Here’s how three transfers could be game-changing for Indiana women’s basketball
After maintaining very similar — if not almost identical — starting lineups for the past two seasons, Indiana women’s basketball now has a plethora of possibilities for its starting five heading into the 2022-23 season. Beyond a strong freshmen class, the Hoosiers will also be equipped with three experienced transfers.
Sydney Parrish, Sara Scalia and Alyssa Geary are all joining Indiana with at least two years of NCAA experience. All three could be starters for Indiana, and all have the potential to bring some big changes.
It’s worth noting some other recent transfers who have brought historic accomplishments to the program include Ali Patberg and Nicole Cardaño-Hillary. By the end of their Hoosier careers, both were consistent starters and some of the most influential players in program history.
It’s safe to say there are some high expectations for Parrish, Scalia and Geary. But one of the best things about this transfer class is they all bring in different things to strengthen Indiana as a whole.
Sara Scalia – Guard, Minnesota
The biggest household name in NCAA women’s basketball last season was, arguably, Caitlin Clark. Clark consistently made headlines for her 3-point shooting.
But Sara Scalia easily could have, and perhaps should have, been awarded that same amount of recognition. The senior was a massive presence beyond the arc last season at Minnesota, shooting 41.3 percent from downtown for 5th best in the Big Ten. Her 111 made 3-pointers placed her at second in the Big Ten and third overall in the NCAA.
For reference, Clark finished with 91 3-pointers, shooting at a 33.2 percent clip. Scalia and Clark had almost the same amount of attempts from beyond the arc as well, as Scalia had 269 and Clark had 274. Against Indiana in February, Scalia made 7 out of 12 3-pointers and scored a total of 26 points.
Scalia also shot 91.5 percent from the free throw line and averaged 17.9 points and 4.3 rebounds per game last season.
There is no doubt Scalia will add another layer to Indiana’s offense and is set up to be the consistent 3-point shooter the team has been lacking for a while now. The “phenomenal pickup”, according to Teri Moren, is fully expected to be in the starting five. One could say she’ll have a lot to prove, but her track record so far speaks for itself.
Sydney Parrish – Guard, Oregon
Parrish, the 2020 Ms. Indiana Basketball, is a familiar name among the Indiana basketball community. The Fishers, Indiana native will return to her home state after two years at Oregon, where she started all 32 games and averaged 8.8 points per game in 2021-22.
While Scalia brings in an almost unbeatable shooting range, Parrish’s skills are nothing to overlook. In 2021-22, she shot 35.4 percent from beyond the arc for a total of 52 3-pointers and shot 38.5 percent overall from the field. At 6-foot-2, Parrish is one of Indiana’s tallest guards. After averaging 3.3 rebounds per game last season, she’ll be expected to perform similarly, if not better, this season.
In both years at Oregon, Parrish was a part of NCAA tournament teams, including a Sweet Sixteen run in 2020-21. Those experiences will undoubtedly help her fit in with Indiana’s culture, which is heavily focused on winning the Big Ten and making it to the Final Four.
Moren cited Parrish’s competitiveness and toughness as her standout qualities, and that mindset could help land Parrish in the starting five. She wouldn’t be able to replace Patberg’s intense, unwavering game face, but any gritty competitiveness is welcomed by this team.
Alyssa Geary – Forward, Providence
Geary is the most senior player in Indiana’s transfer class, coming in as a graduate student after playing a full four years at Providence. She started in every game in both her junior and senior seasons and averaged 9.6 points, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 blocked shots per game last season.
The loss of Aleksa Gulbe left a hole in the starting forward spot next to Mackenzie Holmes, but the expectation is Geary will fill that with relative ease. She is the second tallest Hoosier, at 6-foot-4, and the tallest forward.
With her height and skills, Geary will need to be a solid contributor underneath the basket in both offense and defense. While at Providence, Geary also showed herself to be a strong defender and a skilled passer. Passing near the basket was something the Hoosiers sometimes struggled with last season, so a forward with good passing ability would add another dimension to Indiana’s offense.
The Big Ten is known for being one of the toughest conferences to compete in, but the Big East could be argued to be one at a similar level. Teams like UConn, Villanova and Creighton reached the NCAA tournament last season and had the game environments to back them up. As such, Geary knows what it’s like to play against top programs in big arenas, which is crucial experience to have when playing for Indiana.
Moren and Indiana have a chance to change up strategies and reconfigure their whole gameplan with these three transfers. Some changes may be noticeable to the average fan, and some might be minuscule to anyone outside of the program. But as long as all three play — and are used — to their full potential, it won’t really matter what fans pick up on, because there’s a good chance they’ll be seeing wins.