COMMENTARY: Hoosiers living up to own lofty expectations

An upset comes with a certain perception that the winning team is inferior to the favorite and had to do something extraordinary in order to win.

That was anything but the case as the Indiana women’s basketball team knocked off top-seeded North Carolina State on Saturday night in San Antonio.

The Hoosiers just had to do one simple thing — “Be who we are,” IU coach Teri Moren said.

And that was enough.

There was no trying to outfox the Wolfpack, no gimmicky game plan, no attempt to change things up for the sake of change.

Indiana was in the Sweet 16 for the first time since 1983 and the first time ever since the field expanded to 64 teams, but this was no time to have an identity crisis.

“We played how we always play,” Moren said. “We came into this tournament just trying to be who we are. We’re not trying to be anybody different. My staff is extraordinary at putting together scouting reports. Our kids are always prepared. Our goal is never for our kids to get in a game and be surprised.

“Offensively, we are who we are — we’re going to push the pace, we’re going to play fast, we really tried to go to our open motion moreso tonight than ever and let our kids play with freedom. That made all the difference — they weren’t thinking, they were just playing.”

Moren quickly noted that she still wanted IU players to think on the court, but you get the idea — when you know who you are and what you do and are comfortable in your own skin, the odds of success increase astronomically.

For most of the second quarter, all of the third and most of the fourth, if you didn’t know the difference, Indiana looked like perhaps it was the higher-seeded team. The Hoosiers dictated the terms of the conflict.

They respected their opponent. They did not fear them.

“They’re a great team, they’re the No. 1 seed for a reason, but we were going to be tougher, we were going to be grittier, we were going to play harder and that’s what we did,” IU senior Ali Patberg said without a hint of arrogance. “I don’t think they expected that. We put them on their heels and we just kept going. We put our foot down and kept it down until the end. They made a run at the end but we stuck with our game plan and got stops when we needed to.”

It’s fitting from that standpoint that the Hoosiers are now in the Elite Eight.

Elite — a word that carries a stark contrast in connotation to that of an upset. By definition, elite means “a group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group.”

It might come as a surprise to some, but not to the Hoosiers. Just ask: Did you expect to be here two months ago?

“Yes, absolutely,” Moren said. “I’m a big believer in putting things out there and if we’re going to do the work and ask these kids to do the work, then our sights and our expectations are going to be high. Why wouldn’t they be?

“… I’m not surprised we’re sitting here talking about the next step, which is an Elite Eight, for this group. And I don’t think our players are surprised.”

They aren’t. Patberg transferred from Notre Dame, where reaching the Elite Eight was as natural as breathing. She didn’t come to Indiana to be average or pull of an upset — she came to be elite and was willing to do whatever was necessary along the way.

Reaching this stage, stepping into the national spotlight was the natural result.

“I know for a fact there’s nobody that works harder than us, our program — there’s nobody,” Patberg said. “I can say that with a lot of confidence, so it just makes me happy and thankful that all this work we’ve put in as a program — Brenna Wise, she was here last year, all the foundation she gave us and our program, it’s all coming to fruition for us.”

That reward may not be news to Indiana, which is may not have set out to make a statement but are doing so regardless, one that is about identity as much as anything else.

“I don’t know that it’s any other statement than we do things the right way, these kids are humble, they have so much humility when it comes to this game, they don’t take anything for granted,” Moren said. “We’re blue-collar, we’re going to roll up our sleeves and we’re going to step between the lines and go to work, then once it’s a competitive environment, we’re going to go toe-to-toe with you. We’re not going to back down from anybody.

“That’s a confidence that they have and hopefully it’s a confidence they have in each other, but it’s a confidence that I as their leader have in them. I love this group, I believe in this group, I know my staff believes in this group and I know that this group believes in each other. That’s all you have to have is belief.”

Well, that and the talent to make everyone realize that a win for Indiana isn’t an upset, it’s just elite.

“The statement it makes is this is a team that — I know this — they’re for real. I mean, they’re good,” Moren said.

And on Monday at 9 p.m. against Arizona, IU will have a chance to parlay that into a trip to the Final Four.

“That group’s not quite done yet,” Moren said. “They’re eager to play some more basketball, and I’m here for it.”

35 comments

  1. Very proud of this team, the team attitude they play with, and their success. There are no no easy opponents left at this point in the tournament. Especially for Indiana’s opponents. The Hoosiers are going to be a tough out.

  2. IU Ladies team and player image is demonstrated on the floor in games….win or loss…IU Ladies.

  3. TM has taught very good D played. She also has a lot of pieces that fit together to play a whole game with energy. Great combination.

  4. Teri Moren has built a program by doing things the right way. Her diligence in developing good teams and then on to an elite team has really paid off. Congrats and kudos to her, her coaching staff, and above all, the players. What a great shot in the arm given all of the frustration that’s been endured on the men’s side. Go Hoosiers!

  5. Mark Twain ” its not the size of the dog in the fight , its the size of the fight in the dog”. Could it not be more relative than this game.

    Patberg’s comment “dont think they were expecting that” the tougher grittier team was the lower seeded team. Perhaps the fact and knowing IU lost to Mich St. in the conf. tourney played into NCST if so too bad for them, but on this night IU was the better team in almost every way.

  6. Man that was close they really cant afford another 50 percent night at the free throw line and im not going to harp on the 2 for 14 from 3 they’re not very good at it but you just hope that against Arizona those two things don’t bite them on the behind in a close game

  7. Since I was out this morning picked up the local star newspaper, thinking surely after advancing to sweet 16 and now elite 8 for first time IU women might actually be front page sports section, once again women disrespected. Four pages into sports I finally found a pic/snapshot and a small caption under it and thats all. Yet on the same page was an article of Uconn and Buecker vs Iowa. Had the IU men done as much they would be front page picture and article covering the whole front page.

  8. Looking at the box scores, what a interesting game, and win. NCS had better FG%, 3-point % and FT %. IU slightly better with rebounds (35 – 31), turnovers , steals, pain point, turnover points, fast break points and bench points.
    A team win, but Gulbe, N-CH, outstanding. Five with double scoring and two double/double.
    And with Arizona -Bendu Yeaney.
    Thank You Lady Hoosier.

  9. Ron, dont the forget the one cat . Moren was most worried about OFF. Reb which was 8-3 fav of IU.

  10. Yes I guess that could be a bitter-sweet reunion with Bendu Yeaney, depending how the game goes. Although Im guessing she was closer with Buss, Cahill, and Penn.

  11. Steve, right on brother! The women for the most part are treated by the local media like the “Sisters of the poor!” What a great story this team has been this year and yet, this is the way they are treated! What a shame! What a terrible year this has been by not being able to come out in great numbers and watch them play in person! If there ever was a team in the history of this great University that deserved a great following, its these girls!! This has been aa season that has been so strange because of the pandemic and the inability to come to the Hall and watch our girls play! You would certainly think that the local media would jump all over this team but, I guess that’s to much to expect? If this was the men’s team, we would never hear the end of it? I just hope that the girls realize that there are many of us who are in the corner with them supporting them the only way we can by rooting for them from our living rooms and hoping for their success! Go Hoosiers!!

  12. That game was a blast to watch. Great job IU women! Very cool hat tip by Patberg to Brenna Wise.

  13. the Star?
    “fool me once–shame on you, fool me twice–….”

    Sorry but I haven’t bought that in a long time.

    Now back to important things. Congratulations Lady Hoosiers!

  14. I stated a couple years ago IU Ladies Hoosiers basketball, T. Moren and staff were kinda suppressed even while working extremely EXTREMELY HARD developing SUCCESS at a steady pace. Fred Glass did demonstrate support on their way to NIT championship and a contract extension for T. Moren. She worked for it and earned it….including her staff…unlike some that millions upon millions are just thrown at…it’s time to proceed forward Scott Dolson AD. I hear about lack of interest in Ladies basketball always trying to hold Ladies accountable for contracts etc because of lack of money they bring in…while not putting equal accountability on men’s coaches BEFORE GIVING THEM MILLIONS…Mike C., Steve W., and KevinK and others MAKE GREAT POINTS…Not only lack of coverage in Newspaper but though score was noted in sports scores by person reading scores…I didn’t listen til very end but Bob Lovell unless his part of show was recorded before hand talked about everything else including garbage professional sports Pacers and Colts….ACCEPT IU LADIES WIN…If Lovell show was live that really surprises me that he didn’t say anything about it…and same with an espn sports show analyzing the Saturday women bracket. My point. If shows and media would market Ladies basketball there is a bigger than people realize market for it, especially IU. 13,000 plus NIT championship game and probably 6,000 plus OSU vs IU last year. Many girls play basketball and have many followers/fans in Indiana. I think there is a silent majority of IU Ladies basketball fans if they keep winning and T. Moren remains for a long career at IU…S. Dolson needs to be pro active to keep one of the best things going on at IU in place. As Steve W. pointed out recently it’s like pulling a heavy sled up a steep hill…There is a paradigm of opportunity if Ladies basketball was pro actively marketed at the college level…more televised games on major networks and local channels if not televised on major networks…think about all the garbage that is televised and forced fed to people in their living rooms now vs what could be great role models for young girls involved in sports including basketball.

    1. Even Dan Dakich complimented the IU Ladies basketball program and T. Moren and gave them a lot of credit.

    2. All great comments about coverage, but let us do our part and send letters of Star about this situation!

  15. Credit to DD for mentioning the ladies, I often listen to a couple other radio stations on the same network with no mention that Ive heard of whats happening with women or IU,, its men, men, men.

  16. Certainly you would think with the big push and national exposure IU is now getting in the tourney some elite recruits will finally realize there’s something very special building in bloomington and worth joining the party.

  17. ? about how to keep it going because IU Ladies are going to have to replace very high level players with very high level recruits. Not sure how high level Page Price is…I know she was high level in Australia.

    1. T, I would wonder since the NCAA has extended another year of eligibility for all college students how many IU players will return for another year even though they are seniors this year? I have read about many other players that are seniors nation wide that are going to return for another year next year. We will see? There are a lot of really high level players returning for that extra year! Go Hoosiers!

  18. Yes, seems like another year of college education could be very beneficial. Eventually, high level recruits needed.

  19. IU is the only big ten team left in the tourney, how will they fare against Yeaney and company.

  20. Coach Moren – about 10 -11 years younger than Woody – MAY have been just barely old enough to remember Mike Woodson as a player under RMK on TV.
    Woodson was a great offensive player. (I readily recall the game (TV) that he scored 40-some versus Illinois.). His bank shots driving toward the base line were unique things of beauty.
    Then I recall staring at him, as he stood at the Holiday Inn registration desk in Columbus, OH, before an OSU game, only about a week after back surgery. I could not fathom him making the trip already, even though he did not play. I still have the April, 1979 edition of Hoosier Scene with him on the cover, after the IU NIT Championship.
    I am not sure whether to laugh or cry over Maryland WBB losing tonight. I had seriously thought our most lofty objective would be just to join them in the Final Four. Ok, I’ve decided to laugh. So let’s beat Arizona and take it from there.

  21. T. Moren has commented before that IU basketball was a religion at her home growing up in the Bob Knight era. She probably does remember Woodson.

  22. Cool report on 60 minutes about one of the greatest sports writers of all time David Kindred on retirement gig covering local high school girls basketball team.

  23. Interesting to note the Stanford coach, Tara VanDerveer was invited to a Coach Knight practice while she was involved with the IU women’s program. Ended up attending most of Knight’s practices and taking notes.

  24. Whether this is 1 final game or 3 this should be a huge platform for future recruiting for IU. The future is steadily upward from here.

  25. RE: Indy Star late to cover IU win over NC State:
    (Steve W)
    The Indy Star PAPER you picked up doubtless had to go to press too soon for full coverage after the game ended. They may have held it up just to get the pic and paragraph in. Tonights late start in this Time Zone presents the same problem for PRINT editions.
    But alas, the print and radio media are too revenue-poor these days to allocate enough resources to WBB, due to lack of advertising. More Corporate support of WBB is needed. IU baseball, now leading the B1G, has a similar problem, yet it is succeeding on the field, under Mercer, and thanks to the superior donor-built “The Bart” ballpark.
    The NBA exists at its bigmoney level thanks to taxpayer-built arenas and largely tax-deductible corporate support buying season tickets and related entertainment.
    Meanwhile… our ladies will need to be the highest-energy ruffians on the floor tonight, when a Final Four is there for their taking.

  26. Corporate welfare. IU Ladies need to put the ball in bucket and not start slow or fall behind big. Zone?…can’t give up a worked so hard to get big lead. Guard 3 ball. Make a couple 3’s

  27. Side Note– Karissa McLaughlin leaving PU entering the transfer portal. Apparently Current head coach will be leaving after one more year Katie Geralds will be the new coach at PU.

  28. IU WBB took us at least as far as we could dare to have dreamed. It was a great ride as they fired our own passions for their success. They gave us a uniquely single rose that nourished our fandom through the lonely winter of Covid.

    I hope there can yet be some sort-of celebratory recognition of their season so that we fans can gloat over them one time, before we hopefully re-join them in our seats in The Hall next season… Even if just, say, a socially-distanced outdoor event with them on the field in conjunction with an IU baseball game at The Bart?
    The link to our closing game press conference follows below.
    Watch with pride as Mackenzie and then Coach Moren put a wrap on it for now, but stoke our optimisim for more to come. “We only just begun.”
    https://iuhoosiers.com/watch/?Archive=15117&type=Live

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