105 days. That is all the time that Indiana Women’s basketball coach Teri Moren had to get her team ready to play a college basketball season last year.
After being hired on August 2nd of last year after five seasons as Indiana State’s head coach, Moren didn’t have the luxury of an offseason to implement her philosophies the way she would have liked to. There was some success on the floor, but struggles presented themselves for a key reason last year.
“We didn’t have the time last year to build our team,” said Moren. “But we are in a different place now. A much better place.”
She speaks in the present, but the offseason didn’t go exactly as planned either. In early March, three key pieces of the Women’s Basketball team decided to transfer, including a second team All Big-Ten Selection and a former Indiana Miss Basketball second place finisher. Changes in the program led to a large part of the core moving on to new places.
But the beauty of a breakdown is the potential for the rebuild, and that is exactly what the Indiana women’s basketball team plans on doing. You wouldn’t blame a program in this kind of transition if it struggled to find its identity, but not this team. Point guard and team leader Tyra Buss saw the change, and it starts defensively. “That was a new thing. With [Coach Moren] coming in it was a lot different because the majority of practices were now about defense, not offense.”
Make no mistake about it, this group believes in their identity on defense. Offensively though, Moren is looking for some key players to step up. “There is no question we want [Alexis Gassion] to do more,” said Moren. “I’ve asked her to be more selfish. She has to score for us and I think she’s excited about that. We’ve made it pretty crystal clear to her that she needs to be a scorer.”
While some key new faces arrived in the program, including the freshmen frontcourt duo of Kym Royster and Danielle Williams, the straw that stirs the drink is Buss, who will take on added responsibility this year. “Tyra is going to have the ball in her hands more,” said Moren. “I’m going to ask her to run our basketball team and she didn’t have that roll last year. But there is no question I have the utmost confidence in her.”
After having a whole offseason to develop both on and off the court, expect this year’s team to look plenty prepared and lay the foundation for years to come.
Notes and Quotes
• A common theme from all the coaches today at the Big Ten Media Day stemmed around the substantial rule changes implemented this year. If you ask Coach Moren, she’d like to see the game resemble the WNBA as much as possible. Some of the rule changes for this year include: 4 quarters vs. 2 halves and the ball being advanced in 4th quarter out of timeouts.
• Alexis Gassion commented on what she thought the biggest difference between year one and year two with Teri Moren. “We really didn’t know who they (the coaches) were,” said Gassion. “It was a roller coaster season and we had our ups and downs. But having a full offseason to get to know the coaches is going translate for us on the court.”
• Tyra Buss on her team goal: “I want to finish at the top of the Big Ten and make a run in the Big Ten tournament and even the NCAA tournament”
• What newcomer has stood out most? “Tyshee Towner has surprised me,” said Gassion. “I wasn’t sure what to expect, but she definitely has a defensive mindset, so I can see why coach wanted her.”