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‘I don’t think we’re over it’: Indiana women’s basketball using NCAA Tournament loss as fuel for strong 2023-24 season



Indiana women's basketball
After a disappointing and surprising end to last season, the Indiana women's basketball program is using it as fuel for a big upcoming year. (Indiana Athletics)

Fresh off of its first Big Ten title in 40 years, the Indiana women’s basketball program is hungrier than ever. Not only because of the team that is returning, but also how last season ended.

Indiana secured its first 1-seed in NCAA Tournament history last year but had its worst finish since the 2018-19 season.

Fast forward six months and the bad taste of that loss still lingers for Indiana.

“I don’t think we’re over it, and I think that’s kind of going to put us on a good first step into the season because I don’t think you can get over it after the great season we had during the regular season and the postseason,” Indiana senior wing Sydney Parrish said at Indiana Basketball Media Day. “I really, for me at least, I’m not over it. People still mention it a lot and it kind of hurts. I think that’ll just be another thing that drives us through the season.”

Indiana finished 28-4 last season, the eighth straight year it has had 20+ wins. The 28 wins were also the most in a season in program history.

What Teri Moren has built at Indiana is a consistent winner and a program that, in the last four years, have been considered legitimate Final Four contenders.

But, while Moren is happy with where Indiana is, she’s not satisfied.

“We’ve been so close,” Moren said. “Anytime that you have the opportunity to get to a Sweet 16, get to an Elite 8, the way we have and you realize it’s just that one game and you’re playing for a Final Four, you’re playing for a National Championship, we’ve tasted it, if you will. We know what it takes to get there. There’s no question that we have everything we need in order to be able to do that, to win a National Championship.

“It’s one thing to build it. It’s another thing to sustain it.”

Now in 2023-24, Indiana is led by All-American forward Mackenzie Holmes who will bring along a core group of six players who played critical roles last season. While Indiana no longer has Grace Berger on the floor, the remaining part of the roster is ready to sustain the recent success … and more.

“There’s no question with the chemistry and the closeness of this group that they’ve had conversations regarding that,” Moren said. “So that’s okay, for them to — it can’t be all of their motivation, because like I said, I don’t want it to take away from all the other great things that we accomplished a year ago, but certainly if they want to use it for fuel, I’m okay with that.”

“Tt’s definitely something like really special to be a part of,” Indiana senior guard Sara Scalia said. “What we do here is not like many other schools. We put in the work to get to where we have been. It’s not just lucky that we win that many games a year. It’s good to see the work that our team puts in pay off as we go into the season.”

In addition to who returns, three key additions were made to the Indiana women’s basketball roster. Freshman guard Lenée Beaumont, Illinois Miss Basketball, and Julianna LaMendola, Gatorade Player of the Year in Texas, and Tennessee-Martin transfer and OVC Freshman of the Year forward Sharnecce Currie-Jelks.

All three expect to contribute this season.

Indiana gets the first chance at getting that bad taste out of its mouth on Nov. 1 against Northwood and then against significant non-conference opponents in Stanford and Tennessee. Indiana’s ready for the challenges that come.

“That’s what I love about our team and their mindset,” Moren said. “They’re still — as we always say, there’s more work to be done.

SEE ALSO: Indiana Women’s Basketball Q&A: Teri Moren, Sydney Parrish, Sara Scalia at Media Day

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Alec Lasley is the owner of Hoosier Illustrated, a comprehensive site covering news, updates and recruiting for Indiana University athletics. Alec has covered Indiana for six years and is a credentialed media member. He has previously worked for both Rivals and 247Sports.