March 4, 2023 was the last time Ohio State women’s basketball faced the Indiana Hoosiers. It was in Minneapolis, Minnesota at the Big Ten Tournament. Up 20 points heading into halftime, Indiana looked like it would continue its form against the Buckeyes that gave them two regular season wins in the 22/23 season.
By the final buzzer, Ohio State made Big Ten tournament history, erasing what was once a 24-point lead and moving into the Big Ten Tournament finale.
Since then, the Hoosiers have changed. Gone is star guard Grace Berger, now playing professional basketball in Indiana with the WNBA’s Indiana Fever. Even with Berger’s departure, Indiana has looked dominant this season behind the leadership of forward Mackenzie Holmes, losing two games all season. Unfortunately for Indiana, those two loses were severely lopsided.
To get the pulse of the 2023-24 edition of the Hoosiers, Land-Grant Holy Land talked with someone who knows them well. Miles Regan, who covers the team for Crimson Quarry, answered questions about Berger, those tough losses, the status of an important guard and more.
Land-Grant Holy Land: The last time Ohio State and Indiana faced each other, it was quite the story. Since then, both teams have made their fair share of changes. Now, with Berger gone especially, what’s different about the 23/24 edition of Indiana basketball?
Crimson Quarry: Honestly, not too much. Berger is a program legend and irreplaceable as they come but Indiana’s remained a juggernaut by making the same changes it made when Berger missed time with an injury last year.
2022-23 starters, guard Yarden Garzon, forward Mackenzie Holmes, guard Chloe Moore-McNeil, and guard Sydney Parrish remain in the Hoosiers’ first five with Moore-McNeil taking over the point guard duties from Berger.
Minnesota transfer guard Sara Scalia, who started when Berger was sidelined but mainly served as Indiana’s sixth player last year, rounds out the 2023-24 starting lineup. The fifth-year guard needed some time to adjust to Teri Moren’s system but is now flourishing in her second year in Bloomington.
Indiana’s M.O. is still playing four-out around Mackenzie Holmes. The Hoosiers want to let the All-American cook down low and create space for her with elite 3-point shooting. Holmes ranks fourth in the country with a 66.8% field goal percentage while Garzon (45.6% 3PT%), Scalia (44.4%), and Parrish (39.3%) take turns serving as the hot hand from deep.
LGHL: There are two versions of the Hoosiers this season: The team that confidently dismantles opponents, and then the side that’s crumbled against Stanford and Iowa. What went wrong in the lopsided defeat to the Hawkeyes? Is it a case of mentally struggling with adversity or were there glaring mistakes?
CQ: The common denominators in both Hoosier losses were a hostile road environment and elite talent on the opposition. The Stanford loss came in Indiana’s second game of the year and the team didn’t seem ready for the size and athleticism of the Cardinals. Iowa’s no stranger to the Hoosiers though.
Indiana got blown out at Iowa because of turnovers and below-average 3-point shooting. Possessions are incredibly valuable against the efficiency freak that is guard Caitlin Clark and the Hoosiers ended 15 of theirs with a turnover plus misses on 15 of 20 3-point attempts.
Indiana is just 3-5 versus Iowa during the Clark era (with two of those wins coming during Clark’s freshman season) and struggles with the Hawkeyes because they’re one of the few teams skilled enough to take pace dictation away from Indiana. The Hoosiers have less agency against Iowa than any other opponent and that’s what led to more mistakes and shaky shooting on January 13.
Some of both losses can be attributed to mental struggles (road game, big scary players, etc.) but Indiana’s improved on that front as of late. They’ve won tough games at Purdue and Maryland in the last two weeks and are starting to rely on Moore-McNeil when things get hairy. Her growth as a vocal leader in recent weeks cannot be understated.
LGHL: Recently, guard Sydney Parrish was added to the availability report due to a lingering foot injury. First, is it unlikely that Parrish sees the court against Ohio State? Second, what are the Hoosiers missing without Parrish on the court?
CQ: The official word is that Parrish is out indefinitely. Indiana head Coach Moren said the team is taking Parrish’s availability “game-by-game” but given that she spent Wednesday’s win at Maryland in a boot I am not too optimistic about her playing in Columbus.
Without Parrish, Indiana is missing one of its most consistent 3-point shooters and best rebounding guard.
Sophomore Lexus Bargesser’s started the last three games in Parrish’s place. Bargesser defends and rebounds well but has only scored points in one of her three starts. Indiana’s looking to freshmen guards Lenée Beaumont and Jules LaMendola to help make up for Parrish on the scoreboard.
Above all Indiana misses Parrish’s tenacity and leadership. The former Oregon Duck takes charges and lays out for loose balls and is the loudest voice on the floor for IU. The foot injury’s keeping her off the court but Parrish continues to use her voice to help her teammates by cheering/coaching them on from the bench every night.
LGHL: For years, it was the Berger and Mackenzie Holmes show for head coach Teri Moren. How, if at all, has Holmes’ game changed without that partnership?
CQ: The reigning Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year’s footwork remains elite and her bag of post moves grows deeper with every rep.
Last year, Indiana was a heavy pick ‘n roll team with Berger feeding Holmes beneath the rim. We’re still seeing some of that, with Moore-McNeil and Bargesser as ball carriers, but Holmes is also regularly leaving the paint to create a shot for herself.
She used the offseason to work on spot-shooting and is now a true threat to score from the midrange. Holmes is catching the ball outside the paint more and more and keeps defenders guessing with her ability to both pull up and drive from distance.
She also looks to be fully healthy after dealing with knee injuries in each of the last two seasons. Holmes gets up and down the floor with ease and is unafraid to push the pace herself.
So much more than the dominant post she’s been for years now, the Mackenzie Holmes of today is one of the most well-rounded basketball players in the country.