Three Takeaways From IUWBB's BIG Wins Over Thanksgiving At The Fort Meyers Tip-Off
The Indiana Women's Basketball Team Improved To 5-1 With Two Signature Wins Over Likely Postseason Squads In Florida
IU Warms Up At Assembly Hall Prior To Their Game Sunday Against Lipscomb
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Indiana Proves They Are Still Elite
After getting blown out by Stanford and taking care of business against lesser teams, questions emerged if the Hoosiers were still a top team with the graduation of Grace Berger. While Mackenzie Holmes is back as one of the top players in the country, the 2023-2024 version of this squad was on the verge of falling out of the top 25 for the first time since she stepped on campus. IU was ranked 21st in the polls and that was not unjust after the first four contests.
This holiday weekend showed that the ranking was much too low as the Hoosiers thoroughly controlled the games against two squads that should easily head to the postseason. IU handled Tennessee 71-57 on Thanksgiving night before holding off Princeton 72-63 on Saturday morning.
Expect the team to take a huge jump this week in the rankings and with no more tough opposition until New Year’s Eve, they will likely be back in the top-10 sometime soon where they have spent a good chunk of the last couple seasons. Also, with a slow start for the Big Ten as a whole (outside of Iowa and Penn State), Indiana needed these signature victories for their postseason resume to make a strong case to host the beginning of the NCAA Tournament at Assembly Hall for the third straight season.
IU coach Teri Moren said it is not so much about a ranking, but proving her squad is the best they can be.
“The numbers they don’t matter,” Moren said. “The only goal we had was to perform better. Our goal was to come here and win two games. It was to be able to look at our group and say that’s who we are and this is what it should look like.”
Holmes, Scalia, And Garzon Form Best Inside-Outside Trio In Nation
Mackenzie Holmes (who scored her 2,000th point on Saturday) forces the opposition to make a tough choice. If they guard her one-on-one in the post, she will use her quick feet to shred anyone for an easy lay-up. However, if they double-team her, it leaves shooters wide open for three-pointers.
Yarden Garzon took advantage of this with five triples and a career-high 23 points against the Lady Vols. On Saturday, Sara Scalia was the beneficiary, also hitting five shots from long range to lead the squad with 28 points against the Tigers. Between Garzon and Scalia (along with Parrish and McNeil who can drill shots as well) outside and Holmes on the inside, the IU offense is really hard to defend when it is clicking.
As Iowa coach Lisa Bluder said in the winter of 2023, the Hoosiers having shooters to surround Holmes makes them much tougher to guard.
“That’s what’s different about Indiana,” Bluder said after IU’s victory over the Hawkeyes last season in Bloomington. “You didn’t have three-point shooters you had to worry about and now you do so it makes it harder.”
Much Better Holiday Tourney Experience
While IU got victories against the opposition in their Thanksgiving tournament last season in Las Vegas, this one was a far better experience. First off, the level of competition was far better with Indiana facing two likely NCAA Tournament teams. This is in contrast to 2022 when struggling Auburn and Memphis were the opponents.
Furthermore, the Cream and Crimson lost Grace Berger to a knee injury for several weeks and the atmosphere was controversial. This included using a ballroom setup with a court and nothing else around it (although this did not contribute to Berger’s ailment). The bigger issue though was a lack of medical care after an injury to a player in a game not involving the Hoosiers.
This time no such problems existed and it was all about the competition on the court instead of the controversy around it. Indeed, rather than a $20 stream for just a couple of games, this time FOX televised the showdown with Tennessee on Thursday and a free stream was available for the remaining contests. Most importantly though, the talk for Indiana fans will be all about a couple of important victories and nothing else.
Holmes would not criticize what happened last season but did praise everything that occurred this weekend.
“Each tournament is different in their own ways,” Holmes said. “We played at a good facility. We had a lot of Hoosier fans show up for us which was amazing. Hoosier Nation is great and they showed up even when we’re in Florida.”
IU will now head to the area where Holmes grew up against Maine next Thursday at 7 pm on ESPN+ so she can play in front of her friends and family. The squad then returns home the following Sunday against Stetson (2 pm BIG+). The latter contest will honor another player as Garzon is expected to have a large contingent wearing shirts supporting both her and her home country of Israel.
Our Doing The Work crew ofand will host postgame show(s) at some point following the contest against the Black Bears and Hatters.