To call Aleksa Gulbe’s 2021-22 season a “breakout” wouldn’t be quite right.
She was already a reliable starter for Indiana, but taking an extra step on offense made Indiana that much more dangerous throughout last season. Gulbe’s points per game took a leap from 9 as a junior in 2020-21 to 11.8.
Those 9 points per game as a junior matched her offensive output as a sophomore the previous year. The clear focus ahead of 2020 was working on rebounding, which leapt from 5.5 per game in 2019-20 to 6.9 the following season.
What really made the difference this past season was Gulbe’s shooting from beyond the arc. She hit 3-pointers at a rate of 34.3%, good for second on the team among volume shooters. Indiana didn’t ask her to take too many 3-pointers prior to this past season, but it allowed the Hoosiers to stretch the floor and create space on offense.
Much like her fellow starters, Gulbe was key when Holmes went down with an injury. As a fellow forward, some expected her to take on Holmes’ role in the paint, but Indiana was smarter than that.
Gulbe has moves and prowess in the post, but not like Holmes. She just kept playing as she did before, only giving a bit more on either end to make up for Holmes’ absence. Her 28-point night against Minnesota is a shining example of this, nobody would’ve expected that Gulbe a few years ago.
She took four attempts from beyond the arc and hit on all of them. There was simply nothing Minnesota could do to stop Gulbe, so Indiana kept finding ways to get the ball to her.
Gulbe’s role in the offensive kept things humming and her growth from the 3-point line opened up opportunities for teammates to score. It took time and effort for her to get to that point, but it all paid off in the end.
Unique, skilled players like Gulbe with experience don’t exactly grow on trees. Her role will likely be the most daunting for the Hoosiers to replace, so I sure hope you cherished her time as a Hoosier while you could!