Basketball season brings a sense of excitement around Bloomington this time of year. The beginning of the season gives fans optimism for what beholds in the coming months.
The Indiana Daily Student basketball reporters and columnists predicted how each team will fare, what its conference standing will be and if either will make the NCAA Tournament.
Phil Steinmetz, men’s basketball reporter
seventh in the Big Ten regular season, NCAA Tournament first round
There are a lot of question marks facing this year’s team. Who will the consistent starters be? Can senior guard Devonte Green build on his strong end to the 2018-19 season? How much will freshman forward Trayce Jackson-Davis play right away? That’s only a few of them.
Sophomore guard Rob Phinisee has a full season of running the offense under his belt and is in line for the year-two jump a lot of players make. If Phinisee can improve his shooting while being a lockdown defender again in the backcourt, it’ll help IU’s NCAA Tournament chances. Before his concussion last season, Phinisee showed flashes of his potential as an eventual all-time IU great at point guard.
The Hoosiers will have a lot of moving pieces. They don’t have have players such as then-freshman guard Romeo Langford or then-senior forward Juwan Morgan, who the Hoosiers knew would show up every night. It remains to be seen who’ll have the ball in his hands on the final possession with the game on the line.
It’s been two seasons and IU head coach Archie Miller has yet to make the NCAA Tournament. If Miller fails for a third time, there will probably be some questions about how much longer he’ll be with the program.
IU fans are longing for a team that will bring the program back to the spotlight. Luckily for the Hoosiers, the nonconference schedule is one of the easiest in recent memory, and they only play both Michigan teams once.
I have the Hoosiers squeezing into the tournament, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they weren’t even in the conversation come selection Sunday.
Sam Bodnar, women’s basketball reporter
third in Big Ten, Elite Eight
IU women’s basketball is inheriting a larger and more dominant freshman class than previous seasons.
These freshmen, who averaged double doubles in high school, will compete for a starting job with current guards and forwards on the program’s roster. This healthy competition will force all of the Hoosiers to excel and tear down opponents in their fight for minutes.
Maryland and Michigan State own the top preseason ranking spots, according to Big Ten coaches, and will likely remain there for the duration of the season.
Michigan could push IU out of the top three, but the veteran leadership of returning starters junior guard Ali Patberg and senior forward Brenna Wise will likely sustain IU as a top-3 conference team.
Come tournament time, IU head coach Teri Moren and her Hoosiers will likely find themselves in a better position than in recent decades to advance further into March Madness.
Matt Cohen, men’s basketball reporter
eighth in the Big Ten, First four out
IU lost its two leading scorers from last year’s team that fell short of the NCAA Tournament. Both head coach Archie Miller and players have commented on improved chemistry among this year’s group and not needing to rely on a duo to put up the vast majority of the points.
In year three, Miller’s team needs to take the next step. IU has missed the NCAA Tournament for three straight seasons, and the team hasn’t shown much growth in his first two seasons.
There seems to be an expectation that this team can get over the hump and back into the dance. For me, there are too many uncertainties with this team to be able to safely put them back into March Madness.
This year’s team relies on many players turning the corner in their development. It relies on freshman forward Jerome Hunter being able to contribute despite coming back from injury. It relies on talented freshman Trayce Jackson-Davis stepping in smoothly.
It still isn’t clear what the starting lineup will be. Miller has talked about having a big lineup, but with three guards capable of starting in sophomore Rob Phinisee, senior Devonte Green and junior Al Durham, Miller has options.
The Big Ten has a clear top four, and the middle appears quite jumbled. The conference appears to have some balance to it. IU will likely hover around the same conference record it had a year ago. If it isn’t doesn’t pick up nonconference wins over teams like Florida State University and the University of Connecticut, playing .500 or even sub-.500 may be just too little. It needs to win a game in the Big Ten Tournament as well.
IU will be in the mix into the final week of the season, but just as was the case last season, I think it falls just short.
Will Trubshaw, women’s basketball reporter
second in Big Ten, NCAA Tournament Sweet 16
Just two games separated IU from fifth place Ohio State in the standings last season, but so did four other teams. It was tight in conference all last year, and it figures to be more of the same this season.
But that should play well for the Hoosiers, who return four of their five starters from last year plus key bench pieces as well. Junior guards Bendu Yeaney and Jaelyn Pennn, junior guard Ali Patberg and senior forward Brenna Wise are a battle-tested bunch who know what it takes to win in the Big Ten after a full season together.
While Yeaney recovers from her Achilles injury, expect all hands on deck from junior guard Keyanna Warthen and last year's freshman breakout stars, sophomore forward Aleksa Gulbe and sophomore guard Grace Berger.
I wouldn’t be too surprised to see freshman centers Arielle Wisne and Hannah Noveroske and Jorie Allen, reigning Miss Indiana Basketball and freshman forward gets immediate looks at the starting lineup to fill the gaps left by graduated forward Kim Royster and, temporarily, Yeaney.
This team is deep, experienced and has some talented true freshmen coming in. The official Big Ten preseason coaches poll has IU finishing third in conference. Once everyone is healthy, I’m not sure the Hoosiers will stop there.
Led by Patberg, a preseason All Big Ten pick, it’s extremely plausible this IU team goes further in the NCAA tournament than any of head coach Teri Moren’s teams have before.
Caleb Coffman, men’s basketball columnist
eighth in the Big Ten, First four in
There’s a lot less hype surrounding IU men’s basketball going into this season compared to a whirlwind of media coverage the team had last season as Romeo Langford came to campus. That is a good thing for the Hoosiers.
Even though IU lost its top two scorers from last season in Langford and Juwan Morgan, the Hoosiers have the talent to make an NCAA Tournament run. A lot of people forget that redshirt freshman Jerome Hunter was the other highly touted freshman last season that was supposed to be a part of IU’s dynamic duo alongside Langford.
Hunter was likely the missing piece for IU last season as he brings the two things the Hoosiers were in desperate need of on the offensive end of the court, the ability to create off the dribble and three-point shooting.
With Langford's departure, one of the biggest criticisms has been that head coach Archie Miller didn’t bring anyone in to fill the void left on the offensive end. Hunter is practically a recruit as he didn’t play last season and should be able to slide into that position and pick up some of the slack left behind.
The rest of the slack will need to be picked up by players taking another step forward. Freshman Rob Phinisee will need to become a more consistent three-point shooter, junior Al Durham needs to become comfortable scoring off the dribble and junior Justin Smith needs to become a more consistent all-around offensive player.
With a favorable nonconference schedule and only having to play some of the top teams in the Big Ten only once, the Hoosiers look to be in good shape to make a tournament push as long as they don’t have a repeat of the dreaded stretch when they lost 12 of 13.
Stephan Walker, women’s basketball columnist
third in the Big Ten, NCAA Tournament second round
After a dogfight in the Big Ten last season, Indiana finished 10th in the conference. The good news for Teri Moren’s squad is that four starters return, plus a good bench and solid recruits, including Miss Indiana Basketball Jorie Allen.
The past two seasons have been successful for Moren and her team. IU won the WNIT in 2018 and made it to the second round of the NCAA Tournament in March. With the deep roster, there’s no reason to think they won’t make it back into the tournament.
Senior guard Ali Patberg will be a key piece this year. She led the team in scoring and assists last season with 15.8 points and 4.8 assists per game. Backing her up will be junior guard Jaelynn Penn, IU’s top three-point scorer, and senior forward Brenna Wise, who did it all for the Hoosiers last season. Wise led the team in rebounds, three-point percentage and free throw percentage. Her 91.6% mark from the line also led the Big Ten, making her a valuable asset to this team.
With junior Bendu Yeaney still recovering from an Achilles injury, sophomore's Aleksa Gulbe and Grace Berger will likely eat up minutes, along with Allen.
After getting picked to finish third by the coaches and fourth by the media, IU has high expectations to meet this year. But with the lineup depth and Moren’s experience at the helm, I expect the team to be right up there with the best.
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