After 26 years of coaching women’s basketball and her fifth trip to the Women’s National Invitation Tournament as a coach, Indiana University Head Women’s Basketball Coach Teri Moren won the championship. Moren served as the head women’s basketball coach at the University of Indianapolis from 2000 to 2007, her only Division II coaching job. Despite leaving UIndy 11 years ago, Moren is still in touch with some of the faculty in the athletic department, including Senior Associate Athletic Director for Development Matt Donovan, who was watching the game as IU earned the win.
“I think that one thing that was really kind of neat is watching that game and, sure, you’re pulling for Indiana to win and you want them win,” Donovan said. “But there’s a lot that was in that time period where you’re really wanting your friend to succeed. And the other part of it is, that team just has some great young ladies, and you really truly wanted them to win because they were truly, not only a testament to Indiana University, but a testament to Teri and a testament to their staff…And so…I looked at that TV when the clock hit zero and they won. There’s a lot of joy filled in your heart and that’s awesome.”
The WNIT is a national basketball tournament with preseason and postseason versions run by Triple Crown Sports out of Fort Collins, Colo. After failing to qualify for the NCAA March Madness, IU entered the tournament, winning all six games in the series and securing the championship title with a win over Virginia Tech 65-57 on March 31. Moren said that after losing their opportunity to make it into the NCAA tournament, the team took 24 hours to feel sorry for themselves before deciding to commit to the WNIT. In addition to the team, Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Suzanne Willey was also disappointed they did not make the tournament, but was thrilled about their subsequent success.
“I was really kind of disappointed for them that they didn’t get into the NCAA. But so be it,” Willey said. “I was thrilled to death [that they won the WNIT] and she deserves all that success. She’ll be the first one to say that it’s her players and it’s the staff and it’s the whole, it’s never about any one of us to get something like that done…I fully expect that this isn’t going to be a one time shot. I know that they’ll shoot next year, that their goal will be to get to the NCAA. It’s just fun to watch her career.”
Moren said she was grateful that the team was able to win at Assembly Hall, in front of their fans. The team broke the attendance record, with their championship game witnessed by 13,000 spectators.
“For our seniors, it was a tremendous thing,” Moren said. “There’s not very many seniors that are able to, a couple of things, play on their home floor and win on their home floor in their very last collegiate game they’ll ever play in. That just doesn’t happen. And so it was really special for those seniors.”
Moren said that the community rallied around the team. They drew in attendees from around the state, with attendance increasing each night. Because the men’s team was not playing at the time, Moren said that the team’s participation in the WNIT caused a buzz in the community. Executive Director of Basketball at Triple Crown Sports Renee Carlson said that she was excited for the team and impressed with how the community supported them.
“I think for the community itself, it was just really gratifying to see how much the community really rallied around the team and around her and they really respect and appreciate what she’s done there. And that was neat too,” Carlson said. “Because, you know, coaches, they have such a very visible day-to-day job and it’s so different from other jobs. I mean, a lot of people don’t get critiqued by the public on a daily basis and it’s a very high pressure job. And so I think for somebody in her position just to feel the gratification of, wow, all those late nights and hard work and wondering if you’re doing things right and complaints by different people and different styles. To see it all come together like that it’s really special.”
Born and raised in Seymour, Ind., Moren was raised watching IU basketball on Sunday afternoons with her family. She said that her love of sports stemmed from those afternoons and playing them with the neighborhood boys growing up. She attended Purdue University from 1988-1992. At the same time Moren was playing point guard for the Boilermakers, Donovan was working in the then Athletic Public Relations Department. He said that Moren proved herself as an intelligent and skilled basketball player in an exhibition game against the University of Notre Dame. Led by Moren, Purdue implemented a zone defense that tripped up the Fighting Irish’s offense and help the Boilermakers to continue holding their own, Donovan said.
Moren served as a DI assistant coach for the first eight years of her career, first at Butler University and then at Northwestern University. UIndy was her first head coach position when she was just 30 years old. Moren said that she decided to take the job at UIndy because she felt like she needed a new experience and because she was confident enough to have her own program. The decision required a lot of thinking, she said, as she had only ever coached and played in DI. However, she liked the program and Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Dave Huffman’s vision and mission, and believed that she could help the program grow through her Indiana and Indianapolis connections.
“I wanted to be a head coach, my goal was to be a head coach at 30 and that was an opportunity at the time,” Moren said. “You know, the naysayers, I didn’t listen to public opinion. I basically, for me, it was a leap of faith that, ‘Hey, if I’m going to be a head coach, this is a great opportunity for me. I’m going to make some mistakes, but I know that I’m going to make some mistakes around people that are going to support me and going to support our program and our team, and that’s exactly what happened. It’s probably, when I think about my career, one of my most favorite jobs I’ve ever had.”
Willey described Moren as a player’s coach; someone who her teams respected and would work hard for. During Moren’s time at UIndy, Willey said that she could tell that Moren was going to be a successful coach.
“She just was professional, driven, energetic, a team player and I mean, you knew she was special and going to be able to go and do things,” Willey said. “A lot of times with DII, some ADs [athletic directors] and some other coaches and people in the department think, ‘Oh, we don’t want to hire somebody who has aspirations to go coach in DI,’ and I’m thinking, ‘Yes we do. If that’s their aspiration, great.’ We get some coaches that get into Division II and they love it…We see many coaches go to DI and then in a couple years they’re out of a job. So, it is a different ball game. But it’s been so fun to watch her.”
During Moren’s seven seasons at UIndy, the team earned a 130-73 record and made it to the GLVC tournament for three consecutive years, winning the conference title and the regular season title in 2003. Moren was also named the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association Region 4 Coach of the Year in NCAA DII for that year. Vice President for Intercollegiate Athletics Suzanne Willey said that Moren was a coach for the players, someone the team respected and worked hard for. According to Donovan, she was also competitive and expected the most out of each member of the team and did what she could to make sure they were prepared before walking into a game.
“She [Moren] was very tough in the sense of, if a play wasn’t run to the utmost perfection, you could tell just by looking at her. And I think that was one of the things that I always respected about her,” Donovan said. “Everything was about being as close to perfection as it possibly could be…even though you know there are things that are not going to be a hundred percent, but how do you get to a hundred percent? And holding those individuals accountable, but at the same point in time, teaching them how to be successful no matter if that was the first half, second half or outside of the game.”
Moren left UIndy in 2007 to be an associate assistant coach at Georgia Tech University, then returned to Indiana as the head coach at Indiana State. In 2014, while she was coaching the Sycamores, she was inducted into the Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame. Later that year, she was hired as the head coach at Indiana University, and has coached the Hoosiers to a 92-53 record in her four seasons leading the team. Despite being a part of both Purdue and IU’s women’s basketball programs, Moren said that it has never been about the name.
“This is a passion for me, coaching and teaching and impacting the lives of young players,” Moren said. “I never got caught up in the where I was going to coach, it was about the who, and why I coached. The why to me is much better than the where and the who as far as whatever’s across your chest. To me, it’s more about the opportunity we have as coaches to impact these young people.”