No. 9 Iowa women’s basketball faces quick turnaround for Samford

Two days after their season-opening win, the Hawkeyes will take the court again at Carver-Hawkeye Arena against Samford.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark drives to the basket during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and New Hampshire at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2021.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball point guard Caitlin Clark made a triumphant return to Carver-Hawkeye Arena for her sophomore season Tuesday night.

In the No. 9 Hawkeyes 93-50 victory over New Hampshire to start the season, the reigning Big Ten Freshman of the Year bucketed a team-leading 26 points and contributed eight rebounds and six assists in 26 minutes.

Clark said postgame she felt more comfortable on the floor to begin her sophomore season in 2021-22 compared to her freshman year.

The former five-star recruit out of West Des Moines had to go through an adjustment period as she started her first year of Big Ten basketball in 2020-21. Now, the preseason first-team All-American is ready to hit the ground running in 2021-22.

Clark and senior center Monika Czinano were named to three preseason player of the year watchlists on Tuesday — the Naismith, Wade, and Wooden Award. Clark was also named to the Nancy Lieberman Award watchlist for the 2021-22 season, a recognition given to the top point guard in the nation.

“I think it was an adjustment for me [freshman year,]” Clark said. “Obviously, a lot more physical than high school, a lot more things you have to know. I feel like I know a lot more. I think my leadership has grown as well on the floor and I kind of have more of a command on the offense and improving on the defensive end as well.”

Clark and the Hawkeyes made defense a priority during the offseason after Iowa allowed 80.6 points per game last season — last in the nation.

To start the 2021-22 season, the Hawkeyes have seen marked improvement in their defensive abilities. Iowa held Truman State to 32 points in its exhibition on Nov. 4 and allowed just 50 points to New Hampshire in its season-opener on Tuesday.

RELATED: No. 9 Iowa women’s basketball shows stout defense in season-opening victory

But the Hawkeyes can still identify defensive aspects to brush up after their season-opening victory.

“It’s been something we’ve focused on for months now,” junior forward McKenna Warnock said Tuesday. “And so, we see where we can improve. I think we’re gonna come back tomorrow to practice and work on those things and hopefully be able to show how we can improve on Thursday.”

The Hawkeyes only have two days and one practice in between their victory over New Hampshire on Tuesday and their game against Samford.

So, Iowa is focusing on mental preparation and scouting ahead of their matchup with the Bulldogs at 6:30 p.m. Thursday in Carver-Hawkeye Arena. The game will be streamed on BTN+.

“Hot tubs and cold tubs are going to be our friends,” Clark said. “And I think more than anything, it’s going to be mental preparation. Obviously, there’s not a ton you can do on the court. … It’s definitely way more mental than physical and really taking care of your body. You need to recover it so you’re ready to go on Thursday.”

Following the game against Samford, the Hawkeyes will have another quick turnaround. They will head to Cedar Falls, Iowa, on Sunday at 2 p.m. to take on University of Northern Iowa. That game will stream on ESPN+.

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