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Guard Ali Patberg returns to court with IU women's basketball



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Junior Ali Patberg drives the lane on a Northwood player Nov. 2 during IU's exhibition game in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Patberg will take over point guard duties from Tyra Buss, who graduated as IU’s all-time leading scorer.  Jared Rigdon Buy Photos

Drake's song "In My Feelings" blasted through the speaker in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall as the IU women's basketball teams finished its first practice of the year.

The team was practicing its dance that would be performed at 2018 Hoosier Hysteria, and redshirt junior Ali Patberg led the pack in showing off her moves.

It was just the latest example of what Patberg will bring to the team off the court this season.

“I just enjoy life,” Patberg said. “I’m just myself and like to have fun. I like to smile, and I love the game of basketball.”

Patberg was brought as a transfer to the team following a short career at Notre Dame. Coming from Columbus, Indiana, she was highly recruited in the state after scoring 2,026 career high school points — a number that ranks in the top 40 of the state’s all-time record. 

In 2015, she was selected as an alternate for the National Team to participate in the FIBA U19 World Championships in Chekhov, Russia.

“It was a turning point in my game,” Patberg said. “Being with those types of players every day, it was a once in a lifetime opportunity.”



Patberg was recruited by one of the nation’s best program in Notre Dame, but saw her career come to a halt after tearing her ACL in a practice freshman year. 

“I learned that basketball isn’t everything,” Patberg said. “When I got hurt, basketball was taken away from me. I really found who I was as a person. I’m Ali, and basketball is something I do. It’s not what I am.” 

She returned to play for the Irish her sophomore season, but she only played 7.7 minutes per appearance in 22 games.

“I didn’t feel like I was ready at all,” Patberg said “I didn’t feel right, but I knew that I had to do my best and give my all like always — no matter how good or bad I felt.”

Then, she saw potential in transferring to another program. 

Patberg visited IU during the 2017 Little 500 weekend and by that Sunday night she called Moren and said she wanted to play for the Hoosiers.

“I knew right away that this was going to be home,” Patberg said. “I had that feeling in my heart that this was where I was supposed to be with these amazing people.”

Patberg said she felt no pressure from her family to come to IU, but both her parents are big IU fans. She remembers coming to Hoosier Hysteria as a child with her dad, and those memories were running through her head when she was introduced at Hoosier Hysteria last season.

“To have them there and to come out was awesome,” Patberg said. “Being with my teammates and my family, it was almost overwhelming.”

Due to NCAA transfer rules, Patberg was forced to sit out last season. However, she got to sit alongside redshirt junior Brenna Wise who was on the bench due to the same transfer rules.

“Me and Brenna, we’re like sisters,” Patberg said. “Any downs I had, she was there to pick me up. Any downs she had, I was there to pick her up.”

While sitting out last season, Patberg was able to watch guard Tyra Buss lead IU to a WNIT Championship while breaking the IU women’s scoring record.

Now, Patberg will be among a group of guards who will try to replace the void left by Buss. However, she feels no pressure.

“She’s an amazing player, but I also know that I’m a different player than her,” Patberg said. “I’m going to play my game.”

This season, Patberg will finally get to step on the court with her team and represent the school she grew up watching. 

“It’s a dream come true to be able to play in Assembly Hall,” Patberg said.

At this point of her collegiate career, Patberg struggles to find free time between basketball and classes in the Kelley School of Business. However, when she does have the time, she enjoys reading and watching basketball — in particular her favorite player, LeBron James.

After sitting out two seasons in her career, the focus is still not on herself. Playing the point guard position, she said she loves creating opportunities for her teammates to score. 

And going into this season, her focus will continue to be on her team. 

“If I’m not shooting well, I’m going to give the ball up to other people,” Patberg said. “I’m going to play with passion and energy. When someone hits a shot, I’m excited for them.”

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