Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Is it too soon for No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball to look toward postseason?

<p>Graduate guard Grace Berger takes a 3-point shot Jan. 29, 2023, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers beat Rutgers 91-68.</p>

Graduate guard Grace Berger takes a 3-point shot Jan. 29, 2023, at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall in Bloomington. The Hoosiers beat Rutgers 91-68.

They’ve had an answer for virtually every question imaginable. At each turn, challenges have been conquered. No. 6 Indiana women’s basketball’s 91-68 walloping of Rutgers on Sunday afternoon was more than expected — but it left me pondering a very important philosophical question.  

Can the Hoosiers afford to start looking ahead to the regular season title and conference tournament? 

I know the players’ answers. I know head coach Teri Moren’s answer. If I were donning the Cream and Crimson and stationed in front of a microphone for questions from the media after the game, I think I would know my answer too. 

You can’t just outright say that some of the upcoming games seem like formalities, as much as some may want to. With No. 2 Ohio State’s continued unraveling, the Big Ten could be shaping up as a two-horse race between the Hoosiers and Iowa. 

Indiana has two matchups with the Hawkeyes on the horizon — games that could certainly decide who takes the regular season crown. While the players insisted that their focus is day to day, Moren noted a concern with her team’s lack of intensity in practice on Saturday.  

“The flow, the rhythm for me felt like we were playing a little uphill this afternoon,” Moren said. “Inside of practice our focus wasn’t where it needed to be. Our staff, myself included, we have to do the job of leading this group. We can’t get ahead of ourselves.” 

The hangover from a euphoric Thursday win over No. 2 Ohio State didn’t slow Indiana down against the Scarlet Knights, though. Four players notched at least 14 points, and the offensive onslaught was guided by a masterful and vintage 21-point performance from graduate guard Grace Berger.  

It was the best she played since returning from a knee injury on Jan. 8. Plain and simple. Something that struck me in her previous outings over the last few weeks was a stark lack of fluidity. Her handle was a bit clanky, her shots just off, but the importance of her leadership was evident. 

In Assembly Hall on Sunday, it all came together. Not only did Berger lead the way in points and add seven assists for good measure, but the way in which she scored was noteworthy. Nine of her points came from shots beyond the arc, something that she is often hesitant to unleash. 

With Berger performing as a lethal three-level scorer, Indiana’s offense goes from an efficient machine to spookily dangerous. Senior forward Mackenzie Holmes is building a growing case for National Player of the Year, and with a 4-6 outing from deep, freshman guard Yarden Garzon expanded her lead in Big Ten 3-point percentage. 

Junior guard Sydney Parrish is a fan favorite and a voice of leadership on both ends of the floor, and fellow junior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil, despite providing a consistently comfortable presence on the ball and insatiable effort on defense, has been overshadowed by some of her teammates’ dominance.  

Like I said, Sunday’s win was expected and there’s not a whole lot of analysis required in that department. Truthfully, I’m starting to tire of trying to twist phrases and find new ways of saying this team is really good, but that’s the state of Indiana women’s basketball.  

Regardless, I never cease to be impressed by the players’ confidence and chemistry — two intangibles that, at the outset of the season, figured to endure growing pains. After the game, Parrish said that there’s such a belief in one another that she didn’t even think to chase an offensive board when Garzon let a shot fly. 

“I’m so confident that Yarden or Grace or Sara (Scalia) are going to just knock down that shot,” Parrish said. “It’s really nice to have that confidence in our teammates.” 

The flashiness and swagger on offense are starting to become the team’s identity. On defense, though, it’s that confidence and team-oriented mindset that generate so much success. Berger laughed when talking about the defensive efforts, saying that their philosophy and unity outshine a lack of individual talent.  

Looks like I found another way to tell the tale of a dominant win. Check back next Wednesday night for another.  

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

Like what you're reading?

Get more award-winning content delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up for our Weekly Recap.

Signup today!
Like what you're reading? Support independent, award-winning college journalism on this site. Donate here.

Powered by Solutions by The State News
All Content © 2023 Indiana Daily Student