Basketball is about protecting the home court.
In Bloomington, it is about defending a tradition of excellence.
However, the IU women’s basketball team has yet to figure out how to win at Assembly Hall without doing so in an ugly fashion.
This season, the Hoosiers’ success rests on how well they play at home.
It is no doubt tough to rebuild a program, but with young talent, the players and coaches must understand that losing at home is not an option.
“For the young people, they are tough mentally, but we want to bring them confidence by showing them that we believe in them,” senior forward Georgie Jones said. “But they need to believe in themselves.”
As the players continue to buy into the changing culture, they also need to follow the leadership of Jones, their senior captain, who said she knows winning at home is essential to this season’s success.
“We have to protect our house, and having that as the main mind set is our goal,” she said. “The coaches instill (winning at home) in our minds every day at practice.”
After the team’s preseason battle with Indianapolis, it was apparent winning at home will not be a gift-wrapped present to the Hoosiers.
Even a Murray State team coming off a 9-21 season was too tough for IU. The Hoosiers found themselves in another dogfight, down by 15 points in the first half. Finally, Jones stepped up to score 16 points and added 13 rebounds.
Her performance must remain at that level each game if the Hoosiers hope to improve their win total from a season ago, home or away.
“Success to me is being a good rebounder, and that’s what I want to contribute to this team,” she said.
Jones is a 6-foot-2-inch forward in her final year of eligibility with the Hoosiers. A transfer from Marquette, she said her favorite thing about IU basketball is being part of a tradition.
However, she wants more.
“We want to be successful as a team and come together to accomplish many things,” Jones said. “It is more than just basketball. I want to have a good year and enjoy it by having fun.”
If the players buy into Jones’ leadership, as they should, fans should expect exciting Hoosier victories at Assembly Hall, though not without solid play from the other two seniors, forward Danilsa Andujar and guard Alisha Goodwin.
The three seniors have combined for 28 of the team’s 90 rebounds and 31 of the total 116 points through the first two games.
“I know my team needs me, and being a senior, I want to do everything for them,” Jones said.
Jones said the success of the Hoosiers’ younger athletes depends on the seniors leadership to the postseason.
With Coach Felisha Legette-Jack, IU has been to the postseason three times but never the NCAA tournament. However, her players believe that achievement is not far off because of Legette-Jack’s passion for the game and the Hoosiers.
“I love her passion, and it helps me get through every day,” Jones said. “I have never met anyone as passionate about the game as her. She gets the best out of everyone.”
The Hoosiers will go on the road for their next two contests but return to Assembly Hall to defend their home court Nov. 25 against the Toledo Rockets.
If they can follow the leadership of Legette-Jack and Jones, expect the Hoosiers to find success.