IU women looking to the future

If Indiana women’s basketball coach Teri Moren had a crystal ball, the first thing she says she would have done was buy stock in Zoom Video Communications, the software IU athletic teams, as well as many other schools and businesses, are using to stay connected during the coronavirus pandemic.

But there is no crystal ball, and there’s even less certainty about what the immediate future holds across the sports landscape. However, Moren and the Hoosiers are moving forward, looking to build on a historic 2019-20 season and ensure IU sustains success for the foreseeable future.

The simplest way to ensure that happens is to have the right people in place.

“That goes back to our staff and how we’ve changed our thinking in the recruiting process,” Moren said. “We made some mistakes early on in recruiting, so we’re way more intentional now with who we want to coach and how do they help us.

“We have a culture right now of kids that want to come in and do extra. They want to be in the gym, so we’re seeking those types of kids. The more gym rats you have, the more who are willing to do extra, that only helps us. That is a lost art right now, but those are the types of kids that we want to come.”

Much of Indiana’s success this past season was due to the relentless work ethic of the Hoosiers, who were reluctant to take a day off, even when given the opportunity.

“Ali Patberg, Brenna Wise, Grace Berger, Jaelynn Penn, Aleksa Gulbe, they all want to be in the gym,” Moren said. “I tried to give them two consecutive days off, and it was like I was torturing them. Mackenzie Holmes, give her a day off, and I can hear the ball bouncing from the office. She was religiously in there shooting free throws on off days. That’s what you want.

“… Success doesn’t happen by accident, and these kids have proven that.”

With only Wise departing, Indiana should need only shuffle the deck next season. That might mean seeing more of Gulbe and Holmes on the floor together. It happened at times this past season, but for the most part the pair shared the center position.

“We like that lineup,” Moren said. “We like the combination of the two. Moving forward it gives you a snapshot of how we can play in the next few years because of Aleksa’s ability to stretch you out, but it’s a luxury to have a kid that can stretch defenses beyond the arc but will go down and post up and play with her back to the basket.”

Some of Holmes’ rising sophomore classmates also stand to play significant roles, from Chanel Wilson and Grace Waggoner at the guards to Jorie Allen and Hannah Noveroske in the frontcourt.

Wilson saw just over 10 minutes per game and Allen 11 this past season, while Waggoner saw a little better than nine minutes over the final five games of the season.

Moren hopes their patience and determination will provide a foundation for the future.

“We all have young players on our rosters and one of the things that is so difficult for young people to grasp and understand is it takes time,” she said. “… Young kids lack the patience in order to play, to have an impact. They have to look at the game realistically and say, ‘I’ve got a ways to go here, I’ve got to get better in a lot of ways.’

“That’s why you see the (transfer) portal the way it is, a lack of patience in realizing that it’s not always better and different somewhere else. Sometimes it is, sometimes it’s not. Sometimes they just need to get their rear end in the gym, buy into the staff and program.”

That’s where Moren says she appreciates the advice her parents gave her any time she called home complaining.

“They said, ‘You’re not quitting and you’re not coming home, so figure it out,’” Moren recalled. “There’s a stick-to-it-iveness you have to have when things aren’t going your way. It’s not always going to go the way you want it to.”

But Moren is optimistic about her squad’s direction.

“I like our group, and I think our freshmen will improve and get better with the right mindset,” Moren said. “All of them want to play but at the end of the day, there are only 200 minutes and it’s tough to believe they’re all going to be happy.”

That said, Indiana has had its fair share of success mining the transfer portal with the likes of Patberg and Wise, and the hope is that Danielle Patterson can be the next in line.

The 6-2 Notre Dame transfer underwent knee surgery for a patella injury last summer and hopes to be cleared for running by June. That means shooting has been the extent of her basketball activity.

“We talk about Brenna departing and moving on. I do see Dani Patterson as being one of those kids who could slip into the role of being a leader,” Moren said. “She had a great temperament and a great pulse on our team as individuals. Just watching her in practice, watching her walk around and talk and communicate with teammates was very special. She stayed very engaged. She’s a talented kid but to say we know how she’s going to come back is still too early.

“She’s been progressing slowly, her spirit’s been great, a wonderful kid who can shoot the ball. She has been able to do light shooting, so we know we have a kid who could stretch the defense like Brenna. The plan before surgery was to improve her ballhandling, just build her game and grow her game. Disappointed we didn’t get that opportunity, but she’s chomping at the bit. This has tested her patience because she loves the game. We’re excited about her but it’s hard to say we know exactly what we have to look forward to. We won’t know that until she gets go ahead.”

With Bendu Yeaney and Shaila Beeler transferring out of the program this year, the Hoosiers now have multiple open scholarships if they find someone else in the transfer portal to add for the 2020-21 season.

“It has to be the right piece, has to fit us,” Moren said. “I wouldn’t speculate on what position that is, but it certainly would have to be the right piece. We feel good about what we have on the roster right now. We feel good about the progress we’ll see from the young kids, but we’re keeping an eye on it for sure.

“It’s a challenging time right now, so we don’t know. That’s one thing I’m curious about, what are these kids thinking right now when they don’t know if or when they can take a visit. It’s interesting now with the decisions people are making, but we have some time to watch and see who is considering or leaving places. One of the things we have right now is time.”

The IU staff also found time to do some work on the 2021 recruiting class just before the pandemic dead period left coaches with little to do outside of social media and virtual visits. The Hoosiers will have to replace Keyanna Warthen, Patberg and Penn after next season.

“At least we got two in-home visits to some top kids before this happened,” Moren said. “We have to do the rest on FaceTime. It will be interesting to see how that pans out. There is still a certain connection with being face to face with players and parents, getting an idea of how the staff and I interact, but the one thing I suppose is good is everybody has to do it the same way. No staff out there has an edge right now. We all have to recruit from a device. There are so many unknowns — don’t know if there’s going to be a summer circuit, if or when you can get visits on campus. We’re all in a holding pattern to see what’s next.”

18 comments

  1. I saw Patterson play in a back-up center role at Notre Dame in her freshman year. She showed in the game I saw that she has nice potential as a center. She did not play a lot of minutes due to Notre Dame’s roster which had all 5 starters drafted into the WNBA after that season. As I watched them play that year, I was intrigued by Patterson, you could see that she had very good ability in the small role she played that year. It is quite obvious that with the possibility of Gulbe and Holmes both starting, Patterson would see extensive minutes in the back-up role at center? What really bothers me is when Moren mentions Noveroske casually and about how hard she is working but, there are no details about said work? She was mentioned on twitter today by Wierzba but, I was unable to bring that up? Anyway, there is no doubt in my mind that Patterson will be an important part of the equation. Go Hoosiers!!

    1. Hey MikeC,
      I highly doubt you will see Patterson playing center at Indiana. She will be more of a 3 or stretch 4 (along with Jorie Allen), and I think part of the reason Patterson transferred is she didn’t want to be stuck playing in the post. I could see Noveroske getting some limited backup minutes at center (5-8 per game). Wisne will also be available, but I don’t get the impression she’s going to be ready to contribute right away.

  2. Certainly there were a few times this season when Gulbe and Holmes played at the same time and next year that will at least be the starting lineup. The question is who will be the relievers. Moren seems hopeful that Noveroski will be able to give some minutes along with Patterson and Allen. Regardless of want Patterson will have to play where needed to help her team, then Warthen and Wilson relieving Patberg and Penn. Then if we are lucky enough to have a really good player fall to IU via the transfer portal so be it.

  3. If Patterson recovers solidly from injury and that’s a ? I would expect her to help the layup, put back to 2 to 3 to 5 feet to 10 feet to 15 feet offensive game. I have no idea about her 3 ball. I expect Penn, Gulbe, Patberg, to improve in 3 ball area. I am still apprehensive about Wilson. To me I question if Wilson is high enough level of player. Maybe, if injury free Patterson becomes an excellent utility player. I know she is high all around ability. Patterson was a top recruit.
    T. Moren, talking about Patterson was the most I heard about her since she came to IU. For next year’s team getting a really high level player from transfer portal would be great but I don’t know how much it helps for next year. As long as the player had attitude noted by T. Moren I think it would help but more so in 21-22. However, a top transfer could provide a missing link as long as it wouldn’t be a player with a Pitts attitude. A recruiting cross roads is the 21 recruiting class for a couple top recruits in the country or at least 5 star recruits that are going to have T. Moren mentality mentioned above for 21 recruiting class.

  4. For Patterson she could help 18 feet in for offensive game if she in not injured and recovers what would be determined pretty much fully.

  5. Sorry I forgot about Waggoner who most likely will be even more in the rotation mix than this year, seems to play decent defense or Moren wouldnt play her.

  6. Waggoner is a T. Moren type player. Maybe, she could get to where she could score a little to keep defenses honest. She looks or seems like she could. She will definitely provide depth.

  7. G. Waggoner will just need to gain a little confidence as with all freshmen, remember she was the all time scorer at her school, the same as Noveroski was and Holmes.

  8. Yes, I am aware of of the scoring in high school by, GW and the others. That’s why I made reference that Grace could score more. Grace was not a recruiting fluke but she looks athletic, tough enough, and good enough to play at pretty high level. She has good upside as she gets comfortable and older. Good background and coaching plus she will put in the effort. She made some good defensive plays as a freshman.

  9. Does anyone have any IU Ladies basketball recruiting news on possible prospects??? for both, 20 and 21.

    1. t,
      I don’t know of any high school recruits on the radar for ’20. I think transfers, grad transfers are the preferred immediate options. Just as an example, Illinois’ Petra Holesinksa is a grad transfer who has interest from teams who have seen her a lot, including Maryland, Rutgers and Indiana. There are others but nothing imminent given the situation. In the ’21 class, I have a lengthy list of IU targets I’ve been compiling, but now I’m trying to figure out who is really serious with the Hoosiers. Australian Paige Price announced a top-3 of Indiana, Duke and Arizona State a couple of months ago on social media but had yet to take official visits and now that’s up in the air.

  10. Indy Star 8 or 9 days ago listed what they felt were the top high school girls. What I remember – 2 headed to Purdue, one Butler, one ND and one to Oregon, one to Iowa and one to Rutgers. . They considered the Oregon recruit the probably Ms. Indiana, if one is recognized this year. Most of the other kids to smaller school. Again – as I remember.

  11. Most think the Parrish girl will win Ms Basketball or Maddie Layden from NWestern, personally I like Layden.

  12. SteveW, I live in Kokomo and have seen Layden play several times at Northwestern which is just outside of Kokomo, she is really, really good! Hate it that she is going to Purdue, yuck! We will have trouble with her for the next 4 years, Hate it!! She is an exceptional kid and a great player. Her teammate, the Bostic girl is going to Michigan St. and she is also exceptional! With those 2 in the lineup, it is no wonder that Northwestern was a 2 time state champion and was runner up this past year, not bad! Both will be on the All Star team and we can only hope they get to play in the Indian-Kentucky series this summer if allowed due to the coronavirus issue? Parrish girl is a great player but, so is Layden! Go IU!!

  13. Thanks Jeremy. Video on Price is hard to tell how good she would be because her competition can’t guard. However, she does move around athletically in a coordinated way.

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