Iowa basketball is in a good place, the men’s team came in this week ranked 21st in the AP Poll and dominated Nebraska. But the real story this basketball season is the incredible revival effort done by Lisa Bluder for the Iowa women’s basketball team.
Last season the Iowa Women’s team had a historic season, they won the Big Ten tournament, finished at 26-6 and made it all the way to the Elite 8 before falling to Baylor who would go on to win the whole thing. Leading last year was maybe the greatest Hawkeye of all time (in any sport) Megan Gustafson. Gustafson won national player of the year averaging 27.8 points per game and 13.4 rebounds.
Not only did last years Elite 8 team lose their Naismith Player of the Year but also lost key pieces around her. Hannah Steward who was third on the team in scoring and second in rebounds last season. Tania Davis scored 1,000 points in her career and had 162 assists her senior year which is the 6th most in the history of Iowa Women’s basketball.
Despite losing Gustafson the Hawkeyes are right back in the mix at the top of the Big Ten. The #17 ranked Iowa Women’s basketball team is tied with Maryland at 11-2 in conference play and 20-4 overall on the season with a matchup Thursday night against the aforementioned Maryland Terrapins.
Coming into the 2019-2020 season a down year would have been accepted, you can’t replace a Naismith player of the year. You just can’t do it. Coming in unranked, Lisa Bluder has gotten this right back in the mix both in the Big Ten and nationally, winning fourteen of their last sixteen games including two wins over top 25 teams.
Kathleen Doyle has been a huge emergence now leading the team in scoring with 18.7 points per game and averaging 6.5 assists per game which ranks 8th in the NCAA. Amanda Ollinger has stepped up in her increased role leading the way with 8.5 rebounds per game and adding 7.5 points. Makenzie Meyer is a sharpshooter, shooting 40.5% from beyond the arc on her way to averaging 14.8 points per game. This team has the pieces to make another serious run come March.
If Iowa can win on the road at Maryland, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for the coveted regular-season Big Ten championship with four home games against opponents the Hawks have already beaten left. Sure the men’s team is great this year, but the real story in Iowa City should be just how incredible this year’s success is for Lisa Bluder and the Iowa women’s basketball team.