When contributions can’t be made on the court, make them off the court.
That’s the mantra of IU junior women’s basketball forward Brenna Wise.
Wise, a transfer from Pittsburgh, had to sit out all of last season due to NCAA transfer rules, but that didn’t keep her quiet.
Whether it was the 2,790 fans in attendance for the first game of the season on Nov. 11, 2017, or the 13,007 fans in attendance for the last game of the season on March 31, there was one voice that could always be heard around Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
All are expressions from Wise that reverberated off the walls of Assembly Hall and opposing arenas night in and night out throughout the 37-game campaign. IU Coach Teri Moren likes to call it "good juice."
“If I can provide good juice, it becomes contagious,” Wise said after being one of the vocal leaders during a team practice.
But, underneath all the energy and excitement were some hardships — what she trained her whole life for was stripped away for a full season.
Luckily for Wise, IU had another transfer. Junior Ali Patberg had transferred from Notre Dame, and the two endured sitting out together, which created an unbreakable bond.
“That girl is my sister for life,” Wise said. “I honestly don’t think I could have made it without her. There were days where I looked at her and said, ‘Why’d we do this?’ But, she would pick me up and was always there.”
Wise’s birthday was Oct. 26, and Patberg made a post to Instagram that describes the relationship between the two Hoosiers.
Unlike last year, Wise's number 50 jersey in Patberg’s post will be displayed on the court and not restrained behind the team’s warm-ups. She won’t have to spend the full 40 minutes on the bench anymore. Wise has had a countdown on her phone to the moment when, as she put it, she will be let out of her cage.
On the floor, her 6-foot frame allows her to do work down in the low post and fight for rebounds. Wise said she seeks physicality and does the dirty work. There won’t be any fancy moves from Wise, just dives for loose balls, second chance opportunities and and-one conversions.
She can also stretch outside the perimeter and knock down the three ball, which fans saw on display at this year’s Hoosier Hysteria when Wise won the 3-point contest with men’s basketball senior Juwan Morgan.
“I was like, 'Welp, that was my first dub in Assembly Hall and many more to come,'” Wise said.
During her two years at Pittsburgh, Wise averaged 12.5 points per game, seven rebounds per game and led the team in scoring both years. Despite the individual success, the team went 26-35 in the two years.
For Wise to accomplish her academic and competitive goals, she needed a change. Her path to IU was a two-way street — she wanted to come here, and the coaching staff wanted her. Being born and raised in Pittsburgh, it was tough for her to leave home, but it was worth it.
“It’s definitely difficult here being in the Kelley School of Business and playing basketball at the same time, but I’ve learned a lot about myself,” Wise said. “If I had never taken that leap of faith, I would not know what Brenna Wise is made of.”
Wise is made up of competitiveness, which she credits to her older brother Ryan. Growing up, her dad Stu would tell her, “If you can’t run with the big dogs stay on the porch.” So, Wise competed in the driveway with her brother all the time. Even today, the two still race one another to the car.
One of her biggest mentors came from outside her biological family, though, and rather in her basketball family. Last season, Wise was able to watch and absorb lessons from Amanda Cahill — one of the most prolific players the program has ever seen.
Wise couldn’t stop naming the things Cahill did right, calling her a stud: “Just learning where her shots came from in the offense, her work ethic, where she picked her spots, it was great. She’s a great person, too.”
Cahill called Wise a crucial member of the team last year despite not being able to play, and said how they became close friends after doing reps together from playing the same position.
“Brenna has an amazing work ethic and intensity that she brings to not only every practice but every workout,” Cahill said. “She is constantly in the gym or weight room trying to improve her game and learn. No one ever can question if she is giving it her all.”
The team has only played one regular season game and one exhibition so far this season, but it’s evident Wise is giving it her all. She sprints down the floor to get back on defense, fights for extra possessions, physically boxes out for rebounds and scores buckets in the paint. In the season-opener, she led the team in scoring with 17 points. All that, and she’s not winded — her voice still echoes in the confines on Assembly Hall through the duration of the game.
For Wise, she said she believes your attitude, not your aptitude, determines your altitude. She couldn't help but smile as she said the skies the limit for her team this season.
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