Shay Ciezki's Trajectory is Nearly Symmetrical to Sara Scalia's

Shay Ciezki, Indiana Women's Basketball
Shay Ciezki, Indiana Women's Basketball / Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Neither Shay Ciezki or Sara Scalia began their collegiate careers at Indiana University, but all signs seem to indicate that each of their second NCAA stops's could leave a very similar (and lasting) impression within the walls of Assembly Hall. Once again, it would appear that the catalyst Teri Moren has swooped in out of nowhere to snag a sharpshooting combo guard from a Big Ten conference foe.

We are most certainly here for this, and even just a small sample size of Ciezki's highlights decipher the reason why she could (and should) serve as a viable replacement for Scalia.

Some may push for returning junior Lexus Bargesser to get the starting nod over Ciezki due to her pre-established chemistry with the core group and overall versatility. Others may argue that returning sophomore and fellow breakout candidate Lenee Beaumont could meet a lot more of the criteria required of a modern wing. Pessimists might try to deem Ciezki a defensive liability given her slender build (slim, 5'7" combo guard without much length in terms of wingspan).

With all due respect to those other options (and none to any negative opinions tied to her size), Teri Moren's Indiana squad discovered a clear recipe for success running a sniper next to Chloe Moore-McNeil in the starting backcourt last season. While CMM is no slouch when it comes to shooting (career high 40.9% from 3 last season on a respectable 2.9 attempts per game), it is her ability to orchestrate which she is known for offensively. Yet it is her gritty style of defense which Moore-McNeil is most widely renowned.

Standing just shy of 6'0" with the strength to defend positions 1-3 and the length to wreak havoc at the point of attack/passing lanes, CMM is about as ideal a backcourt mate as you will find for Ciezki. Sara Scalia did her thing for this team a season ago, and nobody is contesting that argument. But would she have been able to elevate her game in such a major manner were it not for all of the little things that her backcourt partner was taking care of on a nightly basis?

Scalia stole the show during Indiana's conference upset victory over Iowa back in late February, finishing as that particular game's leading scorer with 25 points on 14 shots. Meanwhile, it took the leading scorer in the history of all NCAA games 26 shots to get her 24 points. The primary culprit behind Caitlin Clark's containment in that contest would be none other than Chloe Moore-McNeil.

The southpaw expends the extra defensive energy necessary to ensure that her scorers have the gas that they require to ignite. Scalia benefitted significantly from Moore-McNeil's presence, and the two truly complimented each other effectively when they shared the floor. While the point guard was taking care of the tougher defensive assignments and keeping everything aligned offensively, it was the transfer spark plug Scalia hitting tough shot after tough shot and burying bucket after bucket.

Caitlin Clark
Chloe Moore-McNeil, Indiana Women's Basketball / Marc Lebryk-USA TODAY Sports

With Scalia's flame throwing services no longer in the mix, this is a team that will need someone to step up as that source of superior-level shooting. The potential 3-headed monster of Yarden Garzon (42.2% from 3 last year), Sydney Parrish (40%), and Moore McNeil (40.9%) are all superb shooters in their own right. However, that trio does it's damage from deep almost exclusively off of the catch. You probably would not find many (if any) examples of any 1 of those 3 creating/knocking down a triple off the dribble in an isolation set.

There were numerous instances last year of Sara Scalia (42.7% from distance) simply finding a way to chuck a trey ball which somehow found it's way to the bottom of the net. Whether it be off the catch, off the dribble on a fast break or off of an iso set to step back dribble sequence, it only takes a fragment of lost defensive focus for Scalia to let one fly with unwavering confidence of it's path to purity. She could miss 10 triples in a row, and defenses would still fear the fate of her next attempt.

THAT is a superior-level shooter.

The product of Minnesota transferred to IU in search of greener pastures after 3 seasons of promising individual play on a messy University of Minnesota team (39-46 cumulative record during Scalia's tenure). She was an impactful yet inconsistent member of the rotation in her first season at Indiana before settling in as the secondary star throughout year 2 in the candy stripes. Reflecting on her brief time in Bloomington will always bring about nothing about positive memories, and Scalia will forever be remembered as one of the (if not THE) greatest shooters to play for the Indiana University women's basketball program.

Could history repeat itself in the form of Shay Ciezki?

While she may not originate from the same area (New York), you are joking if you do not support the strong correlation here. Scalia may have a couple inches of height on Ciezki, but the two are cut from the same cloth.

Penn State was very mediocre during Ciezki's two seasons, finishing with a cumulative record of 36-30 over that span. Clearly, she shared Scalia's strong allure to the Sample Gates district. She also clearly saw the success that her predecessor had following her commitment to Indiana, and has 1000000% studied and will surely study much more of her film.

The Hoosiers lost a lethal scorer with the ability to heat up at any time in Sara Scalia following the conclusion of last season. Not long into the offseason, Teri Moren worked her magic in roster replenishment. With the addition of Ciezki, the team will once again have a bonafide marksmen on the prowl from the perimeter.

And like Scalia, there is no telling when she is due to commence her cooking.

It took Sara Scalia a full season to really find her footing under Teri Moren's guidance. Certainly she is thankful for her patience, as it paid off in the form of a professional contract in the beautiful country of Italy. Scalia came to Indiana on a quest to set herself for success, and her leap of faith led to a lasting legacy. Our fingers are crossed and our hopes are high for the same eventual positive outcome in Ciezki's case.

Keep going, Shay!