by PETER DORFMAN
As the coronavirus pandemic shuttered businesses and shelter-in-place orders began issuing, working people gathered files and laptops and headed home to work remotely. For most, working at home required an adjustment—but few had to reorient themselves quite the way Indiana University women’s head basketball coach Teri Moren did.
Moren had travel plans in March. Her team had just finished the best season in Hoosier women’s basketball history, and was a regional No. 5 seed in the NCAA tournament, widely expected to make at least the Sweet 16. Moren was returning from a recruiting trip when the call came on March 12. The tournament was off. The season was done.
“Our kids had had a few days off,” she recalls. “Our coaches and I landed in Indianapolis, and we had been following the situation on Twitter. They’d canceled the Big 10 men’s tournament; Duke and Kansas had both pulled out of the NCAA tournament. It just seemed as though one shoe after another was dropping. We were driving back from the airport when we found out the tournament was canceled.”
For Moren, who had both played and coached in the NCAA’s Big Dance, it didn’t seem real. When she arrived at Cook Hall, her players had already heard the news. “They were devastated, of course,” she says. “You try to come up with the right words. I probably fell short.”
IU was heading into spring break, and the priority for Moren’s staff was to get the players home to their families. “Our biggest concern was for [sophomore forward] Aleksa Gulbe, whose home is in Latvia,” she notes. “We worried about how quickly we could get her a plane ticket and get her home. She got out very late that Friday night.”
The situation felt unreal through that weekend. “Monday and Tuesday come, and you’re not watching film, you’re not preparing for practice, and you don’t know what to do with yourself,” Moren says. “It took a couple of weeks, but as I say to the kids, you control what you can control.”
Under NCAA rules, April is a no-contact month in the 2021 recruiting cycle. Moren has been reading and reviewing game films, including IU’s early-season upset of South Carolina. She’d been sheltering at home in the Renwick section of Bloomington when the April 8 thunderstorms knocked out the power for her and 300 other residents. “I got in my car and went to a friend’s condo in Indianapolis, where they had running water and electricity,” she says.
She’s been taking advantage of Kroger’s grocery delivery service, but she ventures out occasionally (masked for safety). “I had to get ice at a gas station when the power went out,” she says.
For now, Moren is content to know everyone in the Hoosier basketball family—players, coaches, administrators—is healthy. She and her staff have had regular Zoom calls with the players as they finish out their semester academically. “It’s important for me to stay connected to everyone,” she says. “I just keep reminding them how much history they made this year and how proud we all are.”