After winning the Big Ten regular season crown a year ago, Indiana hopes there’s no fall from Grace in 2023-24.
The Hoosiers return most of the key contributors from last year’s team, but they do face the reality of playing without Grace Berger for the first time in five years. Berger recently completed a successful rookie season with the Indiana Fever.
Berger concluded her five-year career with 1,841 points, 573 assists and 752 rebounds. She ranks seventh all-time in scoring and second in all-time assists, while playing in 148 career games, making 118 career starts and becoming the all-time winningest player in school history.
Still, IU returns four starters from the 2022-23 squad who went 28-4 overall and earned a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. And five All-Big Ten players return from that roster including All-American and first-teamer Mackenzie Holmes, senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil (second team) and honorable mention honorees senior guard Sydney Parrish, senior guard Sara Scalia and sophomore guard Yarden Garzon.
Those five should form the starting lineup when IU hosts Eastern Illinois on Thursday evening.
When Berger went down with an early season injury in November a year ago, the Hoosiers generally continued to win, but they understandably weren’t quite the same team.
The silver lining today is some of the players still with the program now took on new and expanded roles, and that should have them ready to roll as a new season gets underway.
“Nobody’s going to replace Grace Berger,” Moren said on Wednesday.
“At the moment you don’t think it might be a blessing, and it might be good for your ball club when adversity happens. And not that I ever wanted Grace Berger to miss games, but I thought the way in which we responded was really positive. Our ability to put Chloe (Moore-McNeil) at the point, and bring Syd (Parrish) back into the lineup, was really good for our team.
“We’ve won without Grace, and I think this team thinks that we can continue to win with the pieces that we have.”
While Indiana moves forward without Berger, Moren says she believes this year’s team is deeper than a year ago.
And the national media and coaches certainly believe Moren, who is one win away from 400 for her career, will continue her run of success at Indiana.
The Hoosiers begin the season ranked in the Top 10, making their fourth-straight appearance in both national preseason polls. They came in at No. 9 in both the Associated Press Top 25 and WBCA/USA Today coaches poll.
|GAME DAY INFO|
|#9/9 Indiana (0-0) vs. Eastern Illinois (0-1)|
|Thursday, November 9, 2023 • 7 p.m. ET|
|Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall • Bloomington, Ind.|
|Radio: B97 (Austin Render)|
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