At 14-1 overall and 3-0 in the Big Ten, the No. 25 IU women’s basketball team has begun to grab national attention.
Just hours after seeing her team ranked in the Associated Press Top 25 poll for the first time since 2016, IU Coach Teri Moren joined Greg Murray on the “Inside IU women’s basketball with Teri Moren” radio show.
She discussed the team’s win Sunday against then-No. 15 Michigan State while looking ahead to upcoming Big Ten games.
Here are three takeaways from her appearance.
The staff has confidence in sophomore guard Jaelynn Penn
Penn was the third-leading scorer for IU last season. With Tyra Buss and Amanda Cahill graduating last May, Penn was also the highest-scoring returner this year.
However, a nagging ankle injury got her off to an inconsistent start. Fans saw Penn's potential on offense — including a 25-point outburst against Wake Forest University.
Yet onlookers have also seen her injury take an effect, as Penn has failed to reach double-digit points six times already.
That has not led to the IU coaching staff hiding their confidence in the 5-foot-10-inch guard.
Down by two points with less than a minute remaining in a road game against University of California at Los Angeles, the staff drew up a play to give Penn a three-point attempt. Penn made it and IU took the lead before eventually locking down a 67-65 victory.
A similar situation occurred in the team’s win against Michigan State. On a broken play, the ball was in Penn’s hands with less than a minute to go. She again drained a three to give IU the lead and the victory.
“She’s a young lady that has a tremendous amount of confidence in her abilities,” Moren said. “She lives for the moments, those big moments of hitting those big shots.”
Freshman forward Aleksa Gulbe is a versatile player
Gulbe has seen her minutes become more consistent as the season has progressed.
But with those minutes, Gulbe has proven she can provide something for IU that it has not had in recent years. While bringing a blocking ability that Moren raved about, Gulbe can also cause fits for defenses on the block or stretching out to the 3-point line.
Gulbe has made six of her 13 three-point attempts this season, while shooting more than 80 percent from the free throw line. She also averages nearly four rebounds per game and has recorded 16 blocks in 13 games.
Moren said Gulbe, a native of Latvia, is continuing to become more comfortable in her role.
“When she plays with her national team, she is the best player on her team and she’s asked to do an awful lot,” Moren said. “Here, we have other pieces to go with her.”
IU takes advantage of Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall
The Hoosiers have won 19 straight home games, the fifth-longest active streak in the nation.
Numerous players have commented on the importance of “good juice” and bringing energy to the court. Assembly Hall did just that as Sunday's 6,380 attendees were a part of the ninth-largest home crowd in IU women’s basketball history.
Moren compared Sunday’s crowd to those that showed up for the WNIT Championship run last season.
“We’re off to a really great start, and I thought yesterday was just a really great game,” Moren said. “We needed every ounce of the energy that was in that building.”
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