No. 16 IU women ready for EKU opener

Everything is fluid in the pandemic world of college basketball, as Indiana women’s basketball found out before the season ever began.

The Hoosiers were originally slated to play Lipscomb in the season opener, but the Bison had multiple positive COVID-19 tests and plans changed.

In their stead now is Eastern Kentucky, which also had its plans changed when its opening opponent, Bellarmine, had to put its season on hold due to COVID issues.

Regardless, 16th-ranked IU will tip off one of the most anticipated seasons in school history at 1:30 Wednesday afternoon at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall against the Colonels, in their second season under former Louisville assistant Samantha Williams.

“It’s game week, so (Monday) we all entered the office at an all-time high, including our players,” Indiana coach Teri Moren said on her weekly radio show Monday night. “We’re prepping for Eastern Kentucky, and you could tell it felt different — a lot of excitement, a lot of eagerness to hit the floor.”

With four returning starters from a team that won a program-record 24 games and is the preseason favorite to win the Big Ten, expectations are high but there are still adjustments to be made.

“We are trying to play a little differently than a year ago in terms of opening up our offense a little more,” Moren said. “Our team wants to get downhill and play fast, that will always be part of who we are, but we are opening up our offense.

“Aleksa (Gulbe) is playing at a high level right now, Mackenzie (Holmes) has added to her game because she can shoot behind the 3-point line and that’s made a difference.”

As always, the Hoosiers are just as interested in the defensive end as the offensive end.

“Guard hard, challenge and with some of the young kids, right now it’s hard to tell their toughness level,” Moren said. “We’re hoping that against somebody that’s not their teammate, we’ll see a different level of aggression in these young guys.”

The young guys include freshmen Chloe Moore-McNeil and Kendra Browne.

Browne, a Canada native, reclassified from 2021 to 2020 to attend Indiana, originally intending to redshirt. But with the NCAA giving all players an extra year of eligibility due to the pandemic, Browne will get a chance to see the floor, although she’s been hampered by a hip injury recently.

“She’s a four-five combo kid, who obviously has a lot to her game,” Moren said. “She tough and rugged, has a willingness to rebound and take charges like Brenna Wise did for us.”

As for Moore-McNeil, she’s made a good initial impression.

“She’s a dynamic, guard-wing we think will see some playing time,” Moren said. “Right now, like most freshmen, she’s just trying to switch gears from playing in high school to this level.

“… She has a tremendous upside to her and will be good eventually on both sides of the ball.”

Indiana will also add Notre Dame transfer Danielle Patterson to the mix and is still awaiting an NCAA ruling on immediate eligibility for George Mason transfer guard Nicole Cardano-Hilary. In another month or so, IU will also bring 2021 signee Paige Price, a 6-foot-1 guard from Australia, into the fold. Price is slated to arrive in Bloomington in late December and could potentially play in the second semester.

But ultimately the Hoosiers will still lean on the known quantities of All-Big Ten guards Ali Patberg and Grace Berger, career 1,000-point scorer Jaelyn Penn and the post duo of Gulbe and Holmes.

Those five likely starters combined to average 60 points per game a year ago and look to pick up where they left off at long last.

“We are real excited to play somebody different,” Moren said. “We don’t have a men’s practice squad like we normally play against, so by now we’re over playing against each other. They want a different matchup, some different faces, so we can’t wait until tipoff.”

10 comments

  1. Had no idea that Price was going to play this year, thought she would be a next year player, cool. Really looking forward to the season. Jeremy, just wondering since no one can attend the games if the games will possibly be televised? At least the home games? Since I have been a 25 to 30 year season ticket holder, this sucks! Would be great if they could at least have the home games on line. It just seems a shame that we probably are going to have the best women’s team in the school’s history and we can’t see them play? What a sad situation!! Go Hoosiers!!

  2. I thought the B1G made the no-attendance rule. Reading an Ohio State article no attendance last week was due to local/state Board of Health due to increase locally of C-19.

    I have no idea how many season ticket holders for women/men’s bb but it seems realistic they could be spread out in Assembly Hall if allowed to attend.

  3. Wouldn’t it be great to have a sponsor/s something comparable to the old time Chesty Potato Chips for basketball/Butler or Stokely Van Camp/Indianapolis Indians. …on a local channel like 23 or 40 to carry all of IU Ladies Home basketball games. Maybe, T. Moren and AD could work on that. T. Moren is pretty creative. I think there is a great opportunity paradigm because their are many girls high school families in Indiana.

  4. Ron, I made the statement on this site a couple of weeks ago that when you only get about 2 to 3, 000 fans at the women’s games that the fans could be socially distanced with the help of the ushers, what’s the big deal?? I hate this!! Can’t watch my favorite team play…….HATE IT!!

  5. Rich- The men will be on BTN NETWORK. You knew they would be taken care of , the women are streamed on BTN+. I have the app so I can watch it on my large screen tv.

    Mike I too was surprised to see that Price might actually get to play this year second semester. She seems like a great get by Moren and staff. Moren seems to really like how her team has changed for this season, think they will really push the ball this year and shoot more 3’s as needed. Should be great fun to watch. This first game should be a game in which we will get to see much of the squad on the court at different times.

  6. EKU starting four freshmen, only three players who have played in college available.
    Not sure how much we can learn from this game.
    NCAA apparently working at their usual glacial speed, have not yet ruled on Cardano-Hilary as we play the first game of the season today.
    Greg Murray doing his usual excellent job as announcer, BTN+ for picture.
    As good as it can be, all things considered.
    GO IU!

  7. NatHillIV– all you said is true, but you play who is scheduled. Holmes will be a load this season an IU womens first, 13 for 13 100% and 26 pts 8 reb, 7 blocks. Didnt shoot any 3s didnt need to but apparently she can. Another first Bergers triple double another IU womens first , only the third all time men or women. From first glance at bench players Wisne may be better inside than Noveroski, although once big ten season gets underway not sure how much time either will get. Patterson appears she will be in the rotation and be able to help. Moore McNeil appeared a little shaky, but I believe she will settle down and get it together in time.

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