Photo credit — IU Athletics

First impressions: IU women’s basketball off to a good start

For the second straight day, a ranked Indiana basketball team opened its season with a solid victory.

11th-ranked IU women’s basketball thoroughly dismantled Vermont Tuesday at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall, pulling away with an 86-49 win. The Hoosiers (1-0) had 11 different players score a point, and all available scholarship players saw the court. Only junior Kiandra Browne missed out, as she’s recovering from a thumb injury.

The Hoosiers have UMass Lowell on Friday, with their biggest non-conference game of the season looming Monday at No. 5 Tennessee.

Here are a few takeaways from Tuesday’s game.

Freshman Yarden Garzon is not just good… She’s really good.

The Israeli enjoyed about as strong a college debut as one could have.

Garzon led Indiana with 19 points — all scored in the final three quarters. She shot 5 of 8 from 3-point range and 7 of 12 from the field, and added four rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal. Even as she was still settling into the game early on, her potential was clear.

She’s a guard, but at 6-foot-3, she’s sized like a forward. Garzon is the same height as Mackenzie Holmes. She has the size and athleticism to match up with most spots on the court defensively.

She’s a skilled passer, obviously a good outside shooter, and a good ball-handler. After playing among professionals in Israel, Garzon is much more polished than the typical freshman, and it showed. She already looks like a serious weapon for the Hoosiers.

And as she continues to get acclimated to the college game and even more comfortable at IU, it’s not hard to see Garzon turning into a potential star.

This IU team can drill threes

Indiana wasn’t a high-volume 3-point shooting team, at all, last year. It hasn’t been over the last several years. Teri Moren typically prefers to play through the post — which is easy when you have a dominant forward like Mackenzie Holmes.

But Indiana added some big 3-point threats to its roster this season. It looked like a completely different team, in that regard, than last year’s iteration. The Hoosiers shot 12 of 25 from 3-point range — a 48 percent clip.

Garzon’s eight attempts from beyond the arc were a team-high. But transfer portal addition Sara Scalia went 3 for 6, and was one of the top 3-point shooters in the country last year. She has a quick, smooth, repeatable shot, and she looks for it far more than anyone on IU’s roster last year looked for the three. Fellow portal addition Sydney Parrish also gives IU improved outside shooting, though she went 1 for 4 Tuesday.

Even mid-range specialist Grace Berger knocked down a 3-pointer against Vermont.

All those extra shooters are already making a difference in IU’s spacing offensively. Scalia is such a threat from outside that opponents can’t afford to lose her beyond the arc, and that added defensive attention just opens up a lot for the rest of the team.

I wouldn’t necessarily expect 25 threes every game for the Hoosiers, but it’s clear they’re capable of playing that way if they opt to.

Berger and Holmes looking like themselves

It almost feels under-the-radar with the way Garzon played and IU’s new faces all looked, but the two All-Americans started the year off on high notes.

Berger is clearly the ball-dominant player on this team, and she’ll essentially run the point most of the time. She was in her bag in the first half, especially — Berger shot 4 of 5 for 9 points in the first two quarters. Her scoring and shooting slowed in the second half, but her final stat line was impressive: 5 for 9 for 14 points, eight rebounds, eight assists, and a steal.

All the new toys are great and can help Indiana be even better this year. But the Hoosiers still need Grace Berger to be their best perimeter player to have the season they’re visioning.

Meanwhile, Holmes looked like her old self again, as well. And that’s notable, since she was never quite 100 percent after returning from a knee injury that cost her about a month of action in Big Ten play last year.

The senior battled through double-teams inside with relative ease all night. She was very efficient, shooting 7 for 9 for 16 points with five rebounds, a block, and a steal. Holmes, like Berger, is one of the best players in the conference — and, really, in the country. IU’s improved spacing will only help her dominate even more this season.