Once again Minnesota (0-2) faces a Big Ten team featuring an experienced and accomplished back court. This time it is the Hoosier trio of Ali Patberg, Grace Berger and Jaelynn Penn. Last season the threesome led Indiana (1-0) to a 13-5 (fourth place) finish in the B1G. This season, returning five of its six leading scorers, IU was the media and coach’s pre-season choice to win the B1G ten title.
Hoosier head coach Teri Moren utilizes a short rotation relying heavily on six players. Last season’s top six were: Pattberg, Berger, Penn and forwards, Aleksa Gulbe, Brenna Wise and Mackenzie Holmes. Wise, who averaged 5.8 points/B1G game, graduated and has been replaced in the starting lineup by Holmes who averaged 10.6 points. Holmes’ former sixth man position is presently occupied by Notre Dame transfer 6’2” G/F Danielle Patterson. A seventh player seeing significant action is 5’11” freshman guard Chloe Moore-McNeil. Yes, the Hoosier’s feature certainty rather than surprise.
The 5’11” senior Ali Patberg, was All Big Ten and Honorable Mention All American. Last season, Patberg finished 6th in the B1G in scoring (17.2 points/game) and second in assists (5.6 assists/game). 2nd in minutes played with 37.4, Patberg nailed threes at .429% clip, BUT only took 49 treys. Overall, Patberg is a high percentage shooter (.502 from the field) and last season she had a memorable game versus the Gophers.
6’0” Junior Grace Berger, is another All Big Ten and Honorable Mention All America. Berger was 16th in conference scoring with 13.5 points while averaging the 5th most minutes in the BIG with 36.4. Head coach Teri Moren relies on her guards to rebound and Berger met the challenge averaging 6.2 per game good for 15th in BIG play. Berger is not a high percentage shooter (.445 from the field). Nevertheless, last season, she had a memorable game versus the Gophers.
5'11" Senior Jaelynn Penn fills out the starting guard corps. An honorable mention All Big Ten team member, Penn’s super power is free throw shooting. She made .854% of her attempts last season. The good news for Gopher fans is that she doesn’t get to the line as often as the other Hoosiers. Penn was also IU’s leading three-point shooter (78 attempts in B1G play); but she was pretty bad at it making only 22 for a .282 percentage. Yes, Penn underscores why IU was the worse three-point shooting team in the conference. Indiana was dead last in makes 3.9 and percentage .287.
The Hoosiers opened with easy home wins over Eastern Kentucky, 100-51 and Samford, 71-26. However, the next two opponents brought back some of the concerns which crept into IU’s performance last season: Are they tired? Why can’t they knock down threes? Why can’t the Hoosiers attack a zone? Obviously, the last two are related.
Facing Kentucky and Tennesee:
Indiana, facing Kentucky in Lexington, controlled the contest through the first four quarters. Opening the fourth quarter with 54-44 advantage, IU maintained a 59-49 lead with 7:00 minutes remaining. Then the Hoosiers got stuck on 59 while the Wildcats scored 11 straight. The final two minutes dissolved into a Kentucky 72-68 victory.
There’s always the question whether the Hoosier’s man to man defense, which is very active with players hedging on screens and always looking for the quick sneaky poke-at-the-ball-from-various-angles opportunities takes a bit out of the players. Against Kentucky Berger and Gulbe played 36 minutes, Holmes 34, Patberg 32 and Penn 30. (Patberg was limited by foul trouble).
Teri Moren summed it up:
The Lady Vols traveled to Bloomington and their physical zone disrupted Indiana from the opening tip. Returning to action after an 11 day break, Indiana struggled to get inside and was a comical 0-13 from beyond the arc before dropping their first trey. Unfortunately, that didn’t exactly spark a three point barrage; Indiana finished the game 2-27 from three. Still, the Hoosiers fought back from a 14 point deficit missing multiple chances to take the lead in the fourth quarter."Obviously, we are disappointed in the result. We gave up almost 50 points in the second half. We were disappointed because we think we are a defensive minded team. Shots were not falling tonight. I think Grace Berger and Ali Patberg struggled but not necessarily on the glass. We sort of in between being an aggressive team and a passive team. “They went to their zone and that slowed us down just a tad, and then we just became passive. That was frustrating to watch.”
A few more words from Teri Moren:
Back to the B1G: The Hoosiers Thrash the Huskers in Bloomington“That’s probably too many 3s that we should be taking, especially on a night they’re not going down,” Moren said. “Going into Big Ten play we’re probably going to see more zone. People are going to test us and challenge us to hit open shots from beyond the arc.”
A depleted Nebraska squad (seven players available) offered no resistance. None of the concerns mentioned earlier were a concern in this game as Indiana swept to an 81-45 victory. The IU starting five all played about twenty minutes each, or less. From the start, the Hoosiers attacked the bucket wrong footing the Huskers. Ali Patberg, playing with a mask to protect a nose broken late in the Tennessee, game only played 21 minutes. The starting IU posts set the tone and led the scoring: Holmes (16 points) and Gulbe (18 points). It was was pretty much a blueprint of how to attack Minnesota.
Last season, the Hoosiers defense ranked 4th in the B1G holding teams to 62.8 points/game-almost ten points better than Minnesota’s 72.1 , (12th). Offensively the Hoosiers were also 4th in the B1G scoring71.5 points/game compared to Minnesota’s 65.4 (9th).
Last Season’s Matchups with Minnesota:
Minnesota and Indiana met twice last season. The first was a late January, 65-52, Hoosier win in Bloomington. It was the Grace Berger Game. Berger led Indiana with 25 points and 11 rebounds. During one stretch the 6’0” IU guard scored 18 straight points. Whalen could be heard yelling “Get Her”. She couldn’t be got. For IU, Jaelynn Penn scored 15 and Patberg 11. For Minnesota, Powell (in her first start), in 40 minutes, scored 15, Scalia (37 minutes and 9 points) and Hubbard (40 minutes and 3 points).
The return match up was a late February contest in Minneapolis. It was a closer affair with the Hoosiers winning 75-69. Minnesota led 62-61 after a Scalia three with 7:28 remaining in the game. Then the Gophers went cold from the floor not making a field goal until the 1:23 mark making it 67-72 IU. Ali Patberg outplayed everyone with 29 points. Berger just missed a double double with 18 points and 9 rebounds. Of this season’s Gopher players, Powell had 21 points and 4 fouls in 32 minutes. Scalia 8 points in 35 minutes. Sconiers played 2 minutes with no stats.
Ali Patberg Last Five Games
Team Pts Reb Asst Min Foul Eastern Kentucky 18 2 3 24 0 Samford 12 2 3 28 0 Kentucky 8 1 2 32 4 Tennessee 16 3 0 39 3 Nebraska 8 8 4 23 0
Grace Berger Last Five Games:
Team Pts Reb Asst Min Foul Eastern Kentucky 17 10 10 26 0 Samford 13 6 6 32 1 Kentucky 21 7 3 34 5 Tennessee 9 6 3 33 4 Nebraska 6 7 4 23 0
Probable Starters (Nebraska Game):
HGT POS YR PLAYER MIN AVG REB 6’3” F So Mackenzie Holmes 22 16 5 6’0” G Jr Grace Berger 23 6 7 5’11” G Sr Ali Patberg 21 9 9 5’10” G Sr Jaelynn Penn 15 2 4 6’3” F Jr Aleksa Gulbe 21 18 12
Bench (Nebraska Game):
HGT POS YR PLAYER MIN AVG REB 6’2” G/F RJr Danielle Patterson 13 2 3 5’11” G Fr Chloe Moore-McNeil 17 7 3 5’6” G RSo Chanel Wilson 5 2 0 6’2” F Fr Kiandre Browne 18 12 10