While the IU women’s basketball team was able to welcome back its top five scorers from last year, the heart and soul of its frontcourt won’t be returning.
“Losing Brenna , especially her leadership, is a big loss for us,” head coach Teri Moren said.
After transferring to IU from the University of Pittsburgh as a junior, Brenna Wise started in all 66 games and led the team in rebounding the past two seasons before graudating in 2020. Despite having a down year offensively as a senior, Wise’s 34.9% career shooting percentage from beyond the arc helped space out the offense. IU was on the verge of consecutive NCAA tournament bids for just the second time in school history, and Wise was at the center of it.
“We already miss Brenna a lot, just her energy and everything,” senior guard Ali Patberg said.
Patberg will step in for Wise as the veteran presence for the Hoosiers. Several returning forwards, however, will be tasked with replacing Wise’s production on the glass and on both ends of the floor.
One person IU will look to the most is sophomore forward Mackenzie Holmes.
“Mack has completely added another element to her game,” Moren said. “We feel like Mackenzie can obviously step out and be a little bit more challenging to guard as that five for us.”
With a lot of time on her hands to train early on in the offseason at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Holmes said she committed herself to finding consistency in her shot and adding to her range from behind the arc.
Though she was never shy to score from mid-range, Holmes never attempted a 3-pointer as a freshman. It’s not something she’s really incorporated into her game since high school, but Holmes knows she’ll have to shoot it from deep more often this season in order to fill Wise’s void offensively.
“Those are big shoes to fill obviously but I had to try to be consistent with it and get a lot of reps up,” Holmes said. “I didn’t just go and start shooting 3s, I started in and just got really consistent from the fifteen-to-seventeen-foot range and extended it from there.”
Holmes taking on Wise’s role also means being paired down low with Aleksa Gulbe, the junior forward from Latvia who started 31 games last season. Combined with Patberg, junior guard Grace Berger and a dynamic guard-forward in junior transfer Danielle Patterson, Gulbe and Holmes would round out a versatile lineup for the Hoosiers capable of scoring at all three levels.
“They can all score in the post too so getting them isolation opportunities will be helpful,” Holmes said. “Being able to play inside-out as much as we can to get the ball moving around the perimeter I think will take us to the next level.”