Head coach Teri Moren has built Indiana women’s basketball into a power by recruiting talent and developing it individually before putting it on the court to gel and form a cohesive unit.
When Moren was recruiting Grace Berger, she had to convince her future star guard to take a chance on a program that appeared to be on the rise. She had to share a vision and get Berger, and other recruits like Mackenzie Holmes, to believe in it.
That vision has now been fulfilled. Berger and Holmes have been on the best teams in program history, going to the Elite Eight and winning the Big Ten. Moren doesn’t need to convince recruits of what Indiana can be anymore, she can rest on what the program is: one of the best in the country.
This past season could prove to be a tipping point moving forward. Here’s why:
First Team All-American Mackenzie Holmes
Mackenzie Holmes, Indiana’s leading scorer, was named to the AP All-America First Team following the conclusion of the regular season.
That kind of honor helps out Indiana both immediately and for the future. With Indiana looking to add pieces in the transfer portal, having an All-American on the roster as a potential future teammate. With high schoolers, it’s an example of what they could become under Indiana’s staff.
Associate head coach Rhet Wierzba has been on Moren’s staff since she first arrived in Bloomington and has played an integral role in the development of Indiana’s post players. He ran the post drills during Indiana’s open practices ahead of the NCAA Tournament and has put in plenty of hours bringing rising sophomore Lilly Meister along.
And Holmes is more than happy to proactively recruit as well, she’s quick to welcome new faces into the program as she did when Sydney Parrish transferred in and whenever a high schooler verbally commits to the Hoosiers.
Holmes is the kind of teammate transfers would want to play with and is an example for the future when she eventually moves on after cementing herself as a program legend.
Winning AP National Coach of the Year
Moren was named the National Coach of the Year by the Associated Press not long after the conclusion of the regular season, with the public reveal coming during the NCAA Tournament.
She did so after leading Indiana to a Big Ten regular season championship despite losing three starters from the previous year’s run to the Sweet Sixteen. Her name now joins the likes of Dawn Staley, Geno Auriemma, Brenda Frese, Muffet McGraw and even Pat Summitt.
If Indiana wasn’t on the national map as a program to be reckoned with before, it definitely is now.
I mean, imagine you’re a high school recruit and you get an in-house visit from the National Coach of the Year. That’s proven excellence that Moren can stand on and doesn’t need to mention. Anyone thinking of joining the Hoosiers will find that out on their own.
Moren will definitely still use her vision for the program’s future, but she’s a proven winner now. She didn’t have that tool when she was recruiting Berger and Holmes.
Playing in the Big Ten
The Big Ten is the best women’s basketball conference in the country, hands down.
The league decided to emphasize the sport a few years ago and dedicated a variety of resources into building the product. The results of that initiative have been on display throughout March, from Ohio State knocking off UConn to end one of the most impressive streaks in sport to Iowa playing for a national title.
That’s not even mentioning Maryland, which gave South Carolina plenty of issues in the Elite Eight. Moren, Frese, Kevin McGuff and Lisa Bluder are among the best coaches in the sport. Moren is quick to stick her neck out for the league and sing its praises.
Doing well in Big Ten play is sure to earn any team a high seed in the tournament, with both Maryland and Iowa being under consideration for the final 1-seed heading into this year’s Tournament.
Style of Play
Nobody is ball-dominant for Indiana. The Hoosiers’ offense its specifically tailored to generate assists and open looks around the entire court, they’re regularly one of the top Big Ten teams in assists along with Iowa.
If you go to Indiana, you’re guaranteed to touch the ball somehow and affect the game. That could take the form of post play, hitting shots from the arc or involvement in a play to get somebody open.
Nobody is left out, everyone gets theirs.