Indiana Daily Student

Indiana women’s basketball roundtable: IDS reporters make predictions for 2022-23 season

<p>The Indiana women&#x27;s basketball team huddles before the start of their game against Wisconsin on Jan. 10 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers play Kentucky Wesleyan in an exhibition game Friday.</p>

The Indiana women's basketball team huddles before the start of their game against Wisconsin on Jan. 10 in Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. The Hoosiers play Kentucky Wesleyan in an exhibition game Friday.

Coming off back-to-back runs to the Sweet Sixteen and a loss in the Big Ten Tournament final last season, Indiana women’s basketball enters the 2022-23 season in search of championships. 

The Hoosiers tip off their season against the University of Vermont at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall. Before the team’s season opener, the Indiana Daily Student women’s basketball beat shared their predictions and analysis for the upcoming season.  

Most valuable player 

WILL FOLEY: The only realistic options here are graduate student guard Grace Berger and senior forward Mackenzie Holmes, and I’m rocking with Berger as MVP. The difference is marginal, but all things considered, Berger is the motor of this team. In close games down the stretch, Berger will have the ball in her hands which gives her the edge. 

MATT SEBREE: Before missing time with a knee injury last season, there was no question Mackenzie Holmes was the Hoosiers’ best player as she led the team in points, rebounds and blocks while usually guarding the opponent’s best post player. This season, she will have an even larger role both on the court and in the locker room after three starters from the back-to-back Sweet Sixteen runs in 2021 and 2022 graduated: guard Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, forward Aleksa Gulbe and guard Ali Patberg — who joined the staff as team and recruitment coordinator. 

MATT PRESS: I’m sticking with my preseason prediction and going with Mackenzie Holmes. She was named to the Lisa Leslie Award watchlist for the country’s best center for good reason. She had a lingering knee injury last season and still posted 15.2 points and seven boards per game. Grace Berger may finish as the team’s top scorer, but Holmes’ defensive versatility and offensive game with her back to the basket make her an invaluable piece. If Holmes can play a full, healthy season, look for her to return to her dominant sophomore-year form. 

Newcomer of the year 

FOLEY: Pretty easy selection for me: it’s senior guard Sara Scalia. Transferring in from Minnesota, Scalia is familiar with the Big Ten and can shoot the lights out of the gym. Indiana was near the bottom of the Big Ten in threes made per game last season, and Scalia can single-handedly get the Hoosiers towards the top of that rank. 

SEBREE: Sara Scalia was named to the All-Big Ten Second Team last season and although she will no longer be the number one option like she was at Minnesota, there is no reason to believe she won’t be just as good or better this season. Her ability to shoot from deep will also help space the floor and give Holmes more room to work inside. 

PRESS: This is a pretty chalk pick, but I’ll take transfer Sara Scalia. I would consider her an honorable mention for team MVP, and I think she’s that good. Indiana has lacked a true sharpshooter in recent years, and Hoosier fans saw Scalia up close last season when she erupted for 26 points vs. Indiana, shooting 7-12 from beyond the arc. Her range is noteworthy, but I think her overall playmaking and on-ball defending are pretty underrated. She shot 41.3% from deep for Minnesota last season on absurd volume, and I expect that to continue.  

Breakout player of the year 

FOLEY: Junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil seems like the obvious selection here. She showed glimpses of her full potential last season and her usage skyrocketed later in the season. Things are pointing towards her being a starter this season, so her role will only be more significant. Her defensive abilities have already been established. If her shooting can come around, she will play a pivotal role for the Hoosiers. 

SEBREE: Although Chloe Moore-McNeil feels like the easy choice, I could also hear an argument that 2021-22 was her breakout season and this year will be building on that as she moves into the starting lineup. So instead, I’m going to say junior forward Kiandra Browne. Browne played good defense and rebounded well last season but struggled at times on the offensive end of the floor. If she can improve her scoring output, Browne could be one of the Hoosiers’ best players off the bench this season. 

PRESS: As much as I wanted to put freshman guard Yarden Garzon, who I predicted as Indiana’s next star in my preseason predictions column, I’m going with Chloe-Moore McNeil. She was stuck behind the Hoosiers’ veteran guard trio for the past couple of seasons, but she’ll have a chance to make a statement this year in her junior campaign. Moore-McNeil is just such a confident and balanced player on both ends of the floor, and I think there’s a chance she unleashes some high-level playmaking ability as a potential go-to option.  

Game to watch 

FOLEY: Traveling to Knoxville to play No. 5 University of Tennessee is an intriguing matchup. Not only are the Vols elite, but the matchup is Indiana’s first game outside of Bloomington this season. It’ll be a huge test for the Hoosiers and can reveal how much potential this team has. 

SEBREE: No. 12 University of North Carolina coming to Bloomington for the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Dec. 1 will be the early season test I am most looking forward to watching Indiana face. The Hoosiers went 14-2 at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall last season and establishing that home dominance this season will be vital to Indiana’s success, particularly once conference play begins. 

PRESS: The early season matchups with No. 5 Tennessee and No. 12 North Carolina are tough to omit, but the Hoosiers’ final game of the regular season against No. 4 Iowa could have major implications. The two teams meet on Feb. 9, and then again on Feb. 26 to close out the season. The Hawkeyes are obviously tremendously talented with maybe the best duo in the country in flamethrowing junior guard Caitlin Clark and senior forward Monica Czinano, and Indiana couldn’t beat them in its three showdowns last season — including the Big Ten Championship. Circle this matchup on your calendars. 

Postseason predictions 

FOLEY: I think the Hoosiers finish top three in the Big Ten, then finally overcome their demons and win the Big Ten Tournament. A finish like that should earn Indiana a top four seed at worst, depending on its regular season record. I believe in the experience of this Hoosier team and see them making an Elite Eight.  

SEBREE: This Hoosiers team is not the team of the last two seasons. Those teams were defensive juggernauts and although Berger and Holmes can lockdown opponents, without Patberg, Gulbe and 2022 All-Big Ten Defensive Team honoree Cardaño-Hillary, Indiana will struggle to slow down opponents as much as they have in the past. I think the team will finish fourth in a top-heavy Big Ten standings. However, head coach Teri Moren’s teams have shown an ability to get hot late in the season and make runs in tournaments, so I’ll predict the Hoosiers to reach a second consecutive Big Ten Championship, but to again lose to the Hawkeyes. In the NCAA Tournament, I think Indiana will lose in an even matchup in the second round and fail to make it to a third Sweet Sixteen appearance in as many years. 

PRESS: I predicted a Big Ten Tournament title a few weeks ago, and I’m begrudgingly holding on to it. Iowa is the clear favorite, rightfully so, and Ohio State and Nebraska are quietly creeping behind the Hoosiers. Nonetheless, with how valuable defense is in the postseason, I’ll give Indiana the ever-so-slightest edge over the Hawkeyes, who haven’t been able to stop much of anyone from scoring. I don’t have the highest hopes for the NCAA Tournament, the Big Ten’s kryptonite, but I’ll say they cruise through the first two rounds and go out in the Sweet Sixteen. 

Follow reporters Will Foley (@foles24) and Matt Sebree (@mattsebree) and columnist Matt Press (@MattPress23) for updates throughout the Indiana women’s basketball season. 

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