Unlike our two neighbors to the north within Indiana, IU’s women’s program has never gained much traction with the fanbase. It’s hard to say why, and it’s a chicken-egg scenario. Maybe the team would be better with more fan support, maybe the fans would come out if the team were more competitive.
It really has been a rough road for the women’s program in recent years. Former coach Kathi Bennett was seriously injured in a car accident during her tenure at IU. After a promising first season, Sharon Versyp bolted for Purdue, her alma mater (how could Rick Greenspan have not had a Purdue-specific buyout or non-compete provision?). Former coach Jim Izard, who led IU to the NCAA Tournament when I was in school in the mid 1990s, committed suicide under strange circumstances. Still, the one positive moment in recent years for the women’s program was the 2002 Big Ten Tournament title. The Hoosiers defeat #1 seed Purdue in the semifinals and #2 Penn State in the final. This is the tenth year of the men’s Big Ten Tournament, and given the relative stature of the men’s and women’s basketball programs, it is hard to believe that the women have IU’s only Big Ten Tournament title.
This year’s Hoosiers enter the tournament 6-10 in the Big Ten and 17-13 overall. IU had a nice win over a ranked Western Kentucky team in the pre-conference but clearly struggled a bit in the league. IU is ranked #60 in the latest RPI projections, so presumably they will have to win the whole thing again to make it to the NCAA.
I won’t feign expertise on women’s basketball (I’ll talk about all IU teams on this site, but I will only feign expertise on football and men’s basketball). Instead, here’s a link to a nice tournament nutshell from the Indianapolis Star.