One of the last times we checked in, the Iowa women’s basketball team was climbing its way to the Final Four and NCAA championship game. That was as fun of a season following a team as I have had in my 53 years. Coach Bluder, her staff, and her players make watching basketball a joy. Last year’s team provided lifetime memories for many basketball fans, including non-Hawkeyes. One of my very good friends is a diehard Minnesota Gophers fan. His family bought him a #22 Caitlin Clark t-shirt for Father’s Day as he loves watching her play. Clark and Iowa basketball are becoming a national must-see event.
Crossover at Kinnick
The Hawkeyes will be in the spotlight this Sunday (Oct 15) as they take on DePaul University at 2 p.m. So far over 51,000 tickets have been sold for the Kinnick Stadium exhibition. The game will be televised on the B1G Network. This would be an amazing venue to watch this program and WAVE to the kids. All proceeds of the event will benefit The University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital. This is one of the many reasons why I’m proud to be a Hawkeye.
This will be an excellent first look at this year’s squad. Iowa returns three starters. It will be difficult to replace the experience of Monika Czinano and McKenna Warnock, but with that also comes opportunity. I am most interested in the development of posts Addison O’Grady and Hannah Stuelke. O’Grady has decent size and post coach Jan Jensen is one of the best in the biz. The Hawkeyes do an excellent job with spacing (it helps to have Caitlin Clark) and entering the ball into the post. I’d expect O’Grady to have similar offensive numbers to Czinano, and I expect her to grab a few more rebounds than Monika.
There has been word that Hannah Stuelke has developed an outside shot. Hannah could be an all-conference performer as early as this season with her motor, athleticism, and desire. It also sounds like Molly Davis has made strides this offseason. One other player that intrigues me is Taylor McCabe. McCabe is known for her shooting. Caitlin Clark’s name will be the first, second, and third thing written on opponents’ scouting reports. I could see McCabe getting a lot of wide-open three-point looks as opposing defenses will be trying to help slow down Caitlin Clark. Clark likes to win, and she is an excellent and willing passer. Clark would be content with a 10-point, 10-assist win every night.
Caitlin Clark - State Farm
Caitlin Clark joins Patrick Mahomes and Chris Paul to represent State Farm Insurance. Clark became the first college athlete to pick up an NIL deal with the company.
It is an amazing thing to follow this young woman’s career. I laugh a few times a game at what she does on the court. She is so good it’s mind-boggling. I am even more impressed with her off the court. Caitlin has grown women’s basketball in her three years on campus, and she’s not done yet.
More National Exposure
I count 17 games that this year’s Hawkeye team will play on “national” TV. The Hawks will be on ESPN2, FS1, Peacock, Fox, and NBC. This is an absurdly beautiful number of games where everyone across the country can watch a special player and team.
How does all of the attention surrounding Iowa’s women’s basketball team affect recruiting? It helps Lisa Bluder get her foot in the door. After that, the program sells itself. The love and affection that emanates from this team is a palpable thing. Many programs use the term “family”, but if you watch and listen to these Hawkeyes, that is just what you see. They enjoy each other and they play for one another.
Aaliah Guyton is the daughter of a former Indiana Hoosier (AJ Guyton) and WNBA player (Adriana Moises Pinto). She is a four-star recruit ranked #57 in the nation by ESPN. She averaged 21.6 ppg, 4.6 reb, and 3.8 assists her junior year.
Teagan Mallegni is ranked #59 overall in her class. Last year she averaged 24.5 ppg, 11.9 rebounds, 4.8 assists, 3.9 steals, and 1.7 blocks. Those are ridiculous, stat-sheet-stuffing numbers.
Taylor Stremlow is ranked #88 in her class. She also is a four-star recruit. ESPN has Stremlow rated as a 91 overall. Her game reminds me a little bit of Caitlin Clark (never a bad thing).
Ava Heiden is ranked #42 overall in her class. The 6’4” post out of Oregon very well may be the next great Hawkeye post player.
Callie Levin is a homegrown Hawkeye who hails from Solon, Iowa. Levin may not have the national ranking of the other players, but that is mostly because she committed to the Hawkeyes very early in her high school career.
The Hawkeyes already have received an enormous commitment in their 2025 class from Journey Houston. Houston hails from Davenport, Iowa. She has been tabbed as the 19th-best player in the 2025 class.
- So Hawk fans, we don’t have much longer to wait. Do I expect this team to get back to the Final Four? Not necessarily. The Hawks and Clark will have a giant target on their backs. If you want to be the best, you have to play the best. Clark and company wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s great to be a Hawkeye!