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Indiana’s Teri Moren is on a mission to grow the game of women’s college basketball

Teri Moren’s responsibilities lie beyond coaching her team, she’s trying to grow the game of women’s basketball.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren grew up watching and playing basketball in the rolling hills of Southern Indiana. Though back then, women’s college basketball wasn’t televised nearly as much as it is today.

At the high school level, Moren scored 1,138 career points at Seymour High School under Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame coach Donna Sullivan. Her coaching career has taken her around the state, from the University of Indianapolis to Indiana State. But Indiana always had the potential standard-bearer, Moren thought.

“I always felt like, if they had the right person in place here, this place can become special,” Moren said.

Few can claim to know more about basketball in the state than Moren, who was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame herself back in 2014. She knows how rich the state is in talent, both players and coaches.

But Moren also recognizes her unique responsibility as a women’s basketball head coach: the need to grow the game. Indiana is the top-ranked program in the state right now, but Moren also praised programs like Ball State and Butler while shouting out Niele Ivey at Notre Dame and Katie Gearlds at Purdue.

“What we’re trying to do is do our part, we’re trying to lead the charge here in the state of Indiana, but we realize that Notre Dame and Purdue are not far behind with great coaches in place there,” Moren said. “Collectively, I think we want to be a state where people from the outside look and say that’s a great, great basketball state that produces really good women’s basketball programs.”

Though Moren and her staff are working to get more eyes on the program, you can see the results forming organically at the high school and AAU levels around Indiana. With most high schools heading into winter break this week, a few teams took that time to load up a bus and drive to Bloomington to watch Indiana take on Butler, a 67-50 win for the Hoosiers.

West Washington head coach Kristin Messmore, another member of the state’s Basketball Hall of Fame, brought her team from Campbellsburg, halfway between Grace Berger’s hometown of Louisville and Bloomington, to watch the game. Messmore also has ties to Butler, having coached Bulldogs commit Karsyn Norman at the middle school level.

Messmore and the West Washington staff spent the past few days speaking with the team about making the trip to Assembly Hall with Indiana’s atmosphere in mind.

“Watch a team that’s close to you, get ‘em here, see the atmosphere, see what it takes to become a top college athlete here,” Messmore said.

It wasn’t just West Washington, Paoli High Schools’ girls basketball team loaded up a bus for the hour long trip up north to Bloomington as well. The Rams used the trip for a team bonding opportunity, assistant coach Jeremy Payton said.

“It was a good opportunity to see two Indiana schools play each other before the holidays,” Payton said.

While the present of Indiana high school basketball was in the stands, the past was on the court making plays in a No. 33 jersey. Sydney Parrish, a former high school star at Hamilton Southeastern High School and Indiana Miss Basketball, scored ten points while hitting 50% of her shots from the perimeter.

It means a lot for Indiana’s players to be able to play in front of the future of the sport, they said after the game. Mackenzie Holmes grew up idolizing the older players on her team at Gorham High School in Gorham, Maine before developing into one of the top players at the college level.

“We were once those little kids with those big dreams, just to be able to play and show them that anything is possible is really special,” Holmes said.

Lexus Bargesser, a freshman with the Hoosiers, was heading to college women’s basketball games just last year with Grass Lake High School in Michigan before joining Indiana.

“It’s really cool to be a part of a team who can just inspire others to keep working,” Bargesser said. “I feel like we’re a testament to just keep working hard and getting in there, getting in the gym, putting in work and you’ll get there.”