Teri Moren has built something special with IU women's basketball. But she's not done yet.

BLOOMINGTON — Teri Moren is asked a simple question.

Moren, the Indiana women’s basketball coach, is standing on the stage at Hoosier Hysteria. The overall trajectory of the women’s basketball program has been on the rise. Two seasons ago, Moren led IU to an Elite Eight. Last season, the Hoosiers made it to the Sweet 16. So she is asked a simple yet reasonable question.

“What’s next for this program?”

“Well, let’s see,” Moren says, then listing IU's recent accomplishments in the NCAA tournament. Then Moren reaches new heights.

Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren is introduced during Hoosier Hysteria for the basketball programs at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.
Indiana Head Coach Teri Moren is introduced during Hoosier Hysteria for the basketball programs at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022.

“A Final Four,” she says, but doesn’t stop there.

“And then we want one of those,” she says, pointing at the men's program's five national championship banners.

Moren’s lofty ambitions are warranted as much as they are realistic. It’s a testament to what she has built at IU. A women’s program that used to largely live in the shadows now has a winning culture. Expectations have become the norm. In the Big Ten preseason polls, IU was picked second in the conference by the media, and is ranked No. 11 nationally in the USA TODAY Coaches poll. So, can IU continue its ascension?

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"It's one thing to climb. It's another thing to sustain," Moren said at IU's media day. "And we're pretty clear on that in the recruiting process, what our expectations are, and how we want to continue to build off the success, but there's still more that we want to accomplish."

IU’s rise is somewhat remarkable. Moren was hired as IU’s coach in 2014. At that time, the IU women’s program had made the NCAA tournament just four times. In her IU tenure, Moren has already matched that total. In her first season at the helm, Moren’s squad had a 15-16 overall record. But since then, the Hoosiers have rattled off seven consecutive seasons with 21 or more wins.

“I think it's been just a process for us to build this thing the way we've wanted it to look,” Moren said in October. “... I think we've really been, again, I use the word 'intentional', kind of brick-by-brick mentality about the people that we've asked to come into our program. Because that's been very important to us, the chemistry piece, the character piece, their wanting to be a good student first.”

“... Again, (we) have a tremendous amount of success with the kids we currently have in our program, but we've also been able to attract kids that are attracted to coming in and being about the team concept. And it's more about ‘we’ than ‘me.’ And if you believe that, then Indiana is a great place for you.”

The season marks somewhat of a transitional phase for IU as the Hoosiers are tasked with filling the production of key departures. Aleksa Gulbe, Ali Patberg and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary, who were instrumental in IU’s recent success, are no longer playing for the Hoosiers. Last season, that trio combined to make 97 starts.

Iowa Hawkeyes guard Tomi Taiwo (1) tries to stop a shot by Indiana Hoosiers guard Grace Berger (34) during the second quarter of the BIG Ten women's championship game Sunday, March 6, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis.

Indiana Hoosiers Versus Iowa Hawkeyes In The Women S Big Ten Championship Game Sunday March 6 2022 At Gainbridge Fieldhouse In Indianapolis
Iowa Hawkeyes guard Tomi Taiwo (1) tries to stop a shot by Indiana Hoosiers guard Grace Berger (34) during the second quarter of the BIG Ten women's championship game Sunday, March 6, 2022, at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Indiana Hoosiers Versus Iowa Hawkeyes In The Women S Big Ten Championship Game Sunday March 6 2022 At Gainbridge Fieldhouse In Indianapolis

The good news is IU is returning Grace Berger and Mackenzie Holmes. Berger is a lethal scorer, leading the Hoosiers in points per game last season (16.2). Holmes endured an up-and-down 2021-22 campaign. She underwent a procedure on her knee in January, forcing her to miss a handful of games. Beyond the talent Berger and Holmes each possess, they also have experienced success. Berger is entering her fifth season with the Hoosiers. Holmes is entering her fourth.

But it will likely take more than just Berger and Holmes for IU to accomplish its goals. The Hoosiers added three transfers, who each have the potential to make a significant impact — Sydney Parrish (Oregon), Alyssa Geary (Providence) and Sara Scalia (Minnesota).

Parrish, a homegrown star at Hamilton Southeastern who won 2020 IndyStar Miss Basketball, can provide support in the backcourt. Scalia is a sharpshooter — she canned seven 3-pointers against IU in Assembly Hall last season. Overall, she shot 41.3% from deep last season. Geary, a forward, is entering her fifth season of college basketball. Last season, she averaged 9.5 points, 4.2 rebounds, two assists and 1.1 blocked shots per game. Beyond the transfers, there are also four freshmen.

“We have to figure out how to combine the seven holdovers with the seven new faces,” Moren said. “Do we have enough pieces? I think we'll have enough firepower. I think defensively we've always been at the top of this league in terms of the grittiness and the toughness… I think our chemistry has just been off the charts the last two seasons. And so it's going to be up to us in terms of how quickly we can build relationships with each another, how quickly our chemistry can be, once again, really, really, really good.”

Indiana Hoosiers guard Chloe Moore-McNeil (22) drives against Maryland Terrapins, Friday, March 4, 2022, during women’s Big Ten tournament action from Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Indiana won 62-51.
Indiana Hoosiers guard Chloe Moore-McNeil (22) drives against Maryland Terrapins, Friday, March 4, 2022, during women’s Big Ten tournament action from Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. Indiana won 62-51.

A concern entering this season is whether IU will have improved depth. Last season, the Hoosiers only had seven players average 13.2 or more minutes per game. Only four of those seven are still playing for IU this season. One of the holdovers with a chance to make a leap is  Chloe Moore-McNeil, who scored in double figures seven times last season.

“I'm excited for her, because a kid like Chloe who's spent time on the bench, right, and has been in every practice just trying to get a little bit better, a little bit better every day,” Moren said, “and then now she's to a point where she has that opportunity in front of her to not only start but play big minutes for us.”

This season is somewhat of a crossroads for IU. Trying to harmonize the old with the new, while also continuing to ascend off an impressive foundation. That while facing stiff competition, including a nonconference slate that features a game at No. 4 Tennessee and a home matchup with No. 12 North Carolina.

“Here's the thing that we've tried not to do — from day one with this group — is play the comparison game,” Moren said. “We're not the team from last year, but we do have some interesting pieces. We have some talent that we're excited about.”

This article originally appeared on Indianapolis Star: IU women's basketball: Teri Moren, Hoosiers have lofty 2022-23 goals