Before No. 8 Indiana women’s basketball’s season began, I described junior forward Mackenzie Holmes as Batman in a season preview column.
With her dominance against the No. 13 University of Kentucky, Holmes almost looked like she would’ve been more at home fighting the bad guys on the rooftops of Gotham City than on a basketball court.
“She’s just a threat,” head coach Teri Moren said at the postgame press conference. “She’s a kid you have to pay attention to.”
Holmes was able to outdo Kentucky’s defenders with moves and muscle in the paint, making 73% of her field goal attempts.
“Our strength and conditioning coach has done a great job getting us in great shape for great endurance through all four quarters,” Holmes said. “I think I just tried to use that to my advantage.”
The caped crusader isn’t all muscle and moves though, he’s able to disappear and sneak around his foes with a swish of his cape. Holmes was able to do the same Sunday night, getting wide-open shots behind Kentucky’s defense on multiple occasions.
When Batman’s quarry is at a distance, all he needs to do is reach for his belt and grab a trusty batarang. Holmes was able to do this as well, hitting her sole 3-point attempt of the game off of an assist from Cardaño-Hillary to extend Indiana’s early lead in the first quarter.
Fans of “The Brave and the Bold” know the caped crusader can’t always save the day alone, he often gets some help from super-powered friends. For Holmes, those friends were graduate student guards Nicole Cardaño-Hillary and Ali Patberg and senior guard Grace Berger.
“We just kept telling [Holmes] ‘Just keep running, just run and our guards will find you with some head-to-heads,” Moren said.
Holmes’ career-high 29 points were complimented by 19 and 16 from Berger and Patberg, respectively.
The three guards were able to find Holmes down low or deal offensive damage themselves. Of Holmes’ 29 points, 12 came off of assists from Cardaño-Hillary, who led the team in 3-point shot attempts and makes, shooting a 3-5 clip from beyond the arc.
When Batman’s back was broken by Bane, he needed someone to don the cape and cowl in his stead. When Holmes headed to the bench, sophomore forward Kiandra Browne replaced her. While it may not have shown up in the box score, Brown was able to find openings and make plays on the defensive side of the ball in lieu of Holmes.
Time and again, Batman beats members of his iconic rogues’ gallery through a combination of muscle, wit and intellect. Holmes did the same, finding success against whichever defender Kentucky pitted against her.
While Christopher Nolan’s iteration of Gotham’s bat exited his stage to the music of Hans Zimmer, Holmes departed hers to the sound of her university’s alma mater.
She’s the forward Indiana deserves, and the one it needs right now.
A dynamic defender, a watchful rebounder.
A Dark Knight.