Indiana women’s basketball thoroughly handled Eastern Illinois 96-43 during its season opener Thursday night at Assembly Hall.
Early season games like these, against low to mid-major opponents, often tell you more about the bench than the starters. We’ve been well aware of what the Hoosiers’ starting five can do on both ends of the floor since last year.
But a few of those starters took another step. The bench, composed mainly of freshmen and sophomores, also got a good amount of run.
The only thing that was off was the free-throw shooting. Indiana was 2-11 from the stripe tonight. When the players went to congratulate head coach Teri Moren for her 400th win after they game, she said they’d celebrate by shooting 400 free throws in practice tomorrow.
That being said, here’s three things we noticed:
Yarden Garzon’s versatility
For her reputation as a lights-out 3-point shooter last season, you may be surprised to learn that Garzon took just a single shot from beyond the arc in her first game as a sophomore.
That doesn’t mean she didn’t impact the result, not even close. There’s a gap to fill with the departure of program legend Grace Berger, and Garzon is gonna be a key piece in doing so. She finished the game with 15 points, five rebounds and seven assists in 21 minutes.
If this were a game that would’ve been in triple double territory in the second half. But with the lead being what it was and the bench needing some run, such a thing wasn’t necessary.
She kept finding different ways to get points on the board be it to Holmes down low in the halfcourt or running to the rim on the fastbreak. When it wasn’t Holmes, she was dishing it to the arc for a 3-pointer from Sydney Parrish or Sara Scalia.
Standing at 6’3’ at the guard spot, she was able to haul in boards down low and push the ball up the court in transition to initiate the offense herself.
Then, when it came to scoring, she displayed more versatility. Garzon’s points came from posting up on the block, pulling up from midrange or that international fadeaway Moren has referred to in the past.
She’s just a sophomore. She’s going to keep getting better and better.
Mackenzie Holmes, still good!
Believe it or not, Mackenzie Holmes is still one of the best players in the country.
She scored at will tonight, through double and even triple teams. Nothing Eastern Illinois threw at her, which was probably everything they possibly could, worked. Holmes ended her night with 19 points on 9-10 shooting with six boards and two assists.
Her ability to score through just about any trap doesn’t keep her from passing the ball though. Teri Moren said postgame that Indiana has emphasized cutting toward the basket off the ball when she’s doubled, and Holmes got an assist out of it tonight when Moore-McNeil drove through the open space.
“She knows the double’s coming,” Moren said. “I always remind her that that’s a compliment, that they think that much about you and her play.”
Holmes’ teammates know that if Indiana needs points, they scan get a quick two from her.
Henna Sandvik’s quiet production
Sandvik’s game did not jump off the box score until you look a bit closer. Five points, three boards and four assists.
She was among the first off the bench for Indiana, which is worth noting given her relatively limited playing time as a freshman last season. Moren said postgame that Sandvik’s work ethic and progression this offseason has impressed her.
“She’s really worked hard with [assistant coach amber smith] on the floor outside of practice,” Moren said. “I think she just, right before our eyes, is gaining a lot of confidence.”
When the program went to Greece over the summer, Sandvik was unable to join. Instead, she was playing with the Finnish National Team in Europe.
Moren was particularly impressed with her defense tonight, which showed on the court. She was switching on time and always kept up with high-motor play. That confidence will be necessary for Indiana off the bench as the season goes on.