Daily Iowan sports section names 2021-22 best of the year award winners

The Daily Iowan’s sports section voted in six categories to determine the best Hawkeye performances of the academic year.


Gabby Drees

Iowa players celebrate after a basketball game between No. 2 Iowa and No. 5 Indiana during the Big Ten Women’s Basketball Tournament Championship Game at Gainbridge Fieldhouse in Indianapolis on Sunday, March 6, 2022. The Hawkeyes beat the Hoosiers, 74-67.

Chris Werner, Summer Sports Editor

In 2021-22, both the Iowa men’s and women’s basketball teams stood their tallest in March.

While neither squad made a deep run in March Madness, both groups cut down the nets after making their way through their respective Big Ten tournaments.

The men’s team beat Purdue, 75-66, to win its first conference tournament since 2006 and the women defeated Indiana, 74-67, in the championship game. The women’s team became the first in school history to win the Big Ten regular season and tournament titles.

While both teams had earlier-than-expected departures from their NCAA tournaments — the men lost in the first round and the women exited in the second — The Daily Iowan sports staff didn’t forget what either team did on the Big Ten’s biggest stage.

Below are The DI best of the year. The sports staff voted on men’s and women’s team of the year, men’s and women’s athlete of the year, Coach of the Year, and Newcomer of the Year. Redshirt freshmen were excluded from Newcomer of the Year voting.

Full features on all the winners will be available online in the next few weeks.

Men’s Team of the Year — Basketball

2021-22 wasn’t supposed to be the men’s basketball team’s year.

After Luka Garza and Joe Wieskamp left for the NBA, and C.J. Fredrick and Jack Nunge each transferred after the 2020-21 season, this year was dubbed by many media members as a rebuilding one for the Hawkeyes.

But the Murray twins, a young group of guards, and multiple veteran leaders had other plans.

After they were picked to finish ninth in the Big Ten by ESPN, the Hawkeyes posted a 12-8 regular season conference record to finish fourth in the league. Then Iowa won the Big Ten tournament for the first time since 2006, something that few people outside of Iowa City predicted.

The first conference tournament title in 16 years during a season where Iowa played with four new starters and was supposed to finish in the bottom half of the Big Ten? Yeah, that’s grounds for some DI hardware.

Women’s Team of the Year — Basketball

This winner didn’t surprise anyone. Unlike their male counterparts, the Iowa women’s basketball team had sky-high preseason expectations, and the Hawkeyes delivered.

With all five starters returning from the 2020-21 team, including Caitlin Clark — her list of freshman season awards is way too long to list here — head coach Lisa Bluder’s team entered the season ranked ninth in the country and was projected to finish third in the conference.

Instead, when the Big Ten regular season and tournament were over, Iowa held both titles.

The Hawkeyes shared the regular season crown with Ohio State, winning their fifth conference title since 1995.

The 2021-22 team became the first group to win the conference regular season title and tournament championship in program history.

Male Athlete of the Year — Keegan Murray

Keegan Murray was the engine that made the Iowa men’s basketball team go.

The sophomore from Cedar Rapids — after starting just four games as a freshman — racked up a list of accolades in 2021-22 longer than a halftime line for Carver cones.

Murray was named a Consensus first-team All-American, the Power Forward of the Year, a finalist for the Wooden Award, and the Big Ten Tournament’s most outstanding player, just to name a few.

Murray’s 822 points this year broke Iowa’s single-season scoring record and his 23.5 points per game ranked fourth in the nation.

The All-Big Ten first teamer also led the Hawkeyes in rebounds, minutes played, made field goals, attempted field goals, made free-throws, attempted free-throws, blocks, and steals.

Murray became the second player in NCAA history to put up over 800 points, 60 blocks, and 60 3-pointers in a season, the other player is Kevin Durant.

Female Athlete of the Year — Caitlin Clark

Clark is the DI’s only repeat winner this season, and the question is: how could she not be?

RELATED: The Daily Iowan names 2020-21 sports best of the year award winners

Clark, a sophomore from West Des Moines, was a popular choice for 2021-22 national player of the year.

The unanimous first-team All-American led the country with 27.0 points per game and 8.0 rebounds per game. The No. 2 scorer in the nation averaged 25.3. Clark is the first Division I women’s basketball player to lead the nation in both points and assists per game.

Clark also amassed eight 30-point games and five triple-doubles in 2021-2022 — both led the NCAA.

So, Clark won every award she was up for, except national player of the year which Aliyah Boston took.

In short, Caitlin Clark was the face of Iowa women’s basketball, last year, this year, and will be until she graduates. Might as well copy and paste this section for next year and just update the stats.

Coach of the Year — Fran McCaffery

As mentioned above, the 2021-22 Iowa men’s basketball team overachieved by everyone’s standards, except maybe the players’. Winning the Big Ten tournament title after Luka Garza, the 2020-21 player of the year, left for the NBA, has a lot to do with coaching.

That’s why Fran McCaffery was our choice for Coach of the Year.

McCaffery guided a squad without three of its top four scorers from 2020-21 to a conference championship and a No. 5 seed in the NCAA Tournament after the Hawkeyes were dubbed a bubble team at best by many media members at the start of the 2021-22 season.

Newcomer of the Year — Adam Mazur

Friday night games at Duane Banks Field were usually short contests where a lot of Hawkeye fans left happy. Those relatively quick Hawkeye wins were thanks in large part to Adam Mazur.

Mazur, the Hawkeyes’ ace all season long, transferred in from South Dakota State after last season and didn’t miss a beat.

Mazur was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Year last month after he posted five conference wins and pitched 55 2/3 innings in the Big Ten regular season. During conference starts, Mazur compiled a 2.59 ERA. He led the league in each of those categories.

Mazur also tossed one complete game this season in a shutout win over Nebraska on April 27. He has two more years of college eligibility.