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Indiana women’s basketball: January mailbag

You ask, we answer.

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

With neither Indiana basketball team playing a midweek game this week, it’s mailbag time at Crimson Quarry.

This article concerns all things Indiana women’s hoops. We ran the men’s edition earlier and you can read that here.

Here goes:


On recruiting

This one comes off the heels of top-ten recruit Mikayla Blakes, a five-star guard out of New Jersey, committing to Vanderbilt on Monday. Blakes chose the ‘Dores over Indiana, UCLA, Stanford, Rutgers, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.

To land high-level recruits, Indiana needs to win in the postseason and offer competitive resources.

The Hoosiers made Elite Eight for first time in program history in 2021 but earlier-than-expected exits in each of the last two seasons are what the outside world probably sees. Winning is Indiana’s best shot at landing the big names.

All that’s on the court though. When it comes to Indiana’s tactics on the recruiting trail we have no real complaints. The staff’s emphasis on culture and development are what’s put them on the precipe of catching the big fish. No reason to move away from that.

On injuries influencing the rotation

Parrish suffered a leg injury in practice last Friday and did not dress for Indiana’s Sunday win over Purdue. Details on the senior guard’s return to play are not yet known.

The easy answer here is Lexus Bargesser, who made her first career start in place of Parrish at Mackey. Bargesser’s served as Indiana’s sixth player all year and is a capable defender who can also run the floor.

I’d guess Bargesser continues to make the starting five because of her level of experience and ability to grab boards but as a ball-dominant guard her offensive game is not similar to Parrish’s.

Indiana has opted to surround Mackenzie Holmes with guards to maximize her presence on the paint. It's served them well so far.

I’d look to freshman wing Jules LaMendola as another player who could earn minutes if Parrish is out for a bit.

Although she’s only 1-for-8 on the year, LaMendola is the best 3-point shooter on Indiana’s bench. Pull up highlights from the team’s summer trip to Greece if you don’t believe me. She has the best chance of any young guard to match Parrish’s production if she can get hot from deep. No better time to step up than the present.

On breaking through in March

Indiana’s biggest X-factor is Yarden Garzon. She’s a fantastic 3-point shooter, and led the Big Ten in 3PT% last year at 45.8%, but her production can be inconsistent at times.

One big reason for the blips in consistency is Indiana’s emphasis on using Garzon as a slasher this year. She spent most of last year hanging out on the wing but is now keeping defenders guessing by going for a couple drives a game this year.

The work Garzon put in over the summer shone through when she dropped 23 on Tennessee in November, but the moves off the bounce are still being put to memory and she has trouble with travelling at times.

The Yarden Garzon: Ball Carrier subplot is an interesting one to follow, although I wouldn’t be broken up if Indiana moved away from it. Garzon hit five threes at Purdue on Sunday. Let her shoot more of those.

Bottomline is whether through slashing or shootings threes, the Hoosiers fully unlocking Garzon would blow the ceiling off this squad’s March expectations. She’s a gamewrecker at her best, and even in defeat, her step-back against Miami was the coldest shot of last season.

On bench scoring

Indiana’s received a grand total of 45 points from its bench across eight Big Ten games. 5.6 bench points per game is not enough.

The issue is two-fold. For starters, the Hoosier bench is young and the reserves Moren players are all freshmen or sophomores. They’re still developing.

Secondly, members of this lot are usually Indiana’s fifth option on the floor. Especially in Big Ten play. We saw the underclassmen lineup (Bargesser, Beaumont, LaMendola, Meister, Sandvik) get run together in the non-con but the upped competition of league play’s only allowed one or two of ‘em to be out there at a time.

As the current rotation goes a player coming off the bench is almost always sharing the floor with four of the best scorers in the Big Ten. It’s not their job to shoot.

Decent looks are still being passed up now and then, but I think the young guards are becoming less passive as the season progresses.

Lenée Beaumont fought off a double to make a TOUGH layup against Purdue and LaMendola also wasn’t shy about driving last time out.

Finishing near the rim is still an issue but Bargesser, Beaumont, and Meister (76.2!!!) are all shooting over 50% from the field on the year. If given the opportunity to up their sample size I’ve got to believe any of these players will begin to score more.

It's also just a trend for Moren to have a pretty short rotation, she doesn't go to the bench all that much and hasn't. There's multiple open scholarships on Indiana's roster and, as stated above, most of the bench is pieces for the future rather than experience that you can lean on.

On the rest of the way

Yes! At 7-1, Indiana is currently tied with Iowa atop the Big Ten while 6-1 Ohio State, who upset Iowa on Sunday, trails both by half a game. The Hoosiers see both before season’s end, traveling to Columbus on February 4 before hosting Iowa for the second leg of their home-and-home on February 22.

As of now, those are the two most impactful games Indiana has left. Other notable contests include Purdue’s annual trip to Assembly on February 11 and a Wednesday night tilt at Maryland on January 31.