Indiana women’s basketball is set to play its sole exhibition matchup of the season tonight against Kentucky Wesleyan.
We’re closing in on the true season opener, Tuesday against Vermont, and there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to this year’s team. With that being said, let’s preview:
A big part of what made Indiana so dangerous last year was the sheer amount of experience on the roster. Following Indiana’s loss to UConn in the Sweet Sixteen, Indiana had to wave goodbye to program stalwarts like Aleksa Gulbe, Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and Ali Patberg.
In a way, this could’ve been a rebuilding year, competing while developing younger talent that’s already on the roster. But head coach Teri Moren looked to the transfer portal and ended up with a ton of potential in return.
To be clear, nothing will fully replace those three and everything they did for the program, but the transfer trio brings a lot to be excited about.
Parrish is the home state hero, a former 5-star Miss Basketball who opted to play out west for the Oregon Ducks. At Oregon, she was primarily used as a wing rather than as a dominant ball handler. The Ducks had some next-level talent in the frontcourt and that became the offense’s focal point.
Now that she’s at Indiana, she could look to fulfill a Patberg-esque role either running the point or at shooting guard. She’s a more consistent 3-point shooter than most of last year’s group, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Speaking of 3-point shooting... Scalia is an absolute monster in that department. Coming from Minnesota, Scalia was second in the league in 3-point attempts and made an absurd 41.3% of them. Indiana could very well have the consistent lethal shooter the team has been lacking.
With shooting being a strength for both Parrish and Scalia, just imagine all the spacing Mackenzie Holmes and Indiana’s third and final transfer will have to work with.
Alyssa Geary comes to Indiana from Providence, and she’ll look to shore up Indiana’s frontcourt depth following Gulbe’s departure. Geary brings height at 6-4 and a good wingspan. Don’t sleep on her abilities as a passer either.
Indiana’s three transfers have varying skillsets as Moren and staff look to reload, but Indiana has a proven track record of putting players in positions to succeed based on what they can do rather than what they can’t.
We’ve prioritized transfers as additions here because, while Indiana brought in some freshmen and international talent, the Hoosiers prefer to have that talent sit and develop for contributions down the road.
With that being said, Yarden Garzon has an impressive game and we wouldn’t be surprised if she sees time off the bench as the season goes on.
Read more about Indiana’s incoming transfers at the links above.
A New Standard
When Moren took over the program years ago, Indiana was in an interesting spot. Curt Miller, who was once thought to be the one to lead the Hoosiers to greatness, moved onto the WNBA.
Miller’s teams prioritized offense at the expense of defense (hey Tom Crean), and his replacement, Moren, instead emphasized a defense-first identity. On top of that, Indiana had the least illustrious history of the major in-state programs. Notre Dame was and is a powerhouse and Purdue has a national title.
Now, all these years later, half of Indiana’s NCAA Tournament appearances and its deepest runs have have under Moren’s guidance as she’s carefully built the program from the bottom up.
No longer is an tournament appearance a dream season for the fanbase, it’s the expectation. From a WNIT banner to an Elite Eight appearance, Moren’s program has improved on a consistent basis.
(and it’s time for them to get coverage worthy of that work but that’s a topic for a different time and place)
It’s incredibly difficult to win a national title in women’s college basketball. Go to the tournament and eventually you’re going to run into an absolute monster like UConn, Notre Dame or South Carolina that pretty much always has more talent.
You know how Duke always brings in multiple 5-stars? Crank that up to 10 and you’ve got Geno Auriemma’s UConn program, which Indiana ran right into in Bridgeport this past March.
Moren getting the Hoosiers that far in the first place is a testament to the program she’s built. It’s no longer farfetched to say that this program can get to a Final Four, they were one game away in 2021.
But they have to get through the regular season first against Big Ten powers like Ohio State and the highlight-reel Iowa Hawkeyes with Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano. It’ll be a climb and Iowa didn’t get any weaker, but if anyone can challenge the Hawkeyes for the Big Ten title its probably Moren’s team or the one in Columbus.
Strengths and Weaknesses
Moren said that Mackenzie Holmes isn’t quite at 100% in the cardio department on her weekly radio show, but physically she’s fully healthy from an injury suffered last season.
A healthy Holmes makes a huge difference for Indiana, especially with the additional spacing provided by shooters like Parrish, Scalia and potentially Chloe Moore-McNeil, who’s had more time to work on her shot in the offseason.
Between her strength and agility in the paint, Holmes can play around the rim with ease. You won’t see her drift to the perimeter too much because frankly she doesn’t need to.
And with someone like Grace Berger to get the ball her way, she’ll be even more dangerous. Berger is an all around player who’s an assassin from midrange and tenacious on defense. Her one weakness is a lack of a 3-point shot, but she’ll have talent around her for that now.
A consistent issue for Indiana last season was a lack of bench production, with the Hoosiers’ starting five having to deal most of the damage with minimal rest. That should be less of an issue with players like Moore-McNeil, Kiandra Browne and a few freshmen being able to check in, and Moren said as much at Hoosier Hysteria.
As for weaknesses, the Hoosiers had trouble with rebounding throughout last season, which ultimately spelled doom or got them into trouble throughout the postseason. With Holmes back and additional work in the offseason, that should be less of an issue.
Indiana’s chief concern is likely fostering chemistry throughout the roster as the season goes on. Arguably last year’s biggest strength, Indiana will now have to work for its new talent to gel with the old.
Moren looking to the transfer portal and finding some real talent tells you all you need to know about Indiana’s mindset heading into the season. They’ve reloaded and are looking for a title.
If everything gels and a few things break Indiana’s way in the injury department, they could very well contend for one. Iowa stands firmly in the way of a Big Ten title, but Indiana has gotten far in the tournament before and looks poised to do so again.
Now it’s time for your part in all this. Yes, you.
Indiana’s games are free for students to attend. Zero dollars for top-25 (maybe top-10?) basketball. Tickets for the general public are highly affordable and Indiana plays a highly entertaining brand of basketball that results in wins far more often than it doesn’t.
Iowa sells out its arena for women’s games. It’s your job to match that.