Indiana's road through the WNIT isn't getting any easier.
The Hoosiers survived the first three rounds of the postseason tournament in relatively comfortable fashion but will get what head coach Teri Moren is calling her team's toughest challenge yet from Villanova at 2 p.m. at Simon Skjodt Assembly Hall.
"They are going to test our will," Moren said Saturday after practice. The two programs will play for the right to take on Michigan in the semifinals.
That's just what Harry Perretta-coached teams do, Moren said. Villanova's head coach is in his 39th season and 14th tournament appearance in the last 17 years. Moren called him one of the true staples of women's basketball.
Perretta's Wildcats (19-14) use a five-out motion offense that asks every player on the floor to move, cut and screen constantly. Not many teams use that sort of offense, but Moren and junior forward Amanda Cahill mentioned that Ball State, Iowa and Samford all ran variations.
Villanova doesn't rush anything on the offensive end where they don't play a true center. The Wildcats simply grind out sets, wait for the defense to make a mistake and then pounce.
And they do it all while only turning the ball over 9.6 times per game.
“It’s incredible the amount of activity that goes on in the course of 30 seconds with them, with their ball movement and their cutting action,” Moren said. “The fact they only turn it over nine times is impressive.”
Indiana struggled with turnovers in its double-digit win over SMU in the most-recent round of the WNIT, a point Moren addressed in practice the last couple of days. The Hoosiers turned the ball over 11 times in the first half against the Mustangs alone.
The giveaways were reflective of an offense sometimes trying to do too much, Moren said. She was pleased with how her team was defending but said some of her players, particularly those coming off the bench, need to remember to play within themselves.
"It's amazing what happens when you just cut, screen and get open shots," Moren said.
As April nears, fatigue begins to become an issue with the teams still left in either the NCAA or WNIT tournaments like Indiana. Cahill admitted she's never played basketball this late in her career, and neither have the majority of her teammates.
Moren has purposely tried to keep practices as light as she can over the last few months to reserve her players' energy. A typical practice in the heart of winer would feature 20-30 minutes of film and then about 75 minutes of practice, she said. But at a certain point, legs start to give out.
Come game day, some of that goes out the window.
“This is kind of what we’ve been preparing for,” Cahill said. “This is what we want to do every year.”
• Subscribe to our podcast on iTunes
• Follow us on Twitter: @IndianaRivals
• Like us on Facebook.