In order to end practice Monday at Cook Hall, the Hoosiers needed to make five consecutive free throws.
The guilty will be protected, but there were a few misses before they finally completed the feat. Each time there was a miss, the team had to sprint down and back in 11 seconds. Each time there was a miss, there were words of encouragement. Eventually, five consecutive shots were made.
These words of encouragement came from the many returning players that saw IU reach the second round of the NCAA Tournament a season ago. The 2016 Hoosiers return all but one from that squad, and those returners are tasked with showing the new players the ropes.
“I honestly think it’s a group of us,” junior guard Tyra Buss said. “We have the upperclassmen and others who have been here for all four years and then me and Amanda (Cahill) who have stepped up. We have the experience and we know what it takes so we’re trying to help the newcomers, the freshmen, to translate their high school game into college.”
The jump from high school to college can be daunting. IU Coach Teri Moren likes her team to play at a high tempo in a very physical conference. With three new freshman and two other players coming via transfer, getting up to speed could be a hurdle.
Buss appears to be one of IU’s leaders on the court again after leading the Hoosiers as a First Team All-Big Ten member last year. Among everything that’s being done to prepare the team for the season ahead, one aspect of preparation takes precedent.
“The biggest thing is getting their confidence,” Buss said. “Making sure they are positive and not being scared to take a shot, not be scared to run to the basket. The Big Ten is really physical and so is our non-conference schedule, and getting them more physical and up to speed in a faster pace game is important.”
IU features five seniors this year, four more than a season ago, which could create a leadership dynamic not possible with a group of just one or two seniors.
Moren said there might have been some trepidation with the first practice for the young players, but the experienced players, seniors Alexis Gassion and Karlee McBride, or Cahill, a junior, helped them through it.
“One of the things that we found today was I heard different voices,” Moren said. “Those are veterans that have been around us. They know how we do things and the system. The nice thing about having them here in the summer, is they’ve already established that and they know the expectations.”
Whether it is Buss, Cahill, Gassion, McBride or anyone else, this team knows the heightened expectations that surround them. IU’s leadership is aware it may take some time to get everyone up to speed but is quick to offer a helping hand.
“Experience-wise, we’re helping out the new people,” Cahill said. “I think we need everyone to lead. We all know what we have to hold ourselves accountable for, so it will be a group effort.”