Hawks Advance! Sweeeeeeet!
Getting to the second weekend in the NCAA tournament is a tremendous thing. The Sweet 16 has always been a signature event. Winning two games in the Big Dance automatically categorizes your season as special. Coach Lisa Bluder’s team did just that by easily taking care of 4-seeded Kentucky. The Hawkeyes never trailed, jumping out to an 11-0 lead. The Hawkeyes beat the Wildcats 86-72, and it wasn’t even remotely that close. Yes, it was the Caitlin Clark show, but this is a tremendous basketball team. It is well-coached and the Hawkeyes’ players complement each other. The Hawkeyes share the ball, take charges, and can shoot the basketball. The Hawkeyes understand offensive spacing very well, they move the ball, they attack weaknesses, and get many open shots. Also, Caitlin Clark can do what she wants when she wants. That doesn’t hurt.
Key to the Game (Defense Gives You the Chance to Win)
Defensively it was important for the Hawkeyes to slow down Kentucky star and All-American Rhyne Howard. At the end of the first quarter Howard had 2 points. Secondly, Kentucky guard Chastity Patterson is a very skilled quick, facilitating point guard. She had zero points after the first quarter. After the first quarter the score was Caitlin Clark 11 Kentucky 11. After that the floodgates opened. The Hawkeyes allowed only 22 points in the first half. Rhyne Howard ended the game with 28 points, many of them in garbage time.
Caitlin Clark Was Playing a Video Game (With a Cheat Code)
Basketball is a team game. That, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful things of the game. That said, Caitlin Clark was doing things that made me laugh out loud. Early in the year I would think “Bad shot” when Caitlin would take some shots (even when they went in). I now realize that there’s no such thing with her. She can shoot from anywhere at anytime and I expect it to go in. She’s that good. Not bad when Rebecca Lobo Tweets about you.
Also, Clark is an excellent, more-than-willing passer. People who may not follow Iowa basketball may think that Caitlin Clark hunts her shots. She leads the nation in assists. She wants the ball in her hands. She has the utmost confidence in herself and the Hawkeyes feed off of this confidence. Clark ended the day with 35 points, 7 rebounds, and 6 assists. I can’t even fathom that in a player’s second-ever NCAA tournament game. Here’s a highlight of Clark for you to enjoy. There were honestly so many highlights it’s difficult to pick.
Hawkeyes Got Production From Everyone
Iowa continues to show good balance. The Hawkeyes have been putting many games together where players are stepping up, oftentimes of late certain players take over for short stretches; see Martin and Warnock against Central Michigan. Against the Wildcats Monika Czinano scored 14 and collected 8 rebounds. McKenna Warnock’s line was 10-8-3 (assists). Gabbie Marshall scored 8 and provided some nice hustle plays. Kate Martin scored 6, grabbed 7 rebounds, and took a charge early in the game (my favorite play in basketball). Tomi Taiwo chipped in 7 points and provides a defensive spark off the bench.
On Deck (UCONN and Paige Bueckers)
I live in the Twin Cities. UCONN’s Paige Bueckers has gotten press up here for about 5 years. She is the real deal. She’s amazing. In my opinion Bueckers had more press/highlight videos than Clark coming into college. UCONN also has national championships; that never hurts when it comes to national exposure. This Sweet 16 matchup of Clark and Bueckers will be something that going forward will be one of the biggest storylines in women’s college basketball. These two players are the face of college basketball. Iowa is playing very good basketball at this point. Typically the tournament is about three teams who have a chance to win it all. That may still be the case. Maryland was the class of the Big Ten this year. The Hawks struggled against them. UCONN is better than Maryland. The beauty about the Big Dance is that you just have to beat someone once. The Hawks have a huge uphill battle against the Huskies, but they won’t back down. And IF the Hawks win this? They can cut down nets. Let’s go Hawks! Let’s go Hawks!