BLOOMINGTON, Ind. – When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in March 2020, members of the Indiana women’s basketball team, like many athletes around the world, were devastated that their season was called off at worst possible moment, just before the NCAA tournament.
Indiana was playing well and was a rising team for women. But they didn’t have the chance to show it in the playoffs.
Fast forward to a year later, and that old ‘some things are worth the wait’ mantra has played for Hoosiers coach Teri Moren and his team have just enjoyed their best season in football history. program, making their first-ever Elite Eight appearance in last season’s NCAA tournament.
The Hoosiers knocked out the No. 1 seed North Carolina State in the Sweet Sixteen and fought to the end until the No. 3 Arizona ended its season with a final score of 66-53.
The Hoosiers celebrated their sixth straight season of 20 wins and a new program record of 16 wins in the Big Ten game. Finishing 21-6 overall with an impressive 16-2 conference record, Moren is entering his eighth season with Indiana by bringing in his five starters in an attempt to improve on last year’s success.
Indiana opens the game with an exhibition game on Friday, Nov. 5 at Assembly Simon Skjodt and the regular-season opener is on Nov. 10 at Butler. The home opener is on Sunday, November 14, in a nationally televised game against Kentucky.
Here are some nuggets to know as the season approaches:
Ranking: Indiana opens at No.8 in AP preseason poll
Indiana is ranked No. 8 in the top 25 in the Associated Press poll, the highest preseason ranking in school history. South Carolina, Connecticut, Stanford, Maryland and the state of North Carolina all make the top five.
Big Ten coaches and media place the Hoosiers second behind Maryland in the 2021-2022 Big Ten women’s basketball preseason rankings.
Senior guard Grace Berger and junior forward Mackenzie Holmes have been named to the 2021-22 preseason All-Big Ten squad for the 2021-22 season.
Holmes and Berger lead the way
Mackenzie Holmes, a 6-foot-3 junior from Gorham, Maine, stood out when she first hit the field as a freshman during the 2019-20 season, playing in all 32 games and starting for two of them. In her second season, Holmes started all 27 games and was the team’s top scorer with 17.8 points per game and the team’s top rebounder with 7.6 rebounds per game.
His aggressiveness in defense and his ability to execute on offense earned him an honorable mention on the Associated Press All-American, the first in the program.
Berger, a senior guard from Louisville, Ky., Received the All-American Honorable Mention from the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association and the US Basketball Writers Association. Berger led the nation in the triple doubles with three, averaging 16.0 points per game, 7.4 rebounds and a 46.4 percent shot from the floor.
She scored a high 15 points for the Elite Eight team against Arizona, ending the season just below the club’s 1,000 points.
Ali Patberg is back for one last ride
Thanks to new NCAA rules after the COVID-19 season, graduate student Ali Patberg is taking the opportunity to return to Indiana for her seventh overall season of basketball, including her time playing at Notre Dame.
After Tyra Buss graduated in 2018, Patberg quickly became the face of IU basketball due to his talent and level of energy on the court. She averaged 14 points per game and shot 42.3% from the floor last season. She scored 1,366 points during her three years in Indiana and last year became the 28th member of the Indiana 1,000-point club.
His list of honors occupies a large part of his biography with more than 20 accolades gracing his basketball profile, including the WBCA All-American Honorable Mention and the top 30 senior CLASS Award nominees.
The 5 starters return:
Berger, Holmes and Patberg are joined by starters Aleksa Gulbe and Nicole Cardano-Hillary.
Gulbe, the 6-foot-3 forward from Riga, Latvia, and Cardano-Hillary, the graduate student guard from Madrid, Spain, bring international talent to the pitch.
The Indiana bench is also full of depth, led by sophomore Arielle Wisne, junior Grace Wagoner and senior Georgia, transfer Caitlin Hose.
New faces this season
Freshman Kaitlin Peterson, Keyarah Berry and Mona Zaric make up the little freshman class.
Peterson scored 2,967 career points at Eufaula High School in Alabama and was named the 2021 Alabama All-Star. Berry scored 3,340 career points at Rockmart High School in Georgia. Zaric is from Novi Sad, Serbia, and played with the same basketball club for 10 years.
Indiana Women’s Basketball Related Stories
- INDIANA SCHEDULE: Here is the full Indiana women’s basketball schedule for the 2021-22 season. CLICK HERE
- HOOSIERS CLASSIFIED NO. 8: Indiana is ranked No. 8 in the Associated Press’s preseason poll, its highest ranking on record. CLICK HERE
- SHEPHERD LEAD TO SUCCEED: After winning a gold medal with Team USA at the 2021 AmeriCup, Grace Berger of Indiana is better than ever as she approaches her senior season. CLICK HERE