Taiwo, Feuerbach primed for key roles off the bench for Iowa women’s basketball

Hawkeye role players Tomi Taiwo and Kylie Feuerbach will add to Iowa’s depth with pivotal defensive minutes this season.


Grace Smith

Iowa seniors Monika Czinano, Kate Martin, Logan Cook, Tomi Taiwo, and senior staff members take a photo during Iowa women’s basketball media day at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Thursday, Oct. 28, 2021.

Dawson Moore, Sports Reporter

Iowa women’s basketball is returning all of its starters from the 2020-21 season, but the Hawkeyes also have key players that will be first off the bench.

The Hawkeyes will rely on Iowa State transfer sophomore guard Kylie Feuerbach and senior guard Tomi Taiwo to aid their defensive efforts this season.

Taiwo is coming off a 2020-21 season with the Hawkeyes averaging 14.4 minutes per game with 3.7 points and shooting 40 percent from beyond the arc. The senior doubled her minutes from 2019-20 to 2020-21 because of her defensive capabilities.

Taiwo recorded nine steals and 32 rebounds in her limited minutes last season.

“Tomi is an excellent perimeter defensive player,” head coach Lisa Bluder said. “She gets her hands on a lot of basketballs. She’s got good anticipation skills, and she gets a lot of deflections.”

During the offseason, Taiwo worked to improve her on-ball defense to help bolster Iowa’s defensive play. The Hawkeyes ranked 336th out of 336 Division I teams allowing 80.6 points per game last season.

“Fine-tuning my on-ball defense has been a huge focus for me this offseason,” Taiwo told The Daily Iowan at Iowa women’s basketball media day on Oct. 28. “Making sure I can lock up anyone I am guarding is a huge goal for me, along with getting better with scoring from all three levels.”

Taiwo is also improving her offensive play as she saw a seven percent improvement in her field goal percentage last season — shooting 46 percent from the field.

The Hawkeyes also looked to the transfer portal to aid their defensive woes, and found Feuerbach across the state.

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Feuerbach started as a freshman on the Iowa State women’s basketball team, averaging 5.5 points and 3.1 rebounds per game. The transfer is also an established rim protector, reinforcing the Hawkeye defense.

“Kylie is super athletic on the defensive end, which is really huge for us,” sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark said. “She knows the game really well and can also read angles really well. She’s one of those players that’s going to do whatever you ask, and she is going to find her role and she will do it very well.”

Feuerbach recorded 15 blocks and 11 steals in 2020-21 — good for fifth and fourth on the Cyclones roster, respectively.

The sophomore will also be looking to improve her shooting, as she shot 36 percent from the field and 64 percent from the free throw line.

This season, Feuerbach may be taking a role off the bench — different from her starting position with Iowa State. But she is remaining open-minded with the Hawkeyes, and will embrace any defensive assignment.

“Defense means a lot to me, and doing the little things on that end make a huge impact,” Feuerbach said. “Trying my hardest on that end, and guarding whoever coach Bluder wants me to guard is my ultimate goal for the season.”

The Hawkeyes will play an exhibition game against Truman State on Thursday at 7 p.m. at Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will be streamed on BTN+. Iowa will officially open the season against New Hampshire on Nov. 9 at 6 p.m. in Iowa City.