Taking at quick look at Indiana women’s basketball’s roster, it’s hard to a imagine a player who had a more interesting 2021-22 season than Mackenzie Holmes.
When she was on the court, she proved to be nearly unstoppable when it came to scoring in the paint. Between some agile moves and a size advantage, Holmes found ways to score on just about any competition matched against her.
That changed, of course, when she went down with a knee injury against Wisconsin on Jan. 5.
On the court, the Hoosiers found ways to work around her absence and keep winning. Off the court, Holmes was very much a part of those efforts. She’d give tips to fellow forwards in practice and provide energy and instruction from the bench.
One way or another, Holmes was helping the Hoosiers win.
Holmes started in all 25 games she played in, averaging 15.2 points and 7 rebounds. Of those 25 games, Holmes scored in the double-digits in 22. The Hoosiers’ guards could always count on dishing the ball to Holmes down low.
Holmes’ presence, in turn, opened up room from the perimeter with defenses having to close in on her at the risk of leaving shooters open, which Nicole Cardaño-Hillary gladly accepted.
Of Holmes’ many performances from this past season, the most notable may have come against Kentucky in Assembly Hall. Facing a No. 13-ranked Wildcats squad that would go on to take down eventual national champion South Carolina in the SEC Tournament, Holmes scored a whopping 29 points to help lead the Hoosiers to a dominant 88-67 victory.
On Jan. 17, Holmes returned from injury against Northwestern. Her work was light, putting up 6 points in what ended up as a 69-58 win for Indiana, but that was understandable in her first game back.
Through the rest of the season, it felt as if Holmes wasn’t quite at 100%, but she still found ways to score during Indiana’s run in the Big Ten and NCAA Tournaments. Now, headed into next season, Holmes has the extra time to rest and improve on her already-great game.
Indiana has also added around Holmes, with incoming transfer Alyssa Geary likely to compete for a starting spot alongside her and a vaunted shooter in Sara Scalia to take advantage of the space that Holmes’ mere presence creates.
Not to mention, we could see Holmes go for more 3-pointers herself next season, she made them, albeit sparingly at a rate of 40% in 2021-22.
Indiana’s staff is the type to maximize the talent and abilities of their players in the moment. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if a focus of this offseason is developing an outside jumpshot from Holmes.
She’ll have a chance to again lead the Hoosiers in scoring during the 2022-23 season, having said that she’ll wear “Indiana” until she’s no longer eligible to do so, but it’s evident from Holmes’ style that wins will come first.
If scoring a ton of points follows? Well, that’s just the icing on the cake.