Iowa women’s basketball looks to start season on right foot

Iowa women’s basketball ready to start what the players and coaches hope will be a historic season.

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Iowa women’s basketball looks to start season on right foot

Iowa's Monika Cznano shoots at the end of the first quarter. Iowa women's basketball defeated Dakota Wesleyan in a preseason match up on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers in 102-54 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Iowa's Monika Cznano shoots at the end of the first quarter. Iowa women's basketball defeated Dakota Wesleyan in a preseason match up on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers in 102-54 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Chris Kalous

Iowa's Monika Cznano shoots at the end of the first quarter. Iowa women's basketball defeated Dakota Wesleyan in a preseason match up on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers in 102-54 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Chris Kalous

Chris Kalous

Iowa's Monika Cznano shoots at the end of the first quarter. Iowa women's basketball defeated Dakota Wesleyan in a preseason match up on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. The Hawkeyes defeated the Tigers in 102-54 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.

Jordan Zuniga, Sports Reporter

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The Iowa women’s basketball season has finally arrived, with the Hawkeyes set to take on Oral Roberts at 7 p.m. today in Carver-Hawkeye.

The game will be the opener for the No. 13 Hawkeyes in a season full of high expectations.

It will also be the first regular-season game that Iowa will suit up for without starting guard Kathleen Doyle.

That means players such as Alexis Sevillian, who will replace Doyle in the starting five, will have to be efficient with an increased role.

RELATED: Iowa women’s basketball crushes Dakota Wesleyan in first exhibition

“It’s going to take some time to adjust to not having Kathleen in the lineup,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “I thought Lexi [Sevillian] did a really good job [in the exhibition]. I thought she did a nice job in that role.”

In the exhibition game against Dakota Wesleyan, Sevillian had 17 points and 8 assists to accompany 3 steals.

She is no stranger to stepping up for injured teammates — she was essential in the second half of last season when she filled in for Tania Davis.

Last season, Sevillian averaged 8.7 points, 2.4 assists, and 2.1 rebounds and was a pest on the defensive end.

Also helping Sevillian when Doyle is out will be a healthy Davis, who looked almost back up to speed after missing the second half of last season with a torn ACL.

Davis’ comeback was an extremely welcome sight for her teammates, who appreciate the way she runs the Hawkeye offense.

“It’s awesome to have her back on the court,” forward Megan Gustafson said. “She’s the calming presence on the court that we missed last year.”

Davis’ return, especially with the injury to Doyle, is a tremendous help to the Hawkeyes to start the season.

However, Doyle isn’t the only Hawkeye on the injury report for the Iowa; freshman Kate Martin will miss the season, and Zion Sanders and Carley Mohns have been battling injuries.

But Sanders and Mohns should be ready to go for today’s game but could be limited, Bluder said.

While learning how to play with fewer players is certainly a focus, the Hawkeyes will also try to clean up some defensive woes they rain into in the exhibition game.

“I thought we did really well on Tuesday,” Davis said. “I just think we need to tune up our defense. Once we do that, we’ll be perfectly fine.”

Defending the 3-point arc is a specific area on defense the Hawkeyes will look to improve upon.

The deep ball was something that plagued them at times last season, including in their final game against Creighton; the Bluejays put up 9 3s on 37.5 percent shooting.

These Hawkeyes are certainly ready to get the season going, and they couldn’t be more excited to open in front of a home crowd.

“We have the luxury of opening up in Carver-Hawkeye Arena,” Bluder said. “It’s one of the best places to play in America. Our players love to play here. I think it’s going to be a great environment.”

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