With Indiana women’s basketball’s season fast approaching, the staff of the Crimson Quarry is here to share our takes on the Hoosiers’ season.
Who will be the top contributors for Indiana this season?
LCN: The Hoosiers missed star forward Mackenzie Holmes for a large portion of the 2021-22 season, and she was never quite at 100% when she returned. When she takes the court this season, she’ll be the undisputed first option on offense, especially with shooters like Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil creating additional space. Berger will be Berger, always reliable.
Colin: I know there were a lot of big names coming in, but I like the returning players Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes to be the leaders from the start because of their familiarity with Moren’s system. Even if we don’t see it on the stat sheet, I get the feeling that these two are going to be critical to getting all of the newcomers ingratiated in the system and firing on all cylinders. Talent wise, Sydney Parrish also stands out as somebody who can contribute right away.
Miles: I am unbelievably excited for Minnesota transfer Sara Scalia. The Hoosiers were in need of a deep threat after the departures of Aleksa Gulbe and Ali Patberg, so Teri Moren went out landed the transfer pool’s biggest fish. Scalia, who was named to the 2023 Ann Meyers Drysdale Award watchlist as one of the nation’s top shooting guards earlier this week, is a three point specialist. Scalia made 214 triples during her three seasons in Minneapolis, good for seventh-most in U-MN history. She also scored 26 points and connected on seven three pointers in the Golden Gophers’ visit to Assembly Hall last year. I think it’s safe to say #14 will have no trouble adjusting her depth perception on her new home court.
Who isn’t getting enough buzz?
LCN: I’m going to agree with Miles and go with Moore-McNeil. For all the returning stars and portal additions, Moore-McNeil has consistently improved during her time in Bloomington and is primed for some big games this season. Look out.
Colin: Kiandra Browne had to face a lot more minutes than she was maybe expecting last season when Mackenzie Holmes got hurt, and I think it’ll be important for her to have that experience and for Indiana to have that coming off the bench this year. Browne seemed like she was growing into the role last year, even though she couldn’t match Holmes’ unreal production. Injuries happen and depth often ends up being the only thing separating the good from the great teams, like when the Hoosiers won six of the eight games Holmes missed last year to retain a high seed in the conference and national tournaments.
Miles: After her emergence as a dependable 6th player last year got overshadowed by the summer transfer fanfare, I like Chloe Moore-McNeil in this spot. She’s really good. I’m not sure what her role will be just yet, but she has both the athleticism and talent to compete for a starting guard spot. I expect her figures of 5.2 points and 21 minutes per game from a season ago to both see nice improvement in 2022-23.
What are Indiana’s strengths and weaknesses as a team this year?
LCN: Indiana has tremendous coaching, the Hoosiers always put their players in the best position to succeed and know how to maximize their strengths, and there’s plenty of individual strengths on the roster. Chemistry may be an issue, but if it is I’m confident that it’ll come together eventually.
Colin: I am nervous about the chemistry on a team that will feature so many transfers. Indiana brought in three transfers from other mid to high major basketball programs. Sara Scalia may slide more easily into the lineup as a pure shooter, addressing one of Indiana’s most dire needs, but there’s still a lot of new faces in the locker room this year. And all of them probably have some expectation of how much playing time they’ll get. Luckily, the strength is arguable coach Teri Moren, so if anyone can handle it, it’s her.
Miles: This team’s biggest strength is it’s experience. Mackenzie Holmes and Grace Berger are back for their 4th and 5th years respectively. Alyssa Geary and Sara Scalia each started for multiple seasons at previous stops. Sydney Parrish also averaged over 20 minutes per night in PAC-12 play. The knowns have all been there and done that, which will matter come conference play. In terms of weaknesses, I am a little concerned about the logjam of talent you get with the influx of both transfers and the 2022 recruiting class. I trust Moren and her process as a coach more than anybody, but how difficult will developing the freshmen be when you’ve also got a handful of new, older players to get to know. I fear losing talent to the portal because there simply is not enough playing time to go around this season.
What are your games to watch for Indiana this season?
LCN: Like I said on the men’s side, I’m looking forward to the rivalry matchups with Purdue. Katie Gearlds has the Boilermakers playing their hearts out, to the point that they gave arguably the best Indiana team in program history some issues last year.
Colin: The Tennessee game is the most exciting one for me. As one of the top programs in college basketball over the last few seasons, Indiana will need to continue scheduling other elite teams to maintain the elite status. Last year’s win against Kentucky helped establish early on last season that the Hoosiers would be nationally relevant again, and this year’s matchup gives Indiana the chance to set the tone in November again. I’m also excited for the Big Ten matchups with Michigan and Maryland.
Miles: The stars seem to have aligned when it comes to my work/life balance. My family made plans to do Thanksgiving in Vegas over the summer, and less than two weeks after we booked the trip IU announced that the team would be playing in the Las Vegas Invitational that Friday and Saturday. Auburn and Memphis aren’t necessarily the most intriguing of opponents, but the vibes will be fine as hell. I’m looking forward to being there. In terms of games to watch that aren’t contingent on one’s ability to hit the casino immediately afterwards, I’ll go with the Ohio State home-and-home.
What would you view as a successful season? What about a failure?
LCN: Indiana should contend for a run in the NCAA Tournament, maybe even some magic in the Big Ten Tournament. Hard to view anything as a failure here because I don’t think they’ll fall short of the expectations they set for themselves.
Colin: I don’t really think Moren has anything left to prove, honestly, so I don’t think Indiana needs to take a step forward for this season to be a success. I would like to seem them dominate the conference a little more, but it’s a tougher task than it is for the men’s team given the strength of the Big Ten.
Miles: In general, I am not a huge fan of objective expectations. I think the second things go slightly wrong they act more as burdens than goals, and all the roster turnover makes it really hard to gauge where this team stands in October. With that being said, however, I am dying to see this team beat Iowa. Every off-season move was made with the Hawkeyes in mind, and I think seeing the Hoosiers knock them off at least once would make this season a success. Read more on that here.
Any bold predictions?
LCN: Indiana will defeat Iowa, at least once.
Colin: Barring a disastrous collapse, we may be entering the “Banner Watch” era of Moren’s tenure. She’s established a baseline for success, found a pipeline of talent to keep the bar high, and has notched enough signature wins in the last few seasons to make a lesser coach’s career. It may not be this year, but they appear set to be nationally relevant for the foreseeable future and at one point I think it ends in a national title.
Miles: Yarden Garzon emerges as a top-three talent on the team by the postseason.