Iowa women’s basketball facing fan-less 2020-21 season

At a press conference Monday, head coach Lisa Bluder said her team is worried about playing in a fan-less Carver-Hawkeye Arena.


Katie Goodale

Head Coach Lisa Bluder addresses the press during the women’s basketball media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Wednesday Oct. 31, 2018. Bluder discussed the expected success of the team, as well as senior Megan Gustafson and various new freshman.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball thrives on the atmosphere fans create at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The Hawkeyes have not lost a home game in two and a half years – amounting to a 36-game home winning streak.

Typically, fans come out in droves to watch the Hawkeyes win. Iowa women’s basketball had an average attendance of 7,102 on the 2019-20 season – 10th-best in all of Division I Women’s Basketball.

This year, the Hawkeyes might have to adjust to cardboard cutouts cheering them on, as the University of Iowa Department of Intercollegiate Athletics does not expect to have fan attendance at both women’s and men’s basketball games this season. Although, the Big Ten Conference has yet to make an official determination on winter sport fan attendance.

At a press conference on Monday, head coach Lisa Bluder attributed some of the Hawkeyes’ success to the fans.

“We’re worried about [a fan-less season],” Bluder said. “Because I think that our fan support has been so outstanding. I mean, the last two years we’ve been in the top ten in the nation for attendance, and I am concerned because they bring a great energy to our arena. We haven’t lost here for two and a half years. Part of that is because we’ve had good teams, part of that is because we have a great home court advantage. Our home court advantage was based on our very vocal, knowledgeable fans. Not having that is going to take a little bit of our energy away.”

Like other teams around the nation, the Hawkeyes will need to use each other to power through lulls during tough games in empty arenas.

“We’re going to have to find our own energy to play this year,” Bluder said. “I always think that’s kind of a silly thing to say, because who wouldn’t want to play the game you love as a 20-year-old? You know you should have energy all the time. But it sure is nice late in the game when you have that crowd just really get behind you and really drive you.”

A fan-less Carver-Hawkeye Arena isn’t the only challenge Iowa will face this season as the Hawkeyes only get four or five non-conference games prior to Big Ten play beginning. Bluder’s Hawkeyes typically use non-conference games as a barometer to measure where the team stands. Non-conference games also help Iowa get in game shape and identify what it needs to work on.

This year, the Hawkeyes will play 20 Big Ten games as opposed to the usual 18.

Bluder said that the change happened this year because of health and safety measures implemented by the conference. However, she hopes it is a one-year change as an 18-game conference schedule has been part of the Hawkeyes’ recipe for success.

Iowa’s non-conference schedule features three in-state opponents – Drake, Northern Iowa, and Iowa State.

Western Illinois is also on Iowa’s non-conference schedule. According to Bluder, Iowa has not scheduled a fifth non-conference game yet.

“We’re still looking. It’s not easy,” Bluder said. “And quite honestly, the Big Ten was really late in deciding that we were going to play non-conference games. Everybody else had kind of been jumping on them. It’s a little bit tough to find [opponents], and if we don’t, we don’t – we’ll play 24 this year, but 25 is the goal.”