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Saturday, April 20
The Indiana Daily Student

sports women's basketball

COLUMN: Moren makes history and Indiana’s Holmes may be on the way to some of her own

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A year ago, it would’ve been foolish to laud an Indiana women’s basketball win over a putrid Illinois team. Against the No. 21 Illini — who have shocked the Big Ten under the tutelage of head coach Shauna Green — the Hoosiers’ road victory on Wednesday night spoke volumes.  

Through 18 games on the season, Indiana has yet to lose without graduate guard Grace Berger. The 17-1 start to the 2022-23 campaign is tied for the school record. But Wednesday’s game was extra special.  

After racing past the Illini 83-72, head coach Teri Moren stamped her 189th win, the most in program history. A Hoosier from her playing days in West Lafayette to coaching at Indiana State, Moren’s near decade long tenure at the helm in Bloomington has been characterized by a meteoric rise to prominence. 

“It’s one of those snapshot moments, one of those pictures you take in your mind, and you remember for the rest of your life,” Moren said regarding her 189th win. “I think I’m glad it’s over and we can move forward. We weren’t thinking about it.” 

From the moment upon her arrival, Moren and her staff got busy attempting to build the foundation for a Final Four- caliber squad. Last year, which culminated in a Sweet Sixteen loss to UConn, featured arguably the most talented team Moren oversaw to that point. Most importantly, despite losing some key contributors, it sewed optimism for the future of the program. 

Her players — both past and present — note Moren’s innovation and vision. One in particular is in the midst of a legendary season. 

“When I was recruited here, I could see the vision that coach Moren had for the program,” senior forward Mackenzie Holmes said after the game. “She’s one of the most competitive people I’ve ever met, and she hates to lose more than she loves to win. It’s a really special thing that I’m able to play for her while she gets this milestone.” 

Despite the plentiful contributions from virtually the entire roster, there’s been one constant guiding the team to success game after game: Holmes. Her 30-point, 10 rebound performance Wednesday night almost didn’t feel as jaw-dropping as the numbers would suggest — for Holmes, that’s ordinary.  

Moren commends the star center’s leadership and veteran savvy. On the floor, those skills are magnified. Her traditional post play deviates from the ever-increasing trend toward outside shooting, but it doesn’t matter.  

Regardless of the defender, or defenders, in front of her, Holmes finds a way to produce something. Drop step and off the glass for two? Sure. Kick it out to one of the Hoosiers’ capable 3-point specialists? Why not. Get clobbered and head to the stripe where she converts at a 72% clip? It’s likely the least desirable of the three, but fine.  

After the game, Berger mentioned that the team had a moment during an early timeout to recollect and settle down. Whatever was said must’ve worked wonders, because despite Illinois getting easy looks here and there, Illini junior guard Makira Cook was largely kept at bay.  

Cook’s name should ring a bell for Hoosier fans. In Indiana’s conference opener against Illinois on Dec. 4, Cook’s virtuosic 33-point masterpiece nearly completed an upset bid.  

She struggled to create Wednesday night, being confined by junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil and Berger. On the interior, Holmes was Holmes. She tallied a whopping six steals, a couple of which coming in crunch-time, and a pair of emphatic blocks.  

Though it likely wouldn’t be uttered by a member of the team, Holmes is playing her way into some serious conversations for personal accolades. She may be the front runner for the Lisa Leslie Award for the nation’s best center, and if she keeps this pace, AP Player of the Year consideration could be a possibility. 

For now, the Hoosiers have to focus on a second consecutive ranked road game when they take on the No. 14 Michigan Wolverines Monday night. Still, it’s important to note milestones when they occur.  

With the winningest coach in school history, and arguably the program’s premier tandem in Holmes and Berger, Indiana has proven its ready for the nation’s best.  

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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