Czinano, Hawkeyes barrel toward Big Ten play

The junior center is the only returning 2019-20 starter on Iowa’s 2020-21 roster.

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Katina Zentz

Iowa forward Monika Czinao and Ohio State forward Aailyah Patty jump for the tip-off during the Iowa vs. Ohio State Women’s Big Ten Tournament game at Bankers Life Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Friday, March 6, 2020. The Buckeyes defeated the Hawkeyes 87-66.

Chloe Peterson, Sports Reporter


Monika Czinano is ready to bring her veteran experience to Big Ten play.

While her teammate, freshman Caitlin Clark, has been making headlines through Iowa’s first two games of the season, Czinano has made herself a quiet threat on the court with Clark as her partner-in-crime.

“A two-person game with Caitlin and Monika is pretty special,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “It’s hard to defend that, especially if you have some 3-point shooters spotting up on the help situation.”

The 6-foot-3 center tallied a career-high 27 points against Drake on Wednesday with an 85 percent shooting percentage from the field. Almost half of those points came in the fourth quarter, when her veteran leadership was pivotal for the Hawkeyes.

“When she gets on a roll, when she’s feeling it, it’s like get the ball back to her, get the ball back to her,” Bluder said. “She’s just working her tail off in there, trying to work to get to position.”

After a drastically shortened non-conference schedule, the Hawkeyes will take on the Wisconsin Badgers to open Big Ten play this weekend. Wisconsin won its first game against Western Illinois, and the trip to Carver-Hawkeye Arena serves as the Badgers’ first road test of the season.

“It’s strange, really. Wisconsin has only had one game,” Bluder said.  “We’ve had two, so neither one of us is real experienced. We have the advantage obviously of playing at home, but also they have the advantage of being able to focus all week on us. It’s kind of like us getting ready for Drake. Drake went up to Green Bay and played and we had a whole week. That gives you time to rest, it gives you time to really prepare for your opponent. So, Wisconsin has that advantage coming into this game. I don’t know what’s more important, the experience you gain from playing or the extra prep time to prepare for the game.”

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Despite the reduced prep, Bluder said it’s going to be fun to open up the Big Ten season.

Czinano is the only returning 2019-20 starter for the Hawkeyes this season after fifth-year senior Alexis Sevillian suffered an injury last season that forced her out of the starting lineup. Similar to Iowa, Wisconsin has a young team this season. The Badgers are, however, returning two starters to their lineup.

This season, Czinano said she needs to adjust her mindset with regard to Iowa’s schedule.

“It’s definitely different,” Czinano said. “Normally we have a really long non-conference season, it feels like, and then we jump into the Big Ten and that’s its own long season. I kind of break them up into two separate seasons in my head. But this year we’ll be jumping in and out and I’m really excited to be able to go into the Big Ten.”

Czinano added that she’s excited to be playing basketball at all during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I took it for granted before, honestly,” she said. “With everything that happened with [COVID-19], I just kind of expected to always have basketball and then it got taken away from this whole team. I’m just really excited to be able to go in again, do what I love, do it against really great competition, and I’m really excited for this team to show off what we can do.”

The Hawkeyes will look to extend their 37-game home win streak on Saturday.

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