Indiana women's basketball lacking 'smash-mouth mentality' on defense

The Herald-Times

BLOOMINGTON — coach had a hard time even breaking a smile after a 112-79 win over Murray State on Friday.

While IU scored the second-most points in program history, Moren was dismayed by her team’s continued defensive struggles. The Hoosiers didn’t come close to meeting the goal she set for them of holding Murray State to 60 points or less.

The Raiders blew past that mark with 1:28 to go in the third quarter.

It was particularly frustrating for Moren after watching her team give up 96 points in a loss to Stanford earlier in the week. That was the most points Indiana has given up since a loss to Iowa on Feb. 19, 2022.

“I think we have to be so much better,” Moren said. “We lack communication right now. We lack an urgency. We lack just being aggressive."

More:Indiana women's guard Sydney Parrish injured in win over Murray State

Moren initially vocalized her concerns after a win over Eastern Illinois in the season-opener.

Indiana’s effort in that game mostly lived up to Moren’s standards —the Hoosiers held the Panthers to 30% shooting and didn’t allow a field goal for a seven-minute stretch in the third quarter — but it turned out to be an outlier.

They have given up 70 points in back-to-back games for only the third time going back to 2021-22, and this is the first time it’s happened against non-conference opponents since 2018-19.

Indiana had such a poor defensive performance against Stanford that soft-spoken senior guard Chloe Moore-McNeil called the team “soft” during a team meeting when they got back from the West Coast. The Cardinal shot 50% from the field and hit 11 3-pointers.

“I think that was really good,” Moren said of Moore-McNeil’s comments.

It’s the same message Moren has been preaching during lengthy film sessions going over where Indiana has fallen short.

“She's as tough as they come,” Moren said. “She has the toughness I'm referring to. We need all of them to have that level of toughness.”

“We will keep preaching it, we will keep teaching it. That's what is required. Rotations are important, being in gaps, everybody guarding the ball, but, dang it, you just have to have a smash-mouth mentality. We lack it right now and we’ve got to find it."

Lipscomb (3-1) and Tennessee (2-1) should be good tests for the Hoosiers this week.

Lipscomb is averaging 73.5 points per game and has four players averaging in the double-digits led by guard Bella Vinson’s 15.0 points per game, while Tennessee is ranked No. 22 in scoring with 89.3 points per game.

The Vols leading scorer is guard Rickea Jackson, who is averaging 22 points per game.

“You just gotta keep showing them, showing them the championship plays they do make,” Moren said. “This is what it looks like, but we need more of these."

Michael Niziolek is the Indiana beat reporter for The Bloomington Herald-Times. You can follow him on Twitter and read all his coverage.