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Women's hoops opens two-game road trip at Indiana

The Maryland men's basketball team made the second trip in program history to Assembly Hall Thursday night and fell victim to a hot shooting Indiana squad. Sunday, the women make their first such trip, looking to avoid a similar fate.

Courtesy Judy Tarter

WHO: Maryland Terrapins (16-2, 7-0) @ Indiana Hoosiers (12-6, 2-5)

WHAT: Women's basketball B1G Conference game

WHERE: Assembly Hall, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

WHEN: Sunday, January 25, 2015 3:00 p.m. ET

WATCH: In Person



What's a Hoosier?

As nearly as my research can tell, Indiana University athletes have always been known as Hoosiers. So let's try to answer exactly what a Hoosier is.

The answer to this one appears to be fairly straightforward. A Hoosier is a native of Indiana and the term first appeared in print in that context circa 1833. This simple answer doesn't preclude the possibility of some degree of snark, however. Visit Indiana University's website and you can find a long etymological discussion in a paper by Jeffrey Graf of the Reference Department of IU's Herman B. Wells Library.

We've extracted some pertinent information from that paper:

The best evidence, however, suggests that "Hoosier" was a term of contempt and opprobrium common in the upland South and used to denote a rustic, a bumpkin, a countryman, a roughneck, a hick or an awkward, uncouth or unskilled fellow. Although the word's derogatory meaning has faded, it can still be heard in its original sense, albeit less frequently than its cousins "Cracker" and "Redneck."

From the South "Hoosier" moved north and westward with the people into the Ohio Valley, where it was applied at first to the presumably unsophisticated inhabitants of Southern Indiana. Later it expanded to include all residents of the state and gradually lost its original, potent connotation of coarseness in manners, appearance and intellect.

As for the word itself, it probably derives from the Saxon word "hoo" meaning promontory or cliff or ridge or rise or hill. Jacob Piatt Dunn, a diligent scholar of the word, believes a Saxon beginning, and such a meaning survives in various place names in England. There is some sense in the notion, too, that those who applied the insult and those to whom it was applied (and who understood it) came primarily from British stock.

The unusual (ier or sier) ending has always been difficult to explain. Might it be from "scir" the old form of "shire?" The Hoo Shire would then be the Hill Country, the High Places or the Mountain Region. Would that meaning then extend to those who lived in the hills, making them the "hooscirs" and later the "Hoosiers," the mountain people, hillbillies by another name?

Now that we know more or less what a Hoosier is, here are some fun other facts about IU:

Indiana, like at least one other Big Ten member is a bit conflicted about its colors. The official school colors are crimson and cream. However, in the 1970s, basketball coach Bobby Knight and football coach Lee Corso moved the team to a look more akin to scarlet and white. (Knight also introduced the candy cane warm-up pants worn by the men's basketball team at about that same time.) Since the turn of the century, the school has generally moved back to its official color scheme.

Classes began with an enrollment of 10 men in 1824. Now, either college was much harder in the 19th century or IU (then Indiana College) was already anticipating the granting of exceptions in their admission policies. You see, they needed six years before their first graduating class in 1830.

An IU website notes that, in 1867, Indiana became one of the first state universities to admit women. In this case, either one of those women was really smart or perhaps she received an A.A. degree. You see, in 1869, just two years after admitting to admitting women, Sarah Parke Morrison was the first woman graduate.

IU has no official mascot although their football team had a bulldog named "Ox" for a few years in the early sixties. They also tried using a bison in 1979, but no one seemed to like it and the idea was quickly shot down.

Hoosiers on the court - 2014-15

Indiana enters the game 12-6 and 2-5 in the Big Ten, having lost at Penn State Thursday night. The Hoosiers opened the season by winning 10 of their first 11 games, including a 76-67 win at Boston College in the B1G-ACC Challenge. Their only loss came at home to Indiana State (#91 RPI) in overtime. Once they hit Big Ten play, possibly because of a weak non-conference schedule rated 319th, the Hoosiers stumbled. They lost three of their first four games and two of those came at home to Rutgers and Ohio State. In fact, Indiana's only win over a top 100 RPI squad is a 75-60 win at home over Michigan State.

The drop-off manifests itself clearly in both the raw statistics and possession based statistics. Over all games, Indiana is the fifth most potent offense in the B1G at 76.1 points per game and the fifth stingiest defense, giving up just 62.3 on average. In conference games only, they fall to 11th in both categories and their 13.8 scoring margin plummets to a 9.0 scoring deficit. Similarly, in all games, the Hoosiers have a 1.7 edge in rebounds, but have a six rebounds per game deficit in conference play.

A sample of the possession based statistics shows a similar (and expected) degradation. In all games, Indiana has averaged 1.00 point per possession (ppp) (tied 5th) while yielding 0.84 (6th). Limit the view to conference games and the Hoosiers drop to 11th in offensive ppp at 0.85 and their 0.98 defensive ppp is only 12th best among the 14 B1G teams.

One area Indiana will be able to compete with Maryland is depth. With nine players who average more than 13 minutes per game and only one who plays more than 30, Hoosiers head coach Teri Moren has freely used an expansive rotation all season. All nine of the players in Moren's main rotation are freshmen or sophomores. Of that group, seven players appear to have the green light to shoot at anytime and have each taken more than 100 shots. By comparison, of the 11 players for Maryland who average at least 10 minutes per game, only four have taken more than 100 shots.

Players to watch

Larryn Brooks #5, sophomore, guard, 5'5". Brooks is tied with Tyra Buss for the scoring lead at 12.1 points per game, and is the Hoosier most likely to shoot from beyond the arc. Although her in-conference three-point percentage has fallen by nearly half from the start of the season, Brooks continues to launch an average of six long distance shots per game. She also leads the team with 4.1 assists per game and is the only player averaging more than 30 minutes.

Amanda Cahill, #33, freshman, forward 6'2". Cahill has been quite consistent for Coach Moren. The Hoosiers' third leading scorer at 11.2 per game, averaged 11.9 in non-conference play and had averaged 11.2 in conference before being limited to four points at Penn State because of foul trouble. Cahill is also Indiana's best rebounder, grabbing 8.5 boards per contest.


In a word, none. Sunday will be the first-ever women's basketball game between Maryland and Indiana. Maryland head coach Brenda Frese, however, has coached at least twice in Assembly Hall and she will be looking for her first win. In 1999, Frese took Ball State into Bloomington and the Hoosiers routed the Cardinals 72-52. In her one season as head coach at Minnesota, Frese helmed the Golden Gophers to a 15-point win in Minneapolis and took a 20-4 team to Indiana where the Hoosiers picked up a 10-point win.

In conclusion

If games were played by the simple aggregation and comparison of statistics, Maryland wouldn't need to bother making the trip to Bloomington. But, as the men's squad learned very painfully Thursday night, games are not played on paper and an inspired effort or a hot shooting team can quickly pop a bubble of ego and self-confidence. The Terps have gotten off to slow starts in each of their previous two games. However, they had the home court advantage and were, frankly, playing overmatched teams and easily overcame the early inefficiency.

Against a similarly overmatched Indiana squad, they need to avoid having a slow start on the road. An underdog with hope can be a dangerous canine. Early in Thursday's game, Michigan State held an 11-3 rebounding edge. Maryland turned that around after the game's first 5 minutes, finishing with 41 rebounds to the Spartans' 39. Maryland should utterly dominate Indiana on the boards and will need to assert this dominance from the outset.

Committing only nine turnovers, the Terrapins protected the ball well against a Michigan State squad that forces fewer than 14 per game. Maryland struggled against an aggressive Illinois squad that forces more turnovers than any team in the Big Ten. Somewhere in the middle of those two, Indiana causes nearly 17 turnovers per game and the Terps cannot afford to get sloppy Sunday afternoon.

This is a game Maryland should not only win, but should win easily. In her post game comments, Michigan State coach Suzy Merchant called Maryland the best team in the Big Ten. On paper, they certainly are and the GAMER prediction system registers a 70.6 percent winning probability for Maryland and predicts a relatively comfortable 12-point margin. But basketball games are not played on paper. They are played on hardwood courts. And this particular game is being played on an unfamiliar court in an inhospitable arena 625 miles from the comforts of home.