The narrative surrounding basketball in Bloomington is a gloom one. Once seen as a potential national title contender, the Indiana men’s basketball team is long past stumbling down the stretch, having instead fallen flat on their face with the NCAA Tournament desperately far out of reach.
But what if that wasn’t the narrative?
What if the narrative was about a team fighting tooth and nail for a tournament bid?
What if it was about a team with one of the best players in program history dazzling night in and night out?
I introduce you to the Indiana women’s basketball team.
After making the NCAA Tournament for just the fifth time in program history, the Hoosiers experience and up and down non-conference season. A loss to Northwestern in the middle of the Big Ten season dropped the team to 12-6 overall and 2-3 in conference play.
Since, the Hoosiers have rattled off wins in five of their last seven games, the lone losses come to national powerhouse Maryland and a narrow loss on the road to Michigan State, a team that is also NCAA-tournament bound.
The surge has positioned the Hoosiers on the bubble and, at least in most projections, on the right side of it. The Hoosiers currently rank 44th in RPI and are nestled just barely inside the bubble.
While Indiana has just four games remaining before the Big Ten tournament, all four are winnable games and two of them will have serious bubble implications. On Thursday, the Hoosiers host a Michigan side currently ranked 32nd in RPI and squarely on the bubble next to the Hoosiers.
After a road trip in a very winnable game to Nebraska, Indiana returns back home next week for Senior Night and a match-up against Iowa, who currently sits 47th in RPI and, again, squarely on the bubble with Indiana.
Unsurprisingly, Tyra Buss has continued to lead the Hoosiers this season and has helped them reach the brink of back-to-back NCAA Tournament berths, a feat the program has achieved just once.
Buss currently leads the team in scoring at just over 18 points per game and is continuing to add to her already special Hoosier career. The junior guard is up to 1,443 points in her time in Bloomington, 11th-most all-time and 60 points outside of the top ten.
In the team’s recent hot stretch, Buss has been her typically dependable and dominant self, going for 17 points and 9 assists in the win over Rutger before following it up with a 19-point outing against Maryland.
Overall in the last seven games, Buss is averaging 16.7 points and 5.1 assists. Even better news is that she has already lit up Michigan this year, dropping 21 points and five assists earlier this year.
As important as Buss’ contributions have been those of her teammates. Amanda Cahill is second on the team in scoring at 15 points per game to go along with 8.9 boards per contest while Alexis Gassion chips in 13.2 points per night.
The trio have combined to hit 92 threes on the year at a 36 percent clip while being the top three in points, assists and steals. Cahill and Gassion come in first and second in rebounding.
Together, the trio alongside the rest of the Hoosiers have the program positioned in a spot rarely seen before with a realistic chance at capping off the season in strong fashion.
So instead of spending your time moping about the men’s team and expressing your distaste for players or coaches, spend some time throwing your support behind a team that has one of the program’s best players ever and looks destined for a tournament berth.