IU head women’s basketball coach Teri Moren held a media availability Sunday ahead of the Indiana Fever’s ‘IU Day’ game.
The Hoosiers have had extra summer workouts thanks to an upcoming trip to Greece, so Moren and her staff have seen some of their players a good bit lately.
Here are a few key points she talked about Sunday.
IU set for Greece trip
Indiana will be abroad from August 1-10, with a lot of sightseeing on tap along with two exhibition games. The team was able to hold 10 practices leading up to the foreign tour.
Moren was away from the team for some of that period while working with Team USA. And the group in Bloomington is incomplete, as Yarden Garzon is in Israel and Henna Sandvik is in Finland — Moren said Garzon will meet the Hoosiers in Greece while Sandvik will remain with Finland’s U20 team.
Despite that, the extra practices have given Moren and her staff a sense of what they’re working with heading into a new season.
“It’s really given us a little snapshot of what our team looks like. That’s why I’m so excited about the pieces (we have),” Moren said. “We’re just looking forward to getting away from Bloomington. The kids have worked extremely hard. They’ve had a great summer. There’s a lot of been a lot of PR’s (personal records) that have happened inside of the weight room with some of our young ladies. Even in my absence, they’ve still continued to work, you know, extremely hard with my staff.”
Moren said IU won’t prepare any scouting reports for the exhibition games, preferring to focus on itself.
Indiana will enter 2023-24 as one of the top teams in the Big Ten and the country. The team lost Grace Berger, but returns much of the core of last year’s Big Ten championship squad.
Moren acknowledged that Berger isn’t an easy player to replace, but the Hoosiers have depth at guard and a top-end scorer in Mackenzie Holmes, which will help.
Holmes suffered knee problems at the end of last season and has done a lot of rehab and recovery during the offseason. Moren gave a positive update on her status, but said the staff may exercise caution on the trip.
“Mackenzie is healthy, she looks great. I don’t know that we’ll play her in Greece, just because I have to be really careful and protect her,” Moren said. “I don’t want anything unusual to happen in two games that really don’t matter, when we’re in Greece.”
Currie-Jelks an intriguing pickup
Indiana needed frontcourt depth this offseason, and found it in UT Martin transfer Sharnecce Currie-Jelks.
She won Ohio Valley freshman of the year last season after posting 15.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and one block per game while shooting 53.9 percent on field goals. There will be another adjustment required for her in rising to a higher level of competition, and she won’t be in an immediate large role for IU.
But Currie-Jelks brings athleticism to the position that could turn her into an intriguing weapon down the road. Moren spoke highly of her lone transfer portal addition this year.
“She’s a really, really good athlete. Excellent rebounder. She flies up and down the floor. She’s like most of the newbies that come into our program, just trying to find her way and feel her way and try to get acclimated as quickly as she can that to how we do things,” Moren said. “She’s going to be a great backup at that five position for us. She does give us something completely different, and that’s a very athletic five man that can run and jump and do some pretty impressive things.”
Berger acclimating to WNBA
The IU star was picked No. 7 overall by the Fever in April’s WNBA Draft, but there’s been a clear adjustment period needed.
The jump in talent from women’s college basketball to the WNBA is one of the biggest in any professional sport, and Moren said Berger has reminded her of that. But the rookie has carved out a small role on the Fever, with 11 minutes per game. She’s averaged 3.3 points, 1.2 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game while shooting 43.1 percent from the field.
Moren and Berger have had plenty of conversations during the WNBA season about the new experience she’s gone through and what this acclimation process should look like. Moren has long known that Berger had the talent to play in the WNBA, but knows it’s a hard league to play in. She’s told Berger to stay the course and to be prepared while she isn’t getting a ton of playing time.
“We talk about being patient, but also being ready. I’ve been so impressed with how she’s handled it,” Moren said. “Grace knows that her time will come. And what her job is, is to keep her head down and continue to work. She did that in Bloomington early on in her career. She’s early in her career with the Fever, and that’s what she’ll continue to do. That’s the recipe. Keep your head down, keep working, be patient, and when your number’s called, be ready. And she’s done that.”
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