The shift from noncon to league play is a big deal.
Conference competition means more physical play, tighter contests and a smaller rotation of players seeing real minutes, especially in the Big Ten. For many squads, the early portion of the season is all about deciding who that rotation will be.
That’s the case for Indiana in the backcourt. Since 2019-20, four or five guards have averaged more than ten minutes per game each season. That’s not the best statistic to go off, as it discounts short-term role players and doesn’t account for injury, but it tells us that head coach Teri Moren generally uses a short bench, by design or necessity.
If the reigning AP National Coach of the Year keeps with the trend, she’s probably spent the noncon evaluating four freshman/sophomore guards for two legitimate rotation spots behind starters Yarden Garzon, Chloe Moore-McNeil, Sydney Parrish, and Sara Scalia.
What we have feels like an appropriate sample size. Let’s take a look at each guard and figure what to expect from them in league play.
Bargesser has been awesome through the early portion of the season. She’s been the first player off the bench in almost every game and is currently averaging 19.5 minutes, 4.9 points, and 2.6 assists a night.
She looks comfortable on the floor with the starters and takes command of the offense when surrounded by younger players. Indiana’s gone to a lineup of the four players mentioned here plus sophomore post Lilly Meister for extended run a couple times now and Bargesser clearly runs the unit.
A more-than-capable distributor and defender with the ability to push in transition, Bargesser is exactly what you want in a sixth player.
Also, from the cherry-picked stats department: Bargesser’s 7-7 shooting performance versus Eastern Illinois is good for most field goals without a miss in a single game by any Big Ten player this year. She dropped a career-high 15 points in that season-opening win.
There are some freshman growing pains, but Beaumont has shown flashes.
She’s averaging just under twelve minutes a night and started the year off hot, shooting 80% from the field across her first two collegiate games. Scoring nine hard-earned points against Stanford (on a night Indiana struggled to score) bodes well moving forward.
Beaumont seems most comfortable playing with the ball as a traditional point and has a bit of Grace Berger in her game. Good from midrange and can get to the line.
Beaumont’s only totaled six assists on the year, but made an awesome, awesome pass to hit an in-rhythm Sydney Parrish for 3 in her first taste of Big Ten action Saturday at Rutgers. Continuing to grow as a distributor will lead to more trust and minutes. Indiana is one of three Big Ten teams averaging over 20 assists per game (2nd-20.22) so far this season.
Moren is primarily using LaMendola as a wing in relief of Garzon.
She’s making plays but still waiting for her shot to start falling consistently. She had a good rebounding game against Stetson with four boards.
LaMendola was hitting from the outside like crazy during Indiana’s summer exhibitions in Greece. Getting into rhythm from the perimeter could be an easy way for LaMendola to earn minutes.
Sandvik is averaging 9.7 mpg right now but didn’t make it into the Princeton game and only saw two minutes in IU’s win over Tennessee.
She’s mostly getting run as a defensive stopgap despite a good offensive performance as the Euro 2020 Championships with Finland over the summer. Moren has emphasized the work put in by Sandvik and the staff’s trust in her.
Until Indiana start to drop games, we expect much of the same. Beaumont and LaMendola may see a bit of a drop in minutes, and start to make shorter cameos depending on the scenario, but they’re going to be needed at some point. We say keep playing them.
Moren has traditionally rolled with a short bench. This is the most talented reserve unit she’s ever had though— if there’s ever a year the Hoosiers can roll ten deep it’s this one. The league is just too good.