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Indiana’s hopes of earning a Big Ten title and possibly a top-four seed in the NCAA tournament were in serious question until the final buzzer sounded on Thursday night versus Wisconsin. With 14.2 seconds remaining and a tied score, Aleksa Gulbe slid over to take a charge as Sydney Hilliard drove the lane.
The play was quite literally a game saver for Indiana, giving IU five more minutes of life in overtime following a Jaelynn Penn missed three at the buzzer. Ali Patberg and Grace Berger were the stars in overtime, but without Gulbe drawing a charge on Hilliard, Indiana’s guard duo would have never had the chance to complete the comeback.
Gulbe’s importance doesn’t stop here, though. Indiana now gets a chance to host rival Purdue on Monday and will need game-changing plays like Gulbe’s versus Wisconsin in order to secure another huge conference win.
Gulbe will likely draw the matchup with the Boilers' Ae’Rianna Harris, who led the Boilermakers with 15 points in the first game between these two teams. Harris is tied for the team lead with 13 points per game and is first in rebounds with 8.6 per game.
Indiana’s forwards, Gulbe and Mackenzie Holmes, have struggled throughout the season staying out of foul trouble, which will be even more important guarding a player like Harris. To win this matchup down low, drawing fouls on Harris will obviously be crucial. Holmes was able to damage from the free-throw line versus Wisconsin, drawing 10 fouls and shooting 11-for-13.
Looking at the backcourt, Purdue’s offense runs through the duo of Karissa McLaughlin and Dominique Oden. Indiana’s defense did a great job against these two in the first matchup of the season, holding McLaughlin and Oden to six points each — about half their season average.
McLaughlin and Oden shoot 32 and 38 percent from three, respectively, but were a combined 0-for-7 against IU on Jan. 10. Purdue plays a similarly deep rotation to Indiana, but Harris, McLauglin and Oden are by far the team’s biggest scoring threats. The three have each made over twice the amount of field goals as anyone else on the team.
For Indiana, a win on Monday is all about getting off to a quick start. Playing on the road in an environment like Mackey Arena is always difficult, but Indiana cannot afford to get down early like they did versus Wisconsin. The
The Hoosiers have struggled recently in the first quarter, trailing 11-2 early on against Northwestern, and 18-2 versus Wisconsin. A quick start for Indiana would mean winning the transition game early on and knocking down outside shots. The Hoosiers have seemed to slow the pace in recent games, with only two fast break points versus Wisconsin and six versus Minnesota. Running in transition and getting easy baskets can help Indiana calm down the Purdue crowd and control the pace of the game.
Similar to Indiana’s lack of fast break points has been its recent 3-point shooting. Before exploding for three 3-pointers in overtime versus Wisconsin, Indiana was just 6-for-24 in the first four quarters. In the team’s three most recent losses, the Hoosiers shot 6-for-28 from three at Iowa, 2-for-8 versus Northwestern and 1-for-8 at Maryland. Finding the hot hand from three will be absolutely vital for Indiana’s hopes of getting a road win in conference at 6 p.m. Monday.
Indiana also announced on Friday that Bendu Yeaney will be entering the transfer portal. Yeaney spent most of this season trying to recover from a torn Achilles she suffered in the team’s NCAA tournament loss last season.
In the six games she did play, Yeaney clearly wasn’t the same, averaging just 2.5 points. Last season, Yeaney typically guarded the team’s best offensive player, and going forward, the Hoosiers will surely miss her toughness on the court. In her statement, Yeaney said she will continue her collegiate career closer to home.
“The health of one of my immediate family members has heightened my desire to be closer to the west coast,” she said.
Moving forward without Yeaney, a win over Purdue on Monday keeps Indiana in the mix for the regular season Big Ten title. It would also set up a massive home game next Thursday versus Maryland, who Indiana trails by one game in the Big Ten race.
After suffering a three-game losing streak, the Indiana women’s basketball team bounced back in a big way with a dominating road win at Penn State. While certain problems surrounding the Hoosiers were exposed during this losing streak, one constant remained: Mackenzie Holmes.
Holmes kept up her efficient play, shooting 9-for-11 from the field and finishing with 18 points, which tied a team high with Ali Patberg in this game. The freshman forward is averaging 14.3 points over the past four games and was a big reason the Hoosiers turned things around on Thursday. Winning 50-50 balls and making constant hustle plays was the difference, according to Moren, in a win that gave the Hoosiers renewed confidence moving forward.
Getting back in the win column with a 76-60 win over Penn State was imperative for Indiana, but perhaps more important news going forward came on Jan. 16 when Minnesota’s leading scorer Destiny Pitts announced she was entering the transfer portal. Pitts was suspended indefinitely from the team because of “body language” in the team’s 56-54 home loss to Northwestern on Jan. 9 and later decided to transfer.
In addition to leading the team with 16.3 points per game, Pitts averaged the most minutes played and will be a huge loss for Lindsay Whalen’s squad entering its matchup versus Indiana. Pitts was shooting an incredible 45 percent from the 3-point line and was second on the team in rebounds per game with 4.8.
The loss of Pitts will shape both teams’ approach to the game. For Minnesota, it means playing without its No. 1 scoring option, which has not gone well in its four games without Pitts. Losses to Illinois, Iowa and Wisconsin and a win versus Purdue has plummeted Minnesota to 11th in the Big Ten standings after a promising start to the season.
With the absence of Pitts, Minnesota has looked to freshman guard Sara Scalia for offensive production. Scalia is averaging 11.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game, but has taken advantage of the offensive void that has come with the departure of Pitts. Scalia scored 16 points in Minnesota’s first game without Pitts and followed it up with 18-point efforts versus Iowa and Purdue.
Scalia isn’t nearly the prolific scorer Pitts is, but possesses a similar skillset. Scalia’s first look on offense versus Indiana will likely be from beyond the arc. Shooting 40 percent from three, having a hand up whenever Scalia touches the ball will be necessary for the Hoosiers.
The role of forward Taiye Bello has also become more important, anchoring Minnesota down low. Bello is averaging 12.2 points per game and takes on a lot of responsibility in the paint, averaging 9.7 rebounds per game. Holmes and Gulbe will be matched up with Bello throughout Monday’s game and will need to focus on staying out of foul trouble, which has been a problem for the Indiana forwards lately.
For the Hoosiers, this next stretch of games until the highly-anticipated matchup versus Maryland on Feb. 6 is all about regaining confidence and focusing on the areas of the game that plagued them throughout their three-game losing streak. The next three games versus Minnesota, Wisconsin and Purdue present a great opportunity to do this, as each team sits in the bottom five of the Big Ten.
Turnovers essentially handed Iowa and Northwestern overtime wins over the Hoosiers, and if Thursday’s game versus Penn State is any indication, this problem has still not been fixed. While Indiana cruised to a 16-point lead, it still turned the ball over 17 times. Giving its opponent this many second chances will continue to result in losses, and has to be head coach Teri Moren’s biggest focus moving forward.
After the win over Penn State, Moren focused on Patberg when addressing ways the Indiana offense can improve. Patberg had 18 points versus Penn State and a continued focus on playing aggressive will be of utmost importance going forward, according to Moren.
“The more aggressive Ali Patberg plays, the more aggressive I think everybody plays,” Moren said. “She will need to continue to do that as we continue to grow in our program and grow as a team.”
We’ll see if the Hoosiers have used this weekend to fix some of their problems as they have a quick turnaround with Minnesota coming to Bloomington on Monday. Tipoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and can be seen on the Big Ten Network.
Watching Maryland take down the No. 17 Indiana Hoosiers by 14 points on Monday night looked a lot like Indiana’s early-season domination. Like Indiana’s first four Big Ten wins, Maryland made a concerted effort to grab the ball out of the net and run in transition, which resulted in the Terrapins cruising to a 76-62 win over Indiana.
Taking care of the ball through unselfish play is what made the Hoosiers so good at the start of the year, and it is exactly how Maryland defeated them Monday. This loss drops Indiana to 4-3 in conference play and 14-5 overall, putting its Big Ten regular season champion title hopes in serious question.
The Terrapins finished with four players scoring 12 points or more, lead by Shakira Austin with 22 points. The 6-foot-5 sophomore forward had her way in the post Monday, getting to the free-throw line at will and shooting 10-for-13 from the charity stripe. Hoosier forwards Aleksa Gulbe and Mackenzie Holmes didn’t have an answer for Austin, causing Holmes to foul out and Gulbe to commit four fouls.
But because Maryland has two players who shoot above 40 percent from three, it was a pick-your-poison scenario for Indiana. Taylor Mikesell finished 4-for-5 from beyond the arc and Austin controlled the low post.
“Going into it we were not going to leave [Mikesell],” IU head coach Teri Moren said. “We weren’t going to drop, we weren’t going to dig, we weren’t going to rake, we weren’t going to help our post players on the inside just because of the threats that they are on the outside.”
When Maryland wasn’t feeding Austin inside, running in transition and sharing the ball was the name of the game, resulting in 22 fast-break points and 19 assists. Transition was once one of Indiana’s biggest strengths, but an 8-15 assist-to-turnover ratio limited its ability to control the pace of play.
Maryland also implements a 1-2-2 press that Moren thought Indiana attacked well in the first quarter, but helped the Terrapins control the tempo for the rest of the game.
“They are really attacking the ball,” Moren said. “They are long, they are athletic. In the past I always thought they were trying to slow roll you and run some time off the clock, but they are really super aggressive in it so you have to be careful because of their length. “
The Terrapins capitalized off turnovers and dominated the glass, as well. Eighteen points off turnovers and a 40-28 rebounding advantage allowed for Maryland to play its style of basketball and protect home court, only allowing Indiana to lead for 24 seconds of this game. With this loss, the Hoosiers fall to a three-way tie for third place in the conference.
After a promising start to the season, reaching heights this program has never seen before, the Hoosiers have hit a rough patch that has Moren questioning certain aspects of her team.
“The press isn’t what is frustrating to me tonight,” Moren said. “I thought our half court offense in the first half just took bad shots and the second half seemed unorganized.”
In a road game the Hoosiers desperately needed after blowing second half leads that resulted in two overtime losses, they needed their depth to shine. That certainly wasn’t the case on Monday, as Indiana only received significant contributions from five of its players.
Senior Brenna Wise failed to make much of an impact, shooting 0-for-2 from the field with one rebound in 15 minutes to play. Moren tried to reach deeper into her bench, but nothing was working for Bendu Yeaney and Jorie Allen either, scoring just two points each.
Struggling to find success from beyond the arc has been a continued issue for this team and that was no different tonight, shooting just 1-for-8 from three. Twenty-two turnovers were a major issue in its loss to Northwestern last Thursday and was only slightly better
Monday with 15 turnovers.
“We turned it over, which led to run out layups,” Moren said. “If you are not careful and good at executing against [the press], they can pile up points. They can create havoc for you for sure.”
If Indiana wants to get back in the hunt for a Big Ten championship, it needs to revert back to the fast-paced, unselfish style of basketball that was leading the team to wins earlier in the season. This means a focused approach on controlling the tempo of the game, which starts with point guard Ali Patberg.
Against Maryland, Patberg scored 15 points with six assists and four steals and only turned the ball over twice, compared to five versus Northwestern. But getting back to how the team was playing at the beginning of the year doesn’t fall on Patberg’s shoulders alone.
When Indiana was running teams out of the gym, it was because the team was focused on running in transition and sharing the ball. With only two players in double-digit scoring versus Maryland, Indiana’s offense felt motionless and looked completely different than just three games ago.
“It’s not like we have to be grittier, we have always been that,” Moren said. “We have to get back to the things we were doing well and we have got to get our confidence back.”
Moving forward, life in the Big Ten gets a little bit easier for the Hoosiers. Matchups at Penn State and Purdue, along with home games versus Minnesota and Wisconsin mean Indiana will face a team in the bottom five of the Big Ten rankings in each of its next four games.
This slight drop in competition for Indiana is an opportunity to get back to how it was playing at the start of Big Ten play, but not without contributions from the whole team. While Indiana has struggled in its last three games, Moren does not question this team’s ability.
“Here’s what I do know,” Moren said. “I love this team, we are the same team that beat South Carolina, we are the same team that beat Miami, we are the same team that has had some really terrific wins.”
After rolling its first four Big Ten opponents, the No. 15 Indiana women’s basketball team (14-4, 4-2) has entered unchartered waters after losing two consecutive games for the first time all season.
Suffering two losses in which they blew double digit leads — a 91-85 double-overtime loss at Iowa and a 71-69 loss at home versus Northwestern — the Hoosiers are in desperate need of a win if they hope to remain contenders for the Big Ten regular season title.
Turnovers and the inability to execute down the stretch have been the two biggest things plaguing Indiana in its most recent losses. The Hoosiers have turned the ball over a combined 34 times in the past two games and will need to value the ball in order to take down a talented Maryland team in College Park on Monday.
Maryland is currently on a two-game win streak after blowing out No. 24 Michigan in Ann Arbor and taking care of business at home versus Nebraska. The Terrapins sit at 4-2 in the Big Ten, which is tied for second in the conference with Indiana.
Similar ball security, bench contributions
Looking closer at this matchup, Indiana and Maryland possess eerily similar rosters that should result in a highly competitive game. Like Indiana’s past two games, this one could come down to who is able to take care of the ball. So far this season, both teams have turned the ball over exactly 258 times.
Both teams also have veteran guards who lead the team in scoring, complemented by young guards. For Maryland, Kaila Charles leads the way with 14.4 points and 7.9 rebounds per game, and freshman Ashley Owusu contributes 11.6 points per game.
The strength of Indiana has been the variety of scoring option it possesses, and Maryland is no different. Six Maryland players average double-digits points, and a deep bench allows for a nine-player rotation which has put no player on the court for more than 30 minutes per game this year.
Indiana head coach Teri Moren has said many times that the foundation of this Indiana team is its defense, and against a versatile Maryland squad, it will take a team effort on the defensive end to take down the Terrapins.
While Indiana wasn’t able to close out Northwestern on Thursday, a positive takeaway came from its defense versus Northwestern’s leading scorer Lindsey Pulliam, who shot a dreary 5-for-22 from the field. Maryland doesn’t have one scorer it consistently relies on to carry its offense, but a similar approach could be taken by Indiana’s defense in this game.
Against Pulliam, the Hoosiers focused on running her off the 3-point line, only allowing three of her 22 shot attempts to come from beyond the arc. Maryland shoots 36 percent from 3-point land as a team and has two players — Taylor Mikesell and Blair Watson — who shoot 40 percent from three. Look for the Hoosiers to employ a similar defensive style versus Maryland as used against Pulliam.
Finding a rhythm from distance
Maryland has leaned on the strength of 3-point shooting in certain games this year, but the same hasn’t been true about Indiana. A team that shoots just 31 percent from beyond the arc, the Hoosiers need players like Jaelynn Penn and Chanel Wilson to start find their rhythm from three. Penn is shooting 30 percent and Wilson is shooting 28 percent from three, but are players who Indiana consistently relies on to knock down outside shots.
A strong defensive performance was put to waste after a dreadful final five minutes of regulation versus Northwestern, and if Indiana continues to turn the ball over at a high rate, it won’t matter how its defense performs versus Maryland. If Indiana hopes to get back on track with a win at Maryland, it will need its guard trio of Ali Patberg, Jaelynn Penn and Grace Berger to control the pace of the game.
With a win, Indiana is back in the mix for the Big Ten regular season title. After this game, the Hoosiers face three of the bottom four teams in the conference and could be back up at the top of the conference by the start of February.
A loss, however, would put Indiana in a tough position. Northwestern, Rutgers and Iowa all have a one-game lead on Indiana, but are not scheduled going forward. Because of this, Indiana no longer has the luxury of controlling its own destiny, making this matchup with Maryland even more important.
Assembly Hall erupted as Mackenzie Holmes powered through the Northwestern defense to keep Indiana alive. She converted an old-fashioned 3-point play to give Indiana a 69-65 point lead with 2:05 left in overtime.
From that point, Indiana would go on to commit three costly turnovers in the final two minutes of overtime. Grace Berger tried to enter the ball to Holmes on the final possession, but Holmes was never open and a bad pass allowed Northwestern to evade the Indiana defense and run out the final seconds of the game, winning 71-69.
“We’ve got to look at ourselves and accept this and hopefully learn from it,” head coach Teri Moren said. “I thought we learned some lessons from the Iowa game, but we still have a lot of work to do in learning hard, hard, hard lessons. I am just really disappointed.”
The final two minutes were representative of the sloppiness with which Indiana played, and showed exactly why Indiana didn’t deserve to share first place in the Big Ten after Thursday.
Northwestern’s leading scorer Lindsey Pulliam shot 5-for-22 from the field. The Hoosiers did a nice job of forcing Pulliam into taking tough shots and not letting her get into a rhythm. Northwestern starting center Abbie Wolf fouled out with two minutes left in the fourth quarter, and after her defensive presence was gone, Holmes took immediate advantage on the block.
Neutralizing two of the opponent's best players results in a win in most cases — but not when you turn the ball over 21 times, 13 of them coming in the second half. For Moren, a loss like this highlights her recent frustrations with the team, starting with overall decision-making.
“It feels like we’re having to hand-feed them a lot of information,” Moren said. “Our hope is that they can just have more intelligence, be smarter in the decisions they make, be more focused, be better at executing.”
While Holmes’ and-one looked like it could save Indiana’s night, Moren said this game should have never even gone into overtime, much like the Hoosiers’ double-overtime loss to Iowa just four days ago. Holmes finished the game with 22 points and seven rebounds, tying her career high in points, but it wouldn’t matter in the end.
“I would trade any stat that I have for a win,” Holmes said.
Indiana was outscored 21-11 in the fourth quarter and found itself in a 11-2 deficit halfway through the first quarter. Beginning a game like that and finishing the way Indiana did won’t result in many wins going forward, and exposed some of Indiana’s biggest weaknesses. The most obvious weakness that was at the forefront of tonight’s loss was simply executing plays.
Indiana had a chance to win the game on the final possession in regulation, but a broken play led to a contested mid-range jump shot from Berger. In overtime down by two, the Hoosiers didn’t even get a shot off. These two plays came after Indiana sat down during a timeout to draw up a play. Whether it was poor coaching or a lack of player execution, this has become a theme that has led to the two-game losing streak Indiana is on.
Squandering an eight-point lead with 5:54 left in the fourth quarter represented a wasted chance that Indiana had to control its own destiny in the Big Ten moving forward. Northwestern, Rutgers and Iowa now share the top spot in the Big Ten, and moving forward, Indiana does not have any of those teams left on its schedule.
Indiana grinded out a road win at Rutgers on New Year’s Eve, but followed it up with two heartbreaking, overtime losses at Iowa and versus Northwestern. Because of this, Indiana now has to hope that the aforementioned teams slip up versus lesser opponents because the Hoosiers will not have a shot at revenge.
Indiana now has a quick turnaround and only three days to prepare for a road matchup at Maryland, who is tied with Indiana for second place in the Big Ten. In order to make sure another collapse doesn’t happen versus Maryland, Moren said the team will have some tough film sessions and need to translate what is learned in practice to the game.
“Everything we did inside the game tonight, we have practiced,” Moren said. “It is a head-scratcher when the things we have practiced don’t look like they are supposed to look like.”
Facing its first road test in Big Ten play, the No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball team would need all hands on deck versus an 11-1 Rutgers squad. Six Hoosiers finished with at least 10 points and used a strong third quarter to defeat the Scarlet Knights 66-56 and move to 12-2 overall and 2-0 in Big Ten play.
Here are my three takeaways from Indiana’s road win over Rutgers.
Lessons learned from last year’s loss
Exactly one year ago, Indiana traveled to Piscataway, but left with a bad taste in their mouths. The Hoosiers blew a nine-point halftime lead and were flustered by the constant pressure of the Rutgers full-court press, resulting in 21 turnovers, 14 of which came in the second half.
“A year ago we didn’t [handle Rutgers’ pressure] very well here and we had to learn a hard lesson,” Head Coach Teri Moren said. “I think we did a much better job tonight. I think once we got across the timeline we remained aggressive and that was a difference from a year ago as well.”
After watching film from last year’s game, the Hoosiers felt much more prepared this year, according to Moren. Indiana was able to stay calm, knowing they would be facing constant pressure.
“It’s kind of in their DNA,” Moren said. “They are wired to play one way and that is as hard as they can. They were as aggressive as we knew they would be.”
Defense contains Arella Guirantes
Rutgers’ guard Arella Guirantes came into today’s matchup averaging 19.7 points and 7.4 rebounds per game. While her 23 points in today’s contest make it seem like she had her way versus the Indiana defense, it is important to look deeper into the box score.
Guirantes shot 9-24 from the field and did not attempt a single three-point shot the entire game, something that happened all year long. The Hoosiers did a great job of running Guirantes off the three-point line, forcing her to take more contested shots inside the arc. Rutgers as a team shot 1-15 from beyond the arc.
“We said to our guys, ‘She’s going to take a lot of shots, they need her to take a lot of shots,’” Moren said. “Our job is to contest and make every shot as difficult as we can make it and realize that she is going to hit some of those.”
Indiana kept Guirantes off balance by having multiple defenders guard her throughout the game. Moren said Jaelynn Penn started on Guirantes, but thought Ali Patberg did the best job containing her. Indiana’s overall strategy in guarding Guirantes, according to Moren, was based around her shot fake and spin move, two of Guirantes’s go-to moves. Moren said the team focused on bringing in another defender to help when Guirantes spun, in an effort to alter her shot.
“We just tried to as disruptive as we could be with her,” Moren said. “We needed to. We had to.”
Hoosiers handle tough environment at the RAC
Playing on the road in the Big Ten is difficult against almost any opponent. Add a full-court press and an energized crowd and it becomes even more difficult to leave with a win. Patberg said when Rutgers began to make a run in the fourth quarter, the Hoosiers knew what they had to do to right the ship.
“We knew they would [make a run] because they are relentless,” Patberg said. “We stayed calm, we stayed composed and I think that was huge for us.”
Outside the comfort of Assembly Hall, it is always important to take care of the ball and while Indiana committed 15 turnovers today, it locked in at the beginning of the second half. Just one third quarter turnover helped lead the Hoosiers to an eight point advantage this quarter, which helped calm the crowd and was ultimately the difference in the game.
“With the crowd getting into it, that gives you a whole other level of aggression, they energize you,” Moren said. “Even when they started chipping away at the lead we did have, I thought our kids handled themselves in a great way.”
Moving forward, the Hoosiers have some time to rest after two Big Ten road games in four days. Indiana’s next matchup comes on Jan. 6 when the team hosts Illinois at 7 p.m. After the victory over Rutgers, Patberg was asked how it feels to be a team that is “hunted” now that they have established themselves as one of the favorites to win the Big Ten.
“Coach said every game that we have a chip on our shoulder because we are ranked now,” Patberg said. “I still feel like we are the ones hunting. We have not done what we have set out to do, so I think we are still the ones being the hunters.”
“We haven’t arrived yet and we have a lot we want to do.”
The No. 14 Indiana women’s basketball team is off to the best start in program history and started Big Ten play with a 79-67 win over Michigan State on Saturday. The Hoosiers have been ranked as high as No. 12 in the AP top-25 rankings and have losses to No. 6 Baylor and No. 10 UCLA.
As Indiana enters the gauntlet of Big Ten play and enters 2020, it’s time to give out year-end awards to the team’s top performers.
Freshman of the year: Mackenzie Holmes
Holmes came to Bloomington with a multitude of accolades: a five-star prospect, the No. 53 recruit in the country according to ESPN and the 2019 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year. While Holmes has started just one game for the Hoosiers, it’s safe to say she has lived up to expectations.
In her first 53 minutes played for Indiana, Holmes scored 53 points. This efficiency shown from the beginning of the season has made Holmes an elite weapon off the bench. She is currently fourth in the team in scoring with 11.4 points per game and is tied for the team lead in rebounds with senior Brenna Wise at 5.8 per game.
Holmes has done a great job of learning to run the floor in transition to get easy baskets, which has helped her efficient scoring clip, shooting 69 percent from the field. The freshman still has room to develop defensively, but she does lead the team with 18 blocks. Holmes has made the necessary defensive adjustments that have forced Head Coach Teri Moren to play her nearly as many minutes as starting forward Aleksa Gulbe.
Most Valuable Player: Ali Patberg
Patberg was named to nearly every preseason award list she was eligible for heading into the season and has been the steady floor general Indiana needs her to be. While her points per game of 12.2 is down about three points from last season, Patberg has adjusted well to the influx of scoring present on the Indiana roster.
Patberg is skilled enough average more points if she focused on getting her own shots each possession, but part of what makes her the team’s most valuable player is her unselfish nature. The junior point guard is averaging 5.2 assists per game and should receive a lot of credit for Indiana having five players averaging double digit points per game.
Patberg’s leadership and toughness are two attributes that won’t show up in the box score, but are crucial to the team’s success. She has been a reliable scoring option all year long and has done a great job of getting everyone on the team involved, offensively. Patberg’s willingness to defer to backup point guard Chanel Wilson when the two are on the court together has enabled Wilson to use her 3-point shooting ability to benefit the Hoosiers.
Most Improved: Grace Berger
Moren was spot-on with her prediction before the year. At the team’s first media availability of the season, Moren raved about how much Berger improved during the offseason and she was right. Berger went from a backup guard off the bench last season to the team’s leading scorer at 12.9 points per game.
Berger has always had a great midrange jump shot, but she made herself an even more dangerous scorer this season by improving her 3-point shot. Berger is 9-for-20 from beyond the arc this year after shooting just 5-for-23 from 3-point land last season. Moren has described Berger as a bit of a quiet person in the past, but her communication has led to her becoming more assertive offensively this season.
Berger has also developed greatly defensively, with 16 steals on the season. She has become a willing rebounder, as well, averaging 3.2 per game, making her a true stat-sheet stuffer for Indiana.
Unsung hero: Jaelynn Penn
It has been easy to look past the importance of Jaelynn Penn at times this year. It might be because of the emergence of Berger or the many responsibilities given to Patberg, but Penn’s value should not be overlooked. Penn has dealt with plantar fascia in both of her feet throughout the season, but you wouldn’t know it by the spark she brings to the team.
Penn is averaging 10 points per game and does a great job of spacing the floor for the Hoosiers, always ready to knock down a corner or wing 3-pointer. She also has a great ability to beat opponents off the dribble, freeing herself up for drives to the basket or cross-court skip passes to open shooters.
An experienced junior, Penn is a capable defender and understands understands Moren’s desire to lock in on the defensive end each game. Moving forward, look for Penn to increase her points per game as she continues to get healthy and Indiana’s rotation tightens up.
Best win: South Carolina
When Indiana was steamrolling its nonconference opponents, fans were itching to see how they would stack up against some of the country’s top competition. The Hoosiers traveled to the Virgin Islands for a test that would determine whether or not they were a national threat. That’s when Indiana’s signature 71-57 win over no. 4 South Carolina happened.
Indiana’s two most vocal leaders, Patberg and Wise, each scored 16 points in this game. The Hoosiers’ depth was on full display against the Gamecocks as Berger and Gulbe each contributed 10 points and Holmes stepped up in a big way with eight points, six rebounds and a blocked shot.
While Indiana was unable to follow up this win with a victory over No. 6 Baylor (which was ranked No. 2 at the time), it certainly gave the team confidence going forward and put the rest of the Big Ten on notice. This win win will surely be a résumé booster come Selection Monday.
Player most likely to take the next step in 2020: Jorie Allen
Everyone knew her name when she arrived in Bloomington this fall. The 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball award winner came in with big expectations, but to this point of the season, she is still adjusting to college basketball. Allen is an intriguing player in that she possesses a wide variety of skills and doesn’t have a defined position.
Allen has a natural feel for the rim when she has the ball in the post, but she has also shown the ability to consistently knock down midrange jumpers and even step behind the arc at times. Allen is averaging just 2.8 points and 3.1 rebounds in 13.7 minutes per game and it could take some time for her to find her definitive role because of the depth of this Indiana team.
Because of Allen’s ability to score in a variety of ways, Moren can use her in different lineups and rotations. Allen is an obvious candidate for improvement in Big Ten play as she becomes more comfortable with the pace of college basketball.
Aleksa Gulbe let her emotions show, flexing and yelling toward the Indiana bench after finishing a layup through contact at the beginning of the third quarter Saturday. Gulbe had a tough first half, scoring just two points and turning the ball over twice, but this basket proved to be a breakthrough moment for the sophomore.
After converting the old-fashioned three-point play, Indiana went on a 10-0 run to regain its first lead since late in the first quarter. Gulbe scored nine second-half points, and showed just how difficult it will be for opposing teams to guard her and freshman Mackenzie Holmes inside. The duo combined to score 29 points and grab 10 rebounds, leading No. 14 Indiana to a 79-67 win in its Big Ten opener against Michigan State.
Indiana struggled in the first half, turning the ball over 11 times and allowing six Michigan State 3-pointers. But like the Hoosiers’ performance against Youngstown State, a switch was flipped in the second half. Ali Patberg lead the way with 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists, but it was the duo inside that the Spartans couldn’t guard in the second half.
Holmes scored nine of the team’s final 11 points in the third period, giving Indiana a five-point lead heading into the fourth quarter. It was her spark off the bench — paired with Gulbe’s versatility in the starting lineup — that propelled Indiana to this win.
Youngstown State’s Mady Aulbach drilled a contested three with 19 seconds left in the second quarter, cutting the Indiana lead down to just 41-38 as the Hoosiers jogged into the locker room for halftime.
“I thought we were sleepwalking there in the first half,” Indiana head coach Teri Moren said. “Frustrated on both sides of the ball.”
For Ali Patberg, the first half wasn’t Indiana basketball, especially not the team that is ranked 12th in the country.
The Hoosiers turned the ball over nine times in the first half and shot a woeful 2-for-11 in the first quarter. Aleksa Gulbe picked up two quick fouls and only played four minutes in the first half.
Playing against a scrappy Youngstown State team, Moren knew she would have to rely on her point guard’s leadership in the second half. Patberg ran out of the locker room looking like a different player, and her aggressiveness helped her to take over the game, leading Indiana to a 93-56 victory.
“As a leader and a veteran of this group that’s what you want,” Moren said of Patberg.
Patberg shot 1-for-5 from the field in the first quarter, but performed like an All-American in the remaining three quarters, shooting 6-for-9 and 3-for-5 from beyond the arc. Patberg finished with 18 points, five assists and four rebounds. For Patberg, the word “aggressive” kept coming up when talking about her second half effort.
“We were aggressive, we shared the ball, we made the right plays, we were decisive in our passes and everything,” Patberg said. “We didn’t hesitate, we played confident and aggressive.”
After Wednesday’s victory over Butler, Moren was a bit critical of her point guard’s play, but knew a big game was in store in the near future. Moren is unsure why Patberg was passive in the first half, but credits Patberg’s work off the court for her ability to bounce back in the second half.
“The great thing about Ali and shooters like that is they have to have a memory that they forget the past,” Moren said. “It was just a matter of time before those start falling. I called it after the Butler game that she would show up in a big way today, and I thought in the second half she was really good.”
A game-defining moment came early in the second half after Patberg picked up her third foul just seconds after her second. Patberg yelled over to the bench, “I’m good,” knowing that she needed to jumpstart her team. Moren kept her in the game after very little debate, and because of this, IU’s offense started rolling.
“That’s a trust you have to have in your team and your kiddos,” Moren said. “We have an awful lot of trust in Ali Patberg that she could maintain being aggressive, but yet playing smart without picking up that other foul.”
Moren thought her team was getting good looks in the first half, but shots just weren’t falling. Missed shots were a main reason the Hoosiers only lead by three points at halftime, but Moren didn’t dwell on that.
“We can’t have the knee jerk reaction after not hitting shots,” Moren said. If you miss shots because they are bad shots, that is one thing… We have watched our kids hit those shots and we wanted to instill confidence.
In an effort to fuel her team, Moren said there was some excitement in the halftime locker room. But while Indiana just had one of its worst halves shooting the ball, the halftime discussion was about playing more aggressive and locking in, defensively.
“We pride ourselves on the defensive end,” Patberg said. “Once we make stops defensively, that sparks our offense and we weren’t doing that in the first half.”
With a renewed sense of pride on the defense of end, the Hoosiers came out and held Youngstown State to just 18 points in the entire second half. With Gulbe in foul trouble for most of the game, Holmes played a key role in defending the paint, blocking two shots and holding opposing center Jen Wendler to just four points and one rebound.
While Indiana shot an unprecedented 22-for-29 from the field in the second half, it was by the strength of its defense that IU won the second half 52-18. This defensive focus allowed Indiana to control the pace of the game and run in transition, which is when Moren thinks her team is at its best. Indiana finished the game with 16 fast break points and 22 assists, two numbers that demonstrate how IU’s offense was clicking in the second half.
Going into the game, Moren said she knew Youngstown State would play like they had nothing to lose. The Penguins were 4-for-4 from beyond the arc in the second quarter, a number which broke Moren’s goal of three-pointers allowed going into the game.
The Hoosiers made it a point of emphasis in the second half to limit 3-point shot attempts, and forced Youngstown State to finish 5-for-21 from 3-point land. Jaelynn Penn credited defensive focus from the whole team as a reason the Hoosiers went on a run in the second half.
“Our aggression level wasn’t matching on the defensive end and we needed that to spark our offense,” Penn said. “So just to pick it up on defense, do our jobs and play like us.”
Bendu Yeaney was a key part of this defensive improvement in the second half, which was no surprise to Moren. Sunday was Yeaney’s first game back in Assembly Hall after playing limited minutes versus Butler on Wednesday.
Moren said basketball IQ, defensive presence and ability to communicate are attributes Yeaney adds to an Indiana team that is off to its best start in program history. With Yeaney back, this team may have just gotten a whole lot better before it takes on No. 10 UCLA in a week.
“We are better for a lot of reasons particularly because Bendu has proven time and time again that she has been historically our best perimeter defender,” Moren said. “She doesn’t have the same kind of pop that we are used to seeing from Bendu, but that will come.”
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."
Playing without its leading scorer, Grace Berger, certain weaknesses of the Indiana women’s basketball team were exposed Saturday in its 72-45 win over North Florida. Nine first-half turnovers prohibited the Hoosiers from opening up a larger lead, as they lost the second quarter 13-11.
But luckily for Indiana, senior Brenna Wise brought "the good juice," as head coach Teri Moren said. For Moren, this was no surprise — Wise brings it every day. Whether it is during a practice, game or in the locker room, Wise possesses a certain energy at all times.
“[Wise] just has an energy that is contagious and resonates in that locker room with her teammates,” Moren said. “She is really a special person, not just a player, she’s just a special human being.”
Questions loomed about the legitimacy of this Indiana women’s basketball team before its trip to the Paradise Jam, but these questions have surely been answered as the team leaves the Virgin Islands with a 6-1 record and No. 14 ranking.
The team’s goal was to go 3-0 at the Paradise Jam, according to head coach Teri Moren, but a 2-1 record with a 71-57 win over then No. 5 South Carolina and a 78-44 over Washington State represent a successful Thanksgiving tournament. The Hoosiers’ lone loss of the weekend came against then No. 2 Baylor 77-62, a game Indiana only trailed by four points with four and a half minutes left in the fourth quarter.
“I loved our bounce back ability,” Moren said after the win over Washington State. “I have said that before, but as I said to our kids, good teams win by six to eight points, great teams make a statement.”
While the Hoosiers showed the rest of women’s college basketball that they can contend with some of the best teams in the country, it came at a price. On the final play of the Baylor game, Aleksa Gulbe went down with an injury that kept her out of the Washington State game the following day. After playing 18 minutes versus Washington State, Grace Berger also went down with an injury.
According to Moren, Gulbe is day-to-day and Berger is day-to-day pending further evaluation, which could present Indiana with a major challenge as it prepares for No. 21 Miami (FL) tomorrow in the ACC/Big Ten Challenge. The team did not return back to Bloomington after the Paradise Jam, choosing to fly to Coral Gables with just three days in between games.
Gulbe and Berger have not been ruled out for Wednesday’s matchup with the Hurricanes, but day-to-day designations are not a great sign for Indiana in the short-term. Playing three games in three days and not being able to get medical evaluation in Bloomington yet are reasons to believe the Hoosiers may be without Gulbe and Berger on Wednesday.
Berger is currently leading the team in scoring with 14.9 points per game, and is also contributing 3.4 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game. Gulbe is second on the team in rebounds with 5.8 per game and fifth in scoring with 8.7 points per game. Both players have started every game in which they have been healthy.
With the possibility of not having Gulbe and Berger versus Miami, two obvious candidates to earn more minutes are Mackenzie Holmes and Chanel Wilson. Holmes has showed promise all year coming off the bench, averaging 13 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Holmes has great finishing ability around the rim and has learned to get easy buckets in transition.
One problem for Holmes, though, has been on defense. Moren explained earlier in the year that Holmes is often in good position defensively, but brings her arms down on opposing players, resulting in fouls. At the Paradise Jam, Holmes had two fouls versus South Carolina and Washington State and four fouls versus Baylor. It will be incredibly important for Holmes to stay out of foul trouble, as she will likely draw a matchup with Miami’s redshirt senior Beatrice Mompremier who is averaging 18.1 points and 8.9 rebounds per game. Holmes will likely have the help of Brenna Wise, Jorie Allen and Hannah Noveroske, but guarding Mompremier will be a tall task, nonetheless.
If Berger can’t play Wednesday, redshirt freshman Chanel Wilson will take on a bigger role for the Hoosiers. So far, we have seen Wilson mainly used as Ali Patberg’s backup. Wilson has shown the ability to consistently knock down three-pointers and provide a level of speed and quickness that gives opposing defenses problems.
Wilson is averaging 5.9 points per game and is shooting 37 percent from beyond the arc. Lineups with Patberg and Wilson on the court together have given a new wrinkle to the Indiana offense at times. Wilson’s ability to bring the ball up gives Patberg space on the wing to spot up for threes and provide another scoring threat off the ball.
The Hoosiers will have been away from Bloomington for over a week by the time tomorrow’s game tips off. A tough road matchup combined with two major injuries could lead Indiana to turn to its lone senior, Brenna Wise, for leadership in a trying time like this.
Wise played an integral role in Indiana’s signature win over South Carolina, scoring 16 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point land. Before the Paradise Jam, Wise was just 2-11 on three-point shots, but returned to form in the Virgin Islands, shooting 7-15 from beyond the arc in three games.
Between her recently improved three-point shooting, leadership abilities and toughness, Wise could be an x-factor in this matchup. After the South Carolina game, Wise stressed the importance of shot-selection, a point of emphasis that will apply to tomorrow’s game.
Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m. ET and can be seen on the ACC Network.
Heading into its first road game of the season versus Florida, Indiana knew it would have to contain freshman Lavender Briggs. Before the contest, Briggs was averaging 13 points per game on 42 percent shooting from beyond the arc.
But Briggs was scratched from the lineup right before tipoff due to a high ankle sprain, forcing Indiana to switch its matchups. This late adjustment may have rattled some teams in their first road game, but Indiana head coach Teri Moren gives her players a lot of credit for being able to adapt on the fly.
Led by 23 points from Grace Berger, Indiana defeated Florida 73-49 in Gainesville. Berger was named Big Ten Player of the Week after her performance.
Brenna Wise followed Berger’s lead with 16 points and six rebounds, and Aleksa Gulbe, Jaelynn Penn and Chanel Wilson each scored eight points. The Hoosiers moved to 4-0 on the season, heading into multiple intriguing matchups in the Paradise Jam.
Indiana will now head to the Virgin Islands where it will take on No. 5 South Carolina, No. 2 Baylor and Washington State. A strong start to the season has Indiana ranked No. 17 in the AP Top 25 poll, but some serious questions concerning the team’s legitimacy will be answered at the Paradise Jam.
Will Indiana’s depth perform against top competition?
The biggest strength of this Indiana team has come through its ability to score in a variety of ways. Never needing to rely on one scorer to lead the offense, Moren typically plays a nine-player rotation. Players such as freshmen Mackenzie Holmes, Jorie Allen and Chanel Wilson each bring a distinctive skillset off the bench.
In IU's first four games, Moren has had the luxury of being able to try different lineups and rotations because of the depth of this team. Lineups with Gulbe and Holmes on the court at the same time give Indiana an advantage inside, while Ali Patberg and Wilson have shown to fit together nicely in the backcourt, bringing more 3-point shooting on the court.
But against some of the top teams in the country, the impact of Indiana’s bench players will be in question. Employing a team-centric approach, with good ball movement, could alleviate some of those concerns.
Moren has set a goal of at least 15 assists per game in order to get her team to focus on sharing the ball. Indiana has met this goal multiple times. Moren credits the team’s assist numbers to a willingness to share the ball between each member of the team.
“We always talk about making the easy play, making the right play, and our kids are understanding what the right play looks like and what the easy play is,” Moren said. “Give our kids credit because they are really unselfish.”
For Berger, the Indiana offense operates best when the ball moves.
“When we have multiple weapons and we know we have a lot of people on our team that can score,” Berger said. “We have a deep bench so when we share the ball, that’s when we think we are at our best.”
How will Indiana handle Lauren Cox and Aliyah Boston down low?
Baylor’s Lauren Cox and South Carolina’s Aliyah Boston will present major challenges in the post. Cox, a 6-foot-4 senior, is averaging 12 points and 10 rebounds per game. Boston is a 6-foot-5 freshman who is averaging 13.7 points and 7.5 rebounds per game and has blocked 24 shots this year.
Gulbe and Holmes will likely guard Cox and Boston in these two games. Staying out of foul trouble will be a point of emphasis, as Gulbe and Holmes have struggled with that lately. Against Jackson State, Gulbe committed three fouls and Holmes committed four.
Before the Jackson State game, Moren challenged her players to guard their opponent without fouling, move their feet, contest shots and not foul jump shooters. Moren was disappointed in her team’s effort guarding the ball against Jackson State and knows this will have to improve as competition improves.
“We were watching those ladies just go right past us and that is a pride thing,” Moren said. “That is a gritty thing… We have got to be able to guard so much better defensively.”
While these goals could apply to almost any game, defensive focus will be especially important in the post versus South Carolina and Baylor. Moren has said numerous times that Holmes is still raw defensively, but has seen improvements. Moren said Holmes tends to be in good position but needs to focus on keeping her hands straight up and not coming down on defenders.
Can Indiana continue to control the pace?
Using defense to create offense has been a focus of this Indiana squad all year. The Hoosiers scored 18 points on fast breaks against Florida.
Berger is leading the team with 12 steals this year, highlighted by her performance versus McKendree when she scored six of the team’s first eight points on steals that led to easy layups. Through the team’s first four games, Holmes had scored 52 points in 52 minutes of play. She credits this efficiency to running in transition to score easy baskets.
“One of the big things for me is running the floor,” Holmes said. “The guards do a really good job of finding me so I think if I keep running the floor and keep pushing the pace the guards will find me.”
It will be important to Indiana to set the tone offensively and not let its opponents control the pace. If Indiana can rebound well and immediately run in transition, it will create opportunities for easy points that may be hard to come by against good defenses that South Carolina and Baylor boast.
At the Paradise Jam, Indiana will first take on No. 5 South Carolina at 8 p.m. Thursday, followed by a matchup with No. 2 Baylor at 5:45 p.m. Friday and finishing with a matchup versus Washington State at 5:45 p.m. Saturday. All games can be streamed through FloHoops, or listeners can tune into WHCC 105.1 FM.
With Louisiana Tech fighting back, Indiana used the free throw line to settle down the pace and pull out an 88-75 win over the Bulldogs Monday night. The Hoosiers shot 74 percent from the free throw line, a welcomed sign for a team that shot just 65 percent from the charity stripe last season, good for 329th in the country.
Freshman Trayce-Jackson Davis led Indiana with 21 points in its win over Louisiana Tech, the 88th ranked team in KenPom. In a game where point guard Rob Phinisee was sidelined with an abdominal injury, Devonte Green stepped up in his absence, scoring 16 points on 6-of-11 shooting.
Indiana’s lead was as high as 23 points in the first half, but Louisiana Tech showed in the second half it would not go away easily. With 11 minutes left in the game, the Bulldogs cut Indiana’s lead to 11 points, but also committed a costly foul to put Indiana in the double bonus.
“This is one, regardless of how you feel you played, we won the game and a few months from now this will be one that's more valuable than hopefully most people realize,” head coach Archie Miller said.
This win moves Indiana to 6-0 on the season, the best start since the 2012-2013 season. Here are three takeaways from Indiana’s best win of the season to this point.
Durham sets the tone with quick start
Mo Muhammed opened the scoring for Louisiana Tech with a layup on the first possession, but after that, it was off to the races for Durham. Each of the next six points were scored by Durham on coast-to-coast, fast-break layups. Durham ended his personal 7-0 run with a free throw to convert an old-fashioned three-point play.
“Our guards did a really good job early in the game of attacking in transition,” Miller said. “I thought they made the game pretty easy early. And we were able to build a comfortable lead.”
In a game with no student section due to Thanksgiving break, it was important for Durham to create his own energy on the fast break. This run by Durham excited the crowd inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall and established Indiana offensively. Durham scored 18 points on 6-of-10 shooting, contributed four rebounds and four assists and led the team with a plus-17 rating.
The Hoosiers were able to generate 20 points off 20 Louisiana Tech turnovers and scored nine points on fast breaks. Scoring 88 points, Indiana kept pace with its 90.6 points per game, which is good for fourth in the nation.
Turnovers allow Louisiana Tech back in the game
Indiana was enjoying a 23-point lead with 7:29 left in the first half, but turnovers started to become a problem in the second half. The Hoosiers committed 18 turnovers, allowing Louisiana Tech more scoring opportunities to get back in the game.
“Second half, embarrassing really how we took care of the ball,” Miller said. “And I think it started very quickly in our first possession. When you turn the ball over coming out of halftime, you're not able to get a shot, messes you up. And just the types of turnovers we had really weren't very good.”
While Louisiana Tech never cut Indiana’s lead to below 10 points, the Bulldogs were seemingly one big shot away from threatening Indiana’s lead for the majority of the second half. Louisiana Tech scored 16 points off Indiana turnovers and were led by Amorie Archibald with 24 points on 8-of-13 shooting.
After a 52-point first half in which Indiana shot 61 percent from the floor, the Hoosiers scored 36 points and shot 32 percent in the second half, not to mention the 12 second-half turnovers.
“We weren't able to really get a hold of it,” Miller said. “We weren't able to really play the game the right way in terms of how we moved it, shared it, free-flowing. It just became a dribble-fest, a turnover-fest and there weren't a whole lot of people in my opinion in sync. It was really hard to play the second half based on that.”
Limiting turnovers will be a big focus for Archie Miller’s squad moving forward as it prepares for a December schedule that presents immediate challenges versus Florida State, Wisconsin and UConn in the first 10 days of the month.
Brunk, Jackson-Davis prove to be huge additions
Heading into the season, one of the major question marks was based around replacing Juwan Morgan in the post. While almost no player could immediately step in and replace Morgan’s production, Joey Brunk and Trayce Jackson-Davis have proven to be a tough duo to stop down low.
Jackson-Davis led the Hoosiers with a double-double of 21 points and 11 rebounds, but really made his worth at the free throw line where he shot 11-of-13. Brunk contributed 12 points on 5-of-10 shooting and grabbed eight rebounds. The duo combined for six of the team’s nine offensive rebounds.
“Conceptually you've got to work inside/out obviously,” Miller said. “But you're trying to be as aggressive as you possibly can to get to the foul line because I think that's where our strength is in offensive rebounding.”
Before the season, senior De’Ron Davis was expected to play a bigger role for the Hoosiers, but the emergence of Brunk has made it hard for Davis to see the floor. Only playing four minutes tonight, Davis did not score or have any rebounds. The addition of Jackson-Davis, 2019 Indiana Mr. Basketball, and Brunk, a grad-transfer from Butler, have proven to be essential to the success of this team as Davis’s role continues to diminish.
Going forward, Indiana will host South Dakota State on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET. This game can be seen on BTN+.
Before the season even started, Indiana women’s basketball Head Coach Teri Moren knew how she wanted to challenge her team. The Hoosiers dominated in their three easy victories over Mount Saint Mary’s, Nicholls State and Jackson State, but a sudden uptick in competition is coming fast for Indiana.
Over the next week, the true potential of this Indiana team will be realized, beginning with a matchup at Florida, followed by the Paradise Jam in the Virgin Islands, where the Hoosiers will take on No. 6 South Carolina, defending national champion No. 2 Baylor and Washington State.
Moren was intentional about making the schedule like this. Moren explains that she wanted the team to get its feet wet early at home and then challenge itself on the road. But with a roster eerily similar to last year’s, other than the departure of Kym Royster and the addition of Jorie Allen and Mackenzie Holmes, Moren thinks this team will be unfazed.
“Knowing the leadership that I have inside the locker room and how focused our kids are on our goals,” Moren said. “I would suspect that our mindset going into [road games], even though we are away from Assembly Hall, is going to be pretty much the same.”
Indiana has steadily climbed the AP Top 25 rankings over the first few weeks of the season, jumping all the way to no. 18, marking the first time Indiana has been ranked in the top 20.
“To be the first time anything is special,” Moren said. “But it is much too early to be talking about rankings. We know that we have an incredible amount of work to still do.”
The Hoosiers have benefitted from great depth and unselfish play in this young season. While Indiana may have been on cruise control in its first three games, the upcoming matchups have remained in the back of their minds.
“[The coaches] instill in us that we are focused on us,” Berger said. “We have important games coming up against really good teams, so we are going to work on things we need to work on regardless of the score.”
The Hoosiers will get their first taste of Power 5 competition when they travel to Gainesville for a matchup with the Florida Gators. Florida enters this matchup with a 4-0 record, but like Indiana, it has yet to face significant competition. This game will tipoff at 6 p.m. ET and can be seen on SEC Network+.
Meet the Gators
Florida is under the direction of Head Coach Cam Newbauer for the third season. The Gators saw significant roster turnover in Newbauer’s first two years, with 70 percent of last year’s minutes played by new members of the team.
While Florida was only 8-23 last year, it had impressive wins in the O’Connell Center versus Texas Tech, Missouri and Alabama. In each of Newbauer’s first two seasons, the Gators showed they are a serious threat from beyond the arc. For only the second time in program history, Florida knocked down 200 or more three-pointers in back-to-back seasons.
The Gators enter this matchup scoring 71.8 points per game on 42 percent shooting. The elite three point shooting Florida possessed last year is off to somewhat of a slow start, as the team is shooting 31 percent from beyond the arc.
Redshirt-junior guard Kiara Smith leads a balanced Florida offense with 13.5 points per game. Smith is followed by freshman Lavender Briggs, who is averaging 13 points per game and shoots 42 percent from three. Moren thinks Briggs will challenge the Indiana defense with her three-point shot, but also has a skilled mid-range game.
Florida does not have one dominant rebounder, but their whole team is willing to crash the boards. With six players averaging 5.5 or more rebounds, it will take a team effort from Indiana to keep the Gators off the glass.
While Florida won 60-46 in its most recent game versus Presbyterian, its 20 turnovers represent a continued problem for the team. Florida had 17 turnovers versus Samford, 19 versus Longwood and 11 versus Grambling State.
Indiana has used turnovers as an opportunity to run in transition throughout the season, and this could play a big role against Florida. Moren sees this game being high-paced from beginning to end, which could be an advantage for the Hoosiers if they are able to force turnovers.
Defensively, Moren envisions a mixture of looks thrown at her team. While Florida played a lot of zone defense versus Indiana last year, Moren said the Gators play more man-to-man defense this year.
In its first road game of the year, Indiana will be challenged to combat the energy of an opposing crowd. Moren said Florida is planning a “blackout” themed game and expects a big crowd.
“I doubt that we are going to have many people [at Florida],” Moren said. “We are going to have to create our own energy and make sure that we realize why we are going down there. It is a complete business trip when we are on the road with these guys.”
In its first taste of real basketball, the Indiana women’s basketball team showed that it won’t need to rely on the same cast of players on a nightly basis. In what was one of Ali Patberg’s poorer games as a Hoosier and a night that Jaelynn Penn was 0-for-2 from the field, the depth of this Indiana team shined.
A 75-52 victory over Mount Saint Mary’s gives the Hoosiers a victory in their season opener and shows just how dangerous this team can be. But perhaps no one showed just how much they improved from last year than Grace Berger.
Last year for Indiana, Berger served as a backup who seemed to defer to some of the more talented guards on the team throughout the season. Head coach Teri Moren said before the team’s exhibition game versus McKendree that Berger was ready to emerge as a real threat for Indiana this year.
Fourteen points and six steals versus McKendree showed fans that what Moren said about Berger could be true, but her game-high 24 points Thursday proved that Moren’s sentiment was real. Berger began the game a perfect 6-for-6 from the field and commanded the Indiana offense.
Berger said the year of experience gained last season was huge for her development. She said this year she hopes to be a more consistent presence for the team.
Berger also contributed seven rebounds to go along with four assists and four steals. Bringing an offensive spark and constant defensive intensity, Berger showed improvement shooting the ball as well, going 3-for-6 from 3-point range Thursday.
“[Berger] realized that in order for our team to get better, she had to get better in certain areas,” Moren said. “It was nice to see the fruits of her labor pay off. She had a great game.”
Some may say it’s just an exhibition game, but others may be convinced this Indiana women’s basketball team can reach greater heights than its preseason No. 24 ranking. Nevertheless, we got our first look at the Hoosiers in their dominant 109-43 win over McKendree on Sunday.
Indiana showed it boasts a team with multiple scoring options, and maybe even more depth than it thought heading into the season.
Berger, Gulbe take a big step forward
Before the season started, head coach Teri Moren said she has never see anyone work as hard as Grace Berger did over the offseason. That hard work looks like it has paid off, at least so far. Berger finished today’s game with 14 points on 6-for-11 shooting. She also contributed six steals, three rebounds and two assists.
Moren highlights Berger’s ability to get to the rim, as well as her mid-range game as her two strengths, but has also seen an improvement in her 3-point shot. Though Berger was 0-2 from deep Sunday, her confidence level has improved greatly, according to Moren. Moren said she knew Berger would play well because of the ability she has shown against the team’s male practice squad.
“[Berger] is playing with a confidence level at an all-time high,” Moren said. “I think a lot of that has to do with her teammates that give her good juice every day.”
Another player who looks like she has made a big leap is sophomore Aleksa Gulbe. Gulbe led all players in scoring today with 20 points, and showed off an aspect of her game that not many Indiana fans recognize. Shooting 3-for-5 from beyond the arc, Moren loves the flexibility Gulbe gives the offense.
“The great thing about our offense is everyone is interchangeable in it,” Moren said. “Regardless if we are running our motion or chin series, it doesn’t matter where you are, you all have the same cuts. It’s just different because [Gulbe] is bigger, but she can also stretch you out.”
Going forward, Berger and Gulbe will play a key role in relieving some of the point scoring demand put on Ali Patberg and Jaelynn Penn. Gulbe finished the game shooting 8-for-13 from the field to go along with eight rebounds.
Promising recruiting class shows versatility
Perhaps the most intriguing thing to come from Sunday's exhibition game was the emergence of Jorie Allen. The freshman from Bedford North Lawrence was the 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball and scored 15 points Sunday in a variety of ways.
Allen was willing to run in transition throughout the game and had a few nice finishes through contact. But what really stood out was her ability to hit the 3-point shot. Allen finished the game 2-for-2 from beyond the arc, which put a smile on Moren’s face.
“[Allen] can cut, we post her up, she also has the ability to stretch you out, and she is just going to continue to get better,” Moren said.
While Moren was impressed with Allen’s versatility, the thing Moren likes most about Allen is her grit. Playing with this kind of toughness will continue to get Allen meaningful minutes for Moren’s squad.
“That is an intangible [Allen] has always played with,” Moren said. “You hope that resonates with the rest of the locker room because there is nothing better than having a tough kid like that on the floor.”
Another young player that showed promise Sunday was redshirt freshman Chanel Wilson. Wilson suffered an ACL tear and was forced to miss all of last season, but didn’t look slowed down Sunday at all. While Wilson left the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, she allowed Patberg to rest and scored nine points to go along with seven assists.
Wilson could play a key role as the main backup point guard for Patberg. Moren thinks Wilson provides a nice change of pace from how Patberg plays. Priding themselves on playing fast in transition, Moren says Wilson fits this role perfectly.
“Nelly’s wiggle room is harder to guard and she gives us something different at that spot,” Moren said. “She looked not just sound, but very comfortable.”
Newcomers Mackenzie Holmes and Hannah Noveroske also played their first game on Branch McCracken court Sunday. Moren said the two freshmen still have a lot of learning to do defensively, but could eventually provide a strong presence for the team down low. Being able to establish leverage and playing with more toughness are two things Moren said they can improve on.
“There’s something to be said about experience,” Moren said. “We have to be patient with Mackenzie and Hannah and understand that their intentions are in the right place. A lot of it is just placement and positioning and not allowing the offensive post player to get too deep.”
While the two freshmen are still raw, Moren hopes one of them can emerge as an anchor at the center position.
Defense leads to offense
From the opening tip, it was clear Indiana wanted to pressure McKendree into making mistakes. Six of Indiana’s first eight points came from three steals by Grace Berger that she took coast to coast. This energy on the defensive side sparked a source of energy in an Indiana team that Moren said is always looking to get offense from its defense.
“I think we will always hang our hat on that end,” Moren said. “That will always be our identity as I have always said.”
Going into the game, Moren said she thought McKendree was going to try to get the ball inside as much as possible. Because of this, Indiana was able to dig down to create steals, like Berger did early on. Moren thought the team’s ball pressure was OK, but needs to be much better going forward. The Hoosiers finished with 29 transition points.
Indiana will host Mount Saint Mary’s at 2 p.m. Nov. 7 in the team’s first official game. This game cannot be seen on TV, but fans can listen to the radio call on WHCC 105.1 FM.
For only the second time in school history, the Indiana women’s basketball team has earned a spot on the preseason AP top 25 poll. Coming in at No. 24 in the country, the Hoosiers return all contributors from last season’s team aside from Kym Royster. Head coach Teri Moren also reloaded her squad with a promising, six-freshman class.
With outside expectations high for this program, Moren has looked to a strong group of juniors, along with lone senior Brenna Wise, for leadership. Moren thinks her returning players have helped set the tone for the pace at which the team will play.
“There is no better example of that than your older kids,” Moren said. “They set the tone. They set the standard for how practice is going to be day in and day out.”
Moren points out sophomore Grace Berger and redshirt freshman Chanel Wilson as two players who have grown over the offseason by following this leadership. Because of this, Moren believes her team enters the season with great chemistry.
“I am very proud of our locker room,” Moren said. “I think it is a very healthy place to be.”
Coming back from injuries
While the Hoosiers look like a team that could benefit from great depth, they have dealt with a fair amount of injuries already. Junior Bendu Yeaney injured her achilles during Indiana’s second-round NCAA tournament loss to Oregon on March 24, and is still recovering.
Moren hopes Yeaney is able to progress to full court practice in two weeks. If all goes well, Yeaney will meet with a doctor in December to assess her availability. Realistically, Moren doesn’t see Yeaney returning until late December or some time in January.
“I know [Yeaney] is excited about the work she has obviously put in,” Moren said. “But the timeline for her to get back is sooner than later. We are hopeful.”
Junior Jaelynn Penn has also been dealing with plantar fascia, and according to Moren, was given pretty much the whole summer off. Because she has plantar fascia in both of her feet, it has made the recovery process even more difficult. Moren considers Penn day-to-day.
“Plantar fascia is a funny thing in that I don’t know if there is a remedy for it besides time and we have tried to give her time off,” Moren said. “It seems like right when we get the right foot feeling better, the left foot takes an ugly turn.”
Indiana’s point guard Ali Patberg was named as one of 20 candidates for the Nancy Lieberman Award watch list, but is coming off shoulder surgery. Moren said Patberg is fully practicing, but can tell that she fatigues a more quickly than usual right now.
With the injury to her shoulder, Moren continues to stress rest to Patberg. Her stamina isn't quite where it was before the surgery, and the best way to recover from it is not overusing the shoulder. That's been tough on Patberg, someone who was essentially born a gym rat.
Freshmen might see court early
Injuries to returning players have also opened the door for a promising freshman class to take on bigger roles. The team traveled to IUPUI for a closed scrimmage, where Moren was impressed offensively with Mackenzie Holmes. While Holmes struggled defensively guarding veteran players, Moren sees this as a good learning opportunity for the freshman.
“She has proven at least in practice to be a kid that has great hands, soft hands, and can catch a lot of passes around the rim,” Moren said. “Defensively she will continue to improve just like all of our young kids tend to do.”
Holmes was the 2019 Maine Gatorade Player of the Year, averaging 30.1 points, 16.7 rebounds, 3.9 blocks and 2.9 steals per game, while shooting 63.1 percent from the floor. Indiana fans will also be happy to see 2019 Indiana Miss Basketball Jorie Allen on the floor for the Hoosiers.
Moren describes Allen as a utility player with the ability to succeed in multiple positions. If you asked Allen, she would tell you she knows every position, one through five. Aside being multitalented, Moren believes Allen brings a different mentality than most freshmen. She's a "nasty competitor" and embraces whatever challenge the team or coaching staff has thrown her way, Moren said. Moren describes Allen as "a coach's dream."
“A lot of those young freshmen just kind of sit back and wait for their opportunity, but that is not Jorie,” Moren said. “Jorie is two feet in and she is fighting for playing time and wants to help us be successful.”
Developing flexibility in lineups
While these freshmen are working to establish their roles on the team, perhaps no one has worked harder this offseason than sophomore Grace Berger, according to Moren. Whether it be the dedication Berger has shown in the weight room, the diet she has adhered to or the confidence she has shown, Moren thinks Berger looks completely different from a year ago.
“I have never seen a kid that has been more dedicated to getting better than Grace has been this summer,” Moren said. “She is playing with a tremendous amount of confidence that she wasn’t a year ago and I just think a lot of that has to do with experience.”
Moren has always thought of Berger as having a fantastic mid-range game, but she thinks Berger will be able to get to the rim more often this year, as well as knock down the 3-ball.
The emergence of Berger could also help Indiana play different kinds of lineups. If Keyanna Warthen and Chanel Wilson step up off the bench, Moren thinks the team could even play lineups with Patberg off the ball, giving her more outside scoring opportunities.
Tough tests to start
The Hoosiers will be able to test these lineups in some intriguing nonconference matchups this year. Indiana will travel to Saint Thomas in the United States Virgin Islands to take part in a three-game set at the Paradise Jam. Here, the Hoosiers will see two of women’s college basketball’s premier programs in matchups against South Carolina, Baylor and Washington State.
South Carolina won the NCAA tournament in the 2016-2017 season and has made it to the Sweet 16, Elite Eight and Final Four over the course of its eight straight tournament appearances. Baylor will be defending its NCAA tournament championship from last season, and is primed for another successful year. These two games will be important benchmarks to see just how dangerous this Indiana team can be.
In order to pull off wins against these top programs, or really anyone for that matter, Moren said the team will need to execute at a higher level than last year. The Hoosiers finished last in the Big Ten in assists last season, leaving plenty of room for improvement in the backcourt.
“We could certainly put more points on the board if we could get that fixed,” Moren said. “I like how this group is really together, on the same page, really for each other.”
With their sights set on another NCAA tournament appearance, Moren sees a desire growing in this team that has grown from the success it built at the end of last season. But this time, the Hoosiers want to achieve greater heights than a second round appearance.
“They are hungry, they want more,” Moren said. “Part of that is just the day-to-day with us and understanding that it is as much mental as it is physical with us. We have to be tougher and we have to be grittier. Everything matters for us right now in practice and that has to translate to the games.”
LINCOLN — Senior defensive end Allen Stallings IV has dreamed of leading Indiana to a bowl game ever since his freshman season in 2016, the most recent year the Hoosiers were bowl-eligible. Since Stallings didn’t play much as a freshman, he knew this season was his last chance to make his dream come true.
The Indiana women’s soccer team hit the road for a matchup with the Maryland Terrapins on Oct. 17 after winning three of four games in Big Ten play. Stingy defenses from both sides resulted in a draw in a game that produced 36 shots.
The most dangerous chance for the Hoosiers came in the 80th minute when Melanie Forbes received a cross into the box, but was unable to convert. Indiana had a quick turnaround on Oct. 20 in Piscataway versus no. 22 Rutgers where an overtime goal from Nneka Moneme defeated the Hoosiers 1-0.
With these results, Indiana moved to 7-7-2 overall and 3-4-2 in the Big Ten.
Three storylines stood out in Indiana’s most recent road trip:
The defense will always be there
Head coach Erwin van Bennekom has made it clear all season that Indiana will win games with the strength of its defense. The Hoosiers’ back line of Allison Jorden, Oliwia Wos, Hannah Nemeth and Meghan Scott held its own yet again this weekend, allowing only one goal on 37 shots in its two games.
Indiana hasn’t allowed more than one goal since its 2-0 loss to Nebraska on Sept. 22. The key to this defensive success, according to van Bennekom, comes from organization and communication. While he was unhappy with the team’s ability to keep possession, the defense was still there.
“On the flip side, I’m very happy with our defensive organization and the way we transitioned after losing the ball,” van Bennekom said.
While the defense played well this weekend, van Bennekom thinks the team failed to continue growth, especially versus Maryland.
“Honestly we are all very disappointed with the performance [versus Maryland],” van Bennekom said. “I felt we never got close to our level from the last few weeks, especially in ball possession. Because we lost the ball so much it became too much of transition game.”
Bethany Kopel etches her name in IU history books
While the backline has received praise in Indiana’s wins, Bethany Kopel is putting together one of her best seasons as a Hoosier. In 16 games played, she has only allowed 13 goals and has saved 50 shots.
Against Maryland, Kopel claimed sole possession of second place in career saves in Indiana women’s soccer history with 230. She improved her career save total to 235 after the Hoosiers’ 1-0 loss to Rutgers.
The Hoosiers’ 0-0 result versus Maryland marked their eighth shutout of the season and fifth in Big Ten play. Kopel has also only allowed more than one goal in four of the Hoosiers’ 16 games this season.
Hoosiers continue to search for offensive production
Defense has won games for Indiana, but only when its offense is producing. In its past nine games, Indiana has only scored three goals. Van Bennekom has discussed the team’s struggles with finishing opportunities throughout the season, and this road trip was no different.
The Hoosiers had 15 shot attempts versus Maryland, but only six shots were on goal in their 0-0 draw. Against Rutgers, Indiana’s attack never got going, as it only had four shots all game with one shot on goal. Forward Chandra Davidson only had three shot attempts in both of Indiana’s games during this road trip.
While the box score for the Hoosiers versus no. 22 Rutgers may seem abysmal offensively, van Bennekom’s overall conclusion is deeper than the surface. Indiana showed, yet again, that it can compete with the top teams in the Big Ten.
“I'm very proud of the commitment from our team to how we play and what we do, especially in ball possession,” van Bennekom said. “We battled and defended well all game long and had some really good moments in possession."
Looking ahead, the Hoosiers have their final home game of the season on Oct. 27 when conference rival Purdue comes to town. The Boilermakers will enter this game with a 6-8-3 record overall and 2-6-2 in the Big Ten. This game will start at 1 p.m. Eastern and can be seen on BTN+.
Indiana sits squarely in the middle of the Big Ten rankings, but could overtake Maryland with a win and a Terrapin loss. Going forward, it will be important for the Indiana offensive attack to finish opportunities, as its defense has shown it can shut down nearly any opponent.