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IU women’s basketball program, head coach make history 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. (WISH) — The Indiana University women’s basketball team’s historic season is done.

However, for the program, the momentum made this year in women’s sports is just the start. And it all starts with the head coach, Teri Moren.

“The word work has been really, truly, how we built this thing,” Moren said.

No one knows that more than Moren. Despite Monday’s devastating loss in the NCAA Tournament at Assembly Hall, the regular season success is proof that the hard work is paying off for the program.

“All of a sudden, now, there is something going on in Bloomington with Indiana women’s basketball,” Moren said.

The fan base is booming in Bloomington. Throughout the season, families, students, and fans of all kinds flocked to games at Assembly Hall. The players were making shots and making headlines.

“One of our goals was, when people talk about Indiana basketball, it wasn’t just going to be men’s basketball, right? We are going to talk about men’s basketball tradition — national championships — but there is also this terrific women’s basketball program at Indiana as well,” Moren said.

The IU women’s basketball team had 28 wins in the regular season, was crowned the Big Ten regular season champion, and was selected as a No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament.

Receiving a No. 1 seed was one of many firsts in the program’s history accomplished this year.

When Moren was asked what it felt like to sell out Assembly Hall for the first time, she said, “For me, my experience has only been this line is for men’s basketball. When I drove up on that Sunday afternoon to play Purdue and that line was down the sidewalk — (it was) just one of those incredible moments where you are like wow, we are doing something really special here.”

For the first time ever, all 17,222 seats were filled with fans ready to see women play ball.

When asked, “What do you think that means for those young girls in those seats, watching the game?” Moren replied, “That anything is possible they want to be a part of.”

And Moren is proof. This year, she became the all-time winningest coach in IU women’s basketball history. Moren was also named the Big Ten Coach of the Year for the second time, having won it back in 2016 as well.

“That young girl was me growing up, right? Watching men’s basketball. So, now, you fast forward to what we have been able to accomplish – it’s like, oh wow,” Moren said.

Moren grew up just about 45 minutes away from Bloomington, in Seymour.

“We grew up Indiana fans and a typical Sunday morning or afternoon for us was to go to church, have dinner at grandmother’s house, and then turn on the TV. Martha the Mop Lady came out and got us excited about watching Indiana men’s basketball,” Moren recalled.

Back then, the women’s program wasn’t even talked about. Moren went on to play basketball at Purdue University and coached at other schools in the state before taking the top spot in Bloomington.

She was always rooted at IU with her family.

“They are all in, the Moren family is all in and we get, the highs are the highs and the lows are the lows,” Moren said. “My father is 88 years old and sits on the baseline of every game. And has plenty to say.”

Over the last 9 years, with her dad’s help, Moren has reshaped the women’s program and how Hoosiers think of Indiana basketball.

“We have gained a lot of fans because of what we have been able to do here,” Moren said. 

Moren, when asked if the change is going to be sustained, replied: “That’s the goal. but that is also the challenge. Because it is one thing to build it, as I said. But it is another thing to sustain it.

There’s still more work to be done — for both her team and the league.

“As a female coach, it is part of my responsibility always to tell our story, you know, in terms of trying to challenge those out there as to what other changes can we make,” Moren said.

In November, Moren spoke out after the team’s trip to the Las Vegas Invitational Tournament had the top-ranked Hoosiers playing in conditions a men’s team would never face, including a lack of on-site paramedics. 

At the time, Moren said it set back women’s basketball. The situation came not long after the NCAA was criticized for providing different — and unequal — playing and training facilities and equipment for men’s and women’s teams at the 2021 NCAA Tournament.

“At least we are talking about it, right?  And I think that has been the first big step,” Moren said.

The next big step? 

“Every year we sit down and we have the goal. The goal of winning the Big Ten —  the goal of winning a national championship and I am a firm believer that you have to talk about those things if you want them to happen,” Moren said.

While making shots and winning games matters, what’s most important to Moren is making sure the young women who play for her know they matter.

“You just hope you’re impacting them every single day, not convincing them, but making sure they realize they can do anything,” Moren said.

Moren is their example. She says that after almost a decade at IU, it feels surreal walking through the candy cane-striped hallway that connects their practice facility to Assembly Hall.

“I was just walking on the floor and it dawned on me that I am the head coach at Indiana,” Moren said as she stepped onto the court. 

Teri Moren, head coach of IU women’s basketball, in the candy cane-striped hallway. (WISH Photo/Hanna Mordoh)

While the team fell short in the NCAA Tournament, perhaps the players and their coach won something greater.

“(It’s) an opportunity for those young girls that are sitting up in those seats right now to have the dream of one day playing for Indiana…” Moren began.

“And they can,” News 8’s Hanna Mordoh suggested.

“They can,” Moren agreed.

Moren is proving that girls — and women– can fight for the Cream and Crimson, for the glory of old IU, and for their dreams.

“To be able to sit here at Indiana and be the head coach of a Big Ten team in the state that I grew up with, I mean dreams — no doubt — come true,” Moren said.

IU women’s basketball head coach Teri Moren (left) and News 8’s Hanna Mordoh on the court. (WISH Photo/Hanna Mordoh)