TERRE HAUTE —
Excitement that built around the Indiana State women’s basketball program came about through hard work and dedication from previous coaching staffs and players.
The next coaching staff, led by Teri Moren, began a new era with her introduction to the community Tuesday in Hulman Center. Moren brings qualities that she expects can take the Sycamores to higher levels of success.
Moren’s parents, Dick and Barbara Moren, and her sister Leann Hutchinson, sat in the front row of a large crowd in the Sycamore Varsity Club on Tuesday in Hulman Center.
“We are very blue-collar. We rolled up our sleeves and went to work every day and that’s all I know,” Moren told the crowd. “From my father, the traits I have are my quiet confidence, attention to detail, and my lack of patience, which is a good thing and a bad thing.
“From my mother, we get our faith and the ability to laugh with each other and laugh at each other. I do a good job of laughing at myself.”
Moren touched on the ISU program’s strong academic reputation and its ranking as 26th in the NCAA in attendance as the big appeal for the job. Those are also things in place that will boost the ability of Moren and associate head coach Clint Weddle to attract even better recruits.
“What we’ve done isn’t enough,” Moren said. “We want to go to that next level.”
Moren had a chance to meet with ISU’s recruits privately during her interview process last week. The “next level” she’s referring to is reaching the Women’s NCAA Tournament for the first time in program history.
“They were wondering how we’re going to do that and what that’s about,” said Moren, who has served as associate head coach for Georgia Tech in the NCAA Tournament the past three years. “I feel very strongly that our staff can get them to that next level. It’s going to take a lot of hard work on our part, the kids’ part. There will be a lot of accountability on the kids’ part as well.”
“We’re going to have a lot of goals. In order to do something big, something that’s never been done, we’ve got to talk about it. Going to the NCAA Tournament is something we will talk about every day. I want that to be our goal.”
Moren is also not satisfied with the current attendance numbers. ISU ranked 26th in the nation in attendance in 2008-09 with 4,100 fans per game, and the Sycamores averaged 4,172 in 2009-10.
“Those of you that have already been bitten by the women’s basketball bug at Indiana State, there are more of you out there and we’re going to find them,” Moren said. “Just ask the fans to reach out to one more fan at a time.”
ISU has been active with attracting young fans with its Sycamore Squad, and that will continue to be emphasized, she said.
“We’ll be reaching out to the schools and that population, will be very important for our staff and our players,” Moren said. “Being out in the community and giving back to them. One of the things with women’s basketball fans is until you try it, you don’t know how much you’re going to enjoy it.”
Hoosier basketball pedigree
Growing up in Seymour, Moren “came out of the womb with a ball in her hand,” her mother Barbara joked.
Moren, who will turn 41 on April 14, grew up watching the game and playing at an early age.
“She started very young. When she was a young baby, she didn’t want dolls, she wanted a ball,” Barbara said. “We lived probably four or five blocks from school. You’d see Teri walking down the street after school dribbling a ball.”
“Winter time, she’d have her coveralls on, mittens on and her head wrapped and outside shooting the ball.”
Teri, the youngest of three children, battled brother Scott and sister Leann, and two neighbor boys many times on the basketball court in the backyard.
“We lived in a neighborhood with two boys and her brother [Scott] and they were always outside trying to beat her. She’d make them play with her until she beat ’em. They’d be out there ’til 9 or 10 o’clock at night,” Barbara recalled. “Teri’s very competitive. She does not like to lose.”
Teri eventually developed into an Indiana All-Star and led Seymour to the state championship game in the single-class format.
“My passion for Indiana basketball began at Seymour and playing for [Hall of Fame coach] Donna Sullivan,” Taking our team to the state finals. That’s a tremendous thing that any kid in Indiana dreams of doing. It’s kind of changed because of the class system.”
Growing up in southern Indiana during the 1980s, Teri “grew up in that Bobby Knight era,” she said.
“I was Steve Alford all the way baby, Randy Wittman, Ted Kitchel, Isiah Thomas, I grew up watching them,” Moren said. “My dad’s a very passionate Boston Celtics fan, Larry Bird so I grew up watching both of those teams play.”
Said her father Dick, “She was just a basketball junkie, she always loved the game.”
But when it came down to playing in college, Purdue and coach Lin Dunn won out. It has been almost 20 years since Moren helped lead Purdue to the 1991 Big Ten title, and she’s been in coaching ever since.
Dick Moren said he and his wife attended all Teri’s games for Purdue, and attended all her home games during her seven years as head coach at Indianapolis.
“We’ll be at all the home games [in Hulman Center],” he said.
Experience takes over
Moren’s coaching experience helped her rise to the top of a group of “60 quality candidates,” said Director of Athletics Ron Prettyman said.
Moren was ultimately chosen over finalists Kathi Bennett, Clint Weddle and Randy Norton, who withdrew from the process before his interview.
“She’s just got a wealth of experience,” Prettyman said. “She’s got the background with her work, both being a head coach in an outstanding Division II conference, as well as having the opportunity to work in the Big Ten at Northwestern and work at Butler and work at Purdue and work at Georgia Tech. The ACC’s as good as it gets.”
Moren commended Prettyman for helping to make the ISU job even more attractive to her.
“The process started for me on Feb. 26 when Ron Prettyman came down to Georgia Tech and watched us play North Carolina and basically watched me work. That told me a lot about Ron Prettyman, just how important Indiana State Athletics and this women’s basketball search was going to be,” Moren told the assembly. “I wanted to make sure — I’ve been doing this for about 18 years — I put myself in a situation I was comfortable with. I wanted to make sure I was working for a gentleman that believed in what I belive in. That work ethic goes a long way, you treat people the right way. Walked away very impressed in terms of his vision — but the passion he has for Indiana State athletics.”
Prettyman enjoyed the process of filling the position, and is thrilled with the outcome.
“I had great candidates. I had a really neat opportunity to pick the best of the best,” he said. “I think she’s going to do a great job for us.”
‘Hitting the ground running’
Moren hired associate head coach Clint Weddle to her staff at the University of Indianapolis, where Moren compiled a record of 130-73 in seven seasons, reaching the NCAA Division II tournament three straight years.
Moren spoke about success beginning with defense, something Weddle has helped instill in the Sycamores since his arrival three years ago.
“Offense sells tickets, defense wins games and rebounding wins championships,” Moren said. “I’m a student of the game first and foremost. I read a lot of leadership, I read basketball books.
That [statement] comes from Pat Summitt. She built her program on those things. Defense and rebounding will be something we hammer home to our kids when we’re between the lines.”
Moren told the Tribune-Star last week that Weddle would remain associate head coach. She said Tuesday she’ll begin work to complete her staff.
“He’s not only a great friend, a great colleague, he’s also a heck of a basketball coach,” Moren said of Weddle.
ISU has an incoming recruiting class that was ranked as one of the top 75 in the nation, according to www.espnhoopgurlz.com.
“We’ll go out this weekend and see our incoming freshman,” Moren said. “I can’t wait to see them and meet them.
“Coach Weddle and I are hitting the ground running.”