Women's Basketball: Continuing to build a winner.
As we draw nearer to September 29th Hoosier Hysteria date, Indiana women's head coach Teri Moren looks to continue building the women's program into a consistent winner in what will be her 5th season at the helm in Bloomington. If the first four years of her tenure are any indication, another step towards being a serious contender for a Big10 title on a yearly basis should be what we can expect to see when the Hoosiers take the floor this season.
Building a consistent winner takes time. At schools that haven't had success year after year, the culture needs to be changed first, and coach Moren has done that since the day she accepted the job of coaching her home state school before the 2014-2015 season. After finishing 15-16 in that inaugural year, the steady improvement that accompanies building a winning program has been evident. The women won 21 games the following year, followed by 23 games in years three and four. And although the win total didn't improve last year, coach Moren led the Hoosiers to the first ever WNIT Championship in school history by winning 6 straight games. Which just happened to include beating in-state rival Purdue for the third time in 2017-2018. Which can't EVER be mentioned enough!
Changing the culture at a program is so much more than just understanding the X's and O's of basketball. You also have to get kids that you didn't recruit to by into your style and your vision for the program going forward. You then have to "sell" that style and vision not only to recruits, but also the fans. Having the support and the patience of the administration is a must as well. Of course while trying to establish all of these things, you also have to coach the players you do have. Building relationships with younger recruits, and having the respect of high school coaches around the country greatly aids in recruiting also. All of these things, most of which are done behind the scenes, have to happen to build a program. But the key ingredient in achieving that goal is winning...period. Winning breeds winning. When players see the results from all of their hard work pay off, and recruits see an opportunity to help a program take the next step towards being a perennial winner, then winning becomes the norm.
The Indiana University women's basketball program is in very good hands with coach Moren and her staff. There isn't one aspect of what it takes to build a consistent winner that they haven't addressed. Amanda Cahill and Tyra Buss may have graduated, and their not being on the floor, both in games and in practice, will be felt. But what they brought to the program when they arrived on campus and not only saw, but also believed in coach Moren's vision, will forever live in Assembly Hall anytime the women take the floor. Those two young ladies laid the foundation for all of those that will follow them and continue building the program to where it will eventually be a force to be reckoned with year after year in the Big10. I'm so thankful to have been able to watch these two play, but even more so that they got to enjoy the success from all of their hard work when they walked off of Branch McCracken Court in Assembly Hall for the last time as Champions.
They may be gone, but the cupboard is far from bare in B-Town. Due to the improvement from year to year, last years banner winning season, and the tireless work on the recruiting trail by coach Moren and her staff, the future looks brighter and brighter all the time. Ali Patberg (Notre Dame) and Brenna Wise (Pittsburgh) finally get to take the floor after sitting out a year, and they will join a pretty solid group of returning players, as well as some very promising incoming freshman. With only two seniors on the roster the leadership of Buss and Cahill may be missed, especially early on. But all of the returnees saw action on the floor last year, and Patberg and Wise are veterans from established teams, in big conferences. Oh......and both of these young ladies are very good!
If you've never taken the time to go to Assembly Hall and check out the women's team play, you are missing out. They play with energy, they play hard, they play unselfishly, they play with heart, they play smart, they play fast and they play defense. In other words, they play a pretty damned good brand of basketball. Come out and show your support, and be a part of their continuing efforts in building a consistent winner. I hope to see you there.