In her first two seasons at Indiana, junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil almost always came off the bench.
After a high school career in which she was named two-time Tennessee Class A Miss Basketball and won a state title, Moore-McNeil was stuck playing behind Ali Patberg and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary in a talented backcourt. Last season, the pair of starting guards each averaged at least 34 minutes per game as they helped the Hoosiers reach their second consecutive Sweet Sixteen. However, that left few and inconsistent minutes for Moore-McNeil.
Despite the inconsistent playing time game-to-game, Moore-McNeil made a jump to improve in the middle of the season and became Indiana’s most valuable off-the-bench player during its tournament runs, including a handful of clutch moments. This season, as she moves into a starting role on the team, Moore-McNeil has the best opportunity of her college career so far to show why the twice-named best high school player in her state deserves to be on the court.
“She’s excited for her junior year, without question, and I'm excited for her,” head coach Teri Moren said at Indiana basketball’s media day. “Because a kid like Chloe — who's spent time on the bench and has been in every practice just trying to get a little bit better every day, and then now — she's to a point where she has that opportunity in front of her to not only start but play big minutes for us.”
In moving into the starting lineup for the first time, Moore-McNeil will have a chance to continue building off last year’s improvement. Although she showed flashes of defensive brilliance, she — like most freshmen — struggled in her first season with the team, particularly on the offensive end.
Her freshman season, she played under 200 total minutes and shot 26% overall. Those struggles continued into the first 11 games of her sophomore season, where she averaged just two and a half points on 34% shooting — including 3 of 15 from 3-point range — while playing under 15 minutes per game.
However, Moore-McNeil’s season began changing with Indiana’s 70-37 win over Southern Illinois University on Dec. 23, 2021, when she scored 9 points, grabbed five boards and had three assists in 25 minutes to help lead the Hoosiers.
Just a few weeks later, in a rivalry game Jan. 16 against Purdue in West Lafayette for the Barn Burner trophy, Moore-McNeil had her breakout game.
Due to injuries and COVID-19 issues within Indiana’s program, Moore-McNeil got the first start of her career and played 43 minutes in the 73-68 overtime win, scoring 10 points for the first double-digit offensive output of her career. Although she only recorded one block and no steals in the game, Moore-McNeil’s defensive contributions went far beyond the box score as she helped slow the Boilermakers down in the fourth quarter to allow the Hoosiers to tie the game and send it to overtime.
“I did gain a little bit of confidence,” Moore-McNeil said at the media day. “Just coming to the realization when we had injuries and the COVID pandemic kind of thing, it really made me understand that I needed to grow up a little bit and give a little bit more”
Starting with the Southern Illinois game and including the Big Ten and NCAA Tournament games, Moore-McNeil averaged three rebounds and nearly 7 points while playing 25 minutes per contest over the final 20 games of the season. She also dramatically improved her shooting, going 45% from the field and 34% from beyond the arc to end the season.
Those figures will likely continue to get better this year. Moren said one of the aspects of her game that Moore-McNeil worked on this summer was shooting, and because of that, she is now more consistent from 3-point range. Moore-McNeil showed off that shooting talent at Hoosier Hysteria on Oct. 7, where she made eight shots in a row to help win the 3-point contest with teammate Miller Kopp, senior forward for Indiana’s men’s team.
Entering her third season with the cream and crimson and her first season in the starting lineup, Moore-McNeil will have more responsibility than ever, but her coach said she believes the work her guard put in this summer has prepared her.
“She had a fantastic summer. The expectations for her a year ago were for her to come off of our bench and be a scoring power for us, but also be a great defender, which she was for us,” Moren said. “Based on what she was able to do this summer, she's come back and she's stronger.”
Although she will have a larger role with the team this season, Moore-McNeil isn’t going to suddenly start playing to chase points and put up gaudy stat-lines. Regardless of which end of the court she makes a play on, she said she just wants to do whatever she can to help the team win.
“The next step is just continuing to grow my game, whether it's on offense or even defense,” Moore-McNeil said. “I know our big key is getting stops, so I think being a one-on-one defender is where I want to grow.”
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