In a season of misfortune for the Indiana men's basketball team, the strong performance of the women's team has given candy stripe fans a sense of hope to cling to. The 14th-ranked Hoosiers own a record of 17-2 as of today, and are tied with 5th-ranked Iowa for the Big Ten conference lead at 8-1 apiece. While the Hoosiers were unable to contain Caitlin Clark and the Hawkeyes in the last meeting (blown out 57-84), the hope is that IU will be able to reasonably re-group in the over month long time span in between the former and future showdowns.
Indiana should have one of it's leaders, Sydney Parrish, back from an ongoing foot ailment by that time. The injury occurred during a recent practice, and kept Parrish sidelined during the team's last two games. While the team was able to string together two victories in her absence, Parrish had been on a personal tear in the 5 games preceding her setback. In that stretch, she was averaging 16 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 2.6 APG, 1.8 SPG and 0.8 BPG while connecting on scorching shooting splits of 61.9 FG/58.6 3/73.3 FT. Teri Moren's squad will surely hope to get her back ASAP, and they will furthermore pray she can pick up right where she left off.
The Hoosiers have one of the better offenses in the country, currently ranked 20th in PPG at 80.5 tallies a night. They have been led by senior center Mackenzie Holmes, who has bullied her way to 20.3 PPG, 7.4 RPG and 1.5 BPG in the team's first 19 outings. Holmes is among the nation's top players, and she does tremendous amounts of damage on the interior. Handling her alone is asking a lot of a defense, but it does not help in building a game plan to shut down IU's offense when they surround their superstar with the nation's 3rd best 3-point shooting team (40.1% from downtown collectively). Yarden Garzon (45.9%), Sara Scalia (44%), Chloe Moore-McNeil (39.6%), and Parrish (39.3%) form a quartet of high quality shooters that can each get hot at any time. Moore-McNeil also does a nice job orchestrating things at the point (team-high 4.6 APG), and has been a silver lining for a defense that has struggled at times (team-high 1.6 SPG). The Hoosiers have also received some solid minutes from their bench, with sophomore point guard Lexus Bargesser beginning to showcase her all-around potential (9 rebounds, 4 assists, 2 steals versus Northwestern).
With 9 regular season games remaining before the commencement of the annual Big Ten tournament, it will be intriguing to see how high this ball club can elevate under Teri Moren's guidance. They have the firepower to keep up with anyone, but do they have the defensive chops to lock in and get stops when it counts the most? There may be times of frustration ahead stemming from watching these ladies, but at the end of the day we must at least remain grateful to boast at least one championship contender from Bloomington in the 2023-2024 basketball season.