The Hoosiers already accomplished so much, but there’s more to win
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It’s been, by all measures, a tremendous season already for Teri Moren and the Indiana Hoosiers.
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Playing in the hyper-competitive Big Ten, Indiana is marked by its consistency. Both their offensive and defensive efficiency rank top-40 in the country. A 24-8 record includes a win over South Carolina, something no other team can claim, and there’s not a bad loss in the bunch — none of the defeats are to any team seeded lower than sixth in CERTIFIED BRACKETOLOGIST Russ Steinberg’s official March S[imulation]adness bracket.
A top-four seed, and the chance to play in front of the home fans, would have been rewarding. But Moren is choosing to focus on the positive.
“We are excited to get to participate in the tournament, with a No. 5 seed our highest ever in program history,” Moren told High Post Hoops. “Our players worked very hard throughout the season to earn this opportunity. Yes, we were hoping to get the chance to get a Top 4 seed so that we could play in front of our great fans inside Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall but, just like last season, we will be ready to make a trek out west to Tucson to face a good Kent State squad. We have played one of the top schedules in the country and faced three of the #1 seeds and have played in front of large crowds all season in the Big Ten, both at home and on the road. Our league has nine of the Top 30 schools leading the country in attendance this season.”
For their first challenge, the Hoosiers take on a Kent State squad that excels in many areas, but gives up too many threes on the defensive end. For an Indiana team that does it’s most efficient work from inside the arc — eleventh in the nation in two-point field goal percentage — Moren said that’s not going to change based on their opponent.
“At this time of the season, we are who we are,” she said. “We aren’t going to change our system and our focus now. We have had a lot of success playing up tempo and trying to get good shots. We have a lot of balance with our roster, led by two All-Big Ten players in Ali Patberg and Grace Berger.”
Patberg is averaging 15.6 points per game this season, but that undersells what she’s become as a scorer: over the past six games, she’s topped 20 five times, and is averaging 21.2 points per game in that span.
But it is a team defense that held opponents below a point per possession in eleven of the final thirteen games of the regular season — even Maryland in Indiana’s loss to the Terrapins in the Big Ten Tournament — that holds the key, according to Moren.
“We are going to focus on playing hard and being prepared defensively,” Moren said. “Our defense has led us throughout the season. When we are able to get stops, it allows us to get out in transition.”
The winner of Indiana-Kent State will face the winner of four seed and pod host Arizona against 13 seed Marist, the dangerous MAAC winner, in the second round.
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