After a record-setting exhibition against DePaul at Kinnick Stadium, the Iowa Hawkeyes quietly took care of Clarke University 122-49 in a more traditional setting, Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Coach Lisa Bluder was able to get minutes for a dozen or more players in both contests. Here are a few observations for this year’s team based on the first two scrimmages.
I have watched and written about every game the past three years. I am fairly certain of one thing. Iowa’s season will come down to how well the posts develop and play. Monika Czinano started 127 games for the Hawkeyes. McKenna Warnock played 122 games. That is an incredible amount of experience that Lisa Bluder and Jan Jensen need to replace. A few statistics from the two exhibitions.
I have stated that I believe Hannah Stuelke will be an all-conference player; maybe even as soon as this year. Monika Czinano was one of the most efficient posts I’ve ever seen. The platoon of Addison O’Grady and Sharon Goodman has a good chance of replicating Czinano’s stats. Monika averaged 17.1 points, 6.5 rebounds, and shot 67.4% from the field. I expect the duo to average fewer points but collect more rebounds. Stuelke is extremely fast in transition and her shot is becoming more fluid/consistent. O’Grady and Goodman receive world-class instruction from Coach Jan Jensen in the low post. The Hawkeyes will need to develop leadership from this position to replace Czinano and Warnock.
Everyone across the country wants to see Caitlin Clark. Last year opposing arenas sold out when the Caitlin Clark Show came to town. This year it is blowing up even more. Fans across the country want to catch a glimpse of basketball greatness. I’m going to say something that may not be popular. Lisa Bluder should absolutely be aware of Clark’s minutes to the point of holding her back in situations where the game is decided. That’s not what fans want to see and hear, but I feel it is the right choice. Iowa’s success hinges on number 22. Clark may very well be the all-time scorer in women’s college hoops. Clark has scored 2717 points in her career. She is 810 points shy of Kelsey Plum’s (Washington) total of 3527. Would it be great for Clark to break the record? Of course. Are victories more important to Clark and the University of Iowa? Again, of course. I’d like to have my cake and eat it too. Maybe we can have both. Clark obviously is the focus of every scouting report. She takes a beating almost every game. If it means breaking a scoring record or Iowa making another postseason run, I’m all about the team. Clark could return for another season at Iowa, but I believe she will take the next step and help the WNBA achieve bigger and better things. Enjoy this for one more year Hawk (and women’s college basketball) fans.
In addition to Clark, the Hawkeyes return Kate Martin and Gabbie Marshall. They are excellent, experienced players. Molly Davis, Sydney Affolter, and Kylie Feuerbach will split quite a few minutes playing away from the basket. It is a cliche, but these players will need to do the “little things” (there’s no such thing as a little thing) in order for the Hawks to have another memorable season. Defense, rebounding, and hustle all play a key part in winning basketball. I feel these players can and will bring these attributes to the table. Another player that I’m intrigued by is sophomore Taylor McCabe. McCabe is a shooter. If she can come off the bench and bury some deep threes, it will open up more room for Iowa’s posts, and it will also force defenders to not be so quick to leave their player to double Caitlin Clark.
Fairleigh Dickinson (FDU) Knights
The Hawkeyes are set to tip off the season on Monday, November 6 at 6:30 p.m. (B1G+) / Hawkeye Radio Network. FDU was 24-8/14-2 last year. The Knights averaged 65.1 points and allowed 53.2 a year ago. They shot 34% from three-point land and allowed just 22% from distance. Fairleigh Dickinson will try to slow the game down. They do not want to get in a track meet with the Hawks. The Knights lost quite a bit of scoring and experience from last year’s squad.
I’ll leave you with this... (We’re going to the Natty again!)
If you’re like me, last year’s run to the national championship was a lifelong memory. It will be tough to get back there, but let’s see what we can do. It’s great to be a Hawkeye! Go Hawks!