There are many questions surrounding the beginning of the IU women’s basketball season.
How will the team follow up its WNIT Championship? How will the freshmen adjust? How will the returning players grow?
But, perhaps the biggest question is how the team will do without two of the best players in program history, Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill.
With no more explosive scoring and ball handling from Buss and intelligent, playmaking ability from Cahill, how will IU’s style of play change? Well, it might not.
IU Coach Teri Moren said she wants the style to be the exact same.
Who can blame her? The fast-paced offensive style that started on the defensive end led IU to rally off eight-straight games at one point, finish with a 23-14 record and hang the first ever women’s basketball banner in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
Senior forward Kym Royster and sophomore guards Bendu Yeaney and Jaelynn Penn received the most minutes within IU’s system last season.
Moren said with the additions of juniors Brenna Wise and Ali Patberg, the offensive philosophies will be similar to what the team did last year.
Patberg is a poised point guard who can set up plays in the half-court offense. She may not have the explosiveness of Buss, but that’s where Yeaney and Penn come in.
The two sophomores are both athletic and had practice taking pressure off Buss and handling the ball at times last year. The two are ready to have more of that responsibility this year.
“I’m super comfortable with it,” Yeaney said. “Over the summer, I was practicing my ball handling so now I’m more ready for the press.”
Still having Royster provides the team with a low-post presence, which they took advantage of last season. Wise will add the size and physicality down low, and can also stretch the floor like Cahill did, which can space the floor and provide Royster more room to post up and dish out to shooters.
Moren said the defensive end is where there is always the biggest learning curve.
Since Moren arrived at IU in 2014, she has focused on defense, and last season, the team prided itself on its defense. Fast breaks and quick buckets have to start somewhere, and that somewhere is defense.
But, it’s not an easy concept. Players have to know when to switch and when not to switch, when to go under a pick and roll or when to go over it, when to rotate over or when to stay out on the shooter, the list goes on. The biggest adjustment for IU’s freshmen — Chanel Wilson, Grace Berger and Aleksa Gulbe — is defense.
“Chanel hasn’t been practicing because of her knee injury, but with Grace and Aleksa, just trying to catch them up on a lot of our defensive principles that we have to have in order to be successful,” Moren said.
She said the team isn’t more ahead on offense than defense or vice versa, and they are focusing on the little things to improve each day as the season begins.
A previous photo caption stated the game took place Nov. 8 instead of Nov. 7. The IDS regrets this error.