Women’s basketball looks to senior Tania Davis for guidance, inspiration

Iowa guard Tania Davis’ talent and incredible vision have never been in question. Two ACL tears have limited her impact on the team, but Davis is keen on making a difference for Hawkeye basketball this season.


Lily Smith

Iowa guard Tania Davis poses for a portrait during the Iowa women’s basketball media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018. The Hawkeyes begin their season at against Guilford College at Carver on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Pete Mills, Sports Reporter

When people talk about basketball, they talk about the joys of the game; raucous crowds, last-second shots, and Cinderella stories all form special moments that spark a passion for the game for many. What they don’t talk about are the hardships and misfortunes that infect the sport.

Iowa guard Tania Davis has been on the receiving end of some of basketball’s worst hardships and misfortunes.

Davis showed up in Iowa City in 2015 as Michigan’s reigning Miss Basketball, a member of the ESPN Top 40 at her position.

She saw immediate action as a Hawkeye and quickly became a force to be reckoned with for head coach Lisa Bluder’s team. In her first season on one of the sports’ biggest stages, Davis led the Hawkeyes in assists with 111, the second-most for a freshman in program history.

This all changed in her sophomore season.

Davis had her way with defenses early that season, proving herself as one of the Big Ten’s up-and-coming guards. She provided the Hawkeyes with an uncanny ability to see all parts of the court with an incredible vision, as well as a good 3-point stroke with a shooting percentage of .333 beyond the arc.

But Davis was sidelined midway through the season with an ACL tear.

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Of course, a long mental and physical recovery ensued.

She remained vigilant and positive, made a comeback in last years’ opening games, and again was very effective. Despite the injury, Davis was even more lethal. In the first 11 games of the season, Davis shot .412 from beyond the arc and averaged around 10 points per game.

However, misfortune struck again. Davis suited up in the team’s game against Northern Iowa but left the game with another ACL tear, this time in the other knee.

Davis knew what to expect in the recovery physically because of the tear the season before. The mental trials that arose tested her.

“Life happens,” she said. “Everything isn’t going to be on the straight and narrow, is not on a smooth road. Thinking back on my career here at Iowa, I would definitely say there’s been a lot of learning. Learning about who I am as an individual, especially outside of basketball. The injuries have shown me that basketball is not always going to be there for me like I want.”

Her teammates have watched Davis throughout the whole process.  Typically, a long-term injury affects a player’s vision or physicality. This has not been the case with Davis. Her teammates have watched her continue to be a special playmaker even through the tough mental tests she has faced.

“[Davis] has so much confidence in herself,” teammate Makenzie Meyer said. “We have confidence in her. You wouldn’t believe it, but she could be off the court for six months, and come back, and still see things that nobody else can. It’s just like she hasn’t even been gone.”

Davis’ presence this season could make the Hawkeyes special.

“There is no doubt that Tania makes everybody on the team better when she’s on the court,” said Bluder. “She has the ability to see the floor. She knows the team so well, knows when to attack, when to pull back … We’re a better team with Tania on the floor.”

High aspirations will loom in the shadows behind Hawkeye basketball this year. Davis has risen past heavy doses of adversity in her career. But her attitude, experience, and confidence can only help the Hawkeyes become a great success story.