The 2015-16 Iowa women's basketball season is done and dusted and while it didn't go quite the way we would have hoped -- Iowa went 18-12 overall, 8-10 in Big Ten play, and is firmly outside the bubble and needing a big run in the Big Ten Tournament (if not winning the whole dang thing) to make it back to the NCAA Tournament -- there were still bright spots in this year's team. Near the top of that list was junior Ally Disterhoft, who assumed a leadership role with the departure of last year's outstanding senior class and led Iowa in minutes (36.3 mpg) and scoring (16.9 ppg) and finished third on the team in rebounds (5.5 rpg), assists (2.6 apg), steals (0.9 spg), and blocks (0.8 bpg). She did a little bit of everything for Iowa -- and did pretty much everything pretty well. For her all-around strong play, Disterhoft earned All-Big Ten second team honors from the coaches and the media, which we're happy to see.
That said, we need to stop for a minute and talk about the All-Big Ten teams because things are getting out of hand.
Well, the coaches and the media seem to agree, huh? pic.twitter.com/SnKeBZvH1Z— Big Ten Network (@BigTenNetwork) February 29, 2016
Um, a ten-person "first team"? That's ridiculous. The second team also includes ten members and there are also 10 (coaches) or 12 (media) honorable mention players as well. That's 30-32 players who earned some from of all-conference distinction, which is frankly too many. Yes, the Big Ten has added teams in the last few years so there are more players than ever vying for all-conference honors, but the answer is not to simply double the size of the all-conference teams. Sure, that allows you to honor more players -- but it also waters down the importance of being named to an all-conference team, which defeats the purpose of singling out players for being the best in the conference. It's nice to see Disterhoft earn second-team All-Big Ten honors, but if she made that team because of the bloated size of the all-conference teams, then it does diminish the honor's value a bit.
We'll find out in a week if the Big Ten is going to extend the ten-person "first team" (or "second team") concept to the men's all-conference teams... but my guess is that they will. And it will be dumb there, too.
Meanwhile, two other Iowa players were named to the Big Ten's All-Freshman team:
Alex Wittinger, Illinois
Tania Davis, Iowa
Megan Gustafson, Iowa
Hallie Thome, Michigan
JESSICA SHEPARD, Nebraska
TENIYA PAGE, Penn State
Davis and Gustafson are the first Iowa players to be named to the All-Freshman team since Disterhoft made that team in 2014. They're also the first set of teammates to make the All-Freshman team since Ohio State had two players on the All-Freshman team in 2008. Davis averaged 8.1 ppg, but led Iowa with 3.3 apg and also added 1.0 steals per game. Gustafson led Iowa in field goal percentage (.537), rebounds (198, 6.6 per game), and blocks (52, 1.7 per game), and was also Iowa's third-leading scorer (9.9 ppg). She was a double-double machine down the stretch, too, grabbing double figures in points and rebounds in 7 of Iowa's last 10 games. The performances of Davis and Gustafson this year were perhaps the biggest things to smile about for Iowa fans -- they made mistakes, sure, but they also made a lot of very good plays and developed quickly as freshmen. They should be key players for Iowa for the next three seasons, hopefully helping build Iowa back to the level that they were at under Logic, Dixon, and Doolittle.
Congratulations to all the Hawkeyes who received all-conference honors.