Innnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnn, Heaven there is no beer...................
Your Iowa Hawkeyes (23-7) took care of Northwestern, Nebraska, and Indiana (74-67) on three consecutive days to win the Big Ten tournament in Indianapolis. The Hawkeyes, led by legendary coach Lisa Bluder, have now won the regular-season Big Ten championship, the Big Ten tournament championship, and... [stay tuned].
As the two seed, it was “expected” that the Hawkeyes would play in the final. I was nervous to see how the Hawkeyes would respond after such an emotional win against Michigan to end the regular season. The Hawkeyes are a very, very mentally tough group; this was evidenced by the fact that the Indianapolis crowd (and at times the referees) wanted the Hawks to fall flat. Not so fast.
Refuse to Lose
It was annoying that the TV crew mentioned 236 times how Caitlin Clark was struggling in the game. She is literally one basketball’s biggest superstars. All of basketball. NCAA. NBA. WNBA. Clark is the first four names written on the opponent’s scouting report. She is fouled, grabbed, and hacked multiple times a game without a call. Part of this is that she is impossible to guard. She creates so many fouls. Seven fouls were called against her. In the defense of the refs, there could have been twice that; it would be ridiculous if every foul was called, so I somewhat understand the no-calls. In this “off” game, Clark finished with a plus/minus of +12. She ended the game with 18 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 assists. She also went 5 for 5 from the free throw line. There aren’t many players in the history of basketball where this would be considered a “bad” game. For the tournament Clark averaged 26 points per game, 9.3 rebounds, and 3.7 assists. Not bad for one of the best basketball players on the planet.
As has been the case this year, Monika Czinano was ridiculous in the championship game. Czinano posted up, demanded the basketball, and delivered time and again. She finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds. She also showed tremendous energy and leadership, especially when the Hawks fell behind and the pro-Hoosier crowd was vociferous. Czinano was not going to allow her teammates to lose that game. Czinano averaged 24.3 points and 6.7 rebounds for the tourney.
Kate Martin finished off a terrific B1G tournament with 14 points, 8 assists, and 4 rebounds. I described Martin as being the Security Blanket the other day. She was Linus’ best friend and then some for this squad.
She’s tough and makes winning plays. If things start to go sideways, it’s often Martin who can right the ship. Martin finished the three games averaging 12.3 points, 6.7 rebounds, and 6.3 assists.
Selection Sunday Upcoming
Tune in to ESPN Sunday, March 13 at 7pm to find out when this squad begins its march to cutting down the nets in Minneapolis. After experiencing confetti after the B1G tournament championship, I think we could all get used to this squad doing confetti angels once more this year.
This team is experienced, tough, and extremely fun to watch. Go get it, Hawks. We all believe. As always, Go Hawks!