In her first year heading Indiana University’s women’s basketball program, Teri Moren was thrown into a coaching position on the fly.
When former Hoosiers head coach Curt Miller resigned in July 2014, IU had to act fast in replacing its head coach.
Moren, a Seymour native, rapidly put together a supporting cast of assistant coaches while working with a completely new group of athletes — some of which had signed to the school to specifically work with Miller.
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Now in her second year at the helm, Moren has settled in and has begun the process of molding the program to her liking and solidifying herself as the face of the program.
The Hoosiers stand at 7-4 following Monday’s 75-64 loss against West Virginia.
Last season, the Hoosiers started 11-2 before finishing at 15-16, hitting a rough patch once they began Big 10 competition.
While the start hasn’t been as strong in 2015-16, the Hoosier re-worked their schedule this season to face stronger opponents early in their campaign.
They hope is that the better competition will better prepare IU in conference play, as the schedule included three in-season tournaments.
“We’re off to a good start,” Moren said. “Our schedule is a lot different than last year — and that was intentional. We really wanted to make a commitment to playing much better teams. It has benefited us. We have been in some games that have come down to the wire and where we’ve battled from behind for a victory.
“It has helped us grow and gain confidence. Our group has shown moments where they play really well. Overall, we have a really good group. Their chemistry is really great. They’ve been finding ways to win games when, perhaps, some accounts would not think we could.”
Two of the Hoosiers’ losses have come at the hands of ranked teams, No. 24 Chattanooga and No. 23 Miami (Florida).
On Dec. 2 the Hoosiers downed Georgia Tech before defeating Indiana State on Dec. 8. Moren coached at both schools in recent years.
“I got to coach against my good friend (Georgia Tech coach) MaChelle Joseph, who I played with at Purdue,” Moren said. “Then, I turned around and play at the Hulman Center (Indiana State) where I coached for four years. Their head coach, Joey (Wells), was my assistant that I brought in.”
Moren wasn’t thrilled about the reunions with her former schools.
“They were two games I didn’t really look forward to — from the standpoint that you don’t like to play your friends,” she said. “I’m a big fan of Joey and MaChelle and it’s a hard thing to do.”
Moren said that one of the biggest difference this season has been the recruiting process.
“That first year, we were playing catch-up,” she said. “The 2015 class had been picked over. We were trying to find the best available players. We knew we needed size since we lost four bigs from the year before. Recruiting has changed so much: now you’re recruiting kids from the classes of 2016, 2017, 2018.
“We’re in a much better place. We have an idea of what we need and are already working on. We have two in the ‘17 class already — one from Atlanta and another from Texas. Recruiting has gone well, getting kids on campus and showing them what Indiana is all about.”
This past summer, two freshmen made the roster for this year’s team.
The current squad of Hoosiers consists of the freshmen, four sophomores, four juniors and a senior.
“I think the biggest difference for me, our staff and players is the access we had over the summer,” she said. “We were able to get to know them and work with them. During that time you’re building trust and a foundation for your culture. We only have to focus on ourselves. It was a special two months we got to spend working on our chemistry and I think it has paid off.
“They really care about each other. That’s a special intangible that all successful teams need to have.”
Assistant coaches Curtis Loyd, Todd Starkey and Rhet Wierzba all returned to help coach the sidelines with Moren for this season.
“They all decided to stick around, which is good,” Moren said. “Most successful programs have continuity on the sidelines. All three of my guys will be head coaches at some point, but they love Indiana and the school.
“They’ve been committed to helping us build tradition. It takes a tremendous amount of work. I’m really lucky and blessed to have my staff. They have the same mentality I have of going to work and rolling up your selves. The direction we’re going is a good one and we feel really good about that.”
Big 10 play will commence Dec. 31 when the Hoosiers travel to Wisconsin.
“We’ve grown a lot over the first (few) games,” Moren said. “There have been a lot of great lessons through our wins and losses. I think we’re continuing to grow every game, and learn something different about ourselves.”