I wasn’t nervous at all. Never a doubt in my mind. Just kidding, we were all standing or on the edge of our seats for much of that game, and certainly the last few minutes. In the end our favorite squad topped a very good Colorado team 87-77. The Hawkeyes jumped out to an early ten point lead, only to have the Buffs storm back. Colorado held a one point halftime lead. The Hawkeyes led for all but five minutes of the game, but it was close almost the entire way. Going in I was extremely impressed with Colorado’s post Quay Miller and point guard Jaylyn Sherrod. We also knew that Frida Formann could shoot from distance. The Hawkeyes held Miller to a quiet 12 points; she did collect 14 rebounds. Jaylyn Sherrod was in foul trouble for much of the game, but she still managed 11 points and 9 assists. Frida Formann kept the Buffs in the game with her shooting; she was scorching hot in the first half and ended with 21 points.
The name of the game was Iowa’s experience. The Hawkeyes had four players score in double figures. Caitlin “Dime Dropper” Clark poured in 31 points, had 8 assists, and collected 2 steals.
I love how the announcer says, “Clark. Can she answer? [splash] Of course.” I had a feeling that Kate Martin was going to show up in a big way and she did not disappoint. Martin finished with 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists. Monika Czinano found herself in foul trouble, but she ended with 15 and 7. Addison O’Grady came in to provide almost 11 important minutes against a big Colorado lineup. Hannah Stuelke gave it a go, but she’s not 100% physically at this time. The game is challenging enough, but when a player isn’t right physically, they then tend to make more mistakes mentally. Instead of Coach Bluder leaving Stuelke on the court to potentially struggle or get re-injured, she pushed the right button and got quality minutes from O’Grady. That’s winning basketball. McKenna Warnock finished with 12 points and 4 rebounds. Here was an athletic play by Warnock after a nice cut.
She also played a role in slowing down Colorado’s posts. Gabbie Marshall added 7 points. Marshall isn’t the biggest player out there, but you won’t find a ton of players who are tougher. It seems like she gets clobbered every game. It’s also nice when your “shooter” doesn’t hit a ton of shots and you win by double digits.
Going in to the game we knew it was going to be a tough battle, especially on the boards. The Hawkeyes got outrebounded 40-32. That is terrifying to me. Giving Division 1 shooters second chances (21 offensive rebounds) normally sends you home this time of year. That can’t continue in Sunday’s game against Louisville.
The second-seeded Hawkeyes tip off against 5 seed Louisville, Sunday, March 26 at 8pm. The Cardinals beat Drake 83-81, Texas 73-51, and Ole Miss 72-62 to get to this matchup. The Hawkeyes have taken care of SE Louisiana, Georgia, and Colorado. Sunday will pit two teams who are obviously playing well in a matchup to determine who makes it to the Final Four.
Louisville is led by dynamic guard Hailey Van Lith. Van Lith is averaging 19.5 ppg and 4.6 rebounds. She is an excellent free throw shooter and more-than-capable from distance (29%). She is a scorer, plain and simple. She has excellent footwork and a motor to work to get her shots. She rarely comes off the court. This matchup will be fun to watch two of the premier guards in the country going head-to-head in Van Lith and Clark.
Van Lith is not bashful. It will be a highly entertaining game, that’s for sure. Van Lith is also very dangerous getting others involved (where have we seen that before?). She has very good handles and can get by her defender almost at will. She drives and kicks for a wide open three. Van Lith is fun to watch. She is very comparable to Caitlin Clark in how she impacts the game in so many different ways.
Louisville’s best post is 6’3” Olivia Cochran. She is averaging 8.1 ppg/6.3 rpg. She has nice size and is skilled from the free throw line and in. She can put the ball on the floor and score. Louisville’s second leading scorer is their best shooter. 5’5” guard Chrislyn Carr is averaging 11.2 points and shooting 90% from the free throw line and a sizzling 43% from three. It will be important for the Hawks to always know where she is and close out quickly with high hands. Giving shooters open looks pretty much means just run down the other way and play offense because the shot is going in. Carr’s shorter stature could be a factor, especially if the Hawkeyes put a taller defender on her.
In my opinion the biggest thing the Hawkeyes have to do is really play great position team defense. Playing out of control or a step or two away out of position leads to open looks and fouls. Both Caitlin Clark and Monika Czinano sat Saturday due to foul trouble. Coach Bluder needs these two on the court as much as possible against a very talented Louisville team. Second, rebound, rebound, rebound. A defensive possession does not end until we secure the rebound. Second chance baskets will almost always lead to a loss, especially this time of year. Van Lith and Carr will both drill those kicked out offensive rebounds. Finally, the Hawkeyes need to take care of the basketball. Fewer than ten turnovers will give our offense an extra couple of possessions; our offense is tremendous but we need to get shots off. Turnovers also lead to fast break opportunities for your opponent. Iowa’s defense has been playing well-ish. Our offense is still our bread and butter.
If the Hawks can avoid foul trouble, rebound, and take care of the basketball, I like our chances. It’s a cliche, but the team that plays the best tomorrow will win. These two teams are evenly matched. If we play our game, we could cut down some nets. Everyone with me, IIIIIIIIII-OOOOOOOO-WWWWWW-AAAAAAA! Let’s go, Hawks!
2 Iowa (29-6) vs 5 Louisville (26-11)
Sunday, March 26th. 8pm.
Hawkeye Radio Network
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