Indiana women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren had one main goal for senior forward Aleksa Gulbe going into her senior year: to average a double-double.
Tuesday night against Norfolk State University, Gulbe took a step toward attaining that goal with her first double-double of the season, notching 22 points and 12 rebounds in Indiana’s 72-42 victory at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
While averaging a double-double was a preseason goal for Gulbe, she’s always prepared to do whatever it takes to help her team win the game, regardless of what shows up on the stat sheet.
“Me and coach talked about it in senior year expectations,” Gulbe said in the post-game press conference. “But, you know, at the end of the day, I’m always ready to do whatever to help the team, I’m always fighting for every rebound and always looking for open teammates.”
Moren echoed Gulbe’s sentiments, saying that other players, such as senior guard Grace Berger and graduate student guard Ali Patberg have the same mentality. She said they're willing to help the team however they can and affect the outcome in ways that go beyond the box score.
“There's a lot of luxuries when you have a big team, but we always talk about being able to impact the game even if your shot’s not falling,” Moren said. “That can come in ways of assists, like Grace Berger does tonight, where she's going to facilitate, she's going to find open players, or you're going to be a rebounder for us.”
Moren was proud of the senior’s effort in notching her first double-double of the year and said she hopes it’s the first of many.
“She and I had another conversation yesterday in regards to what I think she's capable of,” Moren said. “I thought her second half was much better than her first.”
Gulbe’s shot was falling tonight and she tied junior forward Mackenzie Holmes for the team lead in scoring, and she also led the team in rebounds in addition to blocking two shots and notching an assist.
Rebounding has been a strength of Gulbe’s all season, grabbing six boards against Butler University and nine against the University of Kentucky, but one new addition to her arsenal Tuesday night was the 3-point shot. Gulbe had not made a 3-pointer all season prior to Tuesday, but shot 3-of-4 from deep in the win over Norfolk State.
Improving her 3-point shot has been a point of emphasis for Gulbe since she arrived in Bloomington three years ago, but became a larger focus this offseason.
“I feel like ever since I came to IU, I've been stretching my game out,” Gulbe said. “And being a better 3-point shooter is definitely one of the things I'm really working on all of these four years.”
Moren has noticed Gulbe’s effort and improvement from beyond the arc this offseason, and is not surprised to see the senior’s shot start to fall after failing to knock down a triple in each of the team’s first two games.
“She’s one of my kids that comes in every day and spends extra time working on her game and her shot,” Moren said. “It was nice to see for her, to see all those go down tonight because she certainly has put in the sweat equity to improve.”