Iowa women’s basketball continuing to emphasize the assist

Last season saw the Hawkeyes do a great job spreading the floor and passing.


David Harmantas

The Iowa Women’s Basketball team huddles up on a time out during a basketball game against Michigan State on Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. The Hawkeyes defeated the Spartans 86-71.

Ben Palya, Sports Reporter

Last season, emphasizing the assist was something that Iowa women’s basketball wanted to focus on. Instead of looking for a good shot, the team tried to create quality chances over a bunch of them. 

This is evident with the statistics, as the team stood out from the rest of the Big Ten in several categories. The Hawkeyes finished first in the conference in assists per game, averaging 20 each contest. This translated to a high shooting percentage, as the team had the best field goal and three point shooting percentage of any time in the conference as well. 

“Passing is a big thing on our team, we value a great shot over a good shot and we get excited over a great pass rather than someone taking it up themselves,” sophomore guard Gabbie Marshall said. 

Iowa is looking to continue the trend into this season, but it will not be easy. Guard Kathleen Doyle led the league in assists last year with 6.3 per game. Guard Makenzie Meyer was seventh in the Big Ten with 4.0 per contest, meaning about half of its assist production will need to be replaced.

It is never easy replacing two stars of that magnitude at the first time of asking, but Iowa boasts the players to be able to do so.

When looking at players from last year’s team, several have the ability to spread the floor. Guard Alexis Sevillian could become the team’s assist leader, and has the most assists per game left from last season. She sometimes struggled to shoot last season, but was almost always reliable to make key passes when it mattered. 

RELATED: Bench players looking to make impact this season for Iowa women’s basketball

Sophomore guard/forward McKenna Warnock is another player from last season’s team that will be important with the assist this campaign. Warnock averaged just under two assists per game her freshman year as a bench player. With Warnock almost certainly getting more playing time this time around, she should be able to up her impact and help make up for some of the lost production. 

Warnock shot over 50 percent last season, so she might find herself as a beneficiary from some of the team’s great passing.

All the freshmen this season could certainly help with the production this season, but guard Caitlin Clark will most likely stand out, and possibly become the leader in assists. Much has been said about her ability to pass the ball. 

“Last year, we saw a lot of Kathleen Doyle being able to distribute the ball the way she did,” Sevillian said. “We knew what we were losing, but here we have someone who can fill those shoes.”

Clark is a solid player all around, but does have some flair to her game. Hawkeye fans should be on the lookout for her signature behind the back passes, which have become a part of her game in college practice. 

“There’s no way to get ready for that kind of thing, you just have to stay ready,” junior center/forward Monika Czinano said. “She’s an incredible passer, and her ability to dish out assists is amazing.”

Czinano will be another important part of the assist equation, as she often found herself on the receiving end of the assists. The Big Ten leader in field goal percentage could help the team by continuing to get open and create chances in the post. 

Iowa opens its season on Nov. 25 against Northern Iowa in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The rest of the schedule hasn’t been released yet.

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