If you like points, and who doesn’t after Iowa’s football season, make sure you head to Carver Hawkeye Arena tonight to see Coach Lisa Bluder’s team take on the Evansville Purple Aces. I’m so glad I don’t follow a team called the Purple Aces. Oh, and before I forget, holy crap public address dude for the women’s game was a tad bit loud. Like, turn the volume of my tv almost completely down loud. - Like the enthusiasm, however.
Before we look at tonight’s matchup, let’s take a look at Iowa’s first contest against Southern University. Iowa cruised to an 87-34 victory. All of Hawkeye nation held its collective breath as Caitlin Clark crumbled to the ground on an awkward drive. It ended up a sprained ankle, but The Franchise gave us a scare.
I stated before the game that the Hawkeyes should take on the mindset of playing against themselves against earlier inferior opponents. The three numbers I was looking at were points allowed, opponent’s shooting percentage, and rebounding margin. Iowa allowed 34 points, held Southern to 21% shooting, and outrebounded the Jaguars 51 to 22. Check. Check. Checkmate. The name of the game for Iowa this year will be for someone not named Clark or Czinano to have a big game each night. Iowa has the talent to pull this off. Clark and Monika Czinano are the primary focus of opponents’ scouting reports. There will be ample opportunities for Gabbie Marshall, Kate Martin, and McKenna Warnock to take over ball games at least for stretches. Speaking of Kate Martin, broken nose/mask Kate Martin is the best Kate Martin. She’s a gritty glue-type of player that every team needs. See Connor McCaffery on the men’s side.
Caitlin Clark: 20 points. 9 rebounds. 4 turnovers, 1 assist (an area for improvement)
Monika Czinano: 10 points. 4 rebounds. 75% FG.
Hannah Stuelke: 10 points. 6 rebounds (she will help Iowa on the boards).
Molly Davis: showed a little bit of everything with 7 points, 3 rebounds, and 4 assists.
Taylor McCabe: She is not bashful to put shots up, and that’s a good thing out of a shooter! In 14 minutes she was 3 of 8 (38%) from three.
It will be important for Iowa’s backup centers, Addison O’Grady and Sharon Goodman, to get quality minutes in some of these early-season games, even to the point of cutting back on Monika Czinano’s minutes. The Hawkeyes must develop depth here. Against Southern the duo played a little over 14 minutes with 6 points and 4 rebounds.
The Hawkeyes were way too loose with the basketball in game one. Iowa committed 19 turnovers, including 4 by Clark and 3 by Molly Davis. Seven turnovers by Iowa’s primary ball handlers is not acceptable.
Evansville Purple Aces
At least on paper Iowa is facing a vastly superior opponent in game two than game one. Evansville beat Eastern Kentucky 89-81 to open the season. Fifth-year guard Myia Clark (5’7”) tied a program record for making eight three point baskets (she was 8 for 9 so she wasn’t just chucking).
Barbora Tomancova (6’3” center) was a force in the middle scoring 16 points and pulling down a whopping 15 rebounds. This will be a terrific matchup for Monika Czinano. Anna Newman and A’Niah Griffin scored 15 and 14 points respectively. Iowa’s defense will be given a test. The Purple Aces shot 50% from deep (14-28) and 79% from the free throw line (19-24). Look for Iowa to take better care of the basketball and to focus on ball pressure, good closeouts, and contesting Evansville’s 3 point shooters. As always, Go Hawks!