BLOOMINGTON, Ind. — The stat “45.8 points per game” — the scoring average for freshman Tyra Buss as a senior in high school — would lead some to believe she is a scorer.
But the term “scorer” is too simplistic a term. Dig a little deeper, down into the stat line for steals. Better not forget, Buss averaged 6.7 steals per game before arriving in Bloomington.
Call her a scorer, and Indiana head coach Teri Moren is forceful in her reply.
“Tyra is just a really good basketball player, period,” Moren said after IU’s 81-49 win against Valparaiso. “She is a tremendous basketball player, not just a tremendous scorer. She’s a competitor, and she is going to play. When she is in, she is going to play both sides of the ball.”
Buss has reminded everyone of her knack for thievery in her first two games with the Hoosiers. Her eight steals against Valparaiso was the most ever by an IU freshman. She has 15 steals in two games, and there will be plenty more opportunities for Buss to show that she can lead in more than just points.
“These past couple games have showed I care more about defense than I do offense,” Buss said. “My defense is just as good as my offense, and defense is actually more important, so I could care less how many points I score, as long as I help on the defensive end.”
That outlook fits perfectly into the defense mantra Moren has tried to instill in her team in her first year. As a team, Indiana has collected back-to-back games with 18 steals, the first time any IU women’s basketball team has done that. Last year, the Hoosiers had 203 steals, averaging less than six per game.
Buss, in particular, has showed an ability to guard on the ball and take it away for easy transition layups. She has not only added muscle to be able to compete with bigger guards come Big Ten season, but Buss continues to work to improve her defense off the ball.
“We have to be able to trust each other, so if someone gets beat, we have help side. That’s just a big thing to make sure I know when I’m off the ball, to have help side but also know where my player is, to not get back-doored or anything,” Buss said. “We always say, 75 percent on the ball but you also have to have 25 percent on the player.”