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Indiana players pose with the Big Ten Championship trophy after securing the title with a win over Purdue on Feb. 19. (HN photo/Jaren Himelick)
Indiana players pose with the Big Ten Championship trophy after securing the title with a win over Purdue on Feb. 19. (HN photo/Jaren Himelick)

A Big Ten title for those who came before them

Indiana celebrated a share of the Big Ten championship with the 1983 championship team and other former players

At the end of the first quarter of Sunday’s game against Purdue, Indiana was up 20-15. As both teams walked to the bench, the 1982-1983 Indiana women's team, the only team to win a regular-season Big Ten title, walked out to the court to be honored for the 40th anniversary of their Big Ten championship. 

Ten minutes later, several members from the 1970 women’s team and all the way up to members of the 2020s, walked to mid-court as they were honored at halftime. 

Ironically, Indiana would replicate the ‘83 teams' success by winning this year's Big Ten title just a few hours later. 

They won it all in front of those who came before them. 

Indiana would win the game 83-60 against in-state rival Purdue to claim the 2023 Big Ten regular season title. Indiana finished the year undefeated in Assembly Hall and added another special moment to its already remarkable season. As the final buzzer went off, the team began its celebration. 

The entire team began to surround the north end basket as they cut down each little strand of the net. They happened to form a bubble around the ladder leading up to the basket but next to them, standing side by side, were people who made up what this program has become. 

Players from past teams, family and friends all stood around the team watching them achieve what they had set out to do. This year's players were now in the much-deserved spotlight but their success wouldn't be possible without those who were standing around them. 

Grace Berger poses for photos after IU clinched a share of the Big Ten regular-season championship with a win over Purdue on Feb. 19. (HN photo/Jaren Himelick)

“They have continued to support us and they show up for all the alumni outings,” Moren said of the 1983 team. “I get text messages from some of them as well and so out of all the alums that we've had here, that particular team has probably shown us a tremendous amount of support. I love it that it’s alumni day, senior day, it's championship Sunday and I love it that they can be here…We want our alumni to always feel a part of what we're doing… Syd (Parrish) and Grace (Berger) said it, they understand that it takes women before them to build a foundation and to do some of the heavy lifting.”

Out of the several past members who celebrated with the team, one particular person stood aside to watch the celebration with a proud look on her face. Former Indiana guard and current Team & Recruitment Coordinator Ali Patberg shared a one-of-a-kind moment with her team. 

Chloe Moore-McNeil had the championship trophy in her hands and began to look around for someone. As she looked behind to her left, her eyes made contact with an emotional Patberg. Moore-McNeil stretched out her hands handing off the trophy to her former teammate. 

Patberg laughed, shaking her head no at first, but as the rest of the team gathered around realizing what was happening, Patberg took in the trophy, wrapped it around her arms, and shed a few tears of joy. 

Berger, Parrish and Moren all said after the game that none of this would be possible without those who came before them. From the early teams of the ‘70s to the Patbergs of today, the celebration was a prime example of that exact statement. 

“She's such a big part of this,” Moren said. “You can tell by the reaction of our players when she went up there and cut down the net just how important and special she's been for our program. She has laid the foundation, you know Grace Burger and Mack (Holmes) said it, them getting in and doing the extra, always doing a little bit more work, you know that stemmed from the Brenna Wises, the Ali Patbergs…They were such a great example of what work looks like and what it was going to take in order for this thing to get rolling…She is so so happy, I know not just for our staff, but also for those players and for this program. I mean, she loves Indiana.” 

There have been a lot of great moments for this team but this one, in particular, worked out in the best way anyone could ever imagine — winning the title in front of the first-ever sold-out crowd, another Purdue Indiana matchup, senior day, and on the very same day that decades of past Indiana players were in the building. 

It’s hard to find something that is truly perfect but with everything that was on display, Indiana won the game in a picture-perfect setting. 

“It was great to be there to celebrate with our group,” Moren said. “With our team, our fans, our friends, families and so forth. It's just the excitement that our kids have and the love that they have not just for me but our staff as well and the other people that are involved. Whether it's (Director of Athletic Performance) Kevin (Konopasek), our trainers, practice squad guys, I mean it was a celebration for all of us and on a job well done today.”

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