Editor’s note: this article has been edited to reflect that Indiana’s win in the 2015-16 NCAA Tournament was its first since 1983 rather than its first ever.
Last season, Indiana Women’s Basketball had quite the year. Led by a pair of program legends, Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, Teri Moren’s team had ups and downs, like losing eight of 10 games in December and January before ripping off an eight-game winning streak at the end of the regular season.
Unfortunately for Hoosier fans, they just missed out on the NCAA Tournament, but they made the best of a bad situation. In the WNIT, the Hoosiers put together a strong run capped off by a 65-57 win over Virginia Tech to take home the championship.
After the graduation of Buss and Cahill, two players that rewrote the record books and comprised the backbone of each team they played on in Bloomington, there would have to be some sort of regression for the Hoosiers, right? Not so fast.
This season Indiana is still riding the wave of last year’s success as they hold the nation’s longest active winning streak at 13 games. On Sunday they took down UCLA at Pauley Pavilion and also hold wins over Florida and Wake Forest. How have they been able to keep winning despite what they’ve lost? It’s not too hard to tell.
Last season Indiana had a pair of transfers come in—Ali Patberg and Brenna Wise. Patberg, a former Indiana Miss Basketball, High School All-American, and US Youth National Team member, came to Bloomington from Notre Dame. Brenna Wise, a former ACC All-Freshman team member and two-time PIAA High School Player of the Year, joined the Hoosiers after two seasons at Pitt. The duo had to sit out last season due to NCAA Transfer Rules, but now they’re making an impact.
Between the two of them, they’re first and second on the team in points and rebounds as well as three-point percentage. It seems as if they’re sliding into the gap left by Buss and Cahill like a hand in a glove. Just look at the combined stats of the star duos:
Patberg and Wise have performed pretty similarly to Buss and Cahill according to the numbers. They may not be scoring as much, but they’re doing it more efficiently while grabbing more rebounds (Patberg’s rebounding in particular is an interesting stat. She’s pulling down 7.1 boards per game). This might be a small sample size, just seven games, but given what we know about their talent level it’s not a stretch to think that they could keep this up long-term.
If they can do that, it’s not crazy to think that Indiana could return to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since the 2015-16 season when they collected the program's first tourney win since 1983 before bowing out in the second round. It’s still early in the year, but there’s a lot to like about the Hoosiers this season and it starts with Patberg and Wise.