Iowa women’s basketball preparing for quick start to season

With only five non-conference games this season, the young Hawkeyes will need to be prepared for the high level of Big Ten competition immediately.


Shivansh Ahuja

Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder talks to her team 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.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

With just under a month until the 2020-21 Iowa women’s basketball season gets underway, the Hawkeyes’ young roster this year is working to gain continuity.

There’s still no official schedule for the Hawkeyes, as the coaching staff races to put together a non-conference game slate.

“We have talent, but we are missing experience,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “We’re missing those game reps, and nothing can really replace that except for game reps.”

There will be less of a gradual increase in quality of competition this season, as the Hawkeyes will only play five non-conference games, compared to the typical 10-game non-conference season. Some of the non-conference games may occur after the Big Ten season starts, so Iowa could play Big Ten opposition within right out of the gate in 2020-21.

Typically, the Hawkeyes use their 10 non-conference games to gauge their progress, make any adjustments they need, and build confidence with wins against weaker competition. That will not be the case this season, as Iowa may be playing Maryland instead of teams like North Alabama early in the year.

“Not having those non-conference games is going to hurt us a little bit to help us catch up to everyone else’s experience,” Bluder said.

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The non-conference games before the real competition picks up will be critical for the Hawkeyes to learn how to sort everything out.

The Hawkeyes are feeling confident in the mix of experience and youth they have and are going with the mindset that everyone is going through the same thing they are, so there is less of a reason to focus on the negatives.

Many of the players said they’re excited to get straight to the big games in the season this year and face off against the best in the country.

“We’ll have to be ready from the get-go — we don’t have time to mess around and learn from your mistakes,” freshman guard Caitlin Clark said. “It’s definitely exciting. Who doesn’t love playing in big and exciting games?”

The Hawkeyes’ leaders have had to step up and provide the team with encouragement and motivation to ensure the team is prepared for an unprecedented start to the season, diving right into Big Ten play with no non-conference warmups. This year’s captains – senior guards Alexis Sevillian and Zion Sanders, plus sophomore guard Kate Martin – are mostly new to leadership positions on the team.

“We have done a great job of overcoming the obstacles we have faced and not making excuses for anything we have been given,” Sevillian said. “We’re trying to enjoy each other and have fun during this process.”

The team’s solid leadership is one of the reasons its freshmen have done well so far. Some freshmen will become crucial to the team’s success this season, so the sooner they’re acclimated, the better they’ll play for the team.

“I am sure it’s not going to be perfect right away, but that is why we have been working so hard in preseason, and coach is going to get us ready for those Big Ten games,” Martin said.