Opinion | Finding consistency key for Iowa women’s basketball

Iowa women’s basketball was struggling with consistency this season. Now, the Hawkeyes seem to have found it.


Dimia Burrell

Iowa guard Caitlin Clark drives to the basket during a women’s basketball game between Iowa and Nebraska at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City on Sunday, Jan. 16, 2022. Clark finished with 31 points. The Hawkeyes defeated the Cornhuskers, 93-83.

Chloe Peterson, Assistant Sports Editor

Iowa women’s basketball has preached consistency throughout the 2021-22 season.

The Hawkeyes need consistent playing time with consistent players — both of which they’ve lacked in the past three months.

Iowa had six games canceled or postponed so far this season. In November, the Hawkeyes were shut down because of COVID-19 cases in the program, canceling three games. When Iowa returned to the court, it went 2-3 in December.

Then, Penn State and Illinois women’s basketball had multiple COVID-19 cases in their programs, postponing back-to-back games for the Hawkeyes on Dec. 30 and Jan. 2, respectively.

Iowa played Northwestern on Jan. 6 — the Hawkeyes’ first Big Ten game in over a month.

Although the Wildcats were playing their first game in 19 days after recovering from COVID-19 cases themselves, the Hawkeyes’ inconsistency on the court proved to be their own worst enemy.

“If you’re a really good basketball player, you’re consistent,” Iowa head coach Lisa Bluder said following Iowa’s 77-69 loss to Northwestern. “I mean, that’s the way it is, right? And right now, we’re not very consistent, and you don’t really know who you can count on day in and day out. And that’s hard.”

After their loss to the Wildcats, the Hawkeyes have strung together a three-game win streak for the first time since November — thanks, in part, to finding different ways to win.

Iowa went 11-of-19 from 3-point range in its 95-86 victory over Nebraska on Jan. 9. Four days later, Iowa made zero 3-pointers, but shot 49 percent from the field against Purdue to take the win in West Lafayette.

RELATED: Caitlin Clark notches triple-double in Iowa women’s basketball’s victory over Nebraska

The Hawkeyes had a rematch with the Huskers on Jan. 16 and scraped out a 10-point victory with the help of a 31-5 advantage from the free throw line.

“We have so many different weapons and so many different options,” sophomore point guard Caitlin Clark said. “If you’re not hitting your three, okay, let’s go inside. Let’s drive. Let’s get to the free throw line. If you’re hitting your three, okay. And then, wait until we have games where we’re making both. It’s going to be pretty scary. But just finding ways to win — at the end of the day, people are just going to look at the final score and see if it’s a W or an L.”

The Hawkeyes have learned to use their options to consistently win games this season. And with consistency, comes confidence.

After dropping out of the AP Top 25 Women’s Basketball Poll on Jan. 10, the Hawkeyes snuck back to No. 25 in the nation in the Jan. 17 poll.

“I think the Nebraska game was big for us,” senior center Monika Czinano said. “Kind of like getting our feet under us and … playing Iowa basketball. So, I think what’s really nice about those games is that you get to set an example for everybody, even the people who don’t play. They get to see it, they get to understand it, and that way we can command it for other games.

Iowa was a top 10 team when the season started. Now back in the AP Poll, the Hawkeyes have a chance to live up to their No. 9 preseason ranking and entrench themselves as one of the top Big Ten powers.

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