Iowa women’s basketball adjusting to sparse, masked-up practices

The team started practices later than planned after the athletics department suspended practices the first week of September.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa forward Monika Czinano looks to shoot during a women’s basketball match between Iowa and Indiana at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Jan. 12, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Hoosiers, 91-85, in double overtime.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

The NCAA announced on Sept. 16 a Nov. 25 start date for men’s and women’s basketball, two weeks later than the original Nov. 10 start date.

The extra two weeks before the season will be beneficial for the Iowa women’s basketball team that has not had much time to practice this semester so far. After voluntary workouts over the summer, the team had August off, and all athletic workouts were suspended from Aug. 31 to Sept. 7, following an uptick in COVID-19 cases in the athletics department.

Without access to Carver-Hawkeye Arena, the team took advantage of the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center to do lifting and cardio workouts. By now, the team has gotten used to unconventional workouts.

“We definitely had to get creative over this whole COVID season,” junior forward/center Monika Czinano said. “Our strength coach does a great job of sending us workouts, just making sure that we’re doing what we can even when we don’t have Carver.”

The team started official practices after Labor Day, but not everyone has been able to participate.

“Some drills are really tough to do with just six people,” Czinano said. “There will be some practices where we don’t have everybody, so it’s just kind of getting adjusted and adapting to whatever is happening at that time.”

Sophomore guard Gabbie Marshall has been unable to practice with the team this semester because she tested positive for COVID-19. She has since recovered but is waiting on a cardiac test before she can practice with the team again.

Marshall said she has not been able to work out at all during her isolation period. Her symptoms were mild, and she doesn’t anticipate any issues with her cardiac test. When she gets back into workouts and practice, Marshall said, she’s sure she will be able to regain her endurance.

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Czinano said that after more than a month off, the entire team is working on getting back into full shape for the season. Despite some sparse practices, she is grateful to be practicing again.

“I think it’s just so nice to finally be able to get into practicing,” Czinano said. “That’s when a lot of bonding on the court really happens, and you get to really know your teammates.”

Head coach Lisa Bluder is especially impressed with the freshmen on the team, who have come into workouts with a good mindset despite the unusual circumstances.

“I’m really happy with our four freshmen and how they’ve just come into our system ready to contribute,” Bluder said. “Very positive, very competitive … They’re prepared for this, and we’re really excited and welcoming them with open arms.”

Health and safety protocols require the team to wear masks at times during practice. While it has been an adjustment, the team isn’t having any major issues with masking up. Czinano said that it makes the team better, in a way, and the players talk about how much easier it will be when they can finally take the mask off.

“It definitely is harder, for sure,” Czinano said. “I never in my life thought I’d ever have to play basketball with a mask on.”