The trend line has been pointing up for several seasons in a row, and all the pieces are in place to keep things rolling.
But that won’t be easy after the IU women’s basketball program set the bar historically high in 2020-21.
Head coach Teri Moren enters her eighth season with the program, and the Indiana native has taken IU to new levels in her six seasons at the helm.
The Hoosiers are coming off the program’s first NCAA Elite Eight appearance in school history, a sixth-consecutive 20-win season and a new program-record 16 wins in Big Ten play. Her squad finished the season with an overall record of 21-6 and 16-2 in the Big Ten, winning its last nine-straight in the regular season.
The regular season tips off on Wednesday night when No. 8/7 Indiana travels to Butler. Tipoff inside Hinkle Fieldhouse is set for 7 p.m. Eastern on Big East Digital Network.
Returning all five starters from last year’s Elite Eight campaign, the group boasts a wealth of experience. During their time at Indiana combined between the five players – Ali Patberg, Grace Berger, Mackenzie Holmes, Aleksa Gulbe and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary – account for 261 career starts, 257 career games played, 4,067 career points and 10,743 minutes played.
“We obviously are very excited about the season,” Moren said at the Big Ten’s media day. “It’s been well noted that we have all five returners coming back from an Elite Eight run. In addition we have some I think pretty special pieces that have had a terrific summer of work.”
The consistent message coming out of the program since March has been that this is only the beginning. The Hoosiers have spent the offseason focused on taking things a step further and reaching the Final Four in 2022.
“Anytime that you make a run the way we did, the last thing I said in our last press conference before we left San Antonio was we’ve gotten a taste of what it’s like to make a deep run,” Moren said. “It only fuels you and only inspires you with returning to Bloomington and starting your work all over again.”
While she has firmly established Indiana as a legitimate nationally respected program, Moren has a group who continues to believe they have to silence the doubters and prove themselves night in and night out.
“When you look at the makeup of our team, we are tough, we’re gritty, we’re stingy defensively, we’re always going to be willing to make the extra plays, get on the floor, rotate, take a charge,” Moren said. “That’s just sort of our DNA. That’s who we are.
“We’re going to always play with a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We’re never going to believe that we’ve arrived. Again, that’s what makes this team so special. They understand that. They understand that there’s still a lot of work to be done.”
In its only exhibition of the season on Friday night, Indiana had six players in double figures as it defeated the University of Indianapolis, 97-43. Junior forward Holmes led the way with 19 points, seven rebounds, three steals and two blocks.
IU returns to Bloomington for its home opener on Sunday against No. 13/13 Kentucky at 5 p.m. Eastern on ESPN.
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