Indiana Women’s Basketball: the Unheralded and Unrelenting


At a school that eats, sleeps, and breathes basketball, it’s somewhat odd that many aren’t paying enough attention to one of the most intriguing women’s basketball teams in the country

Indiana University basketball is 29-0 at Assembly Hall this season.

It doesn’t take an experienced mathematician to figure out that no basketball team can play 29 home games in a season, so where does the rest of this equation come from?

To the surprise of many, it turns out that the women’s basketball program at IU may be on its way to matching the efforts of the men’s team.

Indiana men’s basketball has become something that has been engraved in the minds of IU students and even the fans of the surrounding area. Ask anyone to talk IU hoops and the rants can go on for hours.  Genuinely, hours. In fact it wouldn’t be too far fetched to attempt to talk IU basketball for a full day. I’m not talking 24 hours, but at least 12.  Wake up, talk IU basketball, and then go to bed.

The reason for that to be honest has to do more with narratives and storylines than anything else.  People love to think of the hypotheticals, and think of what they would do if they were coach.  People love the drama behind sports and its storylines.

More from Hoosier State of Mind

So, what makes the lack of attention to the women’s basketball program so perplexing to me is just how dynamic of a storyline this program is as whole.

Teri Moren took the job as Head Coach of this program on August 9th 2014, and hasn’t looked back since.

Even when she took the job originally she was dealt a tough deck of cards, because she lacked the opportunity to have a true full offseason.  Without that opportunity, it became difficult to build chemistry and establish her style of play. Players transferred away, because they had originally intended to play under Coach Curt Miller–who has now moved on to the WNBA–and Coach Moren was left with low expectations.

After a not-so surprising 15-16 season, Coach Moren again entered her second season with those same low expectations.

No matter who the coach is or the situation they’re in, Indiana women’s basketball will always have low expectations, having not earned a bid to the NCAA Tournament since the 2001-2002 season.

That’s what makes this current team so remarkable.

With only 10 active players due to transfers, Coach Teri Moren has put this program in position to do something it hasn’t done in 14 years.

This current team is 18-10, 10-6 in conference, 13-0 at home, and tied for fourth place in the Big Ten with two very winnable games remaining against Nebraska and Penn State.

This team has already tied the program record for wins against ranked opponents with three, and Indiana’s 10 conference wins in its first 15 games are also the school’s most league victories through 15 games since the 1982-1983 season.

The reason for this success all comes back to Coach Moren.

It’s very easy to overlook the importance of team chemistry, but this program is the clearest example of its importance.

From the moment Teri Moren entered Big Ten Media Day back in October, she preached the biggest difference in her team was “chemistry.” You could also ask her players, as Alexis Gassion and Tyra Buss were both asked the exact same question on separate occasions, and they provided the exact same answer of “chemistry.”

Chemistry was the focus for Coach Moren as she did whatever she could to take advantage of her first full offseason, and now with the possibility of doing something the program hasn’t seen in 14 years, that chemistry is what is fueling their success.

“With only 10 active players due to transfers, Coach Teri Moren has put this program in position to do something it hasn’t done in 14 years”

The players have completely bought into playing their specific roles under Coach Moren’s uptempo system, and that has allowed each individual to find more success than they would if they attempted to just carry their own weight on their own.

As a result, this developed trust has led to a team that is more resilient than most. Eight times this season, Indiana has come back from second-half deficits to win, including five victories after trailing in the fourth quarter. As a whole, Indiana has outscored Big Ten opponents 342-273 in the fourth quarter alone.

One of the most evident examples of this trust late in games comes from Indiana’s February 4th victory over Iowa.  At halftime, the Hoosiers were down by 15 points. Heading into the locker room, Coach Moren didn’t yell or scream in anger. She simply presented the team with a question. “What defense do you want to play in the second half?”  The team responded with “Man-to-Man”, Karlee McBride came out and hit two early jumpers from behind the arc, and the rest was history.

Coach Moren’s ability to get her team to buy-in should not only be an example to other women’s programs around the country, but to all programs. It would be hard to deny that Tom Crean could learn a thing or two from Teri Moren.

Tyra bssss
Tyra bssss /

Just look at some of the individuals on this team.

In only her second season, Tyra Buss has quickly established herself as one of the best guards in the country. Her 32 consecutive games with double digit points leave her only five games away from tying the program record set by Quacy Barnes in 1997.  MAY I REMIND YOU THAT SHE IS ONLY A SOPHOMORE!!

Last season Tyra Buss came to this IU program as a pivotal recruit known for breaking pretty much every Illinois state record in high school.  She only lost 18 times in her entire high school career, and since coming to Bloomington she has brought that unrelenting thirst for victory.

Her ability to play uptempo and run Teri Moren’s offense has been crucial to this season. Along with her offense, her ability to force turnovers and pressure out at the perimeter has helped set the tone for Teri Moren’s high pressure defense.  Tyra currently leads the team in points per game (19.0), assists per game (4.5), and steals (2.1).

Alongside Tyra Buss, this Indiana team is filled with players that are at their best, because they’re more focused on the team than themselves.

Amanda Cahill is a 6-2 forward that brings versatility in her ability to play down in the post, and spread the floor with her three-point shooting.  She averages close to a double-double a game with 14.6 points per game, and 8.5 rebounds.

Jenn Anderson is a 6-3 center that has been able to shut down almost all of the top low post talent in the Big Ten, and Alexis Gassion is a 5-11 junior guard that has been able to shut down some of the best perimeter shooters in the league.  This includes holding Rachel Banham of Minnesota to only nine first half points this past week. THE Rachel Banham that is the Big Ten’s career leader for points.  THE Rachel Banham that holds the division one record for 60 points in a game earlier this season.

Maybe the most important of all, Karlee McBride is a 5-10 junior guard that made her first career start against #18 Michigan State on January 13th and put up 17 points to help the Hoosiers secure their third victory against a ranked opponent this season. Since adding McBride to the lineup, IU has won nine out of their last 12 games, and has not lost when she has reached double digit points in that stretch.

Potentially the greatest part of it all is the fact that Teri Moren has the Hoosiers built to only get better in the future.

With only one senior on the roster, Lyndsay Leikem, Indiana will mostly be adding to an already talented team.

Indiana’s recruiting class for next season includes the 66th best player in the country, according to ESPN, Darby Foresman.  Alongside Foresman, Indiana will also be bringing in guards Bre Wickware and Ria Gulley.  Not to mention the addition of Tia Elbert to the lineup.  Tia Elbert transferred to Indiana from Marquette this past summer, and has been sitting out this season due to transfer rules.  Elbert made the 2015 All-Big East Freshman team and has been an emotional leader on the bench and on the scout team this season.

The storylines are all there. Now, all that’s left to do is follow.  Teri Moren has this Hoosier team positioned for greatness not only now, but down the road.  Imagining the improvements Tyra Buss could be making over the next two years can be scary for opponents.  So, with the postseason approaching, and a potentially undefeated season at Assembly Hall in the balance, now’s the time to pay attention to BOTH programs that call Assembly Hall their home.