Iowa women’s basketball finds depth at center for 2020-21 season

Freshman Sharon Goodman will backup junior Monika Czinano at the five.


Hannah Kinson

Iowa forward Monika Czinano catches a rebound during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Minnesota at Carver Hawkeye Arena on Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. The Hawkeyes defeated the Gophers, 90-82.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter

Last season, junior Monika Czinano took the lead at center for the Hawkeyes and made for an impressive addition to Iowa’s starting lineup – especially considering Czinano was charged with replacing Naismith and AP National Player of Megan Gustafson down low.

Czinano boasted a 67.9 percent shooting percentage, leading the Big Ten and ranking second nationally. If she had made just two more field goals, she would have led the country in shooting percentage. Czinano’s performance last season earned her a spot on the All-Big Ten first team.

Now, the junior continues to rack up accolades. On Wednesday, Czinano was named to the Preseason All-Big Ten first team by both the coaches and the media.

At a press conference on Monday, head coach Lisa Bluder noted how much Czinano has improved over her last two years with the Hawkeyes.

“Her improvement from freshman to sophomore year, I think, was nothing but remarkable,” Bluder said. “I’m so excited to have Monika for a few more years, and I think she’s just continued her growth over the past year… She’s very physical. She’s more of a vocal leader this year than she was last year, and she knows the team is counting on her to put the basket in the hole.”

Although Czinano was not a captain last year and isn’t this year, she’s still a vocal leader on the court. Bluder said that after point guard Kathleen Doyle graduated last year, the team was missing emotional leadership. Czinano filled the void Doyle left behind, and her teammates are responding with energy and effort on the court.

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“We needed her to work on so many other things and concentrate on so many other things that I didn’t want [being a captain] to be on her plate as well, but she is a leader just because that’s the type of person she is.”  Bluder said.

A lack of depth behind Czinano proved problematic for the Hawkeyes last season if Czinano ever found herself in foul trouble. In 2020-21, that will not be the case.

Freshman center Sharon Goodman came into this season ready to impress, matching Czinano’s nearly 70 percent shooting percentage in practice.

Bluder said that she has been extremely pleased with Goodman’s performance in practice so far, mentioning Goodman has improved her hands and started to “run the floor.”

The Lime Springs, Iowa, native stands at 6-foot-2 and boasted a 73.5 percent shooting percentage while averaging 27 points and 10.8 rebounds per game her senior year at Crestwood High School.

According to Bluder, Czinano is the team’s starter at center, but Goodman will get her share of opportunities to play.

“One of our downfalls [last season] was that we didn’t have a good backup five. And now this year, we have two exceptional post players,” Bluder said. “Right now, Monika has the start because of the experience level, but I am not going to hesitate to go to the bench and to use Sharon. To have the comfort of knowing that you have 10 fouls to give down there is tremendous, and us not having to change our game plan so much when Monika needs a break or gets into foul trouble.”

Iowa and the Big Ten Conference have yet to release an official schedule for the upcoming season, but the NCAA did announce Sept. 16 that the men’s and women’s basketball seasons will begin Nov. 25.

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