting department. 

“I thought Syd Parrish came in and gave us great minutes off the bench and really gave us some energy,” Moren said.

 

While Holmes has the post-play handled, the team is going to need some more shots to sink if IU wants to beat top competitors this season. The way I see it, Scalia is going to be the one to remedy that issue. It may take a little bit of time for adjustment, but she was able to show off her shooting prowess when she visited Assembly Hall last season playing for Minnesota. 

“It’s obvious that we do have some shooters out there,” Moren said.”I thought we got great shots in the first half, they just didn’t go down for us. If you make a couple of those, you feel a bit differently going into halftime.”

While Friday night’s exhibition was just that — an exhibition — it certainly provided some clarity about the depth of this roster and strengthened the anticipation for the regular season to begin. 

“Certainly, there are very high expectations for this group,” Moren said. “Games like this are so important, especially for those new faces.”


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