Indiana women’s basketball’s offseason to-do list looks a lot different than last year’s.
IU entered the 2022-23 season with seven new faces — half the roster — between transfers and freshmen. With three huge pieces graduating after the 2021-22 season, that sort of overhaul became necessary.
This year, the Hoosiers have four open scholarships, but Grace Berger was the only major player they lost.
They’re looking at reinforcements in the transfer portal, undoubtedly. But in order to assess what IU head coach Teri Moren and her staff could add this offseason, it’s important to consider what the team already has.
For starters, Indiana has first team All-American forward Mackenzie Holmes returning for her COVID year.
Holmes was one of the best players in the country last season, averaging 22.3 points per game on an efficient 68 percent shooting clip, and added 7.9 rebounds and 1.9 blocks per game. And she earned Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year honors.
The Hoosiers were an all-around dangerous team last season — which is why they were so good. Holmes was their best player. She’ll continue to be the team’s centerpiece in 2023-24.
Berger is the only key player from last season that won’t be back around Holmes.
Chloe Moore-McNeil took major steps forward last season, finishing third in the country with a 3.23 assist-to-turnover ratio. She slid over to point guard while Berger was injured and performed capably. And Moore-McNeil is one of the best, if not the best, guard defenders in the Big Ten.
Sydney Parrish and Yarden Garzon both joined Holmes and Berger in averaging double-figure scoring. Parrish enjoyed, easily, the best season of her college career so far, after transferring in from Oregon last year. Garzon shot 46 percent from 3-point range, good for fourth in the nation. And it often felt like the Israeli was just scratching the surface of her immense potential.
Sharpshooter Sara Scalia had to adjust to new roles at Indiana after transferring from Minnesota, and she handled that well. She was inconsistent at times last season, but she provides a real spark when she’s on her game.
Forward Lilly Meister improved a lot during her freshman year, and she’ll be second string at the five next year behind Holmes once again. But she could be in line for a bigger share of minutes, especially if she continues to improve ahead of next season.
Though Arielle Wisne’s in-game contributions have been minimal during her IU career, she also remains an option off the bench in the post. And with Alyssa Geary, Kiandra Browne, and Mona Zaric all leaving the program, Meister and Wisne naturally become more important, even just in practice.
Guards Lexus Bargesser and Henna Sandvik didn’t see a ton of action, especially later in the season. They had some good moments when they did see the floor, though, and IU’s staff is expecting that duo to continue getting better in the offseason and next season and be able to potentially handle some more minutes.
Indiana has not yet added anyone from the transfer portal, but the team does have two top-100 freshmen coming to Bloomington this fall.
The only other Big Ten schools with multiple class of 2023 commits ranked in the ESPN top 100 are Maryland, Michigan, and Purdue.
Guard Jules LaMendola, No. 52 on ESPN’s list, was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas this year. Her game has some similarities to Garzon’s — although she’s a little shorter than the Israeli, she can play anywhere from the one to the four. She’s a versatile player with a diverse skill set, with both post game and 3-point shooting.
Guard Lenee Beaumont is rated No. 83 by ESPN, and was named Gatorade Player of the Year in Illinois this year. She competed in the TaxAct High School 3-point Championship at the Final Four this year, and made the final. And she led her Benet Academy team to an appearance in the state title game this year as well. The Hoosiers liked her size at guard and her high basketball IQ when they recruited her, and she got even better as a senior.
Moren often plays a tight rotation, and many times, freshmen just don’t see the court that much. Garzon was a big exception, coming in more polished than most freshmen.
While LaMendola and Beaumont don’t have that level of experience, these are high-caliber players who could have a real shot at immediate playing time.
Indiana had to fill several big roles and a lot of minutes last year.
That’s the case again with Berger gone, but not to the same extent because she’s the only departed major contributor, and because of what IU has coming back. The Hoosiers have four open scholarships, but there aren’t really four open roles on the team. There are more scholarships available than IU has minutes — and touches — available.
It’s unlikely IU uses all four of those scholarships. The Hoosiers have depth and talent already. Also, locker room chemistry is a big thing for Moren and her staff. Bringing in players from the transfer portal who wouldn’t play much could risk disrupting the good culture they feel they already have.
That said, Indiana is looking at transfers. Berger leaves a hole at point guard, and with everything she did for the Hoosiers, there’s certainly minutes and touches available.
Moore-McNeil will handle some of those point guard duties. Bargesser will, as well. But Indiana is looking into the transfer portal for a player who could also help there.
The Hoosiers hosted Iowa State transfer rising senior guard Lexi Donarksi on a visit last week. She’s a combo guard, and would run the point at times. She’ll have two years of eligibility at her next school.
Donarksi won Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year as a sophomore in 2022 — she and Moore-McNeil would be a stifling defensive duo for the Hoosiers. Donarski was also an All-Big 12 first team selection that year. She was an honorable mention this past season as a junior.
Over her three-year career at Iowa State, Donarski averaged 13.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, and 2.1 assists per game, while shooting 36 percent on 3-pointers at a high volume.
Aside from guard, IU’s only other need is in the frontcourt.
With Holmes and Meister, Indiana doesn’t necessarily need someone to come in and play right away. But the Hoosiers would need, at least, another forward for practice and depth. With just three forwards, and with Holmes having knee problems at the end of the season, IU won’t want to enter the season with just three post players.
That’s a tricky dynamic, as many players who enter the portal will be looking for immediate playing time. And that may not be something IU can offer.
This offseason, for Indiana women’s basketball, is about reinforcing an already strong team. And the Hoosiers have real chances to do that.