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Indiana women’s basketball has room for the transfer portal. How should they use it?

As of now, Indiana has one open roster spot.

Syndication: The Herald-Times Rich Janzaruk/Herald-Times / USA TODAY NETWORK

Indiana women’s basketball’s season came to a heartbreaking end in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. Now the staff is gonna get back to one of the things it does best: building.

Two seniors, Grace Berger and Alyssa Geary, are departing the program. Those two spots have been claimed by two incoming freshmen, 6-1 guards Lenée Beaumont and Jules LaMendola.

But an in-season transfer from Kaitlin Peterson to UCF opens up a spot on Indiana’s roster for next season. The Hoosiers have used the portal before, adding Sara Scalia, Sydney Parrish and Alyssa Geary last year.

That was a wildly different situation. Indiana lost three starters from a Sweet Sixteen run last season while it’s set to lose just one starter this year. But that starter just so happens to be arguably the greatest player in program history: Grace Berger.

We are not about to say Indiana should use the room to replace Berger because that’s a matter of could. And the Hoosiers absolutely couldn’t, she was far too skilled.

What Indiana’s gotta do is bolster the frontcourt.

Indiana was one of the best teams in the country this past season, a point it reached by limiting its weaknesses. The Hoosiers could score at all three levels and played sound defense while making quick in-game adjustments when things weren’t going well.

But there’s one thing Indiana just can’t adjust for during the season and that’s which players are available and when.

When the Hoosiers lost Mackenzie Holmes to injury for a lengthy stretch of games last season, Kiandra Browne and Aleksa Gulbe were able to step up in her stead. Holmes wasn’t absent with injury this season, but wasn’t 100% against Miami while also having not played live basketball in around two weeks.

This is where the lack of depth mattered most. Browne has been out with an injury for the majority of this season and, while Lilly Meister performed admirably, asking a freshman to take over for the leading scorer and Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year is an incredibly tall order.

Geary filled in as well, but just isn’t the same type of player as Holmes. The team is built on chemistry and sharing the ball, so the absence really had Indiana just not looking like itself.

Meister will absolutely develop during the offseason and I’m of the belief that she’ll turn into a valuable player for Indiana, but Indiana is losing Geary. The two incoming freshmen are guards, so the No. 1 priority should be depth at forward.

Not necessarily someone to score in bunches, but a transfer should be able to hold their own on defense while being a legitimate scoring option while Holmes or Meister is on the bench, pending news on Browne’s availability.

Indiana has an incredible amount of guard talent returning, developing or entering campus as freshmen. The Hoosiers are set in the backcourt, probably for years to come. Immediate impact at forward should be a priority.