Iowa women’s basketball team adapting to changes during voluntary workouts

The team started workouts June 15, and is following health guidelines amid the COVID-19 pandemic.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa center Monika Czinano shoots during a game against Iowa State at the Hilton Coliseum on Wednesday December 11, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cyclones, 75-69. Cizano had a total of 20 points.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The Iowa women’s basketball team returned Iowa City for voluntary workouts on June 15, but not without a few changes.

Amid COVID-19 concern, no coaches other than the strength and conditioning coach — for safety reasons — are currently allowed on the floor during practice.

Coaches are required to wear masks whenever they are in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and will be required to wear masks during practice when they are allowed to be on the floor starting July 20. Athletes at Carver are also required to wear masks when they aren’t actively working out and have taken precautions by increasing sanitation of equipment and handwashing.

Despite the extra precautions, the Hawkeyes are excited to get back to work.

“[Starting practices] have been amazing,” junior center Monika Czinano said. “It’s been a long time in the making. It’s been great being able to get back to doing what we love.”

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For freshman point guard Caitlin Clark, being able to life and shoot together has been beneficial for the team, even though they haven’t been able to practice with coaches.

“It’s been really good getting into rhythm with everybody and being able to come back,” she said.

This season, the team is faced with the loss of three dynamic seniors — particularly 2020 Big Ten Player of the Year Kathleen Doyle. Doyle and Mackenzie Meyer were four-year starters for the Hawkeyes, and Doyle was drafted in the second round of the WNBA draft to the Indiana Fever in April.

But head coach Lisa Bluder isn’t fazed by the losses.

“Every year, it’s 25 percent out and 25 percent in,” Bluder said. “Our job as coaches is to make the new group excel to the best of their ability and the team molds to be one unit.”

With the absence of the seniors and the coaches on the floor for the first few weeks of practice, the upperclassmen have been leading the charge with shootarounds, lifts, and scrimmages.

For this next season, the Hawkeyes want to work on their defensive game. Patchy defense was one of the killers of Iowa’s season last year.

“Last year we were really strong offensively, and obviously we want to improve that and grow on it,” Czinano said. “But I think defense is something that the coaches have made a point to focus on this season.”

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The 2019-20 Iowa women’s basketball team went 24-7 last season and finished third in the Big Ten, but the team was knocked out of the Big Ten Tournament in the quarterfinals by Ohio State. They were set to make a run in the NCAA tournament before it was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This season, they have the same goal as every year.

“Every year, we want to be Big Ten champs,” Czinano said. “Starting and building on what we have now is going to be crucial.”

Despite the excitement and high expectations for next season, the pandemic still raises questions. Bluder said everyone is concerned about whether or not the team will be able to have a season.

“I’m definitely worried,” Czinano said. “But at the end of the day we have to do what’s best for the whole population.”