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Season in review: Grace Berger

M-V-P, M-V-P!

NCAA Womens Basketball: Big Ten Conference Tournament Championship-Iowa vs Indiana Robert Goddin-USA TODAY Sports

Simply put, Indiana women’s basketball isn’t in such a good position without Grace Berger.

The one thing you can say she can’t do is hit 3-pointers on a consistent basis, but she doesn’t let that turn her into a lesser player. Instead, she further perfects what she can do.

Berger can drive to the basket through contact, find open teammates with precise passing, has an incredibly reliable midrange game and play stingy defense on the other end of the court.

It’s fitting that she’ll end her Indiana career as the program’s all-time winningest player. She’s currently tied for that honor with teammates Ali Patberg and Aleksa Gulbe, all have 90, but she has another year to add to that total. That’s a record that could really stand the test of time.

There’s no argument for Indiana’s most valuable player from the 2021-22 season, that’s absolutely Berger. Mackenzie Holmes was the Hoosiers’ leading scorer prior to her injury, and Indiana had to adapt for life without her.

Holmes ruled the paint with the size, speed and agility to match up against just about any defender sent her way. There was nobody else on the roster truly capable of performing that role, so Indiana had to get a bit smaller on offense.

Berger, already one of the team’s stars in her own right, thrived down the stretch. She led the team in assists with 4.7 per game. That helped contribute to Indiana’s style of spreading the ball around and not having one overly dominant scorer.

The Hoosiers frequently passed up good looks for great ones. Head coach Teri Moren took pride in that, and Berger was more than happy to execute. This meant finding Nicole Cardaño-Hillary on the perimeter, Aleksa Gulbe down low or just pulling up from midrange and taking the shot herself. Whichever way, points on the board.

Berger ultimately ended the season averaging 16.2 points per game, which led the team. She stepped up when Indiana needed contributions most, and it led to multiple postseason wins and a trip to the Sweet Sixteen.

Perhaps an under sung part of Berger’s game is her ability to get rebounds on the defensive end. She averaged 5.6 defensive rebounds per game, the most on the team. Rebounds were a struggle down the stretch for the team, but Berger showed the fight and ability to go after them.

Indiana is quite lucky that Berger elected to return for the upcoming season. She’ll be able to apply those same skills to find new transfer addition Sara Scalia on the perimeter, team up with Sydney Parrish and strengthen her existing tandem with Holmes.

Bad news for the rest of the Big Ten.