Indiana started off the year on the right foot taking down Vermont 86-49 for its first win of the season. The Hoosiers looked like a brand new offensive team compared to last year, shooting nearly 50% from both the field and the 3-point arc. With a lot of new faces and still questions to be answered about the structure of this team, here are a few early takeaways from the young season.
Defense is still Indiana’s strong point
Since Teri Moren took over the program, Indiana has made its name known by being one of the top defensive teams in the Big Ten. The Hoosiers finished the 2021-2022 season as the third best team in the Big Ten defensively and the Hoosiers look to replicate their defensive success for another season. In the first two quarters, Indiana was able to force 14 turnovers but forced another nine turnovers in the second half. The Hoosiers did an excellent job creating friction against Vermont after finishing with a combined total of five blocks. Yarden Garzon led the team with two blocks (in addition to her team-high 19 points) but three other Hoosiers recorded one block in the season opener. Although it was an exhibition game, let's not forget the 27 turnovers that Indiana forced against Kentucky Wesleyan. I think it's fair to say that Moren is happy with the way her team started things defensively.
Grace Berger is the leader for this team, for now
Berger came into this season as one of the top players in the country and so far this Indiana offense runs completely through her. Berger finished with 14 points, eight assists and eight rebounds in the first game of the season but the stat sheet doesn't tell the whole story. Berger has started to take the ball at the top of the key and usually finds herself commanding the offense. Moren talked about it after their exhibition game about how Berger could possibly take on this new role, especially at the start of the season. I expect Berger to continue running this Indiana offense but Moren did say that this new role isn't completely set in stone. Berger has done a good job so far being the offensive leader but the way that Indiana can find multiple players on offense while working alongside Berger gives this offense a lot of breathing room. This Hoosier offense could be a lot different in comparison to past Indiana teams but in a very good way.
Sydney Parrish is set up to play a vital role
There was a lot of hype coming into the season for the Indiana native. The former Oregon Duck averaged a career high 8.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and one assist last season in the Pac-12. Parrish was one of several transfer acquisitions for this Indiana team but so far it seems that Parrish is going to help get the bench going forward for Indiana. The season is still young so the role for Parrish could change but as of now, Parrish is Indiana’s go-to player off the bench. In her Indiana debut, Parrish finished with eight points and four rebounds all while playing a total of 22 minutes. The Hoosiers have struggled to get productivity from their bench the past couple of seasons but this year it seems that Indiana has found a solution.
There are still a lot of questions to be answered, especially with the type of roles that the Indiana players will take on, but in the first game, everything seemed to be clicking for the Hoosiers. Thirteen different players saw the floor and Indiana was able to make a total of 12 3s, something that would not have happened a year ago. A new type of team is brewing for the Hoosiers and fans should be excited for what's in store for the upcoming season. Indiana has now won 11 straight season openers and now prepares for its second game of the week against UMass Lowell on Friday.