I will say that the Iowa women’s basketball team is pretty dang good when watching them on TV. With the Hawkeyes playing a five minute walk from my home, I was able to watch the Caitlin Clark-led Hawks in-person for the first time. They are incredible in so many ways. I was absolutely blown away by the product Coach Lisa Bluder puts on the floor. Before we get to the game, the environment was incredible. I get to a number of Hawk/Gopher football games up here. This was Kinnick North on steroids. Carver North was about 99% Hawk fans yesterday. After a slow start by both teams with some missed shots and turnovers, the Hawkeyes went all-gas, no brakes and the rabid crowd and our squad never looked back. When a sporting event ends with confetti snow angels, it’s been a pretty good tournament.
The Hawkeyes caught fire after a slow start by both teams. At the end of the first quarter it was 26-9 Hawks. The halftime score of 61-24 did not give me a great deal of comfort. Ohio State was down 24 points to Indiana and they pressed their way to the championship game. The Buckeyes did not press as much as I thought they would/should. One thing necessary to set a press is to make shots. The Bucks did not make many in the first half. The Hawkeyes did turn the ball over 16 times, but few of these came against Ohio State’s press. Iowa did an adequate job of breaking the press by flashing Czinano to the ball and running diagonal cuts and/or throwing the ball over the top of Ohio State’s defense.
This game was once again the Caitlin Clark/Monika Czinano show. Clark had a triple-double and when she collected her tenth rebound, the crowd erupted. She finished with 30 points, 10 rebounds, and 17 assists. As I stated I had never seen her play in person. I coached a “kid” in high school who is currently playing his tenth season in the NBA. I coached against NBA, NFL, and MLB players. I have never seen anyone like Clark. She is must-see entertainment. She makes passes and shots that literally make me laugh. What separates Clark from everyone else is that she is doing more for women’s basketball than anyone may ever know. The young fans in the arena will be the next wave of hoopers and Clark is the reason. I’m not comparing her to the GOAT of all GOATS, but a young fan at the arena had a sign that said, “I want to be like
Mike Caitlin.” That to me is more powerful than Clark’s stats.
Just as Clark was dominant, Minnesota’s own Monika Czinano was her typical, automatic self. Czinano was 11-for-12 from the field, had 26 points, and 7 rebounds.
Kate Martin had 13 points. Sydney Affolter provided 11 points in 19 minutes. Affolter and Martin are two gritty players who don’t shy away from physical play. McKenna Warnock grabbed 11 boards. Gabby Marshall continued her hot shooting from three point land. She was 3-for-3 beyond the arc and ended with 9 points. I’m a big fan of Hannah Stuelke. She played 11 minutes and scored 6 points and had 4 rebounds. What impressed me most was that she was very aggressive going after rebounds. After an offseason with Coach Jan Jensen, Stuelke will be approaching an all-Big Ten player.
All of the Hawkeyes saw action in the game.
Now the Hawkeyes can sit back and get ready for the NCAA tournament. The Hawkeyes should be a 2 (maybe 1?) seed and serve as a host. Carver Hawkeye will definitely be rocking. The women’s field and NCAA bracket will be revealed during the selection show March 12 at 7 p.m. CT on ESPN.
This team is capable of great things. Let’s make a run, Hawks! As always, it’s great to be a Hawkeye.