The Hawkeye women’s basketball team is coming off a home loss to Maryland by a score of 81-69. The Hawks were once again led in scoring by Caitlin Clark (19) and Monika Czinano (16). McKenna Warnock continued to be out due to injury. Maryland pressured Iowa’s Clark into ten turnovers. Maryland can always shoot it from deep. The Terrapins were 9 for 20 (45%) from three point land. The Hawkeyes were 5 for 20 (25%). The Hawkeyes were also outrebounded 47-31. Those two stats will determine the winner of 90% of basketball games. I have no data for this, but I bet it’s pretty accurate.
Next Up: Indiana... and Indiana
In today’s age of Covid, unusual scheduling issues have become the norm versus the exception. This is the case for the Hawkeyes. It could be a great thing, or a very bad thing regarding winning a Big Ten championship and/or getting a high seeding in the NCAA tournament. Iowa travels to Indiana this Saturday, February 19 for a 3pm contest against the Hoosiers (B1G+). Indiana then comes to Iowa City on Monday, February 21 for a 7pm game in Carver Hawkeye Arena (B1G Network). The Hawkeyes are sitting in fifth place in the Big Ten at 10-4 (16-7) while Indiana sits in first place at 11-2 (19-4).
The Hoosiers are a very balanced team. They have five players averaging over 11 points per game. They are led by 6’3” forward Mackenzie Holmes (17.1 ppg / 8.1 rpg). Grace Berger (6’0” guard) averages 16 points and 6 rebounds. Indiana’s three point shooters are Alexa Gulbe (39%) and Nicole Cardano-Hillary (40%). The Hawks need to identify those shooters at all times.
- Iowa’s Clark is averaging 27.6 points per game, 8.2 rebounds, and 8.1 assists per game. Clark’s only negative is that she is averaging 4.3 turnovers per game. She has the ball in her hands a lot, and teams focus on her to pressure, trap, and double her to make her give the ball up, but ideally that number is a little lower. Clark is shooting over 88% from the free throw line.
- Monika Czinano continues to be a model of consistency. She is averaging 20.3 points and 6.1 rebounds per game. She is shooting a scorching 65% from the field and 85% from the free throw line.
- The Hawkeyes will receive a boost when McKenna Warnock returns from injury. She is averaging 11.7 points, 7.2 rebounds, and she is a 43% from shooter from the three point line. Tomi Taiwo has done an admirable job filling in for Warnock.
- Iowa has just 4 games left in the regular season before the Big Ten Tournament. Taking on the first place team is a chance to make some hay (get that hay in the barn - Coach Hayden Fry).
- Caitlin Clark is coming off an “off” game (for her). She is the type of competitor that tends to thrive on this situation. I could see her going off two games in a row and the Hawkeyes sweeping a first-place team. It would help to get McKenna Warnock back, and the Hawks have to take care of the basketball and defend each possession like the game depends on it - because it does.
Areas where the Hawkeyes can improve on defense:
- A cardinal rule of basketball - Don’t get beat down the court. Here the Hawkeyes get beat in transition. There is never an excuse for this. Sprint to the paint and defend from the basket out. If a team has an elite three point shooter that player needs to be identified in transition.
2. Stop the basketball in transition. This needs to be communicated early and loudly.
3. Be decisive on ball screens. Here the Hawks allow a wide-open three point shot on a pick and pop situation. There was uncertainty on a double, a switch, or a fight-through situation.
These are fundamental defensive principles. Over the course of a basketball game, just a few situations where you allow easy baskets will get you beat. As a coach you are always looking for progress. It’s also fun to play the best possible competition to see where your squad stands. The Hawkeyes will get a great couple of tests over the next few days.
As always... Go Hawks!