More than 230 days have passed since the WNIT second round matchup between IU women’s basketball and the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.
Both teams are now set to face off again Wednesday, but instead of being one of the final games of the season, this game will open up the regular season.
However, IU Coach Teri Moren expects the upcoming game to be much different as IU will be playing without Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill, and Milwaukee will be playing with five freshmen on the roster.
“We don’t know a lot as far as what they’re running,” Moren said. “The thing about coaches is we’re creatures of habit sometimes. What we’re preparing for right now, I’m sure we’ll see on Wednesday — some of it. Some of it may be new.”
Moren said she does expect Milwaukee to use a zone defense during parts of the game, but feels that if the team prepares correctly, they can handle it.
“We have to do a better job of deciding when to put it inside in that sweet spot of the zone,” Moren said. “Just being able to deliver a pass that we can either catch and go up and score, catch and dump the ball off or catch and relocate.”
IU is coming off an exhibition game Friday against Northwood University. IU won with a final score of 78-52 and saw freshmen Grace Berger and Aleksa Gulbe score double-digit points.
“They’re both super aggressive and they’re confident, which is hard to find in a freshman,” redshirt junior guard Ali Patberg said. “We trust them to contribute big.”
Toward the end of Monday’s practice, it was clear that a big emphasis from Moren was going to be careful ball handling to avoid turnovers.
Last season IU ranked 150th in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio at .87, but in the exhibition game had 19 assists to 10 turnovers.
“Every pass matters,” Patberg said. “If we’re careless with the ball, we’ll get beat. Just knowing that the ball is important, and we have to value every single possession.”
Patberg along with fellow redshirt junior Brenna Wise started against Northwood and combined for 22 points.
Wednesday will mark the first time both of them will play in a regular season game for IU after sitting out last season due to NCAA transfer rules.
As the starting guard, Patberg will fill the void left by Buss. However, she feels no pressure in doing so.
“It’s a big responsibility, but at the same time I have a whole team behind me,” Patberg said. “I don’t put too much pressure on myself just knowing that I’ve worked really hard and my game is going to come.”
Sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn was third behind Buss and Cahill last season and was impressive in the exhibition match.
However, after scoring 14 points in 21 minutes before leaving due to an ankle injury. She said she will play Wednesday against Milwaukee.
“It’s feeling good,” Penn said. “Just getting back from a little twist. It’s not that bad.”
Tipoff for the season opener is set for 7 p.m. at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
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