I haven't covered women's basketball much here over the years, so you'll simply have to take my word for it that I was planning on a quick update on IU's team during this weeklong layoff before the Minnesota game. Fortunately, last night's upset by IU of #22 Purdue at Assembly Hall (the above photo is from IU's earlier loss to Purdue at Mackey) provides a nice hook. After a 9-4 pre-conference record, the Hoosiers have struggled in Big Ten play. They improved to 1-1 in the league with a win over Northwestern and then dropped 10 straight, a streak that didn't end until last night. Purdue retook the lead with 13 seconds remaining, but with 8 seconds left, IU inbounded the ball, and then this happened:
Jasmine McGhee led IU with 26 points, including the buzzer beater.
The IU program is in transition in its first season under the leadership of Curt Miller. Here's what I wrote when Miller was hired last spring:
I'll admit that I had never heard of Miller until an hour ago, but his resume is very impressive. As I mentioned above, Miller has been at BGSU since 2001, and he has a fantastic record. Miller has a career record of 258-92 (73 percent) and a MAC record of 135-41 (76 percent). Bowling Green has won a division title, a regular season conference title, and/or the MAC Tournament in each of the past eight seasons. Miller led the Falcons to four NCAA Tournament bids, and in 2007, BGSU advanced to the Sweet 16 as a 7 seed with a win over 2 seed Vanderbilt. According to Miller's BGSU bio, linked above, BGSU was the first MAC team to advance to the Sweet 16.
As I said, I don't follow women's basketball to have any opinion on the hire other than based on what I have read today. Others who know the landscape better seem to be impressed. Dan Dakich, who was the men's coach at BGSU until 2007, says: "IU is hiring a GREAT basketball coach in Curt Miller.. Other than Urban Meyer.. he's the best coach I've been around." Lin Dunn, coach of the WNBA's Indiana Fever and the head coach at Purdue when the Lady Boilers reached their first Final Four, says: "if IU is hiring Curt Miller..then they are sending message they are SERIOUS about women's basketball!" What I like about Miller's resume is that he isn't a "flavor of the month" hire. He isn't parlaying one nice NCAA Tournament performance into an upgrade. Miller has been at BGSU for a long time, and he's long past the point at which there is any issue of riding on a predecessor's coattails. That isn't to say he will succeed. IU has struggled to draw fans to women's games, and IU shares the state with Notre Dame and Purdue, two programs that have won the NCAA title and made multiple Final Four appearances in the last couple of decades. This looks like a very nice find by Fred Glass.
As noted above, this season has been rough, and there are a bunch of seniors in the rotation, so that means next year could be rough as well. Jordan Hulls's sister, Kaila Hulls, who had played for Miller at Bowling Green, transferred home to IU and will be eligible next year. The season that really intrigues is 2014-15, when, assuming she signs in November, Mount Carmel, Illinois high school sensation Tyra Buss arrives in Bloomington. Buss is only a junior but already is the #4 all-time leading scorer in Illinois history. She also is...how do I put this delicately as someone nearly old enough to be her father without sounding like Brent Musberger...she is photogenic. She could be a transformative recruit for IU on the court and in terms of media coverage and fan interest.
Regardless, congrats to Coach Miller and the team on their first win over Purdue in four years.