The Indiana Hoosiers were a team that started last season with promise, but ended without any trophies to show for it. Although they beat Ohio State twice, injury, upsets and the Iowa Hawkeyes all kept Indiana back. This season, Indiana retooled to hopefully do what they couldn’t do in 2021-22.
To learn more about the changing roster of a team predicted to challenge for the conference, Land-Grant Holy Land reached out to fellow SB Nation site Crimson Quarry. Editor L.C. Norton talked about the impact of center Mackenzie Holmes, which new transfers to look out for and their weakness exploited by the Hawkeyes.
Land-Grant Holy Land: Indiana is a team who returns key role players in their starting lineup. One member of that group is center Mackenzie Holmes. Last season, she worked through an injury but still rebounded to make Second Team All-B1G. How important is Holmes staying healthy for Indiana this season? What does she bring that makes Indiana so dangerous?
Crimson Quarry: Holmes takes this team to another level, but head coach Teri Moren has shown that she can find ways to keep the Hoosiers winning without Holmes. With Holmes, Indiana becomes truly dangerous, especially this year,
While Indiana was a very good team last year, their weaknesses both throughout the season and especially down the stretch were 3-point shooting and rebounding. Without a true knockdown shooter on the roster, Indiana mostly spread things out. Now they may have two in Minnesota transfer Sara Scalia and Chloe Moore-McNeil, giving Holmes that much more room to work with on the interior. On top of that, she’ll be able to haul in rebounds with her size and strength, mitigating the latter issue.
Holmes can reliably beat all but 2-3 centers in Big Ten play with moves and strength in the paint and, as I said above, she should have more spacing to work with this season. If healthy and at 100%, Holmes dramatically raises the ceiling of Indiana’s offense.
LGHL: When it comes to roster changes, the Hoosiers notably lost Nicole Cardaño-Hillary but added freshmen and transfers. How much of a role do you see transfers Sydney Parrish and Sara Scalia playing within the guard group?
CQ: Scalia will be what she was at Minnesota: a knockdown 3-point shooter who provides scoring and space for her team’s bigs. Indiana now has a true go-to shooter, something they’ve lacked the past two seasons.
Parrish is an interesting add because she was a versatile ball-handler during her high school days in Indiana, but Oregon had her playing the 3. I wouldn’t be surprised if she assumes an Ali Patberg-esque role for the Hoosiers this year with some added shooting ability
LGHL: Continuing the roster talk, are there any freshmen who can make an impact in their first seasons?
CQ: Head coach Teri Moren doesn’t tend to play younger players too much. She prefers to have freshmen sit for a season as they develop with a few contributions here and there. That being said… I’ve seen Yarden Garzon, an international recruit, play a bit and wouldn’t be surprised if she’s an instant impact kind of player who could contribute off the bench immediately rather than in spurts.
LGHL: Last season, the Hoosiers were in the fight for the regular season conference title until the last few games. It was Iowa who did them in, losing twice to end the conference schedule, then again in the Big Ten Tournament finale. What made the Hawkeyes so difficult for the Hoosiers, and how do you see them faring this season?
CQ: Monika. Czinano.
Iowa’s monster in the middle doesn’t get nearly the credit she’s deserved from a national standpoint. Everyone in the know who’s seen the Hawkeyes play knows, but her name hasn’t come up nearly enough for how much of a difference she makes on the court for Iowa. I was fully confident in Indiana’s ability to account for Caitlin Clark, and it ended up being Czinano that won those games.
With Mackenzie Holmes not at 100% during those matchups, Czinano was able to capitalize without another big able to account for her. She draws fouls and scores in the paint with ease, drawing defenders toward her to create open looks for Iowa’s guards.
LGHL: Finally, what are your way-too-early predictions for where the Hoosiers end on the final conference standings, and how far do they make it in the NCAA Tournament?
CQ: Hm, I’m not a huge predictions guy and I’m honestly waiting to see how this team gels with all the new talent on the roster. That being said, they should compete for a top-3 finish in the conference. The one team I think really has IU’s number is Iowa, as they’ve shown the ability to take on other talented squads like Michigan and Ohio State.
As far as the NCAA Tournament, Teri Moren only has one thing left to prove and that’s a Final Four/national title. I firmly believe the program is capable of that now… but I’m not sure if this is The Year. They could gel really well and chemistry could develop, but I’m not ready to call them contenders just yet. I’d say a Sweet Sixteen, just like last season.